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Trials of Mana

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This article is about the original Super Famicom release and its Collection of Mana release. For the game's 3D remake, see Trials of Mana (remake).
Trials of Mana
Seiken Densetsu 3 box art.jpg
Developer Square
Publisher Square
Platforms Super Famicom
Release date Japan September 30, 1995
Genre Action role-playing
Mode(s) Single player, multiplayer
Media Cartridge
Input Super Famicom controller

Trials of Mana is the third installment of the Mana series, developed by Square under the direction of series creator Koichi Ishii. Larger and more complex than the previous installment for the Super Famicom (Secret of Mana), the game takes place in a new world where, once again, the Mana Tree is under threat from an ancient evil thought sealed away. Players choose three from among six heroes as the chosen wielder of the Mana Sword and their two companions on the journey to claim the holy blade and preserve what remains of mana power.

The game itself gained notoriety for its introduction of a class system as well as its difficulty and replayability when it was first released in 1995, drawing the interest of a team of dedicated fan-hackers led by Neil Corlett, after Nintendo reportedly refused to release an official English version for the Super Nintendo. The Corlett project was released in the year 2000. However, no further details in reference to the game were available for 16 years.

With the Japanese release of the Collection of Mana anthology to Nintendo Switch in 2017, Square Enix began working on its official English translation, citing strong fan demand. The project culminated in a complete port of the anthology for worldwide audiences in June 2019. Square Enix further announced that a full 3D reboot of the game would become available early 2020; but even with a near-complete demo version circulating in established trade shows, the company pushed the release of the reboot from February to April of the same year.

Names[edit]

Because of its outward similarity to Secret of Mana, Seiken Densetsu 3 was often called Secret of Mana 2 within early fan communities, such as those established in Usenet newsgroups and on small fansites that comprised much of the Internet around the time of its release. This, however, proved to be less enduring than using the original Japanese name. Square Enix's choice of "Trials of Mana" has its roots in consultations between present Square Enix teams and Kōichi Ishii himself. Ishii is said to have suggested "Trials of Mana" with a twofold purpose: first, to represent the individual sagas of the six heroes; and second, to use the Latin prefix tri- to refer to the game's ordinal position as the third in the series.

Synopsis[edit]

In a time before the world was created, a great war was being fought between the Mana Goddess and eight fearsome beasts born of the elements, the Benevodons. In a dramatic final stand, the Goddess drew her sword and subdued all of the creatures, sealing each one in one of eight Mana Stones she had fashioned. She then set about her task of rebuilding what was destroyed in the war with the Benevodons. Weary from her labors, the Goddess set her sword—the Mana Sword—at her feet and transformed into the Tree of Mana. Her resting place would henceforth be known as the Sanctuary of Mana, where she remained undisturbed for countless years. The Mana Stones were divided among the great kingdoms of the world; at one time, these kingdoms understood the Stones as objects of great power, and that to use that power would come at the cost of the life of a person who sought as much. However, the peace is broken when mana power begins to weaken years later, prompting the kingdoms to war for control of the Mana Stones and, by extension, the Sword of Mana believed to grant the wishes of its bearer. As this takes place, the sudden shift in mana power rouses a group of faeries to seek out the Priest of Light in the Holy City of Wendel for his aid. Many faeries are too exhausted to pierce the veil between the Sanctuary and the mortal plane, except for one, who survives the crossing but collapses near the town of Astoria. She must find herself a host to bond with, or she will perish. Six heroes, each connected to the conflicts now taking place, will join the Faerie on her mission to protect the Tree of Mana.

Players will select one of the six heroes to become the Chosen of the Mana Sword in addition to two other heroes to serve as companions of the Chosen in one of three intertwined stories unfolding before them. Choosing two heroes of the same story will allow the player to experience said story in greater depth than choosing one hero from each story.

Gameplay[edit]

Like its predecessor, the original Trials of Mana is a top-down 2D action RPG in the vein of The Legend of Zelda, allowing the player to attack enemies, use items, and cast magic in real time from the Ring Menu system. The player takes direct control of the party member in position 1 at all times while observing combat from an overhead view. Up to 2 players can simultaneously control two of the three characters while engaged in battle.

