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Seiken Densetsu 3 (SNES) artwork

Seiken Densetsu 3 (SNES) review

"Late 1994 to early 1996 was a landmark of excellence in SNES RPGs, as many titles of prime quality were released, including Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy III/VI, and Super Mario RPG. Had a truly remarkable RPG seen an overshores release, it would have been hailed as a timeless classic. "

Late 1994 to early 1996 was a landmark of excellence in SNES RPGs, as many titles of prime quality were released, including Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy III/VI, and Super Mario RPG. Had a truly remarkable RPG seen an overshores release, it would have been hailed as a timeless classic.

At the same time, the Action-RPG craze was getting wilder and wilder. For years, game developers had been trying to combine the top-down perspective of many Action-Adventure games (The Legend of Zelda , Crystalis) and RPGs, and despite many ill-befated attempts on the NES (Heroes of the Lance, Hydlide), SquareSoft finally hit the nail on the head with itís Secret of Mana. Secret of Mana spawned a tide of Action RPGs in itís wake, many based on the engine of top-down perspective and real-time action combined with a status system. One first-rate effort was another SquareSoft installment, known as Seiken Densetsu 3.

Right off the bat, linearity is thrown out the window, as youíre given the option to pick three out of six available characters, each sketched with diversity in mind. The main character will be your first choice, with the other two for backup. However, donít go thinking that your additional two will be left behind in the shadows. All six of the characters will get not one, but two unique events during the plot that not only develop their backgrounds but also tie in with your mission; visit and obtain the powers of the eight spirits of Mana, destroy the eight God-Beasts, incarnations of destruction itself, and put an end to the puppet master operating behind the red curtains.

The characters themselves are quite diverse when it comes time to battle, which is made easy by clean controls. Swordsman Duran, son of a legendary Knight of Gold and a knight of Forcena, is efficient with the ways of a sword, and can back up his mighty physical prowess with the ability to equip heavy equipment and elemental sword magic. Beastman Kevin, son to the Beast King and a human female, can transform into a werewolf as day makes the transition into dusk, where he can dish out the heavy damage with a lunaticís speed. The half-elf Carlie, plagued by the murder of her parents and the abduction of a close friend, bluntly sucks when it comes to fighting by hand; but if you stick her as a magic user, she can plow through the enemies, while healing and casting protection on her comrades.

But what makes Seiken Densetsu 3 fun is just how long you can play it over and over. What is already a minimum 30-hour quest through inventive environments is transformed into an unyielding juggernaut as the adrenaline rush comes back again and again. Deep plot supports in itself six playthroughs; each individual perspective opens up new information, which slowly is linked together in one broad chain of immaculate events. Piecing together new information by replaying a character brings in more replay value. Thankfully, SquareSoft induced a new class-up system in Seiken Densetsu 3; throughout the game, you can change classes and alignments between all three of your characters, not once, but twice. In doing this, when turning to the Light side or Dark side, you can learn new types of magic and gain higher stats. Since SquareSoft took the pains to flesh out the six classes for each character, it is quite worth playing through four times to attain and use all of the master classes for each character.

Replaying through all those times may seem to get boring, but believe me, it never gets old. The action is intense, whether I am fighting a small white rabbit or a life-sized mechanical eye, but to me, the story is where itís at. Driving around the key idea of conflict, the kingdom of Altena, the desert fortress Navarre, and the Beast Kingdom all want to unlock eight Mana Stones Ė in doing so, they will open the gate to the Holy Land, where they can obtain the Mana Sword, an almighty artifact capable of satisfying any personal motive, good or evil. Opposing them are the kingdoms Forcena, Rolante, and Wendel. A member of each kingdom will team up to fight the growing threat of evil, and obtain the Mana Sword before the former force can. Treachery and surprises surround your path, and they cannot be defeated easily.

Seiken Densetsu 3 had all the components that it required to become a legend in video gaming, unable to bow down to time itself. It possessed a good story with memorable characters, lacked the clunky controls of many Action-RPGs at that time despite being a lot more complex, had the near-trademark SquareSoft fantasy atmosphere, and was released during a time where Action-RPGs were all the rage.

Too bad it never saw an official English release.

yamishuryou's avatar
Community review by yamishuryou (March 05, 2005)

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