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Trials of Mana (聖剣伝説3 Seiken Densetsu Surī, lit. "Holy Sword Legend 3") is an action role-playing game originally published by Square (now Square Enix), and is the third game of the Mana series.

Initially released exclusively in Japan for Nintendo's Super Famicom console in 1995, Seiken Densetsu 3 was notable as being one of the hallmark games of the 16-bit era never to receive an official translation for Western audiences. As a result, it became a highly sought-after commodity within the virtualization community of the 2000s, gaining further notoriety for its gameplay, depth of story, replay value, and relative complexity of localization. An incomplete but playable English mod was released in 2000. No further development had occurred for the following sixteen years.

In June 2017, the game was included in the Seiken Densetsu Collection anthology for the Nintendo Switch in Japan. The collection was released in June 2019 in North America with Seiken Densetsu 3 titled Trials of Mana. That same month, a remake of the game under that title was announced for worldwide release for the PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC, Trials of Mana was released April 24, 2020 at a price of US$49.99 to celebrate its 25th anniversary. However, as with the Adventures of Mana and Secret of Mana conversions, the original design staff was not involved in the remake's development. Veteran composer Hiroki Kikuta was brought on board for portions of the remastered musical score.

Gameplay

The game features three lengthy main plotlines, six different characters, each with their own storylines, and a wide range of classes to choose from, which provides each character with an exclusive set of skills and status progression. The game also makes use of a time progression system, with transitions from day to night and weekday to weekday in game time, adding to the game's challenging gameplay.

SD3Art

Trials of Mana acts very much like its predecessor Secret of Mana, as it employs a real-time combat system, making use of a ring menu which provides the player with quick access to magic, items and character information, amongst other options. One of its main differences, though, is that the range of characters is doubled to six, with the player choosing the three members of his or her party when commencing a new game. A single variety of weapon is available for each character, and the "progression by means of use" present on the series' previous game was removed from the weapons and magic systems; now the only factor which influences a spell's damage is how high the character's "magic" attribute is. A storage system was introduced for any excess items, replacing Secret of Mana's "four-of-a-kind maximum rule". The player can switch items between storage and their ten-slot item ring menu, or else "top-up" items currently in it to a maximum of nine each.

A battle mode was introduced as part of the gameplay, which freezes some aspects of normal gameplay (such as item storage) to allow the player to focus on defeating monsters. Players can exit battle mode by moving off-screen or far enough away from the monsters for it to be disengaged (unlike Legend of Mana's "no-escape" mode). When in battle mode, the character adds one point to his or her "power gauge" by making an attack which hits a monster (in place of Secret of Mana's vulnerable charge-up). When the gauge is full enough, special moves can be unleashed - moves vary according to the character and their class. Once all enemies on-screen are defeated, the player has the chance to receive a reward item in a treasure chest. Sometimes, a "prize" wheel of traps is given when opening the chest; this can be eluded by timing the cursor to fall over an "OK" disc.

Unlike the prequel, however, instead of setting the characters' range to the enemy and their level of aggression, the player sets directives on the character's behavior during combat, such as taking an individual target or supporting another character. The player can also determine whether or not the AI characters will make use of their power gauge and what earned abilities they may use, though magic spells must be cast manually by the human player.

Classes and Leveling

Level progression is coordinated by the player, as a choice is given regarding where to invest a character statistics point at every level up. A "class" system is also present. Once a character reaches level 18, he or she is able to go to a Mana Stone and choose a class to progress to - either a class aligned to "Light" or a class aligned to "Dark" - which provides a different set of skills and different improvements to character statistics. A second class change may be performed at level 38. The second change requires the use of rare items to be performed, and once again an option between a "Light" and a "Dark" class is presented. However, there is a key difference between the second class change and the first class change. Although the first class change of "Light" and/or "Dark" is in the player's power of choosing, the second class change will advance the character depending on which of the two rare items for that character's class you use for the class change at the Mana Stone. Counting all possibilities, there is a total of seven possible classes for every character, including the initial class.

Passage of time

Trials also employs a calendar function into its gameplay. The seven-day week cycles much more quickly than an actual one — a day passes in a number of minutes — but it still affects gameplay in certain ways.

Each day of the week is represented by a different elemental spirit. On that spirit's day, magic of that element will be slightly stronger:

  • Luna Day - Moon magic is stronger.
  • Salamando Day - Fire magic is stronger.
  • Undine Day - Water magic is stronger.
  • Dryad Day - Wood magic is stronger.
  • Sylphid Day - Wind magic is stronger.
  • Gnome Day - Earth magic is stronger.
  • Mana Day - All elemental magic is balanced.

