Sword of Mana - GBA

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Viewed: 2D Isometric, Scrolling Genre:
Adventure: Role Playing
Arcade origin:No
Developer: Square Enix Soft. Co.: Square Enix
Publishers: Square Enix (US)
Nintendo (GB)
Released: 2004 (US)
19 Mar 2004 (GB)
Ratings: PEGI 7+, ESRB Everyone
Connectivity: Link Cable


With Square Enix primarily known for Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest, it can sometimes be difficult to give other series from the company the same status and publicity. But one game series that has managed to make itself known is the Mana series. Back in the 16-bit heyday of the SNES, the franchise was born with Secret of Mana, a highly respected RPG that even today is a desirable game to own, a collectible. Then there was Legend of Mana, a PlayStation role-player that continued the epic story of the Mana tree. Now there's a third, taking the series' story back to its roots in a prequel that goes by the name of Sword of Mana.

For the third instalment, Square Enix tells the tale of a hero, a heroine and the Mana Tree in yet another race to defeat evil before evil defeats you. And here, that evil is a dark lord. What's more the only way to defeat such a being in this adventure is to retrieve a powerful weapon called the Sword of Mana, hence the name of the game.

As the adventure begins, players new to the series will be unfamiliar style and play mechanic of the Mana series, which can pose a mighty challenge. However, with a little practice, the simplicities behind Sword of Mana's gameplay become apparent and the player will soon become comfortable in the proceedings. Those who have had the pleasure of the former two games will be instantly comfortable with the game's settings. It's noticeably similar to its predecessors both in visual style and in Zelda-style gameplay, which is usually a welcome thing when it comes to RPG purists.

Like the rest of the series, Sword of Mana is played in a top-scrolling perspective, in which players will roam a series of vast locales with a computer-controlled partner, hacking and slashing native beasts and the occasional army of henchmen. At least that's how it all begins - naturally, progression will become more strategic in the later stages of your quest, and the use of several special abilities will be required to pass some areas of the game. But your style of attack is largely dependent on your chosen character. Assuming control of the young hero grants players with a series of warrior type abilities and brute strength, whilst the female lead is a whiz with magic spells and makes a great healer. Whichever you choose, you'll be subject to a relatively free adventure, with several branching sections - its down to you to choose your own path.

The only real and significant addition to the series is the new link-up option. And although it doesn't allow for a complete multi-player adventure, it allows players to make use of traded abilities for an easier single-player quest.

Overall, Sword of Mana is a fine addition to Square Enix's respected RPG series.