Collection of Mana is an old compilation of the first three Mana games for the Nintendo Switch. It was released last year in Japan but there was no localization announced at that time. Since this collection included one highly requested and officially unlocalized version of Trails of Mana, or better known as Seiken Densetsu 3, there was a lot of appeal in a localized version.
Collection of Mana was one of the surprise announcements this E3 by Square Enix although it was revealed first during a Nintendo Direct. It was released on the same day even if the price felt a bit steep due to the age of these games. It includes three Mana games beginning first with Final Fantasy Adventure, which has received two modern remakes, first for the Gameboy Advanced, and then for Smartphones and PlayStation Vita.
Final Fantasy Adventure started as a spin-off to Final Fantasy series. It later evolved into the current Mana series and in fact aside from the name seen in this collection, the two other remakes all have Mana in their name and no Final Fantasy in sight.
Final Fantasy Adventure is the oldest game in the pack with visuals and gameplay that haven’t aged well. If you can enjoy the nostalgic appeal of it, this is not a bad way to experience the first Mana game but the best version is arguably the Gameboy Advance remake, which is sadly not included in this package. If you don’t own it, or find it hard to collect, this is a good substitute or perhaps you can grab the Smartphone or PlayStation Vita version called Adventures of Mana.
Putting that aside, the two other games in the collection are both solid and highly enjoyable. Secret of Mana has also received a full 3D Remake which launched last year and we have reviewed it here. It was a pretty good remake of this classic RPG that only fumbled a little due to the modern 3D art style. You will be able to experience the original Secret of Mana in this collection in all of its glorious pixel art. Although the game has aged well enough, the combat does feel like it has occasional slowdown and it takes a while to get used to it.
Secret of Mana is also one of the first games in the Mana series to start offering co-op support. Once you get some party members, it is possible to play the whole game in co-op with them as they control the other characters. It is not a full co-op game in theory since you will need to advance the story until you have party members in control, but it does make for a nice break if you have some partner that you can team together to play through the game.
Lastly, and perhaps the most impressive part of this collection is Trails of Mana. It is also getting a full remake which is due out in 2020, but this version is the original Super Nintendo release with English localization. It has taken 24 years to get this one so it better be worth it. I am happy to report that the game is as memorable and enjoyable as fans–who had a taste of it with the unofficial fan translation–had to say about it. It is also regarded as series best with multiple protagonists and interconnected stories that can offer solid replay value.
Gameplay wise, Trials of Mana is the most enjoyable one out of the whole collection. It also has a great replay value, solid and enjoyable combat system, and it reminds me of Chrono Trigger with its pixel-based art style that does resemble Square Enix’s first time-traveling RPG. If you can’t wait for the remake then honestly this collection is as good as it gets, especially if you are a fan of the Mana series who has never tried it due to legal reasons.
Collection of Mana also comes packed with quality-of-life features. You can play the game in two different styles, one tries to offer the most accurate pixel mapping while the other upscale the game a bit while both have animated bars on the side to keep aspect ratio. You have access to shortcuts like an options menu that offers quick save and quick load, or the ability to configure co-op for two different players. You can also return to the title screen and perform other similar tasks like resetting the game from here or picking up a different region version of the game.
Collection of Mana Review (Switch)
Game Reviewed on: Switch
Game description: Quintessential JRPG series "Collection of Mana" is now on Nintendo Switch! Fall in love with the Mana series all over again, including the first-ever release of the action-packed third game in the trilogy: "Trials of Mana"!
Final Score - 8/10
Collection of Mana is a nostalgia-fueled ride through three classic games. There is no additional bonus with each of the ports, but all three games are handled well and offer some nice quality-of-life features. If you can't wait for Trials of Mana Remake, this is not a bad way to play through arguably one of the best Mana game.