Trials of Mana review: A nice glow up

Something for both old timers and newcomers.



It’s the year of fantastic remakes and this game is no exception. Trials of Mana gets a glow up that should make it enticing to both old timers and newcomers.

For the unfamiliar, Trials of Mana was originally a 16-bit game first released in 1995. In Japan, it’s known as Seiken Densetsu (聖剣伝説, lit. The Legend of the Sacred Sword).

The game series revolves around the “mana tree” or the world tree. It’s a source of power containing nine elements: water, wind, fire, wood, stone, dark, light, metal, and moon. As with any valuable resource, it attracts forces of evil that want to use the power of the mana tree for darkness.

Having played other gamers in the Mana series, this certainly is an amazing job by Square Enix to modernize a classic. The colors are gorgeous and striking. You can easily tell this modernization was treated with utmost love and dedication.

Choose your party

At the beginning of the game, you are asked to choose your main character and the supporting cast. The game gives you six classes to choose from: Warrior, Priest, Thief, Beastman, Mage and Lancer.

Each character you pick will have her/his own unique story. My first run through in the game was about 25 hours which I think is excellent. It’s enough time to feel like a complete adventure, but not too much that the player can do multiple playthroughs to learn about the story of the other five characters.

As the game progresses, the character can change classes. This can happen after reaching levels 18 and 38 (with class items) using the mana stones or the mana statues that are spread across the map. Naturally, you’ll be able to unlock more powerful spells and skills that can help take on the harder bosses as you go through the game.

If you’ve played other JRPG titles under Square’s umbrella like the Final Fantasy series and Kingdom Hearts, you’ll know that your party needs to have all the essentials. That means striking a balance among defense, attack, support, and offensive magic that fits your play style.

The characters have their own strengths and weaknesses depending on their class. The combos and spells depend on the skills you unlock as the story and the level progresses. The higher the level, the higher the rates of combos and skill chains that can be unlocked to make grinding and boss battles lean more in your favor.

Get ready for a lot of button mashing, quick triggers

The gameplay adopts the chaotic feel of the Mana series. Every move is in real time. The way the player moves, dodges, hits, casts a spell or uses an item makes every step crucial in every facet and situation in your battles.

During battles you get a ring menu that almost feels like you’re pausing the game. This gives you ample time to strategize and plan your attack or how you want to approach each battle.

Here you can select what items you want to use as well as the skills that are available to your class of character. You also have a quick trigger that you can customize to fit your play style depending on the kinds of characters your party has.

You can switch with your support characters at any point during battle. This lets you maximize the potential of your party, most especially through the tough fights of the game. AI for your party members is also pretty good when you’re not controlling them. They act based on their skillets instead of mindlessly launching melee attacks.

Special techniques can be triggered by filling up a “CS GAUGE”. There are two ways to fill it. First, you smash all the enemies lurking around every dungeon on the map. Second, find some vases that will fill the gauge for you.

Personally, I prefer the first method because I like to do some ass kicking especially during this pandemic. A really good way to blow off some steam is to kick those rabites (hopping yellow and pink-tailed leporine monsters) in the beginning of the game.

A lot of traveling and being shot out of a canon

During your travels, you will encounter different stages across the Trials of Mana world. Each stage is unique and offers different kinds of NPCs that make you feel like you’re in another world.


As you proceed in the game, you will find different ways of traveling: with ships, riding a water monster, flying and being shot out of a canon???


Trials of Mana is a beautiful game based on the Old Mana Series. The game is straightforward and offers an easy learning curve. It’s simple and anyone should be able to catch the play style even after just an hour of going through the game.

It does run the risk of sometimes feeling too simple due to the lack of side quest. Harder side bosses and secret items or ultimate weapons could have made this beautiful game even better.

One thing I didn’t particularly enjoy were camera views and angles. Battles can be chaotic especially during boss encounters. It makes it difficult to properly plan your attack especially during stages that have plenty of obstacles.

I also encountered a lot of issues in focusing on targets that can either delay or break the momentum of your attacks. You can control the camera view with your shoulder buttons but it takes some getting used to especially in high pressure situations.

That aside, Trials of Mana is an excellent game overall. It has all the makings of an awesome game thanks to its storyline and gameplay. There’s enough here that Square Enix can build on to make another Mana game that will appeal to both old and new players.

This game was reviewed on a PS4 by Ron Erik Rivero. Ron is an ESL teacher, chef, and businessman who is passionate about gaming. When not playing, he spends most of his time teaching Japanese students business English. He is also a foodie, a loving husband and a doting father to his five-year-old son. You can contact him at [email protected]


The Last of Us Part II Preview: Nimble and off to the races

Ellie rides searching for answers in a broken world.