A Day is also divided into day and night, represented by Lumina and Shade respectively. Reportedly, the use of the opposite elements according to day and time and the game's elementology are not weakened; for example, using water spells on a Salamander Day does not make them weaker than using them on a Gnome Day.

Certain events only happen during certain times of day, such as a nighttime-only black market selling particularly rare items. Enemies encountered in the field also change during certain time periods, and some may be sleeping if characters approach them at night. Using an inn's services allows the player to "skip" the game's clock to that day's evening, or the following morning. Mana Holy Day is also notable in the game's calendar as players can use the inns' healing and time-skipping service for free, while a nominal charge is given on other days.

Story

Setting

According to Trials of Mana's in-game lore, the Goddess of Mana created the game's world by forging the powerful Sword of Mana and defeating the eight Benevodons with it, sealing them within eight Mana Stones before turning herself into the Mana Tree and falling asleep. The game is set at a time when Mana starts to fade and peace has ended, as some people plot to unleash the Benevodons from the stones in order to gain ultimate power, both politically and magically. Heroes of Mana is a direct prequel to Trials of Mana, taking place 19 years before the latter's story.

Plot

With the exception of Charlotte, the characters are told (or otherwise decide) to seek the advice of the Priest of Light in the Holy City Wendel. They arrive at the city of Jadd soon after the Beastmen have invaded. Due to the Beastmen's werewolf powers, they are able to make an escape by night while the Beastmen are distracted.

All characters, on the way to Wendel, stay overnight in Astoria where they are woken by a bright light. Following it, the light reveals itself to be a Faerie from the Mana Sanctuary (Mana Holyland in the fan-translation), exhausted by her journey. Out of desperation, the Faerie chooses the main character to be her host, and tells them to get to Wendel. There, while the main character is explaining her or his grievances to the Priest of Light, the Faerie interrupts and explains that the Mana Tree is dying and that the Sanctuary is in danger. This is grave news for the Priest, for if the Tree dies, the Benevodons will reawaken and destroy the world.

He goes on to explain that, because the Faerie has chosen the main character as her host, he or she must travel to the Mana Sanctuary to draw the Sword of Mana from the foot of the Mana Tree to restore peace to the world. Once accomplished, the main character may then have his or her wishes granted by the Goddess of Mana if the Sword can be drawn before the Tree dies. However, there is a catch: a great deal of power is needed to open the gate to the Sanctuary. The Faerie does not have the strength to do it alone, and the ancient spell which would do so by unlocking the power in the Mana Stones also takes the caster's life. However, the Stones' guardian spirits (Secret of Mana's Elementals) are able to open the gate once their powers are combined.

After journeying across the world to get the Spirits, thwarting the invasion attempts of Nevarl and Altena, discovering the powers of the Fire and Water Mana Stones released (by agents of Nevarl and Altena, respectively), and learning of the disappearance of the Mana Stone of Darkness along the way, the main character tries to open the gate to the Mana Sanctuary with the Spirits' assistance. The first attempt fails, but the second succeeds; the Faerie realizes that it was opened because someone managed to release the power from all the Mana Stones.

The characters travel into the Sanctuary and the main character claims the Mana Sword; however, it is soon discovered that the main character's adversaries have captured the Faerie and will only release her in exchange for the Mana Sword. The unfortunate trade is made, and once the enemy receives the Sword, the Mana Stones shatter and the Benevodons are released.

The characters must then defeat the Benevodons before they can gather and destroy the world. However, after doing this, they realize killing the Benevodons gave more power to their main enemy. The already-powerful villain absorbs the power of both the Sword of Mana and the Benevodons to become a god, but is halted by the Mana Goddess blocking some of his power. After storming the villain's stronghold and defeating his minions, the characters go and defeat their main enemy, but are unable to stop him from destroying the Mana Tree. The Faerie fuses with what's left of the Mana Tree and will become the new Mana Goddess in a thousand years, but until then Mana won't exist in the world. Their quest complete, the characters go back to their lives afterwards.

Themes

In contrast to the more youthful and childhood classic orientated presentation of its predecessors, Trials of Mana focuses more on angles of teen drama, including the challenges of growing up, proving one's worth in the world, and learning where one belongs in life. Story elements and its presentation is also emphasized greater on more mature and darker themes, including active instances of world war, facing inevitable loss and defeat, a world facing a potential period of great cataclysmic decline, fear in the face of its crisis, the evidence of demonic forces at work and the existence of Fa'Diel's "underworld", and the relativity and perspective of the cost of power at the sake of one's soul.