Trials of Mana adds several elements new to the series:

  • Calendar system: In-game time is based on a seven-day week, with each day being divided into AM (Wisp] and PM (Shade) periods, which affects the types and numbers of enemies fought as well as altering the flow of the main story. Each day is tuned to one of six Mana Spirits, with their magic becoming stronger on their assigned day without necessarily weakening the others: Salamander, Undine, Jinn, Gnome, Dryad, and Luna. The seventh is the Mana Day, in which all magic is balanced and all inns offer to rest the night at no charge.
  • Class change system: As the player progresses through the story, they can choose one of several predefined roles for each hero selected; each begins in a default class, then advances through a second intermediate class on a Light or Dark path, and finally evolves through a third advanced class with another Light or Dark selection. Each class choice determines the balance of the chosen hero's stats and provides for them to use more powerful abilities with greater range and accuracy. Players also gain new abilities by selectively augmenting individual stats with every experience level gained.
  • Class Strike system: As the player lands different attacks, heroes can now build energy reserves to use special moves that defeat multiple foes with the touch of a button. Up to three moves are learnt by each hero, increasing in power with each class selected. While at first glance an evolution of the Spirit Gauge system of previous titles, the player is now able to control precisely when to use heroes' special moves as they would the use of a spell or item.
  • Item synthesis: Using special seeds obtained in combat, players can utilize Magic Pots to grow randomized items while visiting an inn. Each new item is immediately given to the player when sprouted.
  • Item overflow storage: Should the player's Item Ring fill to capacity on any single item, the excess can now be tucked away in a bag that works behind the scenes. The player can transfer any items to or from the bag at any time outside of combat.
  • Trap roulette: Round and round it goes; where it stops, the player will never know. Players may encounter dropped treasure chests with a randomized wheel of traps, building on the Secret of Mana trap chest feature. Unlike the previous game, players will almost always get an item, albeit at potentially great cost to the party member opening the chest.

Characters[edit]

Heroes[edit]

  • Duran: An aspiring young swordsman from the central plains kingdom of Valsena who dreams of becoming an elite knight as his father, Loki, had been in service to the kingdom. Years ago, however, Loki vanished on a mission alongside the Hero King to put an end to the Dragon Lord, who once laid waste to Valsena. Loki's departure left behind his ailing wife Simone, Duran, and his daughter Wendy; and when Simone's illness took her life, the children were raised by Simone's sister Stella. Duran grew to be a capable swordsman and competed in several tournaments as the years passed, which earned him a position in the castle guard. His skills are put to the test when a mysterious red-cloaked figure from neighboring Altena sneaks into the fortress and sets his sights on the Hero King. Duran intervenes, but is quickly overwhelmed by powerful magic. Believing himself to have failed in a key mission, Duran goes into self-imposed exile and makes for Wendel to become a more powerful warrior in order to slay his assailant.
  • Angela: The rebellious princess of the magical kingdom of Altena in the northern snowfields. Her mother, the True Queen, has employed mana power to maintain a springlike climate in and around the city; but the shift in mana now weakens her efforts. The Queen is then advised by her red-cloaked confidant to take the Mana Stones and the Sword of Mana to power her spell, only for Angela to try to stop to the both of them. Instead, the Queen opts to cast the forbidden spell and use her magic-less daughter as the offering. Angela objects, but escapes in an instant to the cold wilds beyond Altena. Angela quickly succumbs to the weather, but is rescued by a single mother and her daughter and taken to Alrant to rest a night. Waking the next morning, Angela stumbles into the local pub, where an old fortune-teller is heard rambling about a destiny awaiting in Wendel. She becomes intrigued, and wishes to become the mightiest mage in the world so that her mother will respect her.
  • Kevin: The somewhat-nervous and slightly inarticulate half-blood prince of the western realm of Ferolia, kingdom of the lycanthrope beastman tribe. Kevin was born to the King of Ferolia and a human mother, and is ostracized by his fellow tribesmen as a result. He wanders the nearby Duskmoon Forest with a howler pup named Karl. Kevin returns to the castle to witness his father in league with an undead jester named Goremand, who then hatches a twofold plot to invade Wendel for its Mana Stone and provoke Kevin into metamorphosis. Goremand turns Karl on Kevin using dark magic, forcing Kevin to morph and kill the pup. Enraged, Kevin seeks vengeance against his father and storms off. When he returns to the forest, Goremand teases Kevin with the promise of bringing Karl back to life, and points him to Wendel to meet the Priest of Light.
  • Charlotte: An effervescent half-elf cleric-in-training who describes herself as the "famous beauty of Wendew" due to a speech impediment. Her grandfather is the Priest of Light sought by the other heroes. Haunted by dreams of the family she lost, Charlotte becomes involved when her grandfather notices several signs of a shift in mana power and sends his disciple and her surrogate brother Heath to investigate a disturbance near Astoria. Charlotte receives a premonition upon overhearing the conversation. She shadows Heath for a short time, and soon witnesses him mobbed by the beastmen. Her fears prove true when Goremand arrives on the scene and Heath suddenly disappears. Though stunned to the point of inconsolable grief, Charlotte resolves to rescue him. Little does she realize, her role in world affairs is about to become much larger than even she could anticipate.
  • Hawkeye: A cunning thief with a heart of gold and a member of a noble thieves' guild based in Nevarl, an eastern fortress on the fringes of the Burning Sands. When the guild's leader, Flamekhan is rescued by a mysterious woman in the middle of the desert, he is immediately possessed by the desire to re-fashion Nevarl into a kingdom in order to seize control of the Mana Stones. Hawkeye's best friend and Flamekhan's son Eagle suspects his father as up to no good, so the two team up to investigate. They inadvertently eavesdrop on Flamekhan acting with two demonic conspirators and are caught in the act, prompting one of the demons to take hold of Eagle and forcing Hawkeye to strike Eagle down. Hawkeye is then framed for Eagle's murder and escorted to the fortress prison. Meanwhile, the demons seize Hawkeye's love interest and Eagle's sister Jessica to place a cursed choker on her neck; if Hawkeye should speak the truth of what he saw, Jessica dies. Fortunately, the guild's crafty feline thief Niccolo breaks him free to go to Wendel and find a way to save Jessica.
  • Riesz: An heir to the throne of Laurent, Kingdom of Wind, and the captain of its elite Amazon Guard. During a routine training session, Riesz and her father, the blind clairvoyant King Joster, receive separate premonitions of an ill omen concerning the future of the kingdom. Meanwhile, Prince Elliot, Riesz's younger brother and her charge since the death of their mother, is slacking off somewhere on the castle grounds. As Riesz frantically searches for him, twin ninjas from Nevarl, Bil and Ben, materialize and lure the boy into dampening Laurent's protective winds, creating an opening for the Nevarlans to seize the citadel and knock out its defenses. The assault further results in Joster's assassination and Elliot's kidnapping by the invaders. Distraught, Riesz recalls her father's final words about seeking the Priest of Light in Wendel for answers to perplexing predicaments. With few options left, she sets out for Wendel as the sole survivor of the invasion. She now searches for her brother and for a way to release him from Nevarl's grasp.

