Trials of Mana (JP: Seiken Densetsu 3, or "Legend of the Holy Sword 3") is the third game in Square Enix's Mana series, following Final Fantasy Adventure (Seiken Densetsu) and Secret of Mana (Seiken Densetsu 2).
The game was released on September 30, 1995 for the Super Famicom in Japan, but was not released in the west until 24 years later under the name Trials of Mana as part of the western release of Collection of Mana. An unofficial English patch was made available on July 27, 1999.
At the start of the game, the player is given the choice of whom they want to have in their party: one protagonist and two allies, out of six total possible characters. The story plays out differently depending on whom is in the party. Each character has his and her own set of abilities to use in battle. As the character levels up, the player is prompted to invest points in one of the six different stats (strength, agility, vitality, intelligence, spirit, and luck). When the character reaches level 18, they can go to a mana stone in order to advance to another class -- either toward light or dark. The character may again change class upon reaching level 38 -- again, either toward light or dark. Take note however, in order for the second class to be open to the character, a special item is required. These combinations make up for a total of six different classes (seven including the original vanilla class). Each class grants the character bonus statistics and abilities otherwise non-attainable.
As said previously, the player must form a party of three. During fights, they can control whomever he wants, while the other characters are AI-controlled (two other players can join the game if they each plug in a controller). Combat happens in real-time. After each attack, the character must wait approximately one second in order to strike at full potential once again. As strikes connect and damage enemies, the special attack gauge will fill up. Once full, the player has the opportunity to initiate a more powerful special attack. The special attack is determined by which type of class the character occupies. Items and spells can be used by bringing up the "ring menu". When the menu is displayed on screen, combat freezes so the player can safely navigate through it. Once an item is consumed or a spell is cast, combat resumes. When all of the enemies have been defeated, a treasure chest may or may not appear. These chests contain rewards for the player and are sometimes trapped.
Seiken Densetsu 3 employs a calendar system which affects gameplay in certain ways. There are seven weekdays -- each represented by an elemental spirit -- that cycle continuously. Each day's effect is as followed:
- Luna Day - Moon magic is slightly stronger.
- Salamander Day - Fire magic is slightly stronger.
- Undine Day - Water magic is slightly stronger.
- Dryad Day - Wood magic is slightly stronger.
- Jinn Day - Wind magic is slightly stronger.
- Gnome Day - Earth magic is slightly stronger.
- Mana Holy Day - All elemental magic is balanced. In addition the party can sleep at an inn for free.
Complementing the calendar system is a day/night cycle. Enemies vary depending on the time of the day, while shops are closed and others are open (such as the black market).