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Trials Of Mana Has No Manual, So Here’s How To Play It

Screenshot: Square Enix

The good news: Seiken Densetsu 3, the sequel to Secret of Mana, is finally available outside Japan for the first time, and it’s now called Trials of Mana. The bad news: Collection of Mana, the Switch game that includes Trials, doesn’t have a manual, and Trials is a complicated game. Here’s what you should know before you start.

The other two games in the collection, Secret of Mana and Final Fantasy Adventure, are easier to pick up as you go than Trials of Mana, but you should probably still read their instruction manuals. Fortunately, since both of those games were released in the U.S., there are already English-language manuals out there for each. Nintendo has a nice digital version of Secret’s manual online, and there are some fan-scanned versions of Adventure’s instructions too.

As for Trials of Mana, there’s a lot of information out there in the form of FAQs and fan sites, but here are the absolute basics that you should be aware of before you start playing.

The characters you pick will dramatically change the game.

The first thing Trials of Mana asks you to do, before it even starts, is to pick three of its six characters. The first character you pick will be the main character of the story, which will change some elements of the plot. The other two will be your support characters, and join the party very shortly into the game. You’ll then be able to swap between any of them in battle by pressing the Minus button.

The characters are vastly different, and can evolve along multiple pathways as you play. Duran is a swordfighter, Angela uses offensive magic, Riesz is a spear fighter who can use buffs and debuffs, Charlotte uses healing spells, Kevin is a powerful physical attacker, and Hawkeye is a thief who can learn ninja magic.

Screenshot: Square Enix

You can play the game with any combination of characters, but some paths will be more difficult than others. For example: If you don’t have Charlotte in your party from the beginning, get ready to have to use a lot of consumable items to heal. If you don’t have a powerful physical attacker, you’d better get used to using lots of buffs and magic.

If you just want a relatively simple party with which to go through the game for the first time, the advice I’ve seen online (and what I’m doing for my first playthrough in a long time) is Kevin, Hawkeye, and Charlotte. This gives you two powerful physical attackers plus healing magic.

Familiarize yourself with the menus.

You can press the X button to bring up the classic Mana “ring menu” around your character. It’ll default to your consumable items. Press Up or Down to go to your character’s magic menu. Press L or R to switch characters.

Unlike Secret of Mana, you can’t do everything in the Ring Menu. Press Y to go into the game’s pause menu, which is divided into nine screens like the side of a Rubik’s cube. Browse around and you’ll get a sense of what the options are. (Yes, this menu was always this laggy on the SNES, too.) The one you’ll probably use the most is in the upper right, where you can equip new weapons and armor. In here, press the Minus button to swap between characters so you can equip everybody.

Take note of the day-night cycle, and the days of the week.

Trials of Mana has a beautiful day-night cycle, and it’s not just for looks. Different people might be out and about in towns at night, or different businesses might be open. The game will generally clue you in to this stuff. Monsters will be different at night, too, and if you’re playing as Kevin, he’ll turn into a werewolf at night and his strength will increase.

Screenshot: Square Enix

When you stay at an Inn you’ll notice that each time you sleep, the day advances. Each day is associated with a different elemental spirit, and that elemental’s powers are stronger on its day. So if you’re going into battle with an ice monster, waiting for Salamando Day will cause your fire spells to do more damage. You don’t necessarily need to worry about this, but it can be a help!

Plant seeds at the Inn.

In addition to getting a good night’s sleep at Inns in town, you might notice a little empty planter in each one. Check it out and you’ll be able to plant any Seeds that are dropped by enemies, which will immediately blossom into useful items.

Raise your stats smartly.

When you level up, you’ll be asked to bump up one of six stats: Strength, Dexterity, Stamina, Intelligence, Spirit, or Luck. Definitely don’t increase these equally; instead add points to stats that your characters actually make use of.

Strength is purely for physical attack power, so don’t bother putting any points into this for Charlotte, but build it up for Duran et al. Dexterity will boost the special attacks of Hawkeye the thief, but will do little else. Stamina is important for everyone, since it boosts physical defense and adds to HP. Intelligence and Spirit boost magic powers and magic defense; these are much more important for spellcasters than fighters. Luck pretty much only comes into play regarding the treasure chests that monsters drop. It may help you avoid being hurt by a booby-trapped chest, or get a better item.

Also, don’t overly worry about doing this “wrong,” since all stats are bumped up to their respective caps whenever you do a class change.

Screenshot: Square Enix

Keep class changes in mind.

Halfway through the game, you’ll be able to change your characters’ classes, which is basically necessary to finish the game. The game’s a little coy about how you do this, so here’s the scoop: Once you hit Level 18, travel back to one of the game’s Mana Stones, and you’ll be able to change your class. You’ll be asked to pick between two different classes; for instance, the thief Hawkeye can become either a Ranger or a Ninja.

