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Game Profile
Game Boy
Brownie Brown
PLAYERS:   1-2
December 01, 2003
Heroes of Mana

Dawn of Mana

Children of Mana

 Written by Jeff Milligan  on June 02, 2003

First Impressions: You would think a sword made out of mana would be on the weak side, no?

In an RPG world dominated by the likes of the Final Fantasy series, there are lots of RPG series' that pass by some without the slightest of recognition. Unfortunately, some of those series' are excellent sources of RPG gaming. The Secret of Mana series would be a perfect example of this. Hardcore RPG gamers are sure to of at least heard about The Secret of Mana games, but for casual gamers, it may be just another series that unknowingly flies by. This is indeed a shame, because The Secret of Mana series is one of the finest examples of an RPG you can find.

For those unfamiliar with the series, the initial game was originally released in Japan, under the name of Seiken Densetsu. As it made its way to North America, it was re-named ?Final Fantasy Adventure?, and released on the Game Boy system in 1990. Later, Seiken Densetsu II was released on the Super NES, with the title ?Secret of Mana? in North America. Where exactly does Sword of Mana fit into all of this? Sword of Mana is actually a revamped version of Final Fantasy Adventure, which will be released on the Game Boy Advance. With the name ?Sword of Mana?, Final Fantasy Adventure will finally be recognized in its proper series, instead of being mistaken for a Final Fantasy game.

Like most RPG games, Sword of Mana contains a complicated and twisting story which backs up the amusing gameplay system. Sword of Mana is a prequel to the rest of the series, and tells the story of the source of all life, Mana. In an attempt to dominate the world long ago, an evil empire tried to tap the power of the Goddess Mana, which would grant them unbridled power. To stop this, a woman from the Mana tribe transformed herself into the Mana Tree, concealing the power from the empire. Later in time, The Hero, raised as a gladiator in the slave pits of Grantz, and the Heroine, who possesses deep ties to the Goddess Mana, are both on a quest to stop the Shadow Knight, who is persecuting the Mana tribe. When they meet, the journey truly begins. I told you it was complicated.

Sword of Mana can be identified quite easily by its similarities to the classic Zelda games. It's an action RPG, based on an overhead camera view. Players will have basic sword attacks, and other complex maneuvers that can be used in battle, as well as during normal gameplay. One such maneuver is ?sleep?, which allows the character to lie down and recover lost hit points. Allies will play a role in Sword of Mana as well. Controlled by AI, allies can be set to your preferences, behaving however you would like them to.

Being a remade version of the original game, Sword of Mana is sure to bring back a feeling of nostalgia to those who enjoyed the Secret of Mana on the SNES. The original ring-based inventory is apparent once again, and swapping items and weapons is more quick and efficient than ever before. Players may also recognize a few characters from other Mana games along the way, including Li'l Cactus, and Niccolo the merchant.

The most obvious of the changes is none other than the graphics interface. Sword of Mana is almost a mirror image of the graphics that were present in the SNES version of Secret of Mana. Bright and bold colors are very apparent, and the use of sprites is implemented for background characters and items. Also similar to Secret of Mana is the changing of the seasons. However, instead of the seasons changing, Sword of Mana has a Zelda-esque night to day system. Colors and brightness changes depending on what time of day it is during gameplay. Bright greens and yellows may fill the world during daytime, but deep purples and blues shadow the overworld at night.

Players will also not only get to travel with AI controller allies, but can also team up with a friend via the GBA link cable. Two players will be able to raise their swords together, and co-operatively journey to protect the Mana Tree, and battle a common enemy.

Final Thoughts
We got a small taste of what to expect of Sword of Mana at E3 this year, but we're still hungry for more. Square-Enix is undoubtedly one of the, if not THE best creators of console RPG games, and Sword of Mana looks to be just another chapter in an already large book of great accomplishments for the company. The release date for Sword of Mana is still to be announced, but it will be sometime in 2003. The only thing we can say is the sooner, the better.

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