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Trials Of Mana

Posted by GG Goblin On May - 7 - 2020

Square Enix dropped another rather good remake.

Never originally being released in the west, Trials of Mana, or Seiken Densetsu 3, became something of an import necessity for Mana fans. That is until the game was ported as part of a collection on Switch only last year. Now, in the shadow of a much larger and well known JRPG remake, Trials of Mana has gone through the remake process and is available as a much more modern game on PS4, Switch and PC. Maintaining much of the charm of the original, the Trials of Mana remake may not have the popularity of coverage of the Final Fantasy VII Remake, but simply shouldn’t be overlooked by JRPG fans.


Memories of the original Trials of Mana, or even of the earlier games in the series, are unnecessary to enjoy this remake. All the player needs is the knowledge that they will be enjoying a classic story of good versus evil, complete with magical sword, a big tree and bad guys who want to do what bad guys do. The story here may not throw many curve balls at the player, but it has a comfort that is easy to slip into and retro in the extreme. Okay, that may not sound great to players who are looking for the more likely convoluted stories with twists and turns, but Trials of Mana has a few tricks up its sleeve.

The most obvious narrative trick comes from the character selection. There are six characters for the player to choose from, and they will choose one leader and two companions. The cool thing here is that this instantly means the possibility of further playthroughs with the other characters, and as the game will come in at around 20 hours, that doubles it to a respectable JRPG length. However, the characters that are chosen will dictate certain parts of the story, giving even more variety as there are three branches to the story for the player to discover. This is a game built for replaying.

Each of the six different characters come with their own class, complete with skills and abilities. Having the player choose three from the start may seem a little optimistic as the player will be likely in the dark as to how they will work together in the game, but the character classes are not static and can be tweaked and refined as the game progresses into very different builds, with new job classes allowing what was formerly a strong fighter to become a very competent healer, for example. It may take a while to reach the points where these changes can be made as they are set to certain levels, but players who are not altogether happy with their original choices will not be stuck with them for the whole game.


Trials of Mana is very much an action RPG, with a strong emphasis on the fighting. Outside of the fighting though, the player will be visiting towns to talk to all of the residents for information or visiting the local merchants who always seem to have something new to tempt the players coins. They will be wandering the countryside or exploring dungeons as well, but this is where the combat can be found.

The combat is again a throwback to the time of the original, kept nice and simple without all of the additional complexities that developers seem to put in more modern games. With a couple of different attacks to make basic combos from, along with each characters special abilities and spells to cast, it is very enjoyable to play. With everything happening in real time, the player will be moving around the battle area, avoiding the red markings that show where the enemy will attack, while putting the beat down on whatever they are facing. Being able to swap between the three characters at will means the player will have access to a nice variety of different moves to keep things fresh.

The battles are generally enjoyable, although the boss battles do ramp up the stress somewhat. The main problem is that they make up the largest part of the gameplay, and without any puzzles of note to add variety, it can become slightly repetitive over long sessions. It should also be noted that the camera doesn’t always want to play ball, and the companion AI can be lacking, at least until they have levelled up a bit. Fans of the original may also lament the lack of co-op, which is a real shame.

Visually, the developers have done a great job here. Trials of Mana looks great in 3D, but still manages to keep the original charm and retro feel. Throw in an excellent soundtrack, it is is almost perfect presentation-wise. The only let down comes from the voice work, which is just not very good.


Trials of Mana may be overlooked at this moment in time due to the other remake, but once the hype calms down, this enjoyable JRPG remake will still be there. It may have a few rough edges, but the game feels up to date and relevant, and is overall a lot of fun. For action JRPG fans, Trials of Mana is an easy recommendation.




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