One of the last games made for Nintendo’s SNES console, Seiken Densetsu 3 is the sequel to the game known in the West as Secret of Mana (Seiken Densetsu 2 in Japan), but unfortunately was never translated into English or released outside Japan. Thanks to Neill Corlett, you can now play this outstanding game that still ranks among one of the best console-style RPGs ever created. |
The most interesting feature of the game is the ability to choose three characters from six pre-set characters – similar to the Romancing SaGa series. You will control the first character, then meet up with the other two you picked later in the game. Each character has his/her own goals in the quest. This means you effectively have six different storylines, including different introduction and ending scenes. The overarching plot is quite banal, though: depending on who you control, you have to save the Mana Palace from collapsing (which requires you to find Mana Stones), find the Mana Sword, reinforce the seal on Mana Beasts, etc. Pretty mundane, and there is little interesting plot development to speak of. Since the game offers very few clues along the way, the gameplay usually boils down to “randomly talk to everyone in every village you know and go everywhere you can on the map”, rinse, rinse, and repeat until you discover some items or gain access to new areas. This problem is similar to Frontier SaGa, although to be fair, this kind of gameplay is quite typical in console RPGs.
PC gamers may now ask: so what’s special about SD3 that I should set up an emulator for? The answer is that, banal plot and insufficient clues aside, SD3 is a much “deeper” RPG than most other games for the SNES. For starters, once your characters reach level eighteen you can choose an alignment. These “light/dark” alignments are similar to good/evil in traditional RPGs. Although the alignment (from light-light all the way to dark-dark) affects only spells and character attributes and has no real impact on the storyline/interaction (unlike, say, Planescape Torment), it’s still a lot of fun to try out different combinations.
At the end of the day, Seiken Densetsu 3 is an addictive and fun RPG. It’s a lot of fun to observe each character’s interaction with the others, and with six different storylines, the replay value is quite high. Here's some more info on the possible combinations and ending, thanks to Laurence (minor spoilers!):
"Who you choose as the main character dictates the final fight. There are three different last dungeons and three different last bosses. There are six main endings and the combinations of the other characters cause minor changes to them."
I found the user interface a bit too cumbersome, and the plot of Romancing SaGa games more interesting. But still, Seiken Densetsu 3 is a fun and very good-looking console-style RPG that will take you dozens of hours to complete. Highly recommended!Reviewed by: Underdogs