While Secret of Mana was inspired by whimsical and light fantasy classics, Trials of Mana is inspired by the rise of fantasy based anime and manga, from series such as Record of the Lodoss War, Slayers, and Berserk, in where more defined demonic forces are the basis for its conflicts and antagonists, and also revolve around great conflict in the face of their campaigns for conquest. Making for a greater expanse on its Dungeons & Dragons, Wizardry, and Elder Scrolls inspired gameplay and world dynamics, themes and traits are also drawn from its contemporaries as well as inspiration from a wide range of fantasy and fantastical works parallel, from Fist of the North Star, Street Fighter, Phantasy Star, mature fantasy movies such as Conan the Barbarian, Willow, and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, action films related to the ninja craze of the late 1980s and martial arts fighting, fantastical teen scenario movies like Teen Wolf and Teen Witch, and even to horror movies like Nightmare on Elm Street. Likely in continuation of its relative series, many features also hearken similarity and draw references to Final Fantasy V, which also had an emphasis on class roles and a job system, and also combines its predecessor's themes into a mythos that helps build upon the universe of its series.

Possibly another case "lost in translation", Trials of Mana is with an emphasis on its Class Change system, and how it ties into not only player choices on gameplay, but choices on one's approaches by favorite affinity, open interpretations of its characters, and how the story of the game also changes them throughout. The Class Change system's choices are not just represented in how one wishes to approach combat, but also reflects the spectrum of power in the nature of the relativity of morality, and how that path shows an emphasis on its character's own personalities and choices made in life, from light to dark. This is especially pronounced in official materials like strategy guides and a series prologue book that gives lore and insight on how their classes established themselves within the world of Fa'Diel, including equipment given artifact like presentation, and official descriptions to how classes fight and draw their drive and motives from to battle. As said before, their backstories and even the scenarios they come to face in game comes into play, as their journeys within life may also come to give them their own lessons to draw upon to manifest them in the class that is intended by its climax. That being said, while light and dark come to represent classical traits of good and evil respectively, it is up to the player to make their interpretation and reason to their choices to define their own ways and communicate their own definition of good and evil.

To its Norse Mythology inspired core story themes, this time, Trials of Mana focuses more on a Gottdamerung or Ragnarok inspired scenario that signals not only the end of an era, but a crisis of faith in one's ways of life and a new world yet to be that is unknown to its outcome. As Mana disappears from not just of its use by magic and civilization, but the Mana Tree's own natural decline, nations less economically able than major powers that exist or are majorly oppressed use this time of crisis to rise up and claim their way to power by conquest and dominance, but are manipulated by their faults and more dark desires in the face of their own self preservation and survival as a nation by greater evils that wish to use them as a means to an end. Possibly representative of the embodiment of natural disaster and calamity, the Mana Stones begin to lose their seals upon the weakening of Mana throughout the world, threatening to unleash the Benevodons, primordial feral and all consuming beasts of great magical power that threaten to consume the world in destruction of unimaginable magnitude. Even forces related to the demonic realm of Mavolia have taken advantage of this time of decline and wish to hoard and rule over as new Gods of Mana themselves, at the cost of potentially upsetting the fragile cosmological balance of life, and instruments and divine messengers like the Mana Sword and Fairy cannot halt or resolve this crisis alone as their powers are insufficient, are in decline, or are perverted for malevolent purposes, showing how even the heavens are incapable of stopping this time of conflict and chaos. In the end however, it is presented that it is within the spirit of the heroes who bear their own great motivations and drive to see through to the end this time of great change and turmoil, that the true Sword of Mana is wielded to restore peace and balance to the world, and to prevail against those who have thrown all away for the sake of power and the thrones of the heavens for themselves as divine perversions and corrupt divinities akin to false idols and devils, to ensure the safety of all who live in it.

Characters

The characters (and their individual stories) are grouped into three main sub-plots. Duran and Angela oppose the Dragon Emperor; Hawkeye and Riesz oppose the Dark Prince; and Kevin and Charlotte oppose the Masked Mage. The main storyline is determined by the first character chosen, however there is significantly more character interaction and dialogue if these pairs of characters are selected in the same party. Within each pair one of the two characters is from a country that is being attacked/invaded by another (Charlotte, Duran, Riesz); while the other is a high-ranking member of said invading country who was forced out and is now trying to stop their countries' inner corruption (Kevin, Angela, Hawkeye).

