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Xenophilia: Seiken Densetsu 3


One of the few Squaresoft games that has never even attempted to be remade is also easily one of the best. Now sure, I could've talked about the obvious Terranigma, Mother 3, Wonder Project J, Adventures of Hourai High, or even the Front Mission games that never reached American soil, but instead I'd love to talk about good ol' SD3. As you'll recall from my Semi-Annoyed Videogame Nerd episode where I mentioned it, I like it quite a bit.

Now no, I'm not going to talk about Secret of Evermore. I've written reviews, comparisons, even gotten into debates about why I think it's one of the lesser Squaresoft titles. Some people love it, but I personally could not get into it...even though I beat it a few times (yeah figure that out). But I will talk about the main Seiken Densetsu series as a reference first. The first Seiken Densetsu was Final Fantasy Adventure, which was eventually remade as Sword of Mana for the GBA.

While Sword of Mana certainly LOOKED good, it didn't feel quite the same as the original FFA. It featured a very Zelda-like playstyle, but with leveling up. When you leveled up, you had the ability to distribute a stat point, which would change attack power, defensive power, HP/MP, charge bar speed, and so on. It's pretty dated as you could tell in the video, but the concept was basically that of a Zelda game, but an RPG actually.

Oh wait...

With Secret of Mana, AKA Seiken Densetsu 2, many things were vastly improved. Firstly, you had the ability to play with multiple people. See, you had the boy, the girl, and the sprite. Pretty simple stuff, but the spells, varying stats, and so on changed depending on who you were playing as. And by play with multiple people, I also mean you could have other actual players playing with the normally computer controlled allies as well.

You couldn't control how they leveled up, but you could improve both weapon and magic proficiencies as well as improve the weapons overall with the blacksmith. This game was MASSIVE. It was easily over 50+ hours, there were several towns and dungeons, lots of great plot twists, beautiful music and visuals, and because it was an action/RPG, you never felt like it ever slowed down for combat.

To this day, Seiken Densetsu 3 has never come out in any form to America. The only ways to play it would be either import or emulator. It's a fan-fucking-tastic game that takes the best of the SD series up to this point and in my opinion, actually improves upon the formula overall. How so? Well first off, yes, you get a party of three people, but you get to SELECT who those people are going to be.

Secondly, the order you select the people is important because it will dictate how the game starts, how you find your allies, and in what order. Now, there don't seem to be any proficiencies this time, but that's mostly because each character uses a specific type of weapon and armor and might not even use magic at all if you don't develop them a certain way. Yes, stat distribution comes back in a big way by telling you you can only do certain things IF you develop a certain way.

Further, there are varying class upgrades you can access as well. Another few interesting features come in the form of day/night transitions as well as certain days of the week that emphasize different forms of mana. The game is much more beautiful and detailed than its predecessors and features a wide variety of awesome effects as well. There are even on the fly battles!

This is truly the apex of the SD series and yet, it's never truly been brought to an American audience. What really disappoints me here is the Mana series would then go on to suck, suck, SUCK. Every Mana title after SD3 (I guess excluding Sword of Mana, but that was a remake) was a steaming pile of shit. Legend of Mana? A giant mess of concepts thrown at each other to make something epicly horrendous.

Just look at this giant dick fart.

Children of Mana? Nice try, but it can't quite live up to the originals. And don't even get me started on bastardy like Heroes or Dawn. Both Final Fantasy Adventure and Secret of Mana would live on as Squaresoft classics...but not Seiken Densetsu 3. It's a shame because when you get right down to it, this was Square in their element. They threw a bunch of ideas together that WORKED and didn't truly subtract from the original formula to make something amazing.

I said it before and I'll say it again. Why hasn't this game come out, at least in some form or another, to an American audience? For fuck's sake, Square went out of their way to remake the original Front Mission, but not this one? I just don't get it.
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Ramminchuck   1



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About gunsageone of us since 2:58 PM on 04.11.2008

I've been gaming since 1987. I used to be a big Nintendo fanboy, then Square jumped the shark, so I followed. Eventually I realized neither Square nor Nintendo were the only companies out there worth following and my collection more or less speaks for itself now. I love to meet up with people on XBL, though I haven't done much online with the Wii. I've also been writing game review articles since 2004 on the old Project Wonderboy, then Morphine Nation, and now back to the new Project Wonderboy and various other sites.

I also help out in writing for a local videogame store website (VGMX). Not much else to say, really, when it comes to gaming. I wouldn't consider myself an expert, but I would say I'm experienced.

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