Collection of Mana is available worldwide for the Nintendo Switch and, while it doesn’t offer all of the frills people may have come to expect from compilations from companies like Digital Eclipse and M2, the work M2 and Square Enix did here is still good. This keeps the basics intact, giving people what they need to enjoy and make the most of these games on a more modern platform, even if all of the bells and whistles someone might want are absent.
The concept of Collection of Mana is great. People immediately get access to three classic entries. Even with how old it is and the platform’s limitations, Final Fantasy Adventure is an incredibly advanced title for its time. We had The Legend of Zelda-style gameplay with occasional allies, spells, stats that would increase, and puzzles to solve. Secret of Mana had a vastly improved story, an option to play with other people, and generally refined the idea with a battle system that worked better and offered more tactical options. Trials of Mana was the most advanced of all, with multiple heroes, each with their own motivations and possible classes, and so much replay value.
What’s also wonderful is that Collection of Mana supports all of the multiplayer options that the original releases did. Secret of Mana supported three player multiplayer. It does here too. With Trials of Mana, the game always allowed up to two people to play at once. (Don’t let the three character party fool you!) Here, you have that option again. The compilation allows for easy drop in and drop out gameplay, letting some other people join in without too much effort.
It also lets people fully appreciate the three games’ music. Each game has its own soundtrack available to listen to from the main menu. There are 26 tracks from Final Fantasy Adventure, Secret of Mana has 44 songs, and you can listen to 60 tracks from Trials of Mana. There are no fancy visualizations or an actual jukebox to look at. A press of a button brings up basic select, play, and stop options. But, at the very least, the option is present.
A few more visualization options may have been nice. Games like Secret of Mana and Trials of Mana allow you to decide whether the gameplay is zoomed in or not and, well, that’s it. The Final Fantasy Adventure, however, received a little more love. It has three possible display options. One is crisp and clear black and white, the other is the sort of presentation that you probably saw on a Game Boy Pocket, and the final option takes us back to those shades of the original green dot-matrix screen. Even the background goes from a vibrant, colorful world with a Rabite to one that shares that same olive palette. While overall, more could have been offered, what is there works well and the lone Game Boy title gets a lot of love.
There’s also the solace in knowing Collection of Mana has the one feature that is always desperately needed in any RPG collection. There are quick save options. Each game has three slots to choose from, in addition to some already having multiple slots. For example, Trials of Mana gives you three slots to start. Having this kind of backup that also functions as a save anywhere feature is a huge help. Especially if you are going through the aforementioned Trials of Mana, where you may want to use the save system to try and get the items you need for every character’s second class change.
There are some things Collection of Mana could have done better. The music player could have had some additional details, there could have been more visual options, and some kind of museum with insights into the games’ origins would have been great. But, even though this is more of a barebones experience, it is a good one. We have all three games, one of which has been localized for the first time. The multiplayer options are preserved. Even though it is rudimentary, we can listen to each game’s soundtrack song-by-song. What we need is here, making it possibly worthwhile for any fan of the series or person who wants to see what Mana is all about.
Collection of Mana is available for the Nintendo Switch.