I think I was in 4th grade when I first played SD3. My first party was Kevin, Duran, and Hawk. Of course, I didn't choose any girls :O. I ended up getting to Pedan on my first play through, but I think I stopped there. I remember I couldn't find the Mirage Palace, and I sort of got burned out. A couple years later, I did end up beating it, but of all the Mana games, SD3 is tied for the least amount of completions with Heroes of Mana with two.
Playing on an emulator just isn't as fun for me, so I'm going to attribute it to that. SD3 is a beautiful game, and I really wish it would come over to the states. I'll definitely give it another run through if it ever gets rereleased, but it seems like our Mana series is pretty much dead.
I also remember telling one of my buddies about it back then, and he thought the next day, he told me he beat the game. He got to the opening credits after you first get on the ship. Haha.