The first of these is the “light” path, focused more on healing and support, while the other is the “dark” path, focused more on doing damage to enemies. Each class change decision is divided into light and dark paths this way. Don’t worry; the “dark” path doesn’t make your characters evil or anything.

This selection, too, is very important since the character’s powers will change quite a bit depending on what you pick—and there are no takebacks! Read a class guide before you commit—you can beat the game with any combination of classes, but you should know what you’re getting into.

Grind when you can.

In general, Trials of Mana is not a game where you can skate by at a low level on twitch skills and luck. If your levels are too low, enemies will pretty much wreck you while you’re dealing single-digit damage. Take the opportunity to grind when you’re in dungeons and you’ll stay ahead of the game. If you’re right next to a gold Mana Statue, which refills your HP and MP for free and lets you save your game, you’re in a good spot for some risk-free grinding.

Manage your item storage.

You can only hold up to 9 of each item in your ring menu. But Trials has a storage option for many more items, and types of item, too. Press the Plus button and you’ll bring up the storage menu, where you can swap things out of your ring menu and put them into storage, and vice versa.

Screenshot: Square Enix

Understand the combat system.

It’s not like Final Fantasy Adventure’s or Secret of Mana’s battle systems, where you have to wait for a meter to fill before you can attack at full power. Just start whackin’ away at everything full blast with the A button. There will be a power meter that fills up, next to your character’s icon on the bottom of the screen. When that turns yellow, press B to do a special attack that will automatically target the closest enemy. That’s it! You can press Minus to change which character you’re controlling.

In battle, you can open the Ring Menu with X, but you can’t open the pause menu or your item storage. So make sure to fill up your Ring menu periodically so you can access your stuff in battle. When you’re in the Ring Menu, press L and R to swap to your other characters.

Some characters will learn MP-consuming magic and skills as they level up. Make sure to put points into Dexterity for Hawkeye and Intelligence for magic users, because this makes them learn new skills. You can access these by going into the Ring Menu in battle and pressing Up or Down to cycle from items to magic. At first, Charlotte can only cast Heal Light to one party member at a time, but once she does her first class change she can target all allies with it.

Remember, most online FAQs were written for the fan translation.

When Seiken Densetsu 3 was translated by fans nearly 20 years ago, the translated names they came up with were different than the official version. So when you see someone’s FAQ talking about “Carlie,” that’s Charlotte. And a thousand other little differences.


There’s still a lot to learn about Trials of Mana, but this is the stuff you should know before you even begin. Hopefully Square Enix’s upcoming 3D remake of the game will integrate all of this learning into the game itself, in this woeful era of no manuals.

Source: Kotaku.com

Collection Of Mana Is 3 Amazing Games With Not Enough Extra Features

Screenshot: Square Enix
Kotaku Game DiaryDaily thoughts from a Kotaku staffer about a game we’re playing.  

One of the first Switch games I bought, way back in the spring of 2017, was the Japanese version of Collection of Mana. It was a very simple package: emulated versions of the first three games in the Mana series, and little else. Two years later, the U.S. version is out, and not much has changed.

Collection of Mana is a $40 package containing the first three games in the Mana series: Final Fantasy Adventure for the Game Boy (from back when the series was more explicitly a Final Fantasy spinoff), the widely beloved Secret of Mana for Super NES, and Trials of Mana.

What’s Trials of Mana? It’s the new official U.S. name for Seiken Densetsu 3, the Super Nintendo sequel to Secret that came out in 1995 in Japan but was famously never released in the West until just this week. Square Enix is now releasing it twice: once as a full modern remake coming in 2020, and once in its original 16-bit form in this collection.

It’s really a crime that it took this long to get here officially, since Trials is a 16-bit masterpiece with beautiful graphics, an ass-kicking soundtrack from Secret’s composer Hiroki Kikuta, and…well, the combat’s a bit janky, but what Mana game’s isn’t?

Square Enix has now translated the whole game into English, which, as any fan translator that works with old games could tell you, is no small feat of reverse engineering. It’s even got a nice, very readable variable-width English font that lets them cram in all the game’s dialogue, which Super Nintendo translations rarely got back in the day.

He… hewwo? Twanslatow? This is weally annoying to wead.
Screenshot: Square Enix (Kotaku)

Meanwhile, Secret of Mana is actually an excellent example of what happens when you don’t change the font size and kerning when you go from Japanese to English, and you can see the results of that in this collection too, since the translations of the first two games are untouched.

It’s not ugly or anything, but the letters take up so much space that you can see why the game’s script had to be cut to shreds when it was translated.
Screenshot: Square Enix

So let’s be clear: It is freaking awesome that Square Enix translated Seiken 3 for this collection. New translations of old games happen very rarely, and this is surely the most complex old-game translation project that’s ever been officially done at a game publisher. It probably helps that this was made by the emulation wizards at M2, which also did Konami’s recent Castlevania and Contra collections for Switch. A lot of effort has been put in to get this collection out of Japan and I’m excited to have it.

