Trials of Mana: Where it All Began

What do most folks remember about the summer of 1995? Honestly, quite a few of you reading this probably weren’t born yet. As for me, I was salivating at the upcoming release of the Sony PlayStation with my now well entrenched love for JRPGs. I couldn’t wait to see what could be done after playing games like Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy 6, and Secret of Mana. I was a Squaresoft junkie at this point. Little did I know, one of my favorite titles from the SNES era, Trials of Mana, released that summer, and I missed out for at least a few years.

Seiken Densetsu 3 released in September of 1995, and I wouldn’t play it until a couple of years later. It wasn’t until I finished Final Fantasy a few times that I came across a fan translated version of Seiken Densetsu 3 for my SNES emulator. We didn’t always quite have the same ready access to the internet back then, so finding out this game existed absolutely blew my mind. There was a sequel to Secret of Mana, a game I loved so much. I absolutely had to play it immediately.

What was Seiken Densetsu 3?

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Seiken Densetsu 3, now known as Trials of Mana, was an evolution of the mana experience when compared to its predecessor Secret of Mana. It is a sequel only in the way numbered Final Fantasy titles are sequels. There are some similarities to the world, style, and some gameplay elements, but Trials of Mana is really its own game. It drastically improves the action RPG formula from the previous game and offers more character and build diversity.

Characters and Narrative

Trials of Mana had six playable characters, each with unique classes and abilities. Duran was your sword-wielding knight. Angela was the mage of your party with a lot of offensive magic. Hawk was your thief or ninja type character. Keven is a front line fighter that could transform into a beast at night. Riesz was your dragoon or lancer type with some magic abilities. Each of these characters could upgrade to different classes based on how you chose your path in the game. This offered the game a lot of replay value, especially when you factor in the branching story paths.

At the start of the game, you selected your main character of the six playable characters and then chose two supporting characters for the playthrough. This affects which story you see play out as it somewhat revolves around the character you select while also incorporating the narratives around the supporting characters you chose. Needless to say, this hooked me in, and I played through the game quite a few times. I am excited to see that this is not only intact but improved significantly for the upcoming remake.

So, Whats New?

With the recent gameplay reveal provided by Square Enix, Trials of Mana appears to be very well intact and true to its roots while offering some nice quality of life improvements. The action combat looks improved, and character abilities look better than ever. The environments look bright and colorful and much deeper than what they could accomplish previously on the SNES. Everything looks very true to the Mana style with a lush, colorful world full of quirky and unique characters.

The narrative arcs are seemingly more fleshed out and will offer much more unique playthroughs depending on the characters you select. While this was true for the original Square Enix looks to have added to each character’s unique arcs offering more diverse gameplay experiences based on your choices. Additionally, the revamp of the character classes will offer greater build diversity and customization, allowing you to make your characters your own.

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Game Play Performance

The trailers and gameplay reveal the game running smoothly, but we don’t always know how the game will really play until we get our hands on the finished product. Hopefully, we will see a stable frame rate on all platforms in a solid resolution, but that remains to be seen and will differ by platform.

Why the Lack of Multi-Player?

One of the questionable choices made for this title was to omit the multiplayer option for the remake. Much to the disappointment of series fans, Square Enix confirmed no multi-player for Trials of Mana. One of the great things about the original and other Mana games was the drop in drop out multiplayer experience. Choosing to not include a multi-player feature is a big hit to my excitement, but luckily I love the original enough to enjoy a solo experience.

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Overall, Trials of Mana is an entirely new experience. Square Enix is aiming to maintain the original experience while offering fans so much more to enjoy. All new graphics and appearance, new stories and character interactions, and an all new combat and class system look to make this a feel-good experience for the fans of the original and new players alike. Take a look at the gameplay trailer and let us know what you think. Does the lack of multi-player hinder your excitement? Is this a great travel game for the switch? Let us know in the comments below.

Launch Date and Platforms

Trials of Mana will launch on April 24th, 2020, on Steam, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch.

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