Heroes

  • Angela (アンジェラ Anjera) is the only princess of the ice-covered Magic Kingdom of Altena. Her mother, Valda, the Queen of Reason, uses her magic to keep the Altenish citadel in a perpetual spring. However, like her country, Valda is cold and unfeeling towards her daughter, who has become lonely and selfish as a result of her upbringing. The Queen's spell weakens as Mana starts to fade. So that her spell may continue and Altena does not freeze over, she, with her assistant the Crimson Lotus Wizard, decides to invade other nations to claim their Mana Stones. Once done, she would sacrifice her daughter to the ancient spell which would unlock the power of Mana kept in the Stones, opening the way to the infinite power held in the Sword of Mana. After Angela is told this, she flees Altena.
  • Duran (デュラン Dyuran) is an orphaned mercenary swordsman of the Grasslands Kingdom of Valsena (Forcena in the fan translation) who proudly serves his king, the wise Richard. Duran and his little sister Wendy were raised by their aunt Stella after Duran's mother died from a long term illness and their father was lost in battle with the Dragon Emperor. One night, Duran is on guard duty at the castle of Valsena when the Crimson Lotus Wizard attacks the castle. Duran is left for dead after confronting him, and after making his recovery, he vows to become the best swordsman in the world and to exact his revenge.
  • Hawkeye (ホークアイ Hōkuai) is a member of a guild of noble thieves based in the desert Sand Fortress of Nevarl (Navarre in the fan translation). The guild's leader, Lord Flamekhan, suddenly and uncharacteristically declares Nevarl to be a Kingdom. Surprised by this, Hawkeye discusses the matter with his friends, Flamekhan's children, Jessica and Eagle. Hawkeye and Eagle decide to confront Flamekhan about it, only to find that he is in the middle of a meeting with his assistant, the witch Isabella, who turns out to be pulling Flamekhan's strings. Isabella (later revealed to be named "Bigieu") casts a spell on Eagle to make him attack Hawkeye, who injures Eagle gravely in self-defense. However, Isabella finishes Eagle off with a spell and puts all the blame on Hawkeye. He is imprisoned and is awaiting his execution when Isabella informs him that she has given Jessica a cursed necklace; should Hawkeye tell anyone the truth, she will be choked by it. Luckily, he makes an escape. In the fan translation, he is known as Hawk.
  • Riesz (リース Rīsu) is the princess of the mountainous Wind Kingdom of Laurent (Rolante in the fan translation) and captain of its Amazon army. After her mother, Minerva, dies while giving birth to her younger brother, Elliott, Riesz vows to take care of him. However, two mysterious ninjas from Nevarl, Bill and Ben, trick Elliott into turning off Laurent's protective winds and promptly kidnap him. With the winds gone, Nevarl attacks Laurent with a cloud of sleeping powder and kills its king, Joster. Devastated, Riesz makes her escape. In the fan translation, she is known as Lise.
  • Kevin (ケヴィン Kevin) is the inarticulate prince of Ferolia (known simply as the Beast Kingdom in the fan translation). He is the son of Gauser, king of the Beastmen, and a human mother. Sick of the treatment of his people by "normal" humans, the Beast King's desired revenge is made all the more possible by the appearance of the mysterious "Man who devours death", who places his dark magic at Gauser's "beck and call". He shows his abilities by making Kevin's beloved wolf-pup orphan friend, Karl, rise up and attack him while both are out in the Moonlight Forest. Forced to defend himself, Kevin's werewolf abilities are awakened; unfortunately, they come at the cost of Karl's life. After seeing that the Beast King is sending an invasion force to overthrow the humans' precious Holy City Wendel, Kevin overhears the Beast King congratulate the Deathjester on his spell. Enraged, he confronts the Beast King and is quite literally thrown out of the castle. He declares the Beast King is not his father and states his desire to find his mother and some way to revive Karl.
  • Charlotte (シャルロット Sharurotto), the "famous beauty of Wendel", is the granddaughter of the Priest of Light. Orphaned by her parents, the human cleric Leroy and the elf Shayla, she is looked after by a fellow cleric, Heath. Feeling an evil influence in the nearby Jadd Stronghold, the Priest of Light sends Heath to investigate; however, Charlotte overhears this conversation and, feeling a strange apprehension, sneaks out of Wendel. She arrives just in time to see the Deathjester abducting Heath. Afterwards, Charlotte decides she must save him. In the fan translation, she is known as Carlie. Of the heroes, she is the only one with a speech impediment, transcribed as a "whistle" in the fan dub and later a dropping of both L and R officially.

Villains

There are three different factions in Trials of Mana, each with the same plan and general format. There is the primary antagonist and faction leader, who manipulates events behind the scenes through his servants in his goal of becoming a god. The leader has two servants. The first in the manipulator, who infiltrates a kingdom and manipulates it through its leader into starting wars. This is done to get at the mana stones and awaken their power; so they can open the portal to the mana sanctuary. The second servant is added muscle and typically meets the party outside of the manipulated kingdoms forces. Midway through the game, the three factions will engage in a short but brutal battle at the sanctuary with two of the three factions being annihilated. The wining faction (decided by who the player picked as the main character), will then kidnap the Fairy. At the manipulated kingdom's castle they will trade Fairy for the sword of mana and use it to awaken the Benevodons. Triumphant the faction will discard the kingdom they had manipulated. They will then wait for the heroes to kill the ancient monsters so that the sword of mana can absorb their power. The heroes party will confront the faction at their main base, killing the servants while the leader absorbs the sword and Benevodons power to become a god before leaving to destroy the mana tree. The main antagonist will then fight the player in the Mana Sanctuary as the final boss.

