Best Surprise Release
Most Awaited Localization
Best Pixel Art
The Mana series hasn’t had the best track record for localizations. Square Enix released the first outside of Japan as a Final Fantasy game. The mobile games never had a chance outside the region. The greatest tragedy was Seiken Densetsu 3, an entry with a customizable party, cooperative multiplayer and storylines that changed depending on who you followed. While Secret of Mana, its predecessor, and Dawn of Mana, its successor, both received localizations, that one didn’t.
Until now. In 2019, Square Enix shocked the world and localized Trials of Mana.
Here’s how it happened. In Japan, Seiken Densetsu Collection was a launch window title for the Nintendo Switch. This M2-developed compilation gave people Final Fantasy Adventure, Secret of Mana and Trials of Mana. Unfortunately, it was limited to Japan. Square Enix never said anything about a worldwide release, and it seemed like one of the few imports Switch owners would have to envy from afar.
Then, during the E3 2019 Nintendo Direct, Collection of Mana appeared. There were no early warnings. Nintendo confirmed during the video that it would be available on the eShop everywhere, fully translated, marking the first time Trials of Mana was available outside of Japan.
And so, twenty-four years after its original release, Trials of Mana was finally here.
It was worth the wait.
Trials of Mana is an unmatched experience and gorgeous game. Square Enix spritework on the Super NES was unmatched, and the details are extraordinary. Everything learned from Secret of Mana is built upon here, with people able to choose who they want in their party and how each character is built up. There are six different heroes. Each one could be the star, or complement the person you decide to make the central figure. Every one of them could grow in different ways, making them different sorts of warriors every time you play. Certain storylines might be a little easier or more difficult than others, letting you decide exactly how much of a challenge you want. Not to mention the localization work is absolutely wonderful. Dialects are in place and personalities are captured. It is a triumph in every possible way.
It is also a beacon of hope. If we are in a gaming world where Trials of Mana can still get a localization, perhaps anything can happen. Perhaps Nintendo will give Intelligent Systems the freedom to make a new Wars title or Mother 3 could show up outside of Japan. Maybe this suggesting any classic game or series could have a chance in our modern world is the greatest gift of all.