Trials of Mana Review- Improved Action RPG

Remake is a term that is rendered meaningless by today’s gaming industry. Remake could mean anything, ranging from games redesigned from the scratch with completely new storylines and character lineups, to the games, from the nineties, receiving a complete graphical overhaul. And with the remake titles popping up everywhere, this year, Square Enix has also decided to bring in their renewed version of the ninety’s classic, the Trials of Mana.

Trials of mana made its first appearance in 1995, as a Japanese Role-Playing Game. The game was originally known as Seiken Densetsu 3 and it was available for Nintendo’s Super Famicom, only in the Japanese market. Here is a little fun fact, the games that were developed for Super Famicom were only 16-bits and it earned them a nickname of “16-bit games”.

The remake of Seiken Densetsu 3, with a rebadged title of Trials of Mana, was announced in 2017, and after staying in production for three years, the game made its way into the stores on 24th April, this year. This time around it’s not just the Nintendo owners who are in for a treat, but the game will also be made available on other major platforms, such as, PC and Playstation4. It is with a heavy heart that I have to say, Xbox fanatics will be going home empty-handed this time.

In the review down below, we will take you on a short journey regarding the game’s graphic, how far has it come in over two decades, the sound effects of the game, its gameplay, along with its pros and cons. Enough with the history lessons, let’s spice this review up and jump right into it!

The First Impression

The first thing you notice as you plug in the game is that there is not much to notice. Unlike their Final Fantasy VII remake, which is taking over the world as you read this, Square Enix has gone pretty cheap with this remake. The only major change that you will notice is that it is in 3D, unlike its 2D counterpart.

Other basic gameplay, storyline and the character lineup stay the same. As far as the menu is concerned, even that is the same as the original game. Graphics of the game are obviously better than its ninety’s predecessor, but they still don’t live up to the modern-day standards. Colors, however, have been improved and they make the game livelier. If I had to put forward my first impression of the game, I would term it as a ninety’s Role-Playing game with slightly better graphics.

The performance of the game varies from platform to platform. If you are playing on Nintendo Switch, you are bound to experience frame drops every now and then, even when it is docked. PlayStation 4 will give a better and smoother gaming experience. As long as PC is concerned, it all comes down to what you are running. But the remake of the game is not very demanding in terms of specifications.

I will not go on and talk about how the game hasn’t changed much over the years, the developers did have a few tricks up their sleeve for this remake.

What Makes it Different?

The game no longer decides the characters you will be playing with. You will be given a pool of six non-identical characters and you will have to choose three characters amongst them to form your own team. These characters will stick with you for the rest of your gameplay. Mind you, different characters possess different powers and you will have to form a perfect combination that could last you the entire game. The list of the six different powers that will be available to you through your characters is as follows:

  • Swordsman
  • Thief
  • Healer
  • Berserker
  • Offensive Magic User
  • Support Magic User

The choice versatility does not end with the characters. The players that you choose, come with their own prologue. With that being said, we have now come down to the decision of choosing our own heroes to fight in an environment that suits us the most. The game will have you get creative this time.  

The choice of the characters is totally up to you, but I might suggest having a healer in your team. Once you have settled with a team of three heroes, you will be able to switch through them, but cannot include another one in the team. So, be wise about your decisions.

You will also observe a bit of a change regarding the camera angles. You are now in control of your own camera views. The developers went ahead to such extents, that the game would not even allow the camera to follow you into the battle until or unless you do that manually.

The Sound Effects

I have a very mixed opinion regarding the sound effects in the game. First of all, let’s talk about the accents of the characters. Taking an example of Charlotte (she is a healer), has this accent that the developers have tried to sound like something out of this world. The concept that was tried to be conveyed here was that Charlotte is not a native to the area, and with this, they have ended up giving her the most obnoxious accent ever. The worst part is that there is no other healer in the game, so you are stuck with that accent if you want a healer in your team.

The game is available with its old 16-bit version soundtracks, as well as a collection of some new soundtracks. If you want to create a ninety’s atmosphere, the soundtrack options are available in the menu and you can shift back and forth according to your mood.

An Overview

The game does not have a very solid storyline. Throughout the game, you will face different bosses at different stages without any specific purpose, and without any role to play in the main storyline. You will find the game sending you in search of elemental spirits and then suddenly you find yourself Infront a boss where you least expected it. The story is unevenly distributed throughout the game and it stays up to you what you make out of those pieces of storyline. There are certain unrelated dialogues present in the story that could have made a lot of sense in the original game, but here it would have been better if they were left in the cutting room.

As you make your way through the game, you will realize that the Trials of Mana is more battle oriented, making it more of an action game rather than being a role-playing game. Another thing that sent a wisp of frustration through me, was the fact that you can earn several elemental spirits as a reward for battles, before you have even unlocked them. Now, you have these amazing magical abilities, but you can’t use them. however, as you progress through the levels and unlock your abilities you utilize different elemental spirits, the battles become easier and more fluent. You even get the chance to upgrade your characters, making them more capable of possessing versatile abilities. Unlike in most other third person, role-playing games that support switching between multiple characters, the characters that are not under your control, they are dumb. This is not the case with Trials of Mana. In trials of Mana, the characters that are in the background are smart enough in the battle to support the player you are controlling. All you have to do is get a little creative with the settings and some configurations and you will witness your healer healing your player automatically. 

A Final Word

Square Enix did not have a lot of budget set aside for this remake, and it shows. Some changes have been made, but in my opinion, they are for the worse. The choice of having to choose your own team might seem very inspiring, but it is not. You can be knee-deep into the game before you come across a boss that makes you realize how dumb you were will choosing your team. Making the right choice about the team is all on your luck. It is a thirty-hour gameplay and it is not a very pleasant feeling when your team becomes a limitation towards the end of the game. There are no side quests in the game either, which makes it rather disappointing.

The new camera options might be pleasing to some, but I found it a nuisance having to control the players, as well as setting camera angles during a battle. A little bit of AI in the camera angles would have been nice. What else would have been nice? It would have been nice if the English voiceovers used in the game could have been of some better accent. I would rather just go on and have the language set to Japanese during the gameplay.

Overall, playing Trials of Mana is a bittersweet experience. It might be emotionally welcoming for those players who have played the original version of the game, but new players might not be very fascinated with the game.

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