  • The Benevodons (God-Beasts in the fan translation) are eight powerful elemental monsters that are described as incarnations of disaster that once threatened the world, but were defeated by the Goddess of Mana. One Benevodon exists for each element in the game: fire, water, earth, wind, wood, light, moon, and darkness. When the villains acquire the Sword of Mana, the Benevodons are released into the world, and the player can fight the first seven in whatever order they wish. After defeating the first seven, the Benevodon of Darkness can be fought. However, killing the Benevodons plays right into the hands of the villain as killing them sends their power to the Sword of Mana.
  • Duran and Angela's enemies: The Dragon Lord's Faction
    • Valda: The queen of Altena, known as the true queen and Angela's mother. Though she uses her powers to keep her kingdom safe from its freezing temperature, she seems to have become heartless. She directs her kingdom to make war on its own ally Valsena, and attempts to use her own daughter as a sacrifice to awaken the mana stones. It is revealed late in the game that she was under a spell the whole time, being manipulated by the Crimson Wizard.
    • Machine Golems: Unlike the other two factions, the Dragon Lord's manipulated kingdom does not have a minor antagonist character. Instead, Altena has an army of Machine Golems: the latest in magic technology warfare. They appears as enemy npcs and twice in the game a group of special model Machine Golems are fought as bosses. Regardless of who the main character is these boss battles will occur, but if Angela and/or Duran are in the party there will be extra dialogue and story related content.
    • Crimson Wizard (紅蓮の魔導師 Guren no madoushi): The Dragon Lord's main servant. He was once an ordinary human, but possessed no ability for magic until the Dragon Lord offered to make him the most powerful wizard alive in exchange for half his life. After suffering defeat, he loses his will to live and commits suicide.
    • Darkshine Knight: The Dragon Emperor's other servant, who is actually Duran's father Loki, though this is only revealed if Duran is in the party when he is fought. Loki was believed to have died fighting the Dragon Emperor, but the Dragon Emperor saw a use for the powerful warrior and revived him as his servant. Although the Darkshine Knight retained his memories from living as Loki, he was fanatically loyal to the Dragon Emperor. After the Darkshine Knight dies, he is released from the control that the Dragon Emperor had over him, and tells the heroes that he has faith in their power to stop the Dragon Emperor. If Duran or Angela aren't the main characters, then the Darkshine Knight still reveals that the Dragon Emperor revived him before dying and that the Dragon Emperor's power is what kept him alive.
    • Dragon Lord: Duran and Angela's main enemy. Of the three possible main villains, the Dragon Emperor's past is the least developed. His origin isn't stated; the most that seems to be known is that he is the leader of a clan of dragons. A coalition was led against him by Prince Richard and Loki. At the cost of Loki's life the Dragon Emperor was defeated, but he managed to resurrect himself by using half of the crimson wizard's life and resurrected Loki as the Darkshine Knight. The Dragon Lord's intent is to transform the world into a world of utter chaos with him standing above all. His true form for the final battle is the Huge Dragon, which lives up to its name as he is so big he cannot be fully shown on-screen. He's viewed as being in between the difficulty of the other two final bossess.
  • Charlotte and Kevin's enemies: The Masked Mage's Faction
    • Gauser: The King of Ferolia, and Kevin's father. He appears to be a ruthless conqueror, starting a war against humanity and torturing his only son by manipulating him into killing his only friend (and rewarding Goremand for setting it up by letting him join his army). In reality, unlike his counterparts, Gauser is not being manipulated by Goremand. He started his war to try and unite his people against human oppression and went along with Goremand's actions because it was in line with his true goal: to make his son walk the path of the warrior. At the end the two make peace with his father happy his son has shown resolve and will be a bridge for the divide between human and beastman.
    • Ludgar: A beast guard who was chosen by Gauser to be the leader of the invasion of Jadd and Wendel. He is openly hostile to Kevin. No matter who is in the party, Ludgar will fight in one boss battle and be fatally wounded. Even if Kevin is not in the party, he will be present as an NPC, and Ludgar will explain his complex reasons for his hatred of the prince. This will cause a bonding moment between the two, before Ludgar dies. Lumina the moon spirit, having watched the events, manages to reincarnate Ludgar as a baby. Kevin promises they will meet and fight again.
