Written by  :  Bregalad (964)
Written on  :  Aug 11, 2012
Rating  :  4.67 Stars4.67 Stars4.67 Stars4.67 Stars4.67 Stars

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A timeless classic, but with several flaws

The Good

Seiken Densetsu 3 is an RPG made by Squaresoft for the Super Nintendo.

This game is the sequel to Secret of Mana and Final Fantasy Adventure. At a first glance, after playing a few minutes, one could say this game has few in common with Secret of Mana. Not only the graphical style has evolved, but also the gameplay feels quite different.

As opposed to Secret of Mana which resolves on a fixed 3-character party, you can chose one hero and 2 friends among 6 possible characters, for a total of 20 different possible parties, with 6 different possible storylines !

Even if the story line is not as deep as it could have been, it's definitely way deeper than in Secret of Mana. Each characters have his reasons and motivations to leave home and to go on a journey to save the world, which is why the "hero" you choose as the lead characters significantly alters the story.

The gameplay is very different from Secret of Mana. This game plays more like a beat-em-up, where you encounter enemies, you rush on them and you can go forward when all of them are beaten. This adds a degree of excitement during playing that was absent in Secret of Mana.

Something I really liked is that they made up a day/night system, not only that, but also a calendar system with days-of-the-week corresponding to elemental spirits. There is 8 elemental spirits, but Lumina and Shade stands for day and night respectively, and 6 spirits remains for the week. However a 7th day is added in honour of the goddess of mana, which is the Seiken Densetsu 3 equivalent of Sunday. All inns are free on Mana days, which is nice.

Finally I must absolutely say the music in Seiken Densetsu 3 is mighty. For the most part of it, it is completely different from Secret of Mana's style, even though it has been composed by the same guy. A couple of songs from Secret of Mana were re-used though.

I must say that even though this is "only" a Super NES game, the graphics and animations are totally amazing, probably among the best ever seen on the console.

The Bad

I wish I could just stop here and say Seiken Densetsu 3 is so amazing that there is nothing to write here, and that all flaws that were here in Secret of Mana are gone. In fact this is probably what I would have done after a couple of hours of gameplay.

However as I played through the entire game, some problems arose, and I started to realise that many problems are still here, they are just more hidden.

The biggest issue is the inventory system. You can only carry up 10 kinds of items and up to 9 of each. If you want any more, you can store them in the inventory (which is an improvement over Secret of Mana which only allowed 4 items, and had no inventory). This is not a problem in itself, however the menus are VERY slow, buggy, unintuitive and user-unfriendly. You'll have to press the "Start" button, and wait for the menu to load, then scroll down the long inventory one item at a time, and it takes approximately 1s to scroll every single item, which is extremely long.

The weapon/armour system is not any better. The orb system from Secret of Mana is gone, and there is a system much like any traditional RPG where weapons and armours are specific to each character. This is not a problem - but when you buy them you have no idea to which of the 3 characters the equipment is associated, and swapping an item between a character and another, and equipping items, is even longer than browsing the inventory.

I think words can't really describe how the menu of Seiken Densetsu 3 is terrible.

Another problem is that, while the gameplay mechanics have been greatly improved (now the action pauses when you cast a spell or use an item which avoids major bugs from Secret of Mana), bugs from Secret of Mana (which were very numerous) are still present. When a character is severely injured you never know when it's dead or just low on HP, and the game engine allows you to waste healing items on a dead character without telling you he's already dead yet. When a boss have decided to attack you with a spell or a special skill, you cannot open the ring menu to heal until after the attack is finished.

There is major problems with sprites in this game. They are constantly half-disappearing when any animation is happening. Apparently they tried to use more sprites than the SNES could handle. They could really have fixed that somehow instead of leaving it as-it, because it really looks corny.

Even though I enjoyed a lot the beginning and the middle of the game, the last part of it seemed dull and uninteresting to me. Maybe this was because the last dungeon's music sucked even though all other pieces of music in the game are amazing. Maybe it was because a lot of level grinding was necessary if I wanted to avoid Game Over screens from occurring too frequently. Or maybe it was that dumb system where, to get the best weapons and the best classes, you have to collect seeds and plant then in an Inn, which will give you any *random* item. To get all the items for class promotions, and to get all ultimate weapons and armours, you'll have to spend quite some time to hunt seeds and you'll need some luck. Why the monsters doesn't directly drop the items you want so badly is beyond me.

The Bottom Line

Seiken Densetsu 3 is a great sequel, and a great classic on the SNES that any fan of the console should play.

Still, it can't be called a perfect game or anything, and even though there is multiple possible parties and stories, I'll probably not play it a second time because the gameplay tends to get boring and the game has so many annoying little bugs.