(available for PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch and PC)
(Nintendo Switch version used for review)
Back at E3 last year during the main Nintendo Direct it was announced Square-Enix was releasing a full blown remake of Trials of Mana the Super Nintendo game that was a sequel to the ultra-popular Secret of Mana and had never been released outside of Japan. A lot of people, myself included, did not like the Secret of Mana remake on PS4 and the PS VITA but this looked like a much better remake from the trailer alone. It was also capped off with the cavoite of Chronicles of Mana being released as a collection of all 3 games in the Mana series, or Seiken Densetsu for purists, as a Nintendo Switch exclusive including the original Trials of Mana that day. it was pleasing to see this released so western fans could finally have a legal source of playing that game, I got it as a Christmas present and it’s surprising how all 3 games have held up. my major complaint is that some of the games haven’t been scaled up too well for modern tv’s and the game looks better when playing the Switch handheld but if you want to play both versions for comparison like I did the Switch has both versions. Trials of Mana is a remake built from the ground up though has maintained a lot of its classic Super Nintendo games design. The map layouts and character designs are identical but have the advantage of being able to fully realise that look and I actually really dig the remastered soundtrack. both feel like they have more effort put into them than the secret of Mana remake and it appears as if multiple lesson have been learnt. The game is a action RPG involving 3 of 6 characters working to claim the Sword of Mana in order to prevent the rise of a group of beasts known as the Bevendons with each of the characters having their own personal backstories and goals as to why they are on the journey. For example, Duran is a swordsman who wants to reclaim his honour after he and his fellow soldiers lost to a crimson wizard, whereas Riesze is the princess of the kingdom of Laurent who is searching for her missing brother following an attack on the kingdom that killed her father. The way you experience the game is truly interesting. You may have 6 characters but at the beginning you choose 3 of them 1 to be the main character and 2 others to be companions. This will affect in a few ways how the story plays out including how character dialogue and interactions and you’ll have to play the game several time to see how different combinations play out. the characters are also not limited to their base build and you eventually access the ability to make changes to character classes at various stages of the game with a light and dark option. For example if you choose Charlotte to be on your team at the first class change you could make her a priestess who has better healing skills for support to the team or make her an enchntress who has decent healing skills but trades some off to be more offensive and the game encourages experimentation between light and dark routes. It’s also a good lockdown game with it’s length. While it’s not incredibly long by modern RPG standards with a single playthrough with no extras going for around 20 hours the game adds extras and a new game plus and of course if you want to experience all 6 characters story you’ll need to have2 playthroughs at least meaning a minimum of 40 hours with an extra dungeon at the end of the game. That’s a lot of varied content the experience and even writing now I haven’t experienced everything the game has to offer.
- Old school charm: I really have noticed a lot of RPG’s are not made like this and have often lost a lot of that from the 90’s Square-Enix which has been really missing lately outside of games like Dragon Quest 11. Plus the soundtrack is excellent update and even if you’re not into it there’s an option to use the orignal super nintendo soundtrack
- Art style: I love the new art style this game got, this is precisely how the Secret of Mana remake should have been like. It takes the classic look of the games and reimagines them to look like the original artist intended them to look
- Combat systems: unlike Secret of Mana this time the games moved from a top down action RPG to an action RPG with a full 360 degree camera and it comes with a slight change in gameplay style. the game is still about timing and assessing the strategies of your enemies by reading the prompts in their attacks and acting accordingly with strong attacks, light attacks, various forms of magic and items and special attacks that can hit multiple enemies , plus it still maintains a relatively similar control scheme so fans of the original will accumulate themselves quickly. it’s a real joy to play since it’s very simple gameplay style that has well executed controls and will challenge to learn your individual characters move sets and customise their abilities to sort your playstyle coupled with being prepared for multiple events. That sounds complicated but trust me you’ll do it almost instinctively. Also unlike Final Fantasy 7 remake your companions have way more of a sense of self preservation and I had more fun manging the multiple characters. that being said they occasionally are dumb which makes me want online multiplayer to offset it but we’ll get to that later
- Customisation: this is the best part of the game which adds so much of the replayability. There’s just so many ways you can change up the game through altering your characters classes unique to each character, skill points, abilities and even the make up of the team. You will be inclined to play the game multiple times to see multiple outcomes and play styles
- The class system: this was the most interesting aspect to the game, the game gives the ability to customise your characters classes but also offer a light or a dark route to those characters which you’ll need to balance in deciding how that characters role will be in the party. However if you feel you have a made a wrong call the game offers you the ability to go back and change your mind. It honestly was my favourite thing to experiment with in the game and I was making a lot of careful decisions in regard to how I moved forward with it as to which class to assign at which time and it might even be worth looking up what different players recommend prior to making a change
- It’s very easy: I have to echo Projared’s review, if you’re used to games like this (particularly the Kingdom hearts games) this game will not provide much challenge to you. It’s in the mixed category because it’s easy enough to bring in new players to this genre without overwhelming them but I do feel that the game only has much challenge if you play on at least hard mode.
- Actual graphics: while I did enjoy the art style and the graphics as a whole are really good I did notice some hiccups in the actual rendering of the graphics during transitions. This might be because I own the game on switch which is the least powerful version of the 3 but it did bares mentioning and is especially worth highlighting since this is a game that appeals mainly to old school Nintendo and Square fans who likely own the Switch version. I would also like to point out under no circumstances do I mean by those comments that I think the Switch version looks bad by any stretch.
- The main story: it’s fine and services the game but it’s not the most compelling and I found myself enjoying the individual character stories as opposed to main narrative.
- No multiplayer: I know that with the new full 3D action RPG style with a full 360 degrees camera that’s been implemented you cannot have local multiplayer but I once again have to echo Projarred in asking why online multiplayer wasn’t implemented and for switch owners and wireless LAN multiplayer between switches that have been implemented well in games like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Super Smash Brothers. Controlling the extra characters is easy enough but I wish I could play this game with my friends.
- It’s not the most innovative RPG: there’s not a lot of extra stuff to do outside of the main quest. Not necessarily a problem in of itself but there’s a lot of RPG’s on the market that will give you more to do in your playtime. Luckily the gameplay the game gives you is enjoyable
Trails of Mana is an excellent game to pick up if you missed out the first time and is an excellent action RPG with a cool world and characters to explore which accommodates new players well though I suspect it may be a bit too easy for seasoned veterans of the genre especially if they played the original game a lot. The main story is pretty cookie cutter and it’s not the most expansive RPG but I will say however it’s an excellent update to a classic and I’m glad that between this and Collection of Mana there’s more ways to play this game legally and I would urge people to give it a go because it’s a game with so many ways to play and experiment around with. If you like old school RPG’s this is an excellent updated game for your collection. However the lack of difficulty means you might not have much challenge in playing outside of hard mode. I really had a lot of fun with this one and I’m looking forward to playing more of it in my downtime throughout the year and I’m even considering streaming a lets play of it on my YouTube channel at some point .
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