Friday, 26 February 2016

Snes Review - Seiken Densetsu 3 (Game 100)

'Seiken Densetsu 3' is the greatest 16bit action RPG ever made, yet no one outside of Japan ever got chance to buy it. 

Now with reproduction cartridges, fan translations and emulation, Westerners can finally find out just how much they missed out on. 

Developed by Square
Published by Square
Released in 1995

The 100th game review on BoxedPixels has to be something special I believe. A game worthy of time investment, a game with an interesting history and of course a game celebrated as being one of the finest in its genre. It needs to be a game many have heard of but few have played and it also has to be a game that showcases the strengths of the system and the developers that thrived on it.

When you consider these requirements there were a number of options but I settled upon treating myself to 'Seiken Densetsu 3' or 'Secret of Mana 2' as it is best known in the West. Despite the critical acclaim and fan love for the first 'Secret of Mana' game its sequel, for a number of reasons, was never released outside of Japan. As such the game is something of an enigma to even some of the biggest fans of Japanese Role Playing games. Fortunately for those who, like me, love a boxed game but can't speak Japanese, fan translators have worked their magic. Should you wish you can buy a boxed copy of the game, fully translated into English and sold with all the maps and inserts you would have had if Square had ever bought the game to an audience outside of Japan. My copy, though expensive, is beautiful. The game inside is equally lovely, a charming experience awash with well defined characters and some of the finest graphics ever to grace the Super Nintendo. 

But there's a problem with choosing to write about a title of this majesty. My usual 2,500 word limit simply prevented me from exploring the many facets I wish to. The post could of course have been split across a number of posts, but I was presented with a better option. Recently launched after a trial issue is a "fanzine" known as HyperPlayRPG . According to Nintendo Life it " is a glorious throwback to the pre-internet days of homemade fanzines".  In our world of online blogs, video reviews and game streaming I can't tell you how great it is to hold a magazine again. HyperPlayRPG is filled with intelligently written nostalgic articles, by celebrated online game critics and historians whom I'm truly honoured to be associated with.  Once its published, I hope you will all enjoy the exploration of a game I've called " the finest action RPG on the SNES ". But before publication here is an extract from the article. 
“Playing ‘Mana 2’ now is a treat, one that takes all that was great with the first game and removes the commonly-criticised elements. But even with all the nods and thematic symmetry, 'Secret of Mana 2' is far more than more-of-the-same. The phrase "hidden gem" is often used to describe games, but it really is the best way to describe this masterpiece. If 'Secret of Mana' was Square's failed attempt to launch itself in Europe during the nineties then 'Seiken Densetsu 3' is the sad victim of that failure.

In many ways it's the perfect continuation of the series: lovingly-crafted, beautiful, storybook aesthetics; twice as many playable characters; and a versatile, non-linear story. It's a cliched thing to say but it's a tragedy that this game has been a secret for so long, treasured only by a few when it should be played by anyone who has ever enjoyed a SNES RPG." 

I think it's obvious that I couldn't have chosen a better centennial game.

Once issue 2 is published in April/May, you'll be able to read the entire review by buying a copy here Weighing in at over 5,000 words it's by far the most comprehensive piece I've ever written on a game but it really was fantastic to get the opportunity to explore such a fascinating game in such detail. 

Amazingly it's not sold at a premium price despite the amount of quality content it includes. 

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