    • Goremand: The main servant of the Masked Mage. His origins are unknown. He displays the ability to eat souls, hence his Japanese/official translated name. He is helping the Masked Mage because the resulting death will keep him fed for eternity. Early on, he abducts Heath and hands him over to the Masked Mage as a servant. Unlike the other villains, he seems to survive when the Masked Mage is not the main villain. What happens to the Deathjester after that is unknown.
    • Heath: The other servant of the Masked Mage. Heath is the son of the Masked Mage and previously a friend and brother-figure to Charlotte. At the start of the plot, he goes out to try investigate the disturbances with Mana and to try and save his father from his own darkness, but was abducted by the Deathjester and turned evil. If Charlotte or Kevin aren't the main characters, Heath is never fought as a boss and instead wanders about. Regardless of which character is the main character, Heath eventually sacrifices his life to cure the Priest of Light's illness and is later revived by the Mana Goddess.
    • Masked Mage: Kevin and Charlotte's main enemy. He was once a human named Belgar, who, in addition to acting as the Holy City Wendel's Oracle of Shadows, was also a priest renowned for his skill in healing. One day, he found a disease that could not be cured with light magic and began using dark magic to find a cure, but the victim died before he found it. Belgar continued dabbling in dark magic and eventually discovered a spell that could revive the dead. Soon afterwards, he challenged the Priest of Light but was defeated and exiled. During this time, Belgar became corrupted by the dark magic and became the Masked Mage, developing a strong hatred for the living. He intended to gain the power to exact his revenge. At some point, he recruited the Deathjester. The Masked Mage's son, Heath, tried to stop him but was corrupted and became his father's strongest servant. His true form for the final battle is the Dark Lich. He's viewed as the easiest of the three final bosses.
  • Lise and Hawkeye's enemies: The Dark Majesty's Faction
    • Flamekhan: The leader of the Nevarl chivalrous thieves group, Eagle and Jessica's father, and Hawkeye's adopted father. Flamekhan seemingly turns Nevarl on its head by declaring they will conquer Laurent and become a kingdom. It becomes clear early on, however, the he is being controlled by Belladonna. At the end of the game he is restored and vows to honor his deceased son by helping the desert grow into a new paradise in the now manaless era.
    • Bill and Ben: Agents of Nevarl who have become corrupted by the power given to them by Belladonna. No matter who is in the party they will be fought twice in boss battles and killed in their second fight. However, there is more story if Riesz and/or Hawkeye is in the party. Bill and Ben tricked Elliot into opening Laurent's defenses to Nevarl at the beginning of Reisz's path. They were once Hawkeye's friends and he attempts to reason with them, only to find they are too far gone. Belladonna ended up using their souls to activate the fire stone.
    • Belladonna: The right hand servant of the Dark Prince, she is also implied to have romantic feelings for him, especially during her death scene; how she met him is never stated. Belladonna's sole intent is following the will of the Dark Prince, but she notes that he "lost his soul" when he became a demon, and she hoped to "bring his soul back". Despite this devotion, the Prince has never displayed any sign of caring for her and considers her expendable. A notable event only occurs if the main characters are not Hawkeye or Lise: after the Dark Prince is killed by the main villain, Bigieu kills Jagan off-screen and releases Elliot before killing herself, seeing no reason to live without the Dark Prince.
    • Malocchio: The Dark Prince's other main servant. Malocchio is a vampire-like entity (and is harmed by Charlotte's Turn Undead spell as a Bishop). His origins are unclear, but he is likely a demon from the underworld. He is fought and killed by the characters if Hawkeye or Lise are the main characters; otherwise, he is killed by a grieving Bigieu after the remains of the Dark Prince's body are destroyed.
    • Dark Majesty: Hawkeye and Lise's main enemy. He was once a human, though his original human name is never given. He was the prince of the "Kingdom of Light", but for unexplained reasons was both hated and feared by his people. The demons of the underworld offered to make him their leader in order to obtain revenge; the prince accepted and soon destroyed his former kingdom. He does not have a body of his own, but instead acts throughout the game by possessing the body of Lise's younger brother Elliot (though only in Lise and Hawkeye's stories; in the others', his remains are destroyed). His aim is to merge the human world with the underworld so that he can rule both, and he even displays a desire for the demons to be worshipped in place of the Mana Goddess. His true form for the final battle is the Arch Demon, which is also the only final boss with two forms. The Arch Demon is generally viewed by fans to be the hardest of the three final bosses.

