Any Japanese role-playing game enthusiast will tell you that games like Secret of Mana are must-play games. The Mana series, known outside of North America as Seiken Densetsu, had a bunch of different aspects not found in most JRPGs of the time, including stepping away from the turn-based combat formula from Square Enix’s Final Fantasy series. The Seiken Densetsu series includes three games, one which was never released in the west, bundled together in one collection for the first time known as the Collection of Mana. It’s a great thing to be able to finally play these classic games in succession worldwide, but the collection does have a few hiccups that could be improved on.
Collection of Mana includes The Final Fantasy Adventure on the Game Boy, Secret of Mana on Super Nintendo, and finally Trials of Mana for Super Famicom. All three games are presented with options to change their display and cycle through multiple languages in the collection. These are great options for those already familiar with the series, but newcomers are going to have less to explore with outside of playing the games themselves. There’s a lack of extra features and bonus material that give any sort of insight into the development or original releases of each game. The music player included in the main menu is great and gives access to every music track from all three titles, but there isn’t anything else beyond that. No gallery with images or design documents, no interviews with the Mana series creators, or anything else.
But if bonus features aren’t as important as playing the games, then Collection of Mana does get some things right. Each game has a Quick Save feature that allows you to bookmark your progress at any point. Unlike in the original games, you don’t necessarily need to wait for when you hit a save point to save and come back later, which is a huge asset in the later portions of all three games.
Having this is also very important for those playing on-the-go and need to suddenly stop playing. There’s also a manual you can bring up in the pause menu while playing, which gives you a quick reference guide to the game’s controls and other options. It’s a shame however, that you need to use a QR code to get a bigger guide of the collection online rather than having all of the information included in the manual.
For most fans of the Mana series, Trials of Mana will be the best part of this collection. Since it was never released in the west on the Super Nintendo, most players are going to be experiencing it for the first time, that is unless you imported the game on the Super Famicom from Japan. The entire game is translated into English and other languages, which can be switched between in the collection’s menu. Trials of Mana gives you more of what made Secret of Mana so good, but with a few tweaks and additions that make it feel like a solid sequel.
You have the real-time combat that was great about its predecessor, but you can only play with two players in multiplayer, as opposed to three in Secret of Mana. There’s a number of other characteristics and elements that influence the way you level up characters and interact with enemies in combat, including a day/night mechanic and class system.
Things definitely get more complicated and ambitious with the gameplay in this sequel, but it all comes together into a fun and interesting story that old and new fans are going to really enjoy.
Each game within the Collection of Mana plays well for the most part on Nintendo Switch. Unfortunately, there are a few instances of slowdown and stuttering that occur when moving around or engaging in combat within all three games. When this happens, some of the sprites will begin to flicker and you move your character. It doesn’t last long or make a mess out of everything, but it does happen on occasion.
While things like this might’ve been part of the original releases, it would’ve been great to see stuff like this ironed out a bit more for the collection. But outside of this, each of the games offer gameplay and stories that you can get immersed in.
Collection of Mana does a great job bundling together three classic games people love and probably never experienced before. While it’s nice seeing this series released together in one package, the lack of extras and bonus content makes the collection feel somewhat underwhelming. Like other collections of classic games that have been released, Collection of Mana could’ve really added a lot of value by giving everyone more insight into the Mana series. The games that are included are great and will have you playing them for a long time, but we’re left wanting to see more about them outside of the games themselves.
This review was based on a digital review code of Collection of Mana for the Nintendo Switch, provided by Square Enix.