Villains[edit]

  • The Benevodons: Eight colossi with little more than an insatiable appetite for chaos and destruction, existing before the creation of the world. The Mana Goddess sealed each creature in a Mana Stone of their respective element to put an end to the carnage wrought.
  • The Dragon Lord: Duran and Angela's ultimate nemesis. An evil tyrant who sought to conquer the world years before the events of the story. Loki and the Hero King once traveled on a quest to defeat him.
    • Crimson Wizard: A wizard originally from Altena who seeks power above all else. As a younger man, he sacrificed half of his life force to revive the man who would become his lord and master. He returns to his homeland to serve the True Queen as her second-in-command.
    • Darkshine Knight: A mysterious black-armored knight who has sworn absolute fealty to the Dragon Lord.
    • True Queen: The current Queen of Altena and Angela's mother, who seeks to secure her reign through control of mana power and to maintain her perfect realm. It is she who, advised by the Crimson Wizard, orders the strike against Valsena as well as the sacrifice of her only daughter, with whom she has been estranged.
  • The Masked Mage: Kevin and Charlotte's ultimate rival. A former high priest of Wendel, corrupted by dark magic as was once used to save a dying girl from an illness. Its aftereffects rendered him a power-mad revenant, who now seeks to become a god through his control of mana power.
    • Tainted Soul: A mysterious youth corrupted by the Masked Mage, who now serves him without fail.
    • Goremand: The "Devourer of Souls" who serves the Masked Mage toward his own ends, an undead jester who possesses the ability to draw out and consume the life energy of the weak and enfeebled before their death.
    • King of Ferolia: The ruler of the beastmen and Kevin's father, whose only interest is his retribution against humans for their continuing oppression of his people. He forms an uneasy alliance with Goremand, if only to advance his own cause and harden his timid son.
    • Ludgar: A general of Ferolia and Kevin's personal rival, who leads his king's armies in battle against humankind. He spearheads the invasion of Wendel as part of the broader offensive.
  • His Dark Majesty, the Prince of Mavolia: Hawkeye and Riesz's archenemy. The demihuman ruler of the netherworld who was once the prince of an unnamed kingdom adjacent to Laurent. His mortal family rejected him for the evil within. Demons took him in, only for the corrupted prince to seize power from a previous ruler. His Dark Majesty attempted to conquer the mortal realm in an act of revenge, but he was destroyed and reduced to remains. His most loyal followers now seek to resurrect him.
    • Belladonna: The Prince's second-in-command, who has an unrequited infatuation with her master and seeks to develop a fuller relationship with him. As one of Mavolia's most powerful demons, it is her magic and cunning that drives Nevarl to seize Laurent and corrupts Flamekhan.
    • Malocchio: A vampire serving as Belladonna's wingman and a powerful mage in his own right, who also seeks to revive his master. He abducts Elliot in order to give the Prince a living body upon resurrection.
    • Bil and Ben: A pair of ninja formerly in service to the thieves' guild, corrupted by Belladonna to invade Laurent and deliver Prince Elliot to the Prince of Mavolia. At one time friends of Hawkeye, they become his personal rivals.
    • Flamekhan: The leader and mentor of the Nevarl thieves' guild, and the father of Jessica and Eagle. After an incident in which he was stranded, Belladonna rescued him and took him back to the fortress. From there, his mind is slowly poisoned by Belladonna, who desires a kingdom to seize control of the Mana Stones and mana power itself.

