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:: RPG Source :: View Review :: Sword of Mana

Sword of Mana
It has been over seven years since a Seiken Denetsu game has appeared on a Nintendo console. Despite that fact almost all Seiken Denetsus(With the exception of Legend of Mana) have been released on a Nintendo console. So it shouldn't have come to a surprise that when Square-Enix decided to remake the original Gameboy Game, Seiken Denetsu, or known as Final Fantasy Adventure in the states, it would be on a Nintendo system. Okay, still with me?

Sword of Mana's story line is pretty simple. Prince Stroud, prince of Granz Realm, has a problem with the Mana Clan. The Mana Clan is a clan of people devoted to protecting the Mana Tree, which is a form of the Mana Goddess. But they had failed once before... an evil man Vandole took control of the Mana power and built a great civilization but he decided rather to use the technology for evil and to oppress the people rather then to help them flourish. Three young men, Bogard the Swordsman, Granz the Ministrel, Gemma the wielder of the legendary Sword of Mana, all led under the leadership of the Sage Cibba confronted Vandole and defeated him. Prince Stroud, son of Granz who became the king after Vandoles defeat, renamed himself Dark Lord, and fearing that en evil like such will arise again thus persecutes and kills all of the Mana Goddesss followers, in hope to entirely wipe out Mana.

The story as you see has been upgraded greatly from the original Final Fantasy Adventure. Not only does the story start off with a written past, it also attempts to blur the line between good and evil, which unfortunately ends up being one of the big downfalls of this game.

In the beginning of the game you get to choose between playing as the girl, or as the boy. At first I wanted to start as the girl, but after picking the game up I changed my mind and decided to play as the boy. Let me tell you the boy had some major problems. The game really becomes funny sometimes. After killing each boss he acts sad that the person is dying. During one fight right before it begins he says, Violence solves nothing. Though I do believe this was Square-Enixs intention, I dont believe it was good. By making the main protagonist a hypocrite, he becomes very annoying. And by giving the villains feelings, they gave the player less motivation story-wise (gameplay-wise I couldnt put it down, but Ill get to that later.) Though Im not saying giving villains depth is bad, Im saying making them too nice is bad. A good example of a good villain would be Julius, who I think Square-Enix crafted perfectly.

Now to gameplay. The gameplay can be summed up in one single word. Fun. The major motivation for me playing this game was the gameplay. Using weapons and magic was really crafted well in this game. Leveling up isnt a chore since you do it automatically. When you do level-up though, you get to choose what type of class you want to level up as. You can be Warrior, who levels up primarily on defense and secondarily on offense, a Monk, who levels up primarily on offense and secondarily on defense, a Magician who levels up primarily on offensive magic and secondarily on defensive magic, a Sage who levels up primarily on defensive magic and secondarily on offensive magic, or my favorite, the Thief who levels up primarily in speed and secondarily in defense and offense. By leveling up certain classes a certain amount of time you can get special classes. The only downside is this game is incredibly easy, more so if you level-up to non-magic classes.

Now to unto sound. Sound effects wise, the game wasnt all that great. It wasnt annoying either, though sometimes sound effects did get mixed up here and there. Music wise, this game really impressed me. The worst music in the game is decent, and the best is going to want you leaving you for more. I sometimes turn on the Gameboy just to listen to the opening music.

Graphic wise, this game was equally impressive. Though some things like the character portraits arent exactly A quality, they are quite nice for the Gameboy. The enemy sprites are great also. I also like how in the small villages the houses were like little huts built into the side of the hill. There are quite a few graphical glitches such as graphical tearing on top of the screen and once in a while you end on top of an NPC. Nothing to bothersome though.

Now, if you have read any review, you have heard many people bashing the AI. Though I do believe the AI is horrible, I dont believe it is that horrible. It is bearable. Personally Im glad Square-Enix actually let you have a partner(though I wish they also added multiplayer mode to take full advantage of that partner!). I also found that toggling with the AI settings can make the AI quite helpful, when I played as the girl I set the boys AI to stand-close and attack while my character would stay back and use magic. They can be very helpful sometimes just dont wait for them when your wandering caves or in the forest.

Replay value is high here. Though many peoples idea of replay value is side quests (there arent THAT many anyway) I think the real replay value lies in other classes. I know Im going to be replaying this game over and over just for different classes. Im not too sure about how fun others will find it, but I will love it. You can also find rare metals and fruits to temper and forge your equipment. Also, you can try the other boy character (I assure you, pick the girl first for a better first experience) if you want to see his side of the story.


- Plot 8.7
A great plot, just not great characters.

- Gameplay 9.1
The gameplay is huge fun. Leveling up isnt a chore like in most RPGs. But the side-effect is the game is incredibly easy. If you want a challenge, youll have to make your own. The AI could have been much better and so would have a multiplayer option.

- Graphics 9.2
The graphics are incredibly pretty in some parts of the game. Sometimes the sprites do get buggy though, as you will notice graphical tearing on top of the screen and sometimes your character will be literally on the NPCs.

- Sound 8.7
Though the sound effects are mediocre and sometimes get really buggy during battle, the music varies. Some musical pieces in this game were very well composed though, especially the opening theme. Im glad to say there are no annoying pieces in here. The music is also good enough to ignore the constant looping.

- Replay ability 9.4
Replay ability is excellent. Two stories to go through (though one of them isnt all that great), many different classes to experience, special materials and fruits to forge weapons with, a handful of sidequests, it will be while before you can put this down.

- Overall 9.1
The story is great, the gameplay is great, the music is great, just a handful of downers keep such a great title from receiving a perfect score in my book.

By Zurukai (2/1/2004)

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