* Prices may differ from that shown
Children of Mana is a follow on from the super Nintendo classic The secret of mana made by Square Enix. Only available on the Nintendo ds only which is fine if you follow the Nintendo generations but would achieve more by being available on more gaming consoles.
The game offers 4 different characters each with their own storylines you can also link up with 3 other players to make a party of 4.
The story is somewhat familiar to the original storyline of the super Nintendo's version where the sword of mana has been removed and monsters have begun to attack nearby villages. It's up to you the hero of the story to restore peace, the game becomes rather boring as there is nothing else to do other than following the story line. You gain bonuses for clearing out dungeons but gets repetitive after the first few, the fighting sequence is something different and has a versatile method of different attacking style but i prefer the final fantasy step by step fighting method.
This is a good game for younger gamers as the characters are typical cute and cool.
The greatest games console ever to grace planet Earth was the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). I will have no arguments because it is fact (in my mind anyway). There were so many games released on the system that became classics; from Nintendos Link and Mario, to numerous platformers and first person shooters. During the days of the SNES Nintendo were friendly with a company called Square who have become one of the most popular game publishers ever with their highly successful Final Fantasy games. Square have many other Role Playing Game (RPG) franchises and one of them is the Mana series. They produced The Secret of Mana that allowed two players to combine in an adventure it became one of the best games ever on the SNES. Therefore, it was with great interest that I saw a new Mana game was to be released on the Nintendo DS. Could Children of Mana capture the magic of the SNES era?
For veterans of the Mana series the first thing they will notice about Children is that the gameplay differs dramatically from previous titles in the series. No longer is it an action RPG, but instead it is a hack and slash game. You start the game in control of one of four players who have varying talents in battle from strength to magic. You must then take this character into numerous themed dungeons and kill everything. This does not take the usual form of turn based slaughter, but instead vigorous tapping of the A and X buttons.
Many RPG games pride themselves on allowing you to develop your character in the fashion you see fit, be it in the arts of magic or the sword. Children severely stunts this part of the game as, although your character does level up, it is very basic and you actually have no skill sets. The only way you can change the characters attack is to equip certain items such as more powerful weapons or mysterious gems. The lack of open options in the game really reduces the draw the game would have to RPG fans.
The fact is the central gameplay of hacking everything that moves is fun, but very repetitive. It is far too basic with very few subtleties. The makers have decided to strip everything away that makes a Mana game. This game is really part of the Mana series in name only. (2 out of 5)
Although the concepts of turn based fighting and development of skills have been dropped SquareEnix have managed to save the other area that makes the RPG genre so engrossing the stories. You are an adventurer who must unravel a mystery around the return of strange beings to the planet. For in-depth fans of the series this story will make added sense as it fits into the general arch of the Mana games. However, for many people the plot may seem a little hackneyed as you are essentially yet another unwitting adventurer forced to fight for the protection of the planet. It has been done many times before and better in games such as Final Fantasy 7. Saying that without the story this game would suffer greatly. The game also has many different characters to talk to. They are really well realised and having such a mix of different types makes visiting each new place more interesting. However, interesting characters do not make up for the fact that the game has an in-depth, but basic story.
(3 out of 5)
I feel that the longevity of this game is not based on completion, but how long you are willing to do the same thing over and over again. The story itself is a good length and would take you many hours to complete, just like any good RPG. However, the fact that the game plays identically throughout really stunts the lifespan. If it were a great gaming mechanism this would not prove a problem as playing the same great moment repeatedly can last a long time. Children of Manas gameplay becomes tiresome after a few hours and stops the game from being entertaining. (3 out of 5)
Graphics is one element were this game comes to the fore as they are amongst the best on the DS. The sprites that represent the characters are vivid and unique and make the game a sumptuous thing to play. The best element has to be the story scenes and the character illustrations that appear. These are realised in beautiful manga style and give the game an edge over other RPG games in the DS. If the rest of the game had met these high standards this would have been a must purchase. (5 out of 5)
The level design, like the gameplay, is rather weak. Each dungeon is split into several sections that need to be cleared of enemies. Although the different lands on offer have different elemental themes they prove to be the same as hundreds of games before e.g. snow, sand, water etc. The gameplay is far too linear and the levels reflect this by being merely areas in which to hit things. There is sometimes an attempt made to include an interesting puzzle, but these are too rare to save SquareEnix.
(2 out of 5)
Once again it is the superfluous parts of this game that shine. It does not really matter that the graphics, sound and music are fantastic if the central gameplay is flawed. However, they are! The music is amongst the best on the DS and makes you wonder what they can make those little speakers do. The sound is not as complex as a home console, but for the DS it is top drawer. (5 out of 5)
At £30 RRP there is little I can do to convince anyone to purchase this game. I only bought it because of the rose tinted specs I have had since The Secret of Mana on the SNES. The gameplay and level design are completely flawed and mean that the game is only mindless entertainment for 6-10 hours; not the 40 hours you expect from an RPG. However, I did love the fantastic visuals and use of music in the game and this makes it just about an average gaming experience. If you see this game for £10 it will become a must have, but as DS gamers probably know by now this console has a habit of never reducing its prices it is a shame that few people will get to witness the beauty of this title. (3 out of 5)
Maker: SquareEnix RRP £30
Amazon uk £24.98