Seiken Densetsu 3 (Secret of Mana 2) (Super Nintendo) Review

By Adam Riley 10.03.2006 14

Review for Seiken Densetsu 3 (Secret of Mana 2) on Super Nintendo

When the name Square Enix is mentioned to people the Final Fantasy series is the first thing that comes to mind. However, long before Squaresoft joined with Enix, its Secret of Mana RPG on the Super Nintendo sent ripples through the Industry due to its high quality, imaginative design and the multiplayer aspect that meant you and friends could play through together. But the game's sequel never made it to the West, much to the chagrin of gamers everywhere. Did we all miss much, though?

The story side of SD3 can be quite confusing, as there are actually six characters to take control of through the adventure, with your choice of which three will make-up your team effecting the way everything unfolds. There is Lise, a princess from the Kingdom of Rolante looking for Eliot, her brother. Then there is the human-beast hybrid, Kevin, who was exiled from the Beast Kingdom due to his mother's death changing his mind so he never wants to fight again. Angela should be a powerful magic user from Althena, but struggled to match others so proved to be an embarrassment for her mother and was told to leave. Carlie, a half-fairy, half-human from Wendel is on a mission to find her friend Heath, as is Hawk, a young assassin out looking for revenge for his desert companions. Finally the powerful Duran of Forcena is up for selection, a brave swordsman. Therefore, there is a wide selection, which may prove daunting for some...

Squaresoft is renowned for some of the most eye-poppingly extravagant visuals in any game it creates and its work on the Super Nintendo was 99% of the time exemplary, putting other companies' efforts to complete shame. The first SNES Secret of Mana outing was pretty for its time, but come 1995 the game did not look too wonderful. But over the years, Squaresoft had become fully accustomed to the Super Nintendo technology and was churning out gorgeous titles on a regular basis. Now whilst some may question this slightly, Seiken Densetsu is in my opinion the best example of how the SNES was easily on par with many of the early PlayStation offerings. The richness of colour throughout was breathtaking, the character variety equally mouth-watering, with a general 3D feel to the surroundings without any pre-rendering. Everything has a hand drawn, water-coloured appearance, but so intricately pieced together that it could be classed as a work of art. Other than a modicum of slowdown when pushing too much around on screen, nothing surpasses SD3 on this side of matters.

Screenshot for Seiken Densetsu 3 (Secret of Mana 2) on Super Nintendo

Musically Secret of Mana was one of the most sonically pleasing out of the whole SNES lifetime, so good that a purchase of the game's soundtrack would not have been crazy. And in good tradition, Seiken Densetsu 3 somehow raises the bar even higher with a mixture of cheerful tunes that actually make you feel happier after playing, dark and moody pieces that suit the eerie locations, those that rouse you, getting you into a fighting frame of mind, crazy, wacky music such as found in Item Shops, or those that even manage to send a shiver down your spine! Again it is hard to find fault with the game in this area...

Before going into any detail, it may be worth confirming just which in the series this is. Seiken Densetsu was a Final Fantasy side adventure that arrived on the original Game Boy as Mystic Quest / Final Fantasy Adventure. Then the game’s sequel hit the SNES under the name of Secret of Mana. Finally there is this, Seiken Densetsu 3, which would most likely have been named Secret of Mana 2 if it had hit US and European shores. Anyway, once you have chosen three characters out of the selection of six, you begin as the first one picked and eventually meet the other two along the path to the game’s end. When you move around the worlds you are faced with various enemies that can be attacked in an action environment; so you run around using your weapons or magic to defeat the crafty creatures in your way. This works very well, but not quite like in Zelda, as when you defeat each one you gain experience that eventually leads to you levelling-up and becoming stronger.

Screenshot for Seiken Densetsu 3 (Secret of Mana 2) on Super Nintendo

The familiar ring system returns for items, allowing easy access to anything you require; from ‘healthy’ candies, chocolate bars and jars of honey (all from SoM) to magical ropes that help you escape caves and small weapons that can be thrown at enemies. Another recognisable return is the issue of day-to-night changes, which is actually a welcome return as it brings a nice element to the game, with some areas best tackled during the daytime due to the type of enemies lingering around at night being too gruesome. You can also meet different people once daylight fades away, bringing a skilful component of timing your progress just right to obtain paramount information. But it is not only imperative to watch the time, but the actual day of the week, as certain magical elements are stronger or weaker depending on whether it is their specific day or not. Therefore, should you not realise when it is, you could be at a major disadvantage in fights and not even understand why!

Something that springs to mind when talking about the Day/Night system is that should you have Kevin of the Beast Kingdom in your team when night falls, he changes into a brute of a monster, with far more strength than before. Not only does he change, but also your whole team can over time thanks to the introduction of a ‘Class Change’ system. As you play through the adventure it is possible to head down a dark or light path, depending on how you feel. This means that their new class can be determined and the abilities and spells that are accessible alter accordingly. It might not effect the actual storyline, but is still a worthy inclusion for the dark few amongst us…

Screenshot for Seiken Densetsu 3 (Secret of Mana 2) on Super Nintendo

Whilst wandering around, constantly fighting and losing energy rapidly, it may come as a great comfort to know that there are special Angel statues littered around the world. Some of them merely save your progress, but others also replenish your highly valuable health points. Bliss! As for how the battle system is implemented, any of you who have played and other Mana title will be familiar with this. On approaching an enemy, such as the annoying Rabites, your weapon automatically comes out so you can begin slashing away. It works very well; simple and fun to execute, especially against tougher foes later in the game. And the more you fight, the more abilities and magic come into your possession. Not bad at all...

