As I will surely have commented here several times (due to the analysis of its remake, without going any further), Secret of Mana is my favorite game of all time. I don’t mean to say it’s the best, because 1993 is a bit far for all of us and because growing up also means understanding that the things you loved when you were a kid could be right for that; that you missed the references, that everything was new and exciting and awesome back then, and that a simple and colorful JRPG, one of those stories about crystals and magical realms and old trees that typed it up was more than enough to rock your world upstairs if it happened at the right time.
Nostalgia is a very dangerous weapon when engaged in it, and although right now my heart is asking me to go to an orgy of flattery and affection while I program a tube TV to connect the Super Nintendo, I think I owe the reader an unreasonable explanation of why this game was worth it. And it costs me. I find it hard to defend its combat system, an imprecise and somewhat innocent take on rpg action that hasn’t even considered diagonals, and the same happens to me with a current argument blushing and casting characters bland enough that no one, not even me, can remember the name of the protagonist. Secret of Mana has made water in many, too many of its sections, and if its memory continues to make us smile, the explanation has to be found in the one asset that truly stands the test of time: its charm.
There was charm in their designs, in their sprites, in the cooing of a resolute river with a pair of dancing pixels, and in the behavior of those arch-footed mushrooms that the game passed off as their enemies, and although its sequel Trials of Mana (Seiken Densetsu 3 until June of last year, when the Collection of Mana compilation gave us its first official appearance in the Western Territories) tried to fix everything else, the result was a lot, much more the same. Anyone who loves’ 90s pixel art should kneel down to a game in which every rock, waterfall, and grass swaying in the wind was the most Super Nintendo could offer, and so I think that’s important. to start with what is clear: if there was something vindictive about Seiken Densetsu 3, it was its beauty, and if the intention was to save it, this remake can be considered more than an absolute success. .
And it is that Trials of Mana, the three-dimensional Trials of Mana that will reach us on April 24 of this year, is a game of devilish beauty. It is also a carbon copy of the original, a rereading of the drawings, maps and melodies which this time seems aware of the emotional capital with which he works and is responsible for updating it with all the care and attention. . which unfortunately were missing in the original remake. It’s not just that the cutscenes are incomparably more sophisticated, or that the characters now know how to move their mouths: that there’s more money is as obvious as we know where to spend it, and that’s why some hate comparisons end up losing bellows.
I guess sooner or later the problem must have arisen, so here it is: having to live with a technical monstrosity over time as the demo of Final Fantasy VII Remake seems like a big role for another game that aspires to do a glorious box of Squaresoft had a great time, but personally and budget issues aside, I doubt Trials of Mana would have liked such a display of super realistic lights and textures. Because Seiken Densetsu 3 was something else. Seiken Densetsu 3 was a tale, an innocent, brilliant, hopelessly hopeful adventure that no one put bombs anywhere in, and this world of pastel colors and exaggerated modeling of Dragon Quest XI is exactly the treatment it deserves. There will be those who miss the teraflops, but I’m worth it with the sparkle of Duran’s mane under a helmet that clearly magnifies.
We talked about fixing things again, and a series of small revolutions that this third installment has put on the table and that this remake uses to continue to be relevant no less than in 2020. The most striking and the one that monopolizes probably the most in The Titles will be this revamped combat system which we’ll look at later, but let me celebrate it first because it deserves an argument that ultimately decided to take advantage of that precious wrapping paper to show some ambition.
And now yes, it’s time for the gangsters. It is time to fight, something that in Trials of Mana we will do a lot and very often because he is also the son of his time: here there is no temple without its glass, there is no excursion through the field that does not require us to draw the sword and there is no underground cave that does not surprise us with a giant crab resistant to water damage. The combat structure, cinematics, urban core, exploration, and return to combat are the same that have supported the genre for decades, and for that reason, it’s fortunate the studio has gone down a bit more when it’s about offering systems. Systems which, perhaps in the original, failed, and which modern Trials of Mana strive to bring to today’s standards by setting targets, strong, fast, and special attacks, some ability to connect them to each other and a magical system that also benefits from the day-night cycle, also recovering that “day undine” in which the water spells do more damage.
There’s also some effort in terms of progression and some bonded and passive skill systems that would be boring to delve into, but luckily it’s all there where it plays: there’s a radial menu, there’s candy to deal with, and there are some very thoughtful shortcuts that include the reality and the number of buttons on a 2020 controller. Yes, we will moderate the expectations: Trials of Mana continues to fulfill its role as a level 25 doll crusher and in general. , the system is nimble and extremely satisfying, but no one expects a Bloodborne.
And there really is very little else, because Trials of Mana is to be thanked for the sincerity of not wanting to be more than what it always has been: a beautiful, good-natured, carefree JRPG who only aspires to ‘to keep you dear. It is that same affection that made it worthy of a restoration job like this, and for which I have it, I can only celebrate that this time things went well. No bragging, no frills, no technical demonstrations that would have gone nowhere, but with a certain tenderness. I guess that won’t be enough for many, and that’s why I started out talking about nostalgia: because it’s even easier to let go of cynicism. Because pointing fingers at a 2020 game with the aspirations of a 1995 game is also very tempting, and because there are those for whom maturity also means being back from everything. It’s not my case. Maybe at one point it was, but being these are the things a game reminds me of when everything was simpler, that’s exactly what I need.
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