That said, I’d be remiss if I didn’t note that Collection of Mana is just about as bare-bones as a retro collection can be. There’s a music player and a few different graphical options for the display, and that’s it. As I pointed out when the collection originally came out in Japan, it doesn’t even have manuals that tell you how to play the games. It does have a very basic graphic that shows the control-scheme layout, but it doesn’t explain how the games work. That’s a problem since these are pretty complicated RPGs that, like most other games from the era, don’t explain themselves. Trials of Mana, in particular, is a complex game that originally came with a 48-page manual packed densely with tiny text explaining all its facets.

In fact, when Collection of Mana came out in Japan in 2017, players immediately complained about its lack of manuals. Within days, Square Enix uploaded some to the web, and then issued a software update that added digital manuals to the game itself. These are missing from the U.S. version, and I think a lot of players are going to be racing to GameFAQs in the days to come.

Collection of Mana is a simple release, but that simplicity also has its upsides. Square Enix generally seems to be under the impression that if it rereleases its classic games, it has to put a gross graphical filter over them, change the font to Arial, and do other totally unnecessary things in the name of “progress” when all anybody wants is just the original games running in good emulation. This. This is what Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger, and Square’s other classic games deserve, and nothing less.

Source: Kotaku.com

Trials Of Mana Looks Much Better Than The Secret Of Mana Remake

Screenshot: Square Enix
E3 2019It’s time for the biggest gaming show of the year. We’ve got articles, videos, podcasts and maybe even a GIF or two.  

Disappointed by last year’s 3D remake of Secret of Mana? Well, Trials of Mana, the upcoming remake of its sequel, looks nothing like it. Nintendo and Square Enix showed off the Switch game on today’s Treehouse Live stream, and it looks like a completely new, modern game design based on the Super NES original.

The Secret of Mana remake for PlayStation 4, Vita, and PC did have 3D graphics, but the design itself was nearly unchanged from the 16-bit game. The perspective was locked to top-down, the dungeon designs were identical, the enemies were in the same places, and the awkward parts of the original game were mostly left unchanged. I didn’t think it was much of an upgrade at all; if the gameplay’s going to be identical I’d rather play it with 2D pixel art than zoomed-out polygons.

Not so with Trials of Mana, which will release early next year. It’s a remake of 1995’s Seiken Densetsu 3—which was unavailable in the U.S. until yesterday, when it was released as part of Collection of Mana for the Switch. The remake is a modern-day action RPG not only in looks but in the design, too. The camera is fully controllable, defaulting to over the character’s shoulder. You can jump, which you couldn’t do in the original game, leaping to hit higher enemies (or just for the fun of it).

The battle system has been totally overhauled, too. For example, when you enter a battle you’re given some bonus conditions like “defeat all enemies within 20 seconds,” which will give you extra EXP if you meet them. There’s a mini-map with waypoints. There’s treasure scattered in nooks and crannies of the newly overhauled map, which was not the case with the original.

Screenshot: Square Enix

Just from the few minutes of play we saw in the Treehouse stream, you can tell that from a design perspective, this is essentially a brand new entry in the Mana series, just one that happens to be based on the story of a previous game. That’s exciting! I’ve gone from utterly uninterested in this remake (based on having played through what Secret of Mana got) to 100 percent definitely playing it on day one. I’ll still be playing the SNES game it’s based on, of course, especially since I was looking for another 16-bit RPG to sink my teeth into. But I can’t wait for this.

The Mana series has had a difficult time of it over the last couple of decades with disappointing remakes, gacha-based mobile spinoffs, and few attempts at creating a truly new high-quality triple-A game that continues the action RPG legacy of the originals. Trials of Mana isn’t “new,” but it is clearly an attempt to update the Mana formula for the modern day. Who knows, maybe it’ll even paint the path forward for the series and lead to a truly new episode.

Source: Kotaku.com

Everything Nintendo Announced At E3 2019

Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
Screenshot: Nintendo
E3 2019It’s time for the biggest gaming show of the year. We’ve got articles, videos, podcasts and maybe even a GIF or two.  

As is tradition, Nintendo finished out the four-day marathon of E3 livestreams with its Direct presentation Tuesday morning. The big news? A full sequel to Zelda: Breath of the Wild. We also got updates on Luigi’s Mansion, Animal Crossing, and a bunch of smaller announcements, plus two exciting new Smash characters.

Games From Nintendo

The sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is in development.

We didn’t get more than a teaser trailer, but it showed Link and Zelda exploring a dungeon together, so let your mind wander as far as what that might mean.

