A playthrough of Square’s 1995 action-RPG for the Super Nintendo, Trials of Mana.
Played through with Duran, Angela, and Riesz.
This video is the first part of the two-part playthrough. You can find the second part here:
The playthrough shows the entire game, with the only edits being three different spots where I cut out grinding. I clearly show my stats where I’ve done this in the interests of transparency.
As most of you are probably aware, Trials of Mana (known in Japan as Seiken Densetsu 3) is the sequel to the 1993 classic Secret of Mana. It was released (for the first time officially in English!) as part of the “Collection of Mana” compilation that launched just a couple of weeks ago for the Nintendo Switch.
This video was not recorded from the Switch itself, however: to do the translation, Square actually went and did all the hacking necessary to expand the cartridge ROM space (it now weighs in at 48 megabits!) in order to insert the brand new, full length script translation. The collection runs an emulator to play the game on the Switch, but the newly translated ROM plays perfectly on PC-based emulators and even SNES flashcarts, if you want to get super authentic with your experience. The game was unofficially translated several years ago, and it was very well done. Not to fault the huge efforts that went into that project, but there’s no question in my mind that this official version is better in just about every respect.
Trials of Mana will feel immediately familiar to fans of Final Fantasy Adventure or Secret of Mana, though it has far more in common with the latter: you still control three heroes adventuring to save the Mana tree, and by extension, the world. You still have the ring system for menus, and the gameplay flow is largely the same. It is a significant upgrade though – the battle system is much less glitchy and collision detection has been improved by quite a bit. Bosses no longer get totally stun-locked by magic (though you can still take advantage of the system to a more limited extent), magic and weapons don’t have to be used over-and-over again to power up, and the story has more depth and replayability thanks to the choice of six unique characters to choose your party from.
The graphics and sound are also absolutely fantastic – they could’ve just as easily come from an early 32-bit game as a late 16-bit one. The level of detail in the environments and sprites is extremely impressive, and some of those bosses are amazing sights to behold. And though some people seem to dislike the shift to more muted color palettes, I thought that the change was a good choice in order to allow for the smooth day/night transitions, and everything looks a bit less cartoony as a result compared to SoM. Rounding out the superstar presentation, Kikuta returns on soundtrack duties, so rest assured the huge soundtrack is just as amazing as the previous game’s.
Trials of Mana is not perfect of course – the menu system is needlessly clunky and difficult to use, and the game stutters or altogether stops responding momentarily as it loads things (text boxes can be a bit slow to appear…), and it slows down fairly often in battle, but those are small niggles in light of everything the game does so well. ToM holds up remarkably well for a game that’s almost 25 years old.
I did really love the auto-battle option… what a convenient option for the more mundane, easy to kill enemies! In battle, just hold down A until see a red “R” flashing on your status bar.
Even if you’ve already played the fan-translation, I highly recommend giving this one a play. It’s clear that Square put a lot of effort into getting this one right for its foreign debut, and that investment paid off handsomely in the quality of the final product.
No cheats were used during the recording of this video.
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