Trials of Mana is the 3rd game in the Mana franchise, following Secret of Mana. It keeps the general gameplay from its predecessor (that is, it's still a party based ARPG) but it makes big changes in some areas. First, the party you play as isn't fixed and, instead, you pick which 3 characters you'll use (from a pool of 6) at the start of each playthrough. The first one you choose will act as the main character and will determine some key parts of the story. This is a pretty cool mechanic as it makes each playthrough unique. The second main change is progression: Trials of Mana added a "class change" system that lets you, at certain levels, pick a new class for your heroes, making them learn new abilities. The combination of the party and progression systems makes Trials of Mana a surprisingly customizable game that's highly replayable. Despite this, I only cleared the game once.
Overall, I enjoyed my time with Trials of Mana but I wish I could say I liked it more. The game's customization features are really neat, the graphics are beautiful and the soundtrack is stellar but, sadly, the game's held back by a lot of annoying quirks. First, combat is full of interruptions that almost destroy the "action" part of ARPG, controls at times feel unresponsive, menus are a complete drag to navigate (I seriously don't understand how a late SNES game has such slow menus) and some dungeons are ridiculously long for no real reason... I guess it's still worth a recommendation though.

Reviewed on Feb 23, 2022


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