Square Enix’s Trials of Mana is a remake of the Japanese-only Seiken Densetsu 3, the third game of what is known in English as the Mana series. It was kind of surprising to finally see this game get remade and localised, given that Seiken Densetsu 3 originally came out for the Super Famicom in 1995, It wasn’t until 2019 that the new versions was localized within the Collection of Mana, and it was not until 2020 that the remake was released.
The original version of the game had a feature that would allow players to control party members within the RPG. Cooperative play within this genre is kind of rare, and to see Trials of Mana drop the feature into the game at that time was awesome. This led to the small but hardcore fanbase for the game to get really excited when the remake was announced. players were hopeful that Seiken Densetsu 3/Trials of Mana would bring back this feature and would also expand the system a bit.
In a 2019 interview with Twinfinite, Trials of Mana producer Masaru Oyamada dashed those hopes. And based on this statement, it seems pretty clear that Trials of Mana won’t feature multiplayer of any kind. So that means no cooperative party play or anything similar. The justifications appears a bit weird when considered at face value.
According to Oyamada, the removal of multiplayer features is down to the switch that the developers made from the classic 2D top-down perspective to a 3D third-person view. The development team had troubles making the older style of co-op combat work with the new view, and they decided to scrap it. The ability to have multiple characters on-screen also played a role, meaning that Trials of Mana multiplayer would have to have been splitscreen.
There was one option left on the table aside from local multiplayer. According to Oyamada, Square Enix considered adding online-only multiplayer to Trials of Mana, but pushed the idea out over the added time it would take to develop. So rather than rush the game to add multiplayer, the publisher pulled the plug.
So while it is bad news to hear that Trials of Mana won’t feature any multiplayer whatsoever, it’s kind of a good thing. Fans of the games would rather have no multiplayer rather than a terrible experience.