It’s time for the remake of Trials of Mana; a classic Japanese role-playing game. senses has embarked on adventure to find the mythical sword.
Trials of Mana is the second remake of a classic JPRG from the Mana series (2018 we got Secret of Mana as a remake). It’s very new-old JRPG in our lives now; we have hardly been able to play clearly Final Fantasy VII Remake until it’s time to embark again on a classic Square Enix adventure with a Japanese model (original title Seiken Densetsu 3).
Full disclosure: I have no relationship whatsoever or nostalgic connection to the Mana series. I never played Trials of Manathe original when it came in 1995 during the SNES era. Partly because it was for a long time only in Japanese (and I just don’t understand how non-speakers dryers get through role-playing games in languages they can’t even guess the letters of …) and partly because – at that time – I was completely stuck in the PC swamp with games that Wing Commander 2 and all Lucasfilm (LucasArts) adventures (Monkey Island 2, Indiana Jones: Fate of Atlantis etc.). But I have played a seven-hell mass of JRPG and I like the genre a lot, even though it is as broad as any other gaming genre.
The story i Trials of Mana is classic for the era and the game type; the magic mana tree is about to wane away and with the power that holds the eight demons trapped under magic crystals. You get to choose your hero of six possible – each with different abilities and looks / background story – and try to become the one who finds the magic Sword of Mana, which will give you the power to put everything right again. Along the way you meet other characters to form your gang and can, in some cases, also play their background stories (which is a nice touch).
3D remaster of Trials of Mana is a huge lift, purely audio-visual, against the pixel-charming, isometric original. It’s free camera in 3D and cell-shade: ad graphics, something I love then Zelda: The Wind Waker. The soundtrack is a mixed bag; there is a remastered version of what is really recommended, but some synth loops are just as annoying in 2020 as they must have been like chip music in 1995. There is a disarming innocence throughout the gaming experience, something that belongs to time and several storylines can today feel a little (not to say much) small-minded and childish, while there is something liberating “o-cool” about everything. It’s young people (on the border of children) you play with so why bother with it, like? The voice acting is perfectly OK (in both English and Japanese) and because the story leans towards the slightly put-together way, there is also here a slightly naive and really sago-emphasized shimmer.
Something else that feels directed at children is the severity, or rather the lack thereof. At Normal, the game is really bizarre and I soon got more health items than my characters could get rid of. Money is also relatively ample, as well as bonuses for EXP development. So – although I think you should play games at a normal level of difficulty (as they are usually thought to be experienced), I actually recommend Hard here, to bring up some challenge for you who are a gamer.
Visually pure Trials of Mana not old – it is the arrangement, the tone, the script and the music that reveal its origin and age. And it certainly has its charm, if this kind of 90s JRPGs is your thing. It has a striking retro grant and that is also the point, this is not a broad, multi-million dollar venture that Remake Final Fantasy VII, which we will get to see new parts of for years to come and sold 3.5 million units in three days. This is what it is; a somewhat niche, small-charming, and fairly retro-Japanese action-role-playing game that primarily teaches to appeal to already saved fans of the genre. I have had fun with it, even though it is by no means an inalienable gaming experience. It’s better than that Secret of Mana-the remake (yes, I know – though it got higher ratings. You may change.) and it is highly recommended to those who love Japanese role-playing games from past times (and, dare I say it – have played the original?).