Development

Seiken Densetsu 3 was designed by series creator Koichi Ishii. The game was directed by Hiromichi Tanaka, who previously helped design the first three Final Fantasy titles and Secret of Mana. Manga and anime artists Yutaka Izubuchi and Nobuteru Yūki were responsible for the character designs and character illustrations respectively. Yūki's artwork for the game can be found in the rare Nobuteru Yuki Seiken Densetsu Illustration Book.

English translation controversy

During the game's development and release, Seiken Densetsu 3 became known abroad as Secret of Mana 2. Squaresoft stated in a 1995 issue of its North American newsletter that they planned to release the game during the second half of the year. However, Seiken Densetsu 3 was never localized outside of Japan. There is an apparent misconception among video game fans that the SNES title Secret of Evermore was released in lieu of an English language version of Seiken Densetsu 3 in 1995. Ill feelings towards the lack of an official translation probably stem from titular and mechanical similarities.

One suggested reason against Secret of Evermore's favouring over Seiken Densetsu 3 is due to the establishment of a new development team at Squaresoft's office in Redmond, Washington. According to Brian Fehdrau, the lead programmer for Secret of Evermore, the decision had absolutely no effect on any such translations and did not tie up any of the people involved in translation; it was specifically hired to create it and they would not have been assembled otherwise. This may have been accompanied by a decision not to continue translating titles, including the sequel to Secret of Mana. Citing Nintendo Power, the probability of a North American release for Seiken Densetsu 3 was low due to "a technical nature" and that it would have been far too costly to produce at the time. This is further supported by Fehdrau, who mentions that Seiken Densetsu 3 had some bugs, hindering its likelihood of being certified for release by Nintendo of America.

In 2000, an English fan translation project led by hacker Neill Corlett was successfully completed and made available on the internet as an unofficial patch. Due to the increasing popularity of video game ROMs and the quick progress of emulators at the time, the translated version of Seiken Densetsu 3 was made available to many players from around the world in 2000. At the time of its release, the translation was the most sophisticated hack of its type, with assembly hacks for script compression and variable font width, as well as overcoming technical difficulties in dumping and re-inserting the original script. The game was also translated to French ,German and Spanish based on the English fan translation.

Official translation

After the release of the Collection of Mana to Japanese audiences in 2017, work began in earnest on a Western localization. Square Enix cited a strong demand for Seiken Densetsu 3 in its decision to bring the anthology overseas, but this was reportedly not without its technical challenges as the team had to revisit programming for the SNES while adapting the title for the Nintendo Switch, which required assistance from Nintendo itself.

Seiken Densetsu 3 was christened Trials of Mana with input from series founder Koichi Ishii, who cited the trials of the six protagonists as well as the prefix "tri" in reference to its position as the third game in the series.

3D reboot

The 3D reboot of Seiken Densetsu 3 was announced alongside the first official English localization on June 11, 2019, when it was retitled Trials of Mana and packaged with the Collection of Mana anthology. Since then, multiple trailers and a limited demo version circulated through a number of review websites and trade shows before an initial release date of February 2020 had been announced. However, this was pushed back in a September follow-up to April 24, 2020.

The limited demo as seen at Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) 2019 included the first chapter from the viewpoint of Duran, with both Riesz and Charlotte joining at the west entrance to Cascade Cavern. Players were permitted to continue through the battle with Fullmetal Hugger, at which point several preview screenshots would be displayed as a montage before closing.

An expanded playable demo was published to digital stores on March 18, 2020. This version is more closely aligned to Seiken Densetsu 3 in terms of general gameplay, but includes several additions and enhancements:

  • Based on Epic Games' Unreal Engine
  • Fully rendered in behind-the-back 3D with adjustable camera angles
  • Fully voiced battles and 3D cutscenes with selectable dialogue and subtitles
  • Fully remastered soundtrack
  • Story recap features, including flashback play for new party members
  • Addition of chapter and mission mechanics
  • Addition of 3D battle mechanics (e.g. jump attacks, area-of-effect highlighting, heads-up display)
  • Addition of customizable dash mechanics (NEW in v1.01)
  • Addition of custom inventory management; cap on items held raised to 99, player can prioritize items for faster use in Ring Menu.
  • Addition of programmable hotkeys for spells and items
  • Addition of real-time 2D maps with tracking
  • Additional treasure mechanics, including hotspots and destructible pots
  • Improvements to Class Strike (CS) execution
  • Revised skill allocation system with selectable passive abilities
  • Option to switch between Original and Remake soundtracks

Any progress made in the demo is also transferable to the full version.

Audio

The score for Seiken Densetsu 3 was composed by Hiroki Kikuta, who had previously composed the music for Secret of Mana. Kikuta completed it with little assistance, having performed the sound selection, editing, effect design, and data encoding himself. The soundtrack features 60 tracks on 3 discs and was published by NTT Publishing on August 25, 1995 and was republished by Square Enix on October 1, 2004. The main theme from Secret of Mana, "Where Angels Fear to Tread", makes a return in this installment. The track "Meridian Child" was performed by the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra for the fifth Orchestral Game Concert in 1996. The game also features a surround sound mode.

