A worthy Remake although characters lacking Manarisms
Another day another remake of a 16-Bit Classic, this time in the form of Trials of Mana. A part of Square’s Mana series that never got a glance outside of Japan until now. The game follows Several characters all with varying Story Arcs as they try to restore the Mana of the World by defeating an evil presence which plans to gain more power in a weakened World.
At first glance Trials of Mana is beautiful, the characters have been amazingly recreated. Looking at the original character sprites you can really see the detail that has gone into them as they have been bought to life. The world itself is also gorgeous to look at, towns are full of spirit and everything is lovingly recreated right down to each Barrel and Chest that can be found lying around.
However, Trials of Mana suffers from the same flaws that Secret of Mana did in its transition which is its Character building. While Trials of Mana has likeable characters and they all have been fleshed out well with great voice actors they don’t seem to interact well with each other. Certain scenes that have a feeling of awe, sadness or desperation transition far too quickly into the next taking the whole scene away and usually making them easily forgettable. You would be forgiven for thinking Angela is rude as after she is told a life story of tragedy, but continues to say nothing until you are able to control her again when she says she is fed up with Babysitting. Maybe she isn’t that rude, I mean Angela has her own problems which she is trying to fix.
Trials of Mana is easy to get into thanks to its hand-holding from the moment you begin the game. There are plenty of items at your disposal with almost every battle giving more spoils and Experience Based on your performance. For example, beating enemies without damage and doing it within a time frame will award bonus Experience Points. That’s not to say the game is easy though as the difficulty ramps up quickly once you have three characters in your party especially if you take the harder difficulty option so if you want a real challenge then it’s there. Battles consist of fighting enemies in the open fields and are initiated by approaching them. The battles are exceptionally fun even though basic to begin with by using a weak and strong attack, even flying enemies are easy to take down as you have free control over your character as you are able to jump in battle, taking a group of enemies out with one fell swoop is also fun as it is rewarding.
As you level you can strengthen your characters simply by putting points into a certain strength and allowing you to gain extra stats or learn new abilities. It’s a simple but otherwise engaging system and when the difficulty ramps up especially playing on the harder difficulty you will appreciate taking out the time to strengthen your party. Some abilities are able to be used by each character but sadly only once meaning if you want someone else to use it you will have to take it from whoever is currently using it.
Trials of Mana has a Day and Night system in place and the game will change from Day to Night almost instantly although the game does freeze to let you know this. This is a feature that allows certain elemental attacks to be powerful on a certain day but is rendered pointless as elemental spells are not that common. There is a certain character that is more powerful at night so if you do have them then it is, by all means, better to have them in your group at night.
Trials of Mana also has an exceptional soundtrack which consists of the Original and the Remake and the option to switch between both at any time. After hearing the original soundtrack I can appreciate it and it really is a remarkable soundtrack, comparing it to the remake is equally as amazing and I found myself more often than not switching between them. I wish there were a few more varying tracks, especially in towns as they usually all have the same track playing all with the same Shopkeepers dancing but they were in the Original so I can appreciate this.
Trials of Mana has a lot to it and even after finishing the main game you can play through from a different character’s perspective. On meeting new members you are able to go through a bit of their backstory if you wish which involves playing them for a bit although this can be skipped entirely and just giving you the basic. There is no harm in doing this as nothing carries over from the memory into the main game and having the option to play the game as the Characters again from the beginning gives more of an incentive to play the game again from the start.
My time with Trials of Mana has been a joyful one, I really enjoy the environments and the Character designs. Nothing feels over the top and the music blends in with everything the game has to offer. The game hasn’t transitioned over very well with its Character interactions and storytelling but it is still great fun to play nevertheless.