Ask any mega-fan of Square’s Mana series (like myself), and they’ll tell you one of the best games in the series is Seiken Densetsu 3…which at one point was scheduled to be released on the Super NES in 1995 as Secret of Mana 2. Instead, Square canned the localization and it stayed in Japan for decades.
Fans had to settle for a bootleg ROM with a translation patch. Secret of Mana 2 would have improved upon Secret of Mana in every way (and that game was already amazing). The controls are better, the AI is smarter (though not so smart as to avoid feeling dated) and every playthrough is different because you select three characters from a lineup of six, then follow their involvement in the larger story. To get the full experience, multiple plays are a must…and you’ll want to!
In 2017 Square released Seiken Densetsu Collection on the Switch, containing the first three Mana games on one card. Fans begged and pleaded for it, but months and then years went by without a proper localization. To bring it over would require more than just a ROM dump….it would need a full translation of Seiken Densetsu 3. Clearly Square wasn’t willing to go that far.
Until today, when Seiken Densetsu 3 (now called Trials of Mana) started undergoing a remake, and Square had to introduce Western countries to the game BEFORE the new version actually came out. Trials of Mana is the lost classic in the series, and we’re getting BOTH versions!
Collection of Mana arrives first, and it’s actually available right now on the Switch eShop — a physical version will follow at Best Buy this August. My advice is not to wait — it’s $39.99 and worth every penny. M2 handled the emulation and special features include screen filters, alternate borders, save states and (most crucially) a soundtrack player. The three-player feature in Secret of Mana is supported, while Trials of Mana supports two players.
The 3D polygonal Trials of Mana remake will follow in early 2020. If the extremely faithful Secret of Mana remake is any indication, this should mostly be the same game. In case you’re wondering, the original Mana (“Final Fantasy Adventure” for Game Boy) received a remake of its own a few years ago, but the only English release was exclusively on the PS Vita. Right now, it’s the only motive I have to track a Vita down.