Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: M2 / Square Enix
Collection of Mana marks the first time that Seiken Densetsu 3 has made its way to the West, complete with an official English translation, making this a collection of games worth paying attention to regardless of the $40 price tag attached. I?ve always been a fan of SNES classic Secret of Mana, so being able to play the sequel in an official capacity is a real treat, and the work done here by developer M2 is on par with their other classic/retro work in the past. The added bonus of including not only Secret of Mana but also Final Fantasy Adventure also helps, giving fans a good sampling of the early days for Square?s Mana franchise.
Seiken Densetsu 3, dubbed Trials of Mana here, bears a lot of resemblance to Secret of Mana when it comes to visuals, combat, and exploration. However, it also features a unique job system, more playable characters. It has an even more unique story structure that?s slightly akin to Octopath Traveler, in that you can choose your starting character and companions from a group of six, which will change the story to some degree as you play. It also holds up pretty well overall, with a great soundtrack, some solid translation work done on the script, and beautifully rendered 2D sprites upscaled to HD.
Of course, Secret of Mana is no slouch either. It’s one of my favorite SNES RPG’s of all time and remains incredibly easy to get back into regardless of how many times I’ve played it. It looks great here, and I’d have a tough time pointing out any real flaw in the emulation work produced by developer M2. Final Fantasy Adventure, while certainly the more dated of the three games featured, is also a neat throwback that’s worth checking out. It’s a game that I owned when I was a kid without even realizing it wasn’t a “proper” Final Fantasy game, but now with 20 plus years of history in front of it, it’s pretty easy to see Adventure as the staging ground for the later games in the Mana series. It’s a little rough around the edges, sure, but makes for a more complete package with its inclusion here.
Admittedly, this collection is light on supplemental material, which is my only real complaint. The core game menu allows you to cycle between the three games with a nice, big full-screen display or each title. From there you can listen to music from the game highlighted, but there’s no additional material to be found. No original instructions, artwork, or behind the scenes material to speak of. In-game there are a couple of filters and resize options, with the Final Fantasy Adventure giving Gameboy Color, original green-screen tint, and standard black and white as more unique options. Every game has a quick save function in addition to the standard in-game save points, so you can essentially pick up, play, then put down at any point. So while I certainly would like to see more supplemental material in collections like this, I’d also argue that Collection of Mana is a selection of three great games, one of which was previously unreleased here, and still worth checking out.
Note: Square Enix provided us with a Collection of Mana Switch code for review purposes.