Review – Collection of Mana

The final release date of the Western version of Collection of Mana, previously known as Seiken Densetsu Collection in Japan, was one of my favorite announcements coming from Nintendo’s E3 Direct. I grew up loving these games, much more than any other Final Fantasy.¬†So the fact that I could finally play them on my Switch without the need of learning a new language was worthy of a celebration.

mana2

The one you played during your childhood.

Collection of Mana features the first three games in the Mana series: Final Fantasy Adventure (which is only called Final Fantasy around here because whoever localized it sucked at their job), Secret of Mana and Trials of Mana, previously known as Seiken Densetsu 3, or “that one Mana game that never came to the West so we all had to resort to fan translations in order to play it”. For the uninitiated, those games all play like a mixture between an old school Legend of Zelda and a more traditional RPG. There is real-time combat, but there are also spells, hit points, leveling up, critical hits, and so on. The Mana series is the best of both worlds and the clear source of inspiration to what Kingdom Hearts would become decades later.

Of all three games, I’ll be that one different guy and say that Final Fantasy Adventure is actually the one I prefer. Sure, Secret of Mana is a timeless classic and a game that absolutely withstood the test of time. And yes, playing Trials of Mana with an official translation is fine and all, but Final Fantasy Adventure is the one I grew up with. I absolutely adore its soundtrack, boss design, and deliciously horrendous localization. It’s part of my childhood and to be able to play it once again on a decent and backlit screen (those millennials will never understand our struggle) makes me feel warm and fuzzy on the inside.

mana3

The one you only played on an emulator with a fan translation patch.

Collection of Mana was developed by M2, the same developer behind the recent Konami collections, and you know what that means. Those games are perfectly emulated on the Switch’s hardware. They look and play just like they used to. That’s equally good and bad, because they come with all the negative baggage they had back in the 90’s, especially Final Fantasy Adventure. That game is either played on a very small portion of the screen, emulating the screen size of a Game Boy, or taking up half of the Switch’s screen, looking horrendously stretched as a result. Its gameplay hasn’t changed at all, meaning that you still can’t aim or move diagonally, something you could totally do in other games from that era, such as Link’s Awakening. Both Secret and Trials feature smoother controls and better graphics, of course.

My biggest gripe with this collection isn’t related to any technical issue or aging-related problem. My biggest complaint lies on value. This collection goes for around forty bucks and only includes a Game Boy ROM and two Super Nintendo ROMs. Compared to other collections like Capcom’s Street Fighter collection or Konami’s Castlevania one, you start wondering if this pricetag is fair. The Mana series has a lot more to offer than just these three games. There’s no Legend of Mana, originally released for the PS1 in 1999. The developers could have easily added either Sword of Mana (Game Boy Advance, 2003) or Adventures of Mana (PS Vita, 2016) to the mix to add a bit more variety and let players experience the original game with more modern mechanics, as both of them are different remakes of Final Fantasy Adventure.

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The one that’s only called Final Fantasy because whoever localized it didn’t do their job well.

Whether you think this collection is worth forty bucks or not, is up to you. I really love all three games included in here, especially Final Fantasy Adventure. However, I honestly think Square Enix and M2 could have added a bit more content to make this collection a meatier experience not only for fans of the Mana games, but RPG fans in general. Regardless of that, you can now take Final Fantasy Adventure, Secret of Mana (the good one, not the underwhelming remake) and Trials of Mana on-the-go, and that will never be a bad thing.

 

Graphics: 6.5

Final Fantasy Adventure looks decent enough, but it’s relegated to a minuscule portion of the screen. Secret of Mana looks too stretched. Trials of Mana is the best looking of the bunch.

Gameplay: 7.0

While both Secret and Trials of Mana feature decent and responsive controls, Final Fantasy Adventure‘s gameplay is a bit too rough and dated.

Sound: 8.5

All three games feature excellent soundtracks,\ and the developers were kind enough to feature sound test modes for all three games in the main menu.

Fun Factor: 8.0

This collection might be unbelievably expensive, but you’re getting three equally amazing JRPGs in one package and on-the-go. It’s up to you to decide if that’s worth your money or not.

Final Verdict: 7.5

Collection of Mana is available now on Switch.

Reviewed on Switch.

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