I needed to mentally prepare myself for the amount of groundwork The Last of Us Part II demands. The lingering question on my mind as I take on this game was pretty simple: what’s next? Its prequel takes on a point-of-view that focuses on hope; on a riveting end to a dangerous time. What do we look forward to? Will the end come in a marvelous way, or will there be more to uncover?

This time around, you play as Ellie — the girl you saved from the Fireflies back in The Last Of Us, all grown up. She moves quite faster than Joel does in the first game, which also allows her to reach higher places in the field. Also, you traverse overworlds a lot faster and with more agility given her slim frame. As Ellie, you also have access to this nifty feature called Listen Mode, which comes in handy at the right moments.

The world I traversed just looked, for a lack of a better word, destroyed. Nothing seemed to be in proper condition anymore — buildings, bridges, roads, and vehicles alike. To me, it feels like a whole new world — one that is drastically similar to what we left behind in the prequel. But even in this barren wasteland, humans still hold the law of life — or at least judge on who lives and dies.

Ellie takes on this world seeking answers, all while exposed to more dangerous threats along the way. Apart from the nasty encounters with the Infected, you come across two more dangerous groups of people. First up are the Wolves or WLF, a pack of armed civilians with a more run-and-gun combat approach. Then, there are the Seraphites or Scars, the trained silent killers at a whistle’s notice. All that’s really left is whether you choose to fight or die, because even I thought flight wasn’t an option here.

The Last of Us Part II comes to the PlayStation 4 on June 19, 2020.

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Nickelodeon Pixel Town: Another game to play while on lockdown

They’ve got adorable pixel art!




Nickelodeon is serving up a new mobile game for us: Nickelodeon Pixel Town. A mobile game we can all sink our teeth into as we try to cope with everything that 2020 has been throwing at us so far.
So, what is it exactly? Nickelodeon Pixel Town is a city building game. The name of the game is building your own Nickelodeon city where you can collect characters, costumes, iconic buildings, and items from different Nickelodeon series. The most charming bit? It’s all drawn in highly stylistic retro pixel art.

For your city inhabitants, you get to collect characters from SpongeBob SquarePants, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Invader Zim, CatDog, The Fairly OddParents, Danny Phantom, Rugrats, The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Avatar: The Legend of Korra, Rocko’s Modern Life, Hey Arnold! and The Wild Thornberrys.

Honestly, if you don’t have a Switch and have been gritting your teeth through the lockdown while people have been playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons, this is a decent mobile game to bring back some nostalgia. Because with all the hellish news lately, don’t we all just want to curl up into a ball and go back to a time when times seemed so much simpler? Not any better of a place and time perse, sure. But, just a time when we were too young to know any better.

Want to give this game a go?

Nickelodeon has an official launch celebration for the Pixel Town.  You can use the code PIXELTOWNHL to redeem 500 Gems for free! To redeem it, you can go to their website, click redemption, and fill up the necessary info.

If you want to build up a reason to disconnect and play like me, you can. The freebies are valid until 30 June 2020, 11:59PM (GMT+8). That’s a pretty good amount of time to be rally up enough pent up emotions to need some time away to hop back fiercer. Nickelodeon Pixel Town is available in Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia on Google Play and Apple App Store.

SEE ALSO: 10 offline free-to-play mobile games

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Sony postpones PlayStation 5 event amidst US protests

Letting more important voices be heard



Last week, we finally heard some news about the upcoming but strangely silent PlayStation 5. Since the pandemic, the next generation of gaming kept out of the limelight, allowing the current generation to flourish amongst the locked-in gamers. Breaking the silence, Sony was scheduled to hold a showcase of PlayStation 5 launch titles this week for the upcoming console. Unfortunately, because of current events, the company has decidedly shelved the digital event.

Through their official Twitter account, PlayStation announced the postponement, allowing other issues to resolve in the meantime. “We have the decided to postpone the PlayStation 5 event scheduled for June 4,” the company said.

“While we understand gamers worldwide are excited to see PS5 games, we do not feel that right now is a time for celebration and for now, we want to stand back and allow more important voices to be heard,” the post continues.

Naturally, the announcement is timed perfectly for the currently ongoing protests happening across America. Recently, George Floyd, an African American man, was murdered under the custody of a white police officer. The incident, followed by the subsequent lack of justice, sparked a wave of outrage throughout the country.

Since then, other companies and personalities have shown their support towards the cause. Notably, Google postponed Android 11’s launch previously, starting a wave of similar postponements. Though none of the postponing companies have named the George Floyd case specifically, one can easily assume the announcement’s relevance to the current political climate in America.

In any case, it looks like gamers will have to wait a little bit longer before more details about the PlayStation 5 will inevitably surface.

SEE ALSO: Nintendo and Sony are in a heated battle during lockdown

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