Banjo-Kazooie and Dragon Quest’s Hero are the next two Smash Ultimate DLC fighters.

While the bear and bird, formerly a Nintendo property but now Microsoft’s, might have seemed like a pipe dream, Nintendo’s big reveal at the end of its show was that Banjo and Kazooie are indeed coming to Smash this fall. Before that, this summer, will be The Hero, a single character that can represent the heroes from several different Dragon Quest games.

Animal Crossing: New Horizon for Switch has been delayed to March 20, 2020.

That’s a lot of twenties. And a bit more waiting than we first thought we’d have to do for Animal Crossing on Switch, which was initially promised for 2019. “Early 2020” was already jam-packed and now it’s jammer-packed. Nintendo said it would reveal more information about Animal Crossing on its Treehouse Live livestreams, which run today through Thursday.

The Switch remake of Link’s Awakening will have a sort of custom-dungeon mode, and drops on September 20.

A new feature for this remake of the classic Game Boy game: You’ll earn different “chambers” throughout the game and you can then place them to create a sort-of customized dungeon. Beat your creation and you’ll win rewards. It’s all hosted by Dampe the gravedigger.

Cadence of Hyrule will be available this week.

The crossover of Crypt of the NecroDancer and Legend of Zelda, in which you fight through Hyrule to the beat of guitar-shreddin’ Zelda soundtrack remixes, will be out on June 13.

Luigi’s Mansion 3 has couch co-op and an online mode.

A second player will be able to join in the fun when Luigi’s Mansion hits Switch in 2019. They can play as “Gooigi,” which the Oxford dictionary defines as “a Luigi made of goo.” Gooigi can walk on spikes and through obstacles, but will melt in water. You’ll also play as both Luigi and Gooigi in single-player, swapping between them to solve puzzles. The “ScareScraper” online coop mode lets you seek out Toads and take out ghosts with 8 players.

Daemon X Machina will be available on September 13, 2019.

What do you get when you cross a daemon and a machina? We’ll find out!

No More Heroes 3 is in development, and will arrive in 2020.

As teased at the end of Travis Strikes Again.

The Pokéball Plus controller can be used with Pokémon Sword And Shield.

It can’t be used as a controller in the game, but it will let you take your Pokémon out into the world. “If you spend some quality time with a favorite Pokémon of yours, then something good might happen,” said Nintendo’s Shinya Takahashi.

Third-Party Games

A previously untranslated Mana game is coming to Switch—twice.

1995’s Seiken Densetsu 3, the followup to the legendary action RPG Secret of Mana, has never left Japan until now. Today, it’s finally going to be available in America as part of Collection of Mana, a Switch retro collection that includes the first three games in the Mana series: Final Fantasy Adventure for the Game Boy, Secret of Mana for the SNES, and the third game, now titled Trials of Mana for its English-language debut.

But wait! Don’t want to play the game in its original beautiful pixel-art 2D form? Weird, but ok: A 3D remake of Trials of Mana, in the vein of last year’s Secret of Mana remake, is heading to Switch in “early 2020.”

Dragon Quest XI S: Definitive Edition will hit Switch on September 27.

It’s been “fall” for a while now, but now we have a date.

Witcher 3 is coming to Switch.

It’s called the “Complete Edition” and will arrive this year.

Resident Evils 5 and 6 are coming to Switch.

Switch draws ever closer to housing the complete Resident Evil collection. They’ll both be out this fall.

Contra: Rogue Corps is coming to Switch on September 24.

Whoa, a new Contra! It’ll have local and online multiplayer for four players. Also, the Contra anniversary collection is available today.

Panzer Dragoon for Switch.
Screenshot: Nintendo

The remake of Panzer Dragoon is coming to Switch this winter.

If you don’t know what that is, I have a feature you can read.

The Netflix Dark Crystal series is getting a tie-in tactics RPG.

Called The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics, it’s got Claymation-style graphics. Coming this year.

Empire Of Sin is a new game from Romero Games.

Looks like a sort of film noir 1930s zoot-suit crime drama sorta thing. “Speakeasies” and “dames” and such. In development from Romero Games, the studio founded by John Romero (Doom) and Brenda Romero (Wizardry 8, Jagged Alliance 2), and Paradox Interactive, it’ll be out Spring 2020.

More Games!

A sizzle reel showed off even more games getting ported to Switch: The Spyro the Dragon trilogy (September 3), Ni no Kuni (September 20), Minecraft Dungeons (Spring 2020), The Sinking City (fall 2019), Alien: Isolation (2019), New Super Lucky’s Tale (Fall 2019).

Other games that had already been announced but that had release date updates during the Direct: Mario & Sonic at the Tokyo Olympics (November 2019), Dead By Daylight (September 24), Dauntless (late 2019).

Source: Kotaku.com