With the Remake of the SNES classic Secret of Mana For the current generation of consoles, Square Enix hoped to be able to tap into the nostalgia need of long-established fans as well as to inspire new players for the title. What was overlooked: To achieve this, you would have had to deliver a game that was not full of technical errors, graphically unsightly and playful, where not outdated, since it was worse than the original.
After all, this total failure also had its good side, because the makers have learned from their mistakes. For your new project Although the developers are again on a new edition, this, as we can confirm after several hours of playing, all the effort and love that we have sorely missed at Secret of Mana.
However, too many players are likely to get Trials of Mana (buy now for € 49.99) do not feel the same nostalgic feelings that awaken in them of Secret of Mana. The Trials of Mana, also located at the SNES, was exclusively reserved for the Japanese market until 2019, before it was translated for the first time as part of the Nintendo Switch-exclusive Collection of Mana and also offered in Europe and the USA.
Everything with the old in the new edition
Source: PC games
So now we can play twice in the same game within a few months! At first glance, however, few will notice that the adventure is the same. The graphics have been massively revised. We walk through a completely three-dimensional world, can move the camera freely and look forward to nice little details everywhere. The adventure cannot keep up with the brilliance of a Final Fantasy 7 remake, but it looks really nice and coherent. Above all, it is nice that the style of the original has not been lost. You can still see the figures, which now look like prettier versions of the artwork of yesteryear and the world with all its inhabitants, adversaries and localities exudes the familiar mana charm. We could have done without the overly sexualized portrayal of some female figures, especially our party members Resi and Angela. But we are used to that from JRPGs.
The voice output is just as high-quality, which is not heard in all but in many conversations. Japanese or English can be chosen, both versions are good. A German soundtrack was unfortunately omitted, here well-written subtitles have to be used. The background music also convinced us when we played. Nice: If you want, you can switch between the newly arranged melodies and the original soundtrack at any time.
Swords and stones
Source: PC games
In view of these drastic technical improvements, which now make the weak remake of Secret of Mana look twice as stupid, it should come as no surprise that the presentation of the plot was also spruced up considerably. Still, Trials of Mana doesn't feel overproduced like it does in many other modern Square Enix RPGs. No heartache is emptied here with buckets, no rushing characters are rushed by a dark plot full of clichéd dialogues – it's a nice, simple plot, just nicer told than before.
What's the matter? Six heroes set out to find eight manastones, to revive the legendary mana sword and to prevent the downfall of the world – classic JRPG material. One twist is that we can choose from six different heroes for our team, but we can only choose three of them per round. Everyone comes with a small, playable history, and depending on who we choose as the primary protagonist before the game starts, the role of our archenemy changes.
Source: PC games
These slight differences in action increase the replay value, and the gameplay also changes. After all, each character has a different focus. Durand is the classic swordsman, Angela is best at magic, eagle eyes are particularly nimble, Resi is well-equipped in all respects as an all-rounder, Kevin can do really well and nobody can fool the cute Charlotte as a healer.
The real-time combat system was changed in the new edition – in the original our attack power was dependent on an automatically loading bar – but remains very accessible. We have a light and a strong attack, can use magic and special attacks via shortcuts and use items. This is similar to that from dozens of other games, but it works very well. Well-known fare is also offered: We buy new weapons and equipment, level up by defeating enemies and thus invest earned points in small talent trees.
Our path leads us on a relatively linear path through a freely explorable world. In this small communities are connected by routes, caves and other areas, on which all kinds of adversaries, hidden treasure chests and more are waiting for us. To advance the story, it is usually enough to simply go to a point on the map or speak to a marked figure. From time to time, big, nasty bosses await us, which require a bit of grinding, but based on previous experience, shouldn't be too big a problem.
Source: PC games
In general, Trials of Mana doesn't seem to be that difficult. We played the demo on the normal level of difficulty and had no problems there, yes, never once were we embarrassed to get close to the game-over screen. If you are looking for at least a little more challenge, there is thankfully a harder mode.
By the way, there shouldn't be much to do off the path. The structure of the adventure is strongly based on that of the original and side quests were in short supply there. It was around 25 hours in the world of Trials of Mana – but it should be a bit more in the remake, because here a complete, newly developed epilogue chapter was added after the actual completion of the story. It is not the only innovation. Our characters can move up their classes in the course of the game within their specialty, an additional final stage has been implemented here. Another new feature is the search for the so-called cactus grimace, a small creature that hides in different places in the game world. If we find them, we get rewards. And if you can't get enough of the game, you can go to the New Game Plus.
Source: PC games
Unfortunately, the co-op mode of the original was deleted without replacement. According to developers, because they wanted to focus on a high quality single player experience, they consciously decided against this option. It may not be as big a deal for us here in Europe who didn't grow up with the game as for Japanese fans, but it's a shame anyway; especially with a view of Secret of Mana, whose multiplayer part on the SNES is still well remembered by many old RPG players. After all, here the new edition of Secret of Mana is ahead of that of Trials of Mana, because there are three of you again.
But we were also very taken with our individual trip while playing Trials of Mana. It is truly not a revolutionary adventure and feels rather old-fashioned in its construction. But that is what makes it positive, because it shows that a game does not always need a huge budget, complex mechanics and other tricks to work; sometimes a passion for the design, a loving presentation and a feel for what the fans want is enough. If Final Fantasy 7 Remake is too different from the original to want to return to the nostalgic role-playing world of the 1990s, Trials of Mana should be a more than successful replacement.
Trials of Mana appears on April 24th for PC, PS4 and Nintendo Switch.
A nicely done remake with old qualities and modern amenities
With Secret of Mana, Square Enix made a big splash some time ago. Connoisseurs of the original like me were repelled by the unsightly design, which lacked any charm, probably also first-time players, which is why they may never have experienced the decent gameplay behind them. With Trials of Mana Square Enix has obviously learned from this mistake, because not only does it look really pretty, it also succeeds in a very competent and well thought-out mixture of old and new elements. The fact that quality is in here is shown by the fact that I am very impressed with what I could see and play and even felt a kind of nostalgia, even though I first came into contact with the original in 2019. The game fills the void left by the Secret of Mana remake! I just think it's a shame that the co-op mode of the original game has been canceled, because exploring and fighting would make even more fun in two or three. Even so, I will definitely try Trials of Mana when it comes out at the end of April.
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