Trials of Mana

Of the many surprises we got at E3 2019, the confirmation that the Mana series would be getting a much-needed shot in the arm was one of the most pleasant.

Not only was it revealed that Collection of Mana – containing the localised version of the legendary Seiken Densetsu 3 – was coming to the West, we also found out that Square Enix is developing a remake of the same game entitled Trials of Mana, due for release on Switch in 2020.

Keen to know more, during E3 we were lucky enough to sit down with Shinichi Tatsuke, producer of the Trials of Mana remake, and Masaru Oyamada, producer of Collection of Mana.

Beyond the obvious graphical upgrades and everything with the game, in comparison to the original, what sort of new features are you looking to implement?

First of all, a little bit of the battle system is completely new. We have a new growth system as well and other small details, such as the display of goals that you’re headed towards – the star mark. As far as other features go, we would like you to hang tight and wait for further information. However, we can say that there are additions made in terms of content volume.

Can you explain how the combat system works in this game?

In addition to those basic action elements, sometimes there’s a display of button combinations you can use. You can perform knock-back attacks as well as area-of-effect attacks. You can also do charge attacks in addition to walk-ons. There’s a variety of different action elements to it. Against flying enemies, you can do jump attacks, and if the bottom gauge reaches one hundred percent, you’re able to unleash a special attack. It also includes the ring command [menu], which is something you might be familiar with from Secret of Mana.

Will Hiroki Kikuta be back to compose the score for the remake?

Mr. Kikuta did compose the original songs and this time, for the arranged music, he has stepped into a supervisory role for the arrangements. During the game, you can switch back and forth between the original music and the arranged version that was arranged just for this.

You’re on completely different hardware and we’re many years past when the game was originally released. Are you planning on making any major changes to the story or do you think it’s going to stay fairly close to the original?

Generally, the storyline has remained the same compared to the original version. However, there are some changes. For example, when we made the cut scenes into 3D, we needed to add some supplementary elements to make things not be awkward. Although we can’t really go into too much detail right now, we are going to be announcing more information in the future so, please look forward to hearing that.

When we made the cut scenes into 3D, we needed to add some supplementary elements to make things not be awkward

Fans have really enjoyed the cooperative nature of some of the original games. Are you planning on having any cooperative features in this as well?

We did consider incorporating that co-op element that was in the original game. However, in the original game that was from a top-down perspective and this time, it’s a third-person perspective. So, we really wanted to focus on single-player gameplay.

Between Collection of Mana and this remake, it seems like you’re really pushing Trials of Mana really hard all of a sudden. Why is now the time to push this game, especially overseas?

The original games were very popular. However, they were only on the SNES and so many players were not able to play them in this modern-day age essentially, and that’s why we released Collection of Mana in Japan but, when we did that, a lot of players from outside of Japan also expressed a strong interest and desire for that collection to come overseas and be available for them to play as well. This was during the development of the Secret of Mana remake.

First of all, we actually showed the remake of the new version of Trials of Mana to the Western Team. Although they liked it and appreciated the fact that it was made with the audiences overseas that have never played this title before in mind, they also expressed a strong interest in having the original version be available also. The remake was first and then the original version was decided on.

Trials of Mana
Our very own Austin and Zion with Collection of Mana producer Masaru Oyamada (left) and Trials of Mana producer Shinichi Tatsuke (right) — Image: Nintendo Life

Regarding the Collection of Mana, could you talk a bit about the process of going back to a Super Famicom game and localising it in the modern era? Were you worried that there would be an incorrect perception that it’s a retro game so it’s easy to go back and do?

You’re absolutely right. It was quite involved so, after we took on this process, it took about a year just to work on that. Getting the code from SNES and first of all, what they have to work on was that they had to work with the ROM capacity not being enough.

We actually had to reach out and get cooperation from Nintendo as well

When we went to try and revisit the development environment that the SNES had back in the day, we actually had to reach out and get cooperation from Nintendo as well. We had to expand the capacity and also the fonts; the original version used proportional fonts or fixed fonts so we had to address that. Also, for some of the European languages, it was very difficult to incorporate [text] because of the code. It may feel pretty natural and you pick it up and just play, but actually, behind the scenes, there’s a lot going on and there was a lot of effort put into it.

There other games in the Mana series that are already in the West, like Secret of Mana, Sword of Mana and Legend of Mana. Have you taken any consideration into possibly releasing another collection containing some of those games?

Right now, we don’t have any plans set just yet. However, if we get a lot of feedback from the fans saying that they want this – and perhaps if the timing is right – we’d definitely like to consider it.

The reveal trailer for the Trials of Mana, the voiceover calls it ‘Mana,’ but we’ve also heard it called ‘Mona.’ We’ve always said, ‘Mona’ so, could you set the record straight once and for all. Is it ‘Mana’ or is it ‘Mona?’

We hope that fans will call it however is easiest for them. What comes naturally to them. That’s said for the voiceover for the trailer for example… the localisation for the person who was handling that, felt that ‘Mana’ was [correct].

You worked on the remake of Secret on Playstation 4 and PC. Have you taken any consideration to bringing that over to the Switch as well? That seems like it would be a great home for that game.

Thank you so much for that feedback. However, right now, since the development timing is a little bit off, we like to see if there’s a good time for that and definitely consider that.

Going back to the original game of the series, Final Fantasy Adventure. We actually replayed it recently and it still struck us that all these years later on a humble Game Boy, it still tells a remarkably sombre, really sad story. Was the game written with that goal in mind?

Mr. [Yoshinori] Kitase, who is also working on Final Fantasy VII remake, he was the one making the scenario for that title, and other people who were involved in the Final Fantasy series were involved in the making of Final Fantasy Adventure. They really wanted to focus on the sadness that you feel, the sombre feeling that you feel at the very end of the title.

We'd like to thank Mr. Tatsuke and Mr. Oyamada for their time. This interview included a representative from GameXplain, and the questions above are a mix of our own and GameXplain's.