Secret of Mana is one of the most celebrated games to release on the Super Nintendo. With its action-oriented take on RPGs, the game found a dedicated cult following. Known in Japan as the Seiken Densetsu series, Secret of Mana was actually the second of the franchise. The first Seiken Densetsu masqueraded on the original Game Boy as Final Fantasy Adventure in the states and as Mystic Quest in Europe. And thankfully, at long last, the third entry recently made it outside of Japan. However, alongside this new port and translation, Square Enix also announced a from-the-ground remake that would be coming to the Nintendo Switch titled Trials of Mana.
Prior to its release early next year, I was fortunate enough to spend some time with this upcoming remake’s iteration on the Nintendo Switch.
Trials of Mana is the Secret of Mana follow-up I’ve been waiting for
Throughout my play-session, I experienced Trials of Mana in the Switch’s handheld mode. I was happy to see that there were very few compromises when it came to bringing the game to the hardware. This could mostly be attributed to its polished art direction. Whatever the reason, the game ran smoothly even in the overworld and larger town sections. When combat had larger groups of enemies and bigger bosses, the Switch maintained a steady framerate.
Also on the technical side of things, the remake will let players switch between retro styles of music and a newly arranged collection made for the game. The newer revisions were splendid to listen to both in battle and while exploring the overworld. The audio quality of the voice acting and other facets of sound design also retained this quality.
The combat is combo-based in just the right way for an action-RPG. Trials of Mana is not reliant on memorizing input-heavy sequences. Rather, it’s about finding a rhythm as to what light, heavy, and magic attacks work best in combination for the cast of characters. What’s more, at any time – be it in the overworld or in battle-sequences – you’re able to switch between your characters to better make use of their unique skills.
It’s not co-op, but that’s okay
I was initially confused as to why I wouldn’t be able to take my friends on the adventure that Trials of Mana is touting. One of Secret of Mana‘s strongest features was the ability to play the game with co-op functionality. Yet, after having my hands-on, it is apparent that this remake is designed specifically to work best as a single-player experience. The combat system is 3rd-person with direct camera controls, matching the standards of the grandiose action-RPGs Square is currently crafting with the Final Fantasy series. It’s one of many decisions that have been made to help the game appeal more to a newer generation of players. These choices make the game more enjoyable and evolve the series into something new.
The potential for new life for the Mana series
Since Trials of Mana is a game that many (including myself) have not yet experienced, there’s a lot to be excited about with this upcoming remake. With the added voice acting, overhauled action-RPG gameplay, and fully reimagined 3D design, Trials of Mana is shaping up to be the definitive way to experience the missing chapter in this saga. It also happens to be one of the most impressive RPGs coming to the Nintendo Switch.
Overall, I was very surprised with what the development team achieved on the handheld for this multiplatform title. In a way, it feels as if the follow-up to Secret of Mana is finally emerging. You won’t need nostalgia to find it enjoyable, as each corner feels updated and streamlined for a modern audience. The game just doesn’t feel like a relic of the mid-’90s in any sense. As a reimagination of the Mana series, it has the potential to succeed and, perhaps, bring back life to the franchise.