Reception

Trials of Mana received "generally favorable" and "mixed or average" reviews on Metacritic getting a metascore of 78/100 on PC,[1] 76/100 on PS4,[2] and 74/100 on Nintendo Switch.[3]

Trivia

  • As in Seiken Densetsu 2 (Secret of Mana), the sky shows two moons in the opening animation.
  • The original version of Seiken Densetsu 3 only supported 2-player co-op, a step down from the 3-player co-op of the second game. Luckily, a reproduction cartridge with a patch which allows three people to play simultaneously exists, though it also requires a multi-tap adapter to play with it.

External links

References

  1. Metascore for Trials of Mana on PCMetacritic, Retrieved June 18, 2020
  2. Metascore for Trials of Mana on PS4Metacritic, Retrieved June 18, 2020
  3. Metascore for Trials of Mana on Nintendo SwitchMetacritic, Retrieved June 18, 2020
v · e · d
Trials of Mana
Characters
Heroes
Duran · Angela · Kevin · Charlotte · Hawkeye · Riesz
Tree of Mana
Faerie
Mana Spirits
Undine · Gnome · Sylphid · Salamando · Shade · Lumina · Luna · Dryad
Villains
Factions
The Dragon Lord's Faction
Dragon Lord · Crimson Wizard · Darkshine Knight · True Queen Valda
The Masked Mage's Faction
Masked Mage · Goremand · Heath · King Gauser
The Dark Majesty's Faction
Dark Majesty · Belladonna · Malocchio · Flamekhan
Benevodons
Dangaard · Land Umber · Fiegmund · Mispolm · Xan Bie · Dolan · Lightgazer · Zable Fahr
Non-Player Characters
Bon Voyage · Vuscav · Faerie · Flammie · Goddess of Mana · Priest of Light
Class Strikes
Angela
Double Slash · Love Typhoon · Pummel Star · Spiral Rod · Dancing Rod · Ton Shatter · Hotshot
Duran
Cross Cut · Triple Slash · Spin Slash · Glint Slash · Magic Rend · Hollow Slash · Quakebringer
Kevin
Phenomenal Fist · Spin Kick · Tornado Throw · Abyssal Slice · Bastard Slam · Byakko Wave · Stardust Bomb · Genbu Kick · Blow Impact · Suzaku Aerial · Veritubach · Seiryu Strike · Dead Crush
Charlotte
Whackbam · Jump · Dash · Chop Slap · Kersplode · Bombastic · Jumbonk
Hawkeye
Poison Dagger · Swallow Throw · Shadow Slash · Dance of Roses · Slash Fury · Shadow Menace · Split Slash
Riesz
Whirlwind Spear · Lance Surge · Aerial Lance · Light Lance · Meteor Thrust · Dragon Rend · Raging Fury
Monsters
Enemies
Bosses
Fullmetal Hugger · Machine Golem R · Jewel Eater · Harcypete · Zehnoa · Bill and Ben · Gova · Machine Golem S · Beast Ludgar · Grapplavine
Benevodons
Dangaard · Land Umber · Fiegmund · Mispolm · Xan Bie · Dolan · Lightgazer · Zable Fahr
Other Enemies
Locations
Settlements
Alrant · Altena · Astoria · Beiser · Diin · Dior · Dwarf Village · Ferolia · Jadd · Koropokkur Woods · Laurent · Maia · Mintas · Nevarl · Palo · Pedda · Sirhtan · Tomato Town · Valsena · Wendel
Fields
Burning Sands · Crystal Desert · Duskmoon Forest · Frostbite Fields · Golden Road · Heavensway · Jungle of Visions · Lampbloom Woods · Molebear Moors · Oblivisle · Rabite Forest · Stonesplit Gap · Volcanic Island Beuca · Woods of Wandara
Dungeons
Cascade Cavern · Celestial Peak · Chartmoon Tower · Gem Valley Daria · Dark Castle · Dragonsmaw · Dwarf Tunnels · Fiery Gorge · Ghost Ship · Gusthall · Labyrinth of Ice · Mirage Palace · Night Cavern · Sanctuary of Mana · Seaside Cavern · Shimmering Ruins
Terms
Mana Tree · Mana Sword · Benevodons
v · e · d
Main Series
Collection of Mana (Final Fantasy Adventure · Secret of Mana · Trials of Mana) · Dawn of Mana
Spin-offs
Legend of Mana · Children of Mana · Heroes of Mana · Rise of Mana
Remakes
Sword of Mana · Adventures of Mana · Secret of Mana (2018) · Trials of Mana (2020)
This page uses content from Wikipedia. The original article is at Trials of Mana. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Wiki of Mana, the text of Wikipedia is available under the GNU Free Documentation License.
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