A Collection Cover Competition

Square Enix’s recently localized Collection of Mana is notable on several fronts. It’s a solid if unadorned presentation of the first three Mana games. It’s an encapsulation of the straightforward, colorful fairy tale action-RPG approach that enchanted fans of the series before Square experimented too much and lost that ideal mixture. And it’s the first time we have Trials of Mana, aka Seiken Densetsu 3, officially in English.

Yet these are trivialities next to Collection of Mana’s most important feature: its cover has all the characters hanging out with each other.

Really. It’s a charming spread where the main casts of Adventures of Mana, Secret of Mana, and Trials of Mana all cavort, where Sumo rides a chocobo beside Randi and Kevin, and where Primm and Angel advise Fuji on proper garland placement. Even the rabites are enjoying it, and they’re relegated to humble monsters in the actual games.

I’m not jesting entirely. This sort of jovial, series-spanning artwork of characters interacting is always welcome, particularly when it’s for older games that never had crossovers. It's always nice to see video-game characters enjoying themselves outside of their violent routines, as though they really are little people living in the game cartridge, just like you thought when you were three years old. Artwork like this keeps that innocent and all but extinct notion alive.

To illustrate, let’s compare the Collection of Mana cover to other recent game compilations.