One of the weirdest things about this year’s E3 is Square Enix realising that they’ve got a huge back-catalogue of excellent, untranslated JRPGs to bring west. Trials Of Mana is the new English name for Seiken Densetsu 3, a Super Nintendo action-RPG classic that never (officially) made it out of Japan. While there’s a gently remastered version headed to Switch, the PC is also due a full 3D remake early next year. They’re also remastering and localising pair of Japan-0nly games for us, from their more esoteric SaGa series; Romancing SaGa 3 on SNES, and SaGa Scarlet Grace: Ambitions on Vita. See trailers for all three below.
Trials Of Mana looks like a whole new game. What was previously a mostly top-down game built around optional co-op is now single-player focused. Widely agreed on as the best in the Secret Of Mana series, it had just the right balance of RPG complexity and real-time action and tactics, and it’s still baffling that it’s been languishing in the old Square vaults since 1995. This remake also looks like a vastly higher-budget endeavour than the previous Secret Of Mana remake, which was little more than polygon graphics wrapped around the old SNES sprites.
That would be an impressive enough bit of news, but at E3, Square also announced a pair of SaGa games headed west. Romancing SaGa 3 – the 2D one in the trailer below – is one of the first JRPGs I sought a fan-translation patch for, and it was entirely worth it. Similar to Octopath Traveler, it has you playing as eight main characters whose stories partially intersect, but it has far higher ambitions. While regular combat is turn-based, depending on who you play, you might even get wrapped up in kingdom management sim stuff, or real-time army-scale fights. Square, pre Enix merger, dreamt big back in those days.
Of these three, the one I’m least familiar with is SaGa Scarlet Grace: Ambition, likely as it’s the only one never to get an unofficial translation. Apparently it’s a quite ambitious (heh) non-linear RPG, perhaps more western in style than traditionally Japanese. As is SaGa standard, there’s four different protagonists with their own story arcs, and complex turn-based combat where party formation matters. Both SaGa games have non-level-based character progression, with stats growing and new skills evolving based on what actions you use most in combat, plus a little luck. It’s similar to what Square Enix later used in The Last Remnant, which was arguably a SaGa game in all but name.
Trials Of Mana (the fancy remake version) arrives early 2020, and has a Steam store page here. The SaGa games are “coming soon”, according to the trailer. If you’re reading this, Square, can we get Bahamut Lagoon next? Thanks.
See our E3 2019 tag for more news, previews, opinions, and increasingly surreal liveblogs.