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Game review: Trials of Mana gets a remake

By Damian Seeto, Fri 8 May 2020
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Secret of Mana was one of the most enjoyable adventure games that were ever released for the Super Nintendo back in the ‘90s. Secret of Mana became such a big hit, Square Enix decided to make a full remake of the game which came out in 2018. 

Sadly though, the Secret of Mana remake wasn’t all that well received. The gameplay felt very outdated and characters’ mouths didn’t even move while they were talking during cutscenes. While the game was enjoyed by some fans, it wasn’t well received unanimously by the gaming community. 

Secret of Mana isn’t the only game released on the popular Mana series. The next game in the lineup is Trials of Mana which was originally a Japanese exclusive. Now most gamers around the world can play Trials of Mana for the first time thanks to another remake that Square Enix has made. 

It’s glad for me to say that the 2020 remake of Trials of Mana is vastly superior to the 2018 remake of Secret of Mana. It seems as if Square Enix listened to the negative feedback in order to improve the quality of this new game. 

One of the things I didn’t like about the remake of Secret of Mana was the fixed camera viewpoint. The top-down camera feels outdated by today’s standards and it was quite jarring to play through it when I reviewed the game back in 2018

The Trials of Mana remake thankfully gets rid of the fixed top-down camera as the game now features a moveable camera that’s set behind the main character. This new camera viewpoint makes it far easier for you to fight enemies and it’s also more helpful in terms of navigating through the map. 

Another small improvement in Trials of Mana is that the character’s mouths finally open and close when they are talking during cutscenes. Sure the lip syncing isn’t 100% accurate all of the time, but it’s much better to look at compared to the stationary mouths that appeared in Secret of Mana’s remake. 

Graphically, Trials of Mana is a step up over the Secret of Mana remake as well. The cartoonish character models work well as the game is always nice and colourful wherever you go. It’s also worth mentioning the level design is not linear as you have to solve some puzzles in order to get through locked areas and stuff like that. 

Trials of Mana also gives players many options to choose from six of the main characters. The lineup I chose were the characters of Angela, Kevin and Reisz. What I like most about the game is that each character has their own backstory and reasons to go out on their adventures. For example, Angela’s mother wants her dead, Kevin wants to revive his dead fox friend and Reisz is on a quest to rescue her lost brother. 

There are also three other characters I could have chosen and their paths intertwine with one another the further you progress in the story. The game’s story is quite lengthy which is decent as it should take most gamers around 20 to 30 hours to complete their journey. Players will get their money’s worth with this game unlike the expensive Predator: Hunting Grounds I reviewed last week!

As for its gameplay, Trials of Mana is slightly better than the previous game. The cool part is that you can actively play as three characters at one time and you can switch between them instantly by pressing R2 or L2. Even when the other characters are being controlled by the A.I., the computer controlled characters are always helpful during the many battles you will have to endure. 

That being said, the combat can be a mixed and repetitive bag depending on the character you choose at the beginning of the game. I found controlling the characters of Angela sand Reisz felt cheap using their staff and spear respectively. They were better using their magic spells during combat instead. 

The character I found to be the most effective in combat was the hand-to-hand style used by Kevin. His style was able to wipe out enemies at a much faster rate than the other two. However, the combat in general feels cheap and repetitive as a whole especially when you compare it to the superior fighting system used in Final Fantasy VII Remake. 

Even when you are facing the huge bosses; it becomes a big button mashing affair until you decrease their life bar to zero. The combat starts to feel monotonous after several hours of gameplay, which is a shame since fighting takes up a huge chunk of the game’s time. 

Fighting also becomes more repetitive because you will need to grind in order to earn enough in-game currency to buy the latest weapons and armour. If you don’t come well equipped in battle, you’re going to have a hard time defeating the enemies which increase their stats after each level you complete. Weapons and armour can be expensive so you will need to win a lot of fights in order to afford everything you need to further progress. 

Probably the best feature of the entire game is the memorable and catchy soundtrack. You can listen to both the original ‘90s tunes, or you can set it to the more modern remix. Both styles of music are pretty decent overall and it adds to the atmosphere of the game perfectly. 

As a whole, Trials of Mana is a far superior remake compared to Secret of Mana. The graphics and camera have been improved, although the combat still feels outdated and cheap. Aside from the combat and repetitive levelling up system, this game is still fun to play if you are into action RPGs.

Verdict: 7.5/10

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