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Final Fantasy Adventure - Reloaded
Sword of Mana (GBA)
Member Name: Hydromancer
Sword of Mana (GBA)
Date: 09/07/08, updated on 09/07/08 (168 review reads)
Advantages: bright, detailed graphics, great tunes, excellent gameplay
Disadvantages: graphics are a love it or hate it proposition
About seventeen years ago, Final Fantasy Adventure was released for the Game Boy. It wasn't pretty compared to other Game Boy games at the time, but what made it a marvel was introducing top-down Zelda-esque gameplay with a driving story of magic and heroism. O ver a decade later, Square-Enix, with developer Brownie Brown, has gave this classic gem a complete overhaul for the Game Boy Advance system.
In an effort to increase replay value, the player now has the ability to go through the story as either an orphaned man who escaped slavery in the evil Empire Granz (Glaive in FFA) and it's murderous Dark Lord, or a fugitive woman of the Mana Tribe hiding from Empire Granz Heretic Hunters The story has been very-well fleshed out, but in order to make it consistent, the plot had to be changed from the original game. For example, some characters that may not have contributed much to the plot at all in Final Fantasy Adventure may now find themselves much more important to the progression of the plot in Sword of Mana. The storyline isn't as driving as Secret of Mana's, but it has plenty of shining moments, and is very humorous at times, which is a definate plus. The downside, however, is that with all of the numerous changes added to the plot, the story can actually become quite confusing the first time one plays through the game; certain details may be entirely forgotten or simply fly over one's head, so to speak.
Sword of Mana's graphics and character models are more akin to the Playstation title Legend of Mana, an RPG where in graphics, there are two camps -- You either love it's breathtaking detail, or you hate it and see it as blasphemy to the rest of the series. I personally am on the former side, and to show how spectacular the graphics are, I'm going on a limb to say that they even rival Golden Sun: The Lost Age in terms of graphical prowess. The Rings are more pixelated than I'd like them to be, though. Most spells are colourful and well-detailed. However, a relatively minor screen glitch is said to appear in most copies of Sword of Mana; it's no real problem, but it appears frequently, and is worth noting. All in all, though, the eye candy is very nice, here.
There are plenty of remixes from the original score in FFA, and some new ones as well. The sound effects are also very nice, from weapons hacking and bashing, to the clatter of animals bones hitting the ground. It's very pleasing to the ears, and not grating at all.
In the playability department, Sword of Mana gives a laudable presentation, albeit not quite up there to be labelled as "amazing." The button interface for attacking and casting spells is simple, yet efficient, so one will have no troubles in combat, most of the time. There are also a few handy abilities to learn, such as jumping over ledges to find secrets, resting motionless to restore MP, and many others. Being able to smith your own items and adjust the stats the way you want add strategy to the mix, as you hope to create the perfect character to defeat the hordes of enemies.
All in all, there are only a few nuances in the gameplay department that detract from Sword of Mana; some are a very minor nuisance, and some can have you ripping at your hair. For example, the AI for your partner is at most times, absolutely pathetic. It will be often that you will have to 'free' them since your partner gets 'stuck' many, many times. It helps loads to be able to switch between characters to help remedy this problem, which can be frustrating at times. The difficulty, while not exactly a walk in the park, can be considered ultimately a disappointment, especially when compared the games fellow brethren in the Seiken Densetsu series. When a sizable portion of the games many bosses can be defeated rather quickly, the sense of accomplishment can diminish the experience. Also, a relatively minor screen glitch is said to appear in most copies of Sword of Mana; it's no real problem, but it appears frequently, and is worth noting
Sword of Mana is a satisfying RPG, that brings back a mix of nostalgia with twists and surprises when you least expect it. The new day/night system and month/day system is more than just a gimmick, it affects gameplay in some parts of the story, and many times when having to perform a certain task or get a secret. Numerous Side-quests and two character stories lengthen the replay value heaps. Expect to find many familiar faces from many 'Mana' games, some of my personal favorites being the Elemental Spirits that you use for magic. If you invest in this title, expect to find above average action with swordplay and magic, a good, if somewhat complicated story, and overall RPG bliss.
Is it up in the ranks of Secret of Mana? Not quite, but a very solid title nonetheless. Will it keep you entertained and have your hands wrapped around the Game Boy Advance for many hours? Absolutely. Despite its flaws, Sword of Mana is a RPG that one should definitely invest some time into.
(also on gamefaqs)
Summary: A solid remake of a classic game
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