Written in 2003 / 2019
Many people believe that "Secret of Mana" is a single game and that "Legend of Mana" and "Sword of Mana" are more or less inofficial successors. It's been like that so often, Japan has the complete series, U/C (USA and Canada) some parts and Europe mere fragments. However, in the past years, knowledge among gamers increased and so the term "Seiken Densetsu" is widely known and most people associate these games with the Mana series.
Known as Final Fantasy Adventure in the US / Canada and Mystic Quest in Europe. Seiken Densetsu means "Legend of the holy sword". This is why the Mana Sword is so imporant in the Seiken Densetsu series. After the game was a big success in Japan, it was released in the US and Europe as well. The renaming was due to Marketing reasons.
Strangely enough, Seiken Densetsu was tied to Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest in Europe although those games have nothing in common. Those were the first Square RPGs to be released in Europe, thats why I think they tried to sell them as one brand.
In 1993, Seiken Densetsu 2 was release in Japan. The success was incredible. This time, at least for Europe and America, the wise decision was made that the game should be released with one name, "Secret of Mana". This game had its share in the success of Squaresoft in the western regions.
We here at rpg-o-mania are quite fond of this game. You can check out or reviews of the original game here.
Seiken Densetsu 3 was released in 1995 only in Japan. Story-wise, it plays before Secret of Mana, many of the things present there are discovered here. Some still call this game "Secret of Mana 2" and were able to play it in the west thanks to the great translation provided by Neil Corlett.
It has the same vibe as its predecessor, but does everything a bit better and more fleshed out. The graphics are wonderful, the music is even more intense and still done by Hiroki Kikuta, and players can set up their party of three from six characters. This was my game of summer 1999, a great time indeed.
This time, the US and Japan got the same name of the game. It's both Legend of Mana. After Square quit producing games for Nintendo and the SNES, this was the first Mana game on the Sony PlayStation. However, critics were mixed since the story wasn't as intense anymore as it was in the previous installments.
The music is done by Yoko Shimomura, who would later compose the soundtrack of Final Fantasy XV.
After a few years, Square returned to Nintendo and created a remake of the original Seiken Densetsu for the GBA. However, almost everything has been changed except the basic structure of the storyline. Many gamers hoped that Seiken Densetsu 2 and 3 would also be ported to the GBA, but no such thing happened.
The music here was composed by Kenji Ito, who also did the score of the original first installment.
Three years passed until the next Mana game was released. This game is heavily focused on combat and does provide players with randomly generated dungeons. There is only one central Mana village that's the hub for many quests.
It's a nice looking, rather simple game. The soundtrack has once more been composed by Kenji Ito and it was a moderate commercial success, but many criticised the lack of story.
Finally, a new game in the core series. Square changed almost everything that the Mana series once stood for. Dawn of Mana is an action adventure game with a complex physics engine. It is again a story focused game but received only mediocre reviews.
It's a game that looks nice enough with a soundtrack composed by Kenji Ito, but overall fans turned their back on this game for not being a RPG but rather a sometimes hectic action adventure.
This is a real time strategy game in the Mana series. Players manage their troops and resources and fight battles on grid maps. It was a solid game, but apparently didn't stand out in any specific aspect.
At the time of Heroes of Mana's release, there were plenty of new strategy games out there, and Mana just didn't make it, despite nice looking visuals - it was no commercial success. The music was composed by Yoko Shimomura again.
The first Mana game that was released on mobile phones first and then on the PlayStation Vita. This game has no connection to other Mana games, except for the name and some cameos. The game is now an action RPG once more with a nice feature that lets your character switch forms. However, the game is now more quest based than other installments before.
The soundtrack offers a best of from other mana games, which means that Hiroki Kikuta, Yoko Shimomura and Kenji Ito were on board. It was a generally well received game.
Another remake of the original game, this time with a 3D engine that's apparently the same as in Rise of Mana. The game was remade for the 25th anniversary of the series. It looks and plays prett nice, but Square Enix never released the game on other platforms than iOS, Android and the Playstation Vita. This game reduced some of the story expansions that were included in Sword of Mana and had more of a back to basics approach.
The music again has been composed by Kenji Ito.
Using the visual style that was introduced in Rise of Mana once more, good old Secret of Mana also received a 3D overhaul. This game was released on Steam, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita platforms and received some overhaul in gameplay and storytelling, whilst being close to the original. We here at rpg-o-mania think that the game equals the original.
This time, the music has been composed by multiple artists which gives the game an interesting touch with all the various music styles.