With a vast world to work your way through and enemies that can really have you tearing your hair out, Seiken Densetsu 3 actually proves to be a longer experience than its lengthy predecessor. Not only do you have the ability to level yourself up, gaining new abilities by the dozen along the way, but there is the challenge of special enemies such as the Black Rabite, supposedly the most difficult creature created by Squaresoft ever. Should you not want to go for the ride alone, though, you still have the option of bringing a friend along for the ride, which really helps to extend things much more as your comrades will likely slow you down. There is lots of fun to be had with the sequel to Secret of Mana that is for sure.

Screenshot for Seiken Densetsu 3 (Secret of Mana 2) on Super Nintendo

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

As said before, it is a crying shame that due to technical bugs in the Japanese release and the game being too large for Western cartridges at the time, this never made it to the West and can only be found fan-translated on the Internet. But this pushes far beyond Secret of Mana and would have become an instant classic had it arrived on our shores. All that can be hoped is that either it gets re-released on the DS, or becomes downloadable on the Revolution.

Also known as

Secret of Mana 2

Developer

Squaresoft

Publisher

Squaresoft

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (3 Votes)

European release date None   North America release date None   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date None   

Comments

A superb version of the Mana series and one that should definitely be ported to the GBA...Shame it's never been officially translated :-( :cry:

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

Hate to point out a fault in your "cons", but I'm pretty sure this game was never three-player, only two.

Me and two mates played through the original with the intent of playing the sequel on my Xbox with the fan translation, only to be shocked to learn that the three player mode didn't work! After putting it down to a technical fault with the xSnes9x software, I went and did some research, seems the creator thought the same but found there is actually no three player mode.

I always thought that was a little odd, but there you go.

Okay, thanks Timotei, updated that to 'multiplayer' :Smilie I only ever played it with one friend actually Smilie

Great game, though. Have you read the whole review? If so, do you agree / not agree, etc?

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

Personally I quite hated it. Worst and cheeziest dialogue I have ever come across.
But I got to admit it had a great soundtrack, no denying that.

Z, is it the fan-translated version that you played then? Because if so, that's the unfortunate drawback as they will never quite capture the essence of the main story like the actual game creator would.

Superb soundtrack and brilliant graphics. The story's idea got me, but some of the translated text was a little irksome in places, admittedly. I actually have the Japanese SNES game of this as well, from eBay, and played it that way for this review. I actually enjoyed it more that way than via a PC...

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

Swish review Raz, another RPG to add to my list methinks!

Might look into the unofficial translation patches provided they don't completely ruin the feel of the game! Hmm I wonder if net play would work for the co-operative side of things, as that would be intensely awesome! Anyway, enough naughty talk. :P

A quick note if it is only two-player co-op not three then you've got a little error in the last paragraph. :Smilie


Cubed3 Staff [ Retro Editor :: Previews Editor ]

Last paragraph amended as well :Smilie And 'Net play is an interesting option. I really hope Square Enix unloads its back catalogue of games onto the Virtual Console...

Karn, you might as well give it a shot as the likelihood of it actually ever turning up on Western shores are slim-to-none after SEx decided to resurrect the series by creating new versions :-( If you can get past the odd fan-translated niggle, you'll have a blast!

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

I played the translated rom of this a while ago, but lost my save. :-(
Nice review though:Smilie.

It's going to be shit and you jolly well know it.

:lol: You make it sound like it's my fault you lost your save! :-D

Did you ever go back to it, where did you get up to and what did you like/dislike about the game?

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

It was quite a while ago, I remember the graphics were stunning, and the three different beginnings was a very impressive feature.

It's going to be shit and you jolly well know it.

I remember reading a review of this in Nintendo Magazine System (the very first version of ONM) where they gave it lower score because it was Japanese...and then in the next issue of Super Play, the brilliant Wil Overton replied with the following:

"You can't mark a Japanese import of Seiken Densetsu 3 down because it's full of text YOU can't read."

:lol:

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

The GBA game was boring. Too hack and slash. Story was not that interesting either. I see the same gameplay and enemies in these screens....

Not looking good.

The GBA game, though, was just the very original Seiken Densetsu from the old Game Boy, remade...

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

ohm said:
Personally I quite hated it. Worst and cheeziest dialogue I have ever come across.
But I got to admit it had a great soundtrack, no denying that.

You cannot blame an entire game by its FAN translation, that's being quite close-minded....

Comment on this article

You can comment as a guest or join the Cubed3 community below: Sign Up for Free Account Login

Preview PostPreview Post Your Name:
Validate your comment
  Enter the letters in the image to validate your comment.
Submit Post

Subscribe to this topic Subscribe to this topic

If you are a registered member and logged in, you can also subscribe to topics by email.
K-Pop Korner - The Best of Korean Music
Sign up today for blogs, games collections, reader reviews and much more
Site Feed
Who's Online?
Adam Riley, Azuardo, Ofisil, Renan

There are 4 members online at the moment.