Differences in other versions[edit]

Collection of Mana[edit]

  • Released as part of an anthology.
  • Original CRT aspect ratio retained by default.
  • Bumper wallpaper has been added.
  • Savestate features have been added.

Most of the differences are from the official translation:

  • Some enemies spawn in a different place on the map and some are replaced by other enemies altogether.
  • A condensed, fixed-width font is used for all non-Japanese scripts.
    • The speech is a bit more formal and fantasy-esque.
    • Numerals are fully written (8 God Beasts vs Eight Benevodons).
    • God-Beasts are now called Benevodons.
    • Partners are now called companions in the character selection screen.
    • The currency is now called GP instead of lucre.
    • Morning is now called AM and Night is called evening or PM in the text displayed when interacting with inn keepers.
    • The ring menu separate clauses with slashes instead of spaces and all text is aligned to the left.
    • A lot of locations have their names changed (Navarre vs Nevarl, Byzel vs Beiser, etc.)
    • Names of locations in the game don't use their full title (Holy City Wendel in the fan translation vs Wendel in the 2019 version).
    • The player can now use letters with diacritics (é, à, ê, etc.) upon choosing to name their playable characters.
    • Techs are now called class strikes.
    • Most magic, skills and class strikes have a new name and some of them are nods to the previous Mana title (Secret of Mana), like Reflect Magic being renamed Wall.
    • Some of the heroes' personality traits appear to have been slightly altered in order to better fit certain cultural norms. For example, Angela is shown to be a bit less bratty and more tired with her mentor José in her introduction and Duran is more unsure of himself rather than angry at the Ferolian beastmen in Jadd.

Cosmetic changes[edit]

  • The registered trademark symbol ® is absent from the title screen.
  • The playable character' names are taken directly from the original Japanese script. Advancements in ROM-hacking technology circa 2019 allowed the developers to squeeze more data into the space offered by the original ROM.
  • Kevin's speech is broken rather than primitive, implying a degree of nervousness.
  • Charlotte's speech is now altered with replacing most L's and R's with W's, a bit like Elmer Fudd of Looney Tunes shorts.
  • Text color for narration is now white like every other text instead of yellow and so are the character names and locations.
  • Text for the names of locations are centered, like when read on signs.
  • Room transitions, dialogue boxes and menus are slower in the 2019 version compared to the original.
  • Some scenes use smaller textboxes when in the fan translation use the regular format.
  • The main menu has been revamped in some areas.
    • The mini-map on the lower right angle of the screen sports symbols of each menu's sections instead of words.
    • Time of the day (Lumina or Shade) is now called Hour or Hr.
    • Character's attributes are now given a new translation and abreviated. For example, Agility is now called Dexterity or DEX in the game menu.

Gallery[edit]

For this subject's image gallery, see Gallery:Trials of Mana.

Names in other languages[edit]

Language Name Meaning
Japanese 聖剣伝説3
Seiken Densetsu 3
Legend of the Sacred Sword 3
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