"Legend of Mana"

Opening
To all the people who beat the game: Was it just me or did the last part seemed tacked on just to give the game an ending? On to the review.

Graphics
Hand Drawn beauty. These graphics are great, each area is well crafted. The characters all look great and every character in the game has a portrait. Two charcters are a big tree and a rock face and they actually move when they talk. (You have to see it)and it looks real cool. Each artifact when placed on the map opens up in a cool looking little scene. Bosses are big and well done. Battle graphics are alright, with some slowdown when many enemies are in the battles.

Sound
Music is pretty good. Some tunes like the Underworld are catchy but others are annoying. The boss themes are the best in the game. Effects are the norm, with the slashes of different weapons, the monsters dying. All well done. Voice acting isn't presant, as usual. However there is a song sung at the opening which is in japanese.

Story
Um...it's more like several stories. Some will be more developed then others. Basically you, the main character, goes around and by talking to certain characters you can open an adventure with them. As I said some will have several adventures involving the same characters. Others will just be one timers. So instead of one long story it's a bunch of short or semi-long stories. All in all it leads up to reviving the Mana tree, which happens as you go along helping people. Your character doesn't really talk, you (the player) pick everything he or she says.

Gameplay
At the start you name your character and pick a weapon. You wake up in your house and when you head outside you see a plant like thing walking around. He gives you the Artifact "Colorblocks." You leave your house and place the artifact on the map. In a color of light a town pops up. You explore the town and meet some people in it. As you go along you find more artifacts which pop up as dungeons or other towns. That is how the game in a whole is played. Along the way you'll meet many characters who will join you for a period of time. The game is extremely non-linear only forcing you to complete a few small adventures and one big one to beat the game. However there is much more to do. A grand total of 68 adventures to complete. Each time you complete an adventure you can go back to your house and talk to a cactus who will then wright something down in his diary. You can read it if you like and adds a little humor to an already lighthearted game. Battles are fought much like Secret of Mana, the only differences being: You don't see the enemy's on the screen, they just pop up. Random battles basically, except if you leave and come back expect to fight the same enemy's in the same location. Battles our fought like SoM in that you can move and dodge attacks. Another small difference is that you can only attack from side to side. You can't attack up or down. In battle you can set Special Techniques or magic to the shoulder buttons. There are several special techniques for each weapon, and when the ability meter is full you can perform one inflicting a large amount of damage. Also you can get smaller abilites which can be set to the triangle and circle button. Some examples are defend, counterattack, taunt and jump. X uses quick attacks while the square button uses a powerful blow. Magic is bought and represented by instruments. You can buy these at shops and use them in battle. They can be upgraded also. More on that later. Outside of battle you can walk around, talk, search etc. Also you can find monster eggs. In order to catch one you must set down food, let it eat and fall asleep then you can catch it. What's the point? Well when it hatches you can take the monster with you in battle, a useful alli when you level them up and feed them. Now let's go on to the workshops. The Blacksmith: This workshop is used to create weapons and upgrade armor. Using items you find around you can create your own weapon or add more defense to armor pieces. Many materials can be used for this such as Silver. Golem shop: This is for creating Golems. Creating these creatures is probaly the most confusing aspect of the game. In order to create you you'll need logic blocks, you can create these buy mixing two pieces of armor. When done you get a block that'll tell the golem to attack or defend etc. depending on the armor. You can place as many of these blocks in the golem but this'll raise the error rate. Which means the golem will fail to do what it's told more often. Also you must use armor to create the body of a golem. All in all you can create a really powerful enemy but it takes time. Instrument workshop: This is where you can upgrade you instruments making more powerful magic. When you complete a certain adventure you'll be shown how to. The basic rundown is, if the mana rate is high for a certain area and the mana creature you can tempt it with music and gain an elemental coin. For instance say you had a high mana in Undine at Fieg Snowland, if you went there you might have a chance of seeing Undine. Now you can pick an instrument and play, if Undine likes the tune it'll move closer, and closer when it's close enough you can gain elemental coins, used to upgrade instruments. Now the Monster Corral: This is used to raise the monsters. You can feed it to give it a personality, let it graze in the field, you can take a monster with you to fight alongside, or look at encyclopedias optained throughout the adventure. Now the Backyard Orchard: After a certain event you can go to the orchard and give a large talking tree some seeds. These seeds will grow and give you food for the pets. Also sometimes you'll get the AF Golden Seed which you can use to grown another large tree. Well that's the rundown of everything...finally done with Gameplay onto..

Replay Value
Pretty high. If you don't have a walkthrough or look at one it's almsot a sure fire way that'll you'll miss several adventures. When you beat the game you can start over with all your stuff in a New Game +. All the artifacts will need to be gained and this time you may want to consider where you place them as some adevntures count on that. Also a two player mode was added for battle only. You can have the 2nd player control the many characters that join for a limited time, or you can have the 2nd player load his own character to your game. Although 2player doesn't seem as fun as SoM.

Difficulty (Easy)
Yeah the game is very easy. All the bosses are a real pushover, in fact many enemy battles were harder then anyboss. Luckily the game has a lot of adventures and many confusing sidequests or this would be a real pushover. However, after beating the game once, you can put the difficulty on hard (all enemies up 20 levels) or insanely hard (all enemies at 99, this means ten minute battles between the rabites at the start of the game)Howver, you have to beat the game on normal mode first. Which is easy.

Buy or rent?
This REALLY depends on your taste. If you liked SoM, watch out this game isn't a sequel and not like it. If you want a story based RPG don't look at this game. If you hate non-linear games, I wouldn't reccomend it. However if you liked SaGa Frontier I would get this game, if you didn't then rent this one cause it's about a non-linear as SF. If not more.

MY Score 9/10

Reviewed by: STARSCOP33