Review by OutOfRange

"No Exploration, No Interesting Character Interaction, No Fun, Just Mindless Dungeon Wanderings"

Most people probably never realised but Square did use to make RPGs that weren't Final Fantasy, and they were pretty good, in my opinion many were better than the Final Fantasies of the day, such as Secret of Evermore and Secret of Mana. Unfortunately, there seems to be an ongoing trend from a variety of developers of relaunching old franchises, and for the most part they've been pretty awful and are simply cash-ins on people searching to recapture the gaming of their youth. This is yet another game that falls into that mould, as it captures none of the charm of the previous games in the series.

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Storyline (4/10)
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Considering this is usually such as strong point for the series, the storyline in this game is a huge let down. It essentially boils down to a generic evil villain wanting to destroy the world and you are the only person who can stop them, despite having plenty of blatantly stronger people surrounding you. It's almost as bad as FFXII in terms of story, as it really fails to progress with any kind of pace; you get a bit of story, it leads to a new dungeon being made available, you go through said dungeon, get a bit of text, fight a boss, return home and get some more plot.

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Gameplay (2/10)
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It wouldn't be quite so bad if the game was actually fun to play, or a challenge in anyway. But unfortunately, while the dungeons take a while to fight through, they're the dullest I have ever played, and having to sit through a bunch of text afterwards as your reward just doesn't justify it. While the level designs are fine, the problem lies in that there's just no challenge, and the gameplay becomes nothing more than repeatedly pressing attack, there's no strategy involved in the slightest. That is until you get to the end of dungeon bosses, which while requiring a little more thought for the most part killing the bosses just needs common sense as they are usually defeated with the weapon you were handed before heading off to the dungeon.

There are some side quests in the form of choosing a “job” and then going off to complete that job… in the dungeon. There really is just no getting away from them; basically, after selecting the job you complete a certain number of levels of the dungeon, then you're finished and you get your monetary reward. Not that money is really worth much in this game and I only really used it for combining the gems. The gems are a nice touch as they allow you to customise your character slightly, as equipping different gems will power up different stats, but for the most part, they just don't do enough to make a noticeable difference.

This is a very niche game, since there are people who enjoy this kind of game, but the problem is, for anyone who doesn't like traversing dungeon after dungeon, this game offers nothing else. While I don't mind engaging in said activity for a while, when there's absolutely nothing breaking up the monotony of it, and the storyline being a very poor reward for spending hours doing it, I ended up getting sick of it. The battle system, which is the meat and potatoes of this game, is also extremely sub par, despite being given a choice of four weapons, I rarely used the bow and flail. The magic is pointless since you can only equip one sprite at a time, ergo only use one spell, and most of them take so long to charge and cause such little damage that they're just not worth the effort. Since you're going to spend most of your time in this game in battle, I don't think it's unfair to expect something a little more imaginative and at least functional. They didn't even bother to try and use the touch screen other than putting a menu on there.

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Graphics (8/10)
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They're nice enough, and remind me a lot of SoM 3, in fact I've rated this pretty high as they're probably some of the better graphics I've seen on the DS. However, when you look at it, nothing changing the fact they're just static backgrounds with sprites. There's not a much amount of artistic creativity going on here, but there are some little cutscene movies that are done pretty well.

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Sounds (6/10)
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While there's nothing overly bad about the music, there's nothing that I particularly enjoyed. In fact since all you do after a dungeon is return to your little town, that town music really starts to tire, ergo I played most of the game sans music. The sounds effects weren't anything to rave about either.

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Lifespan (2/10)
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Even if you find yourself enjoying the dungeon crawling element of this game, the problem is; there's too much of it with very little to break it up into manageable chunks. Two other major problems exist; the game is not challenging in the slightest, and it is extremely short. While you can go around doing jobs and collecting gems, there is very little substance to enjoy there, and when all's said and done you've finished the game before long. After you've finished it, there really is no reason to ever touch it again, especially not for any kind of enjoyment.

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Summary (3/10)
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This game sought to thrive on one thing; love of the Secret of Mana series. Without that claim to fame, this game would have failed miserably. It does nothing to further the genre or provide any kind of unique or even remotely interesting gameplay. A game that is best avoided, even for those who like the series or dungeon crawlers.


Reviewer's Score: 3/10 | Originally Posted: 06/04/07


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