Review by wolverinefan

"Another weak entry in the Mana series"

Children of Mana is yet another sequel in the Mana series. Secret of Mana for the SNES is what started the series over here in the States. Well name wise anyway. Sadly Square continues the trend of releasing mediocre titles by this name. Is Children of Mana a redeeming title in the series? Read on!

You're one of four characters. Odd things are happening on the Isle and the Mana god doesn't seem happy. A dark stranger appears and is causing problems for everyone. The hero of our tale sets out to find out why the Mana is acting the way it is and to stop this dark man from finishing his dastardly deeds. The plot is rather weak. It doesn't add anything to the story line except a vague hint in the ending... Come on Square, pick up the slack!

Graphically the game is decent. At first I wasn't overly impressed with the game. The dungeons were bland in design. Some how in the middle of the game the dungeons leave their crap design behind and some artistic movement must have happened because the stale designs are replaced with interesting ones. Characters and enemies all have nicely detailed sprites and are much better than what I found in Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin....

Children of Mana actually has a decent soundtrack. It dawned on me 3/4 into the game that I was just hearing the same music over and over. How uninspired and a total let down because at first the music was really nicely done. Sound effects are decent but nothing to write home about but they were better than most DS games. No voice acting, mouths move during the anime scenes but you only get text.

The game has really simple control. Two attack buttons and two menu buttons. You also have a magic button and an item button. My problem with the item button is that even if you have full health and accidentally hit the item button and it's a health item, it will use that item. I do have to take something off in this department for lack of stylus use. It's only used for menus.

Fans of the Mana series will find that Children of Mana is nothing but a dungeon crawler. You start in a town, talk to its town folk, under 20 characters, do shopping and call Flamie to take you to your next dungeon. The game offers a whole 8 dungeons and unlike most dungeon crawlers, these dungeons are not randomly generated, for the most part. Sometimes the gem or portal switch around but the layouts stay the same. The nice thing is the stages change depending on the mission so it isn't as tedious as it could be.

You have a few different characters to play as and the only difference is how good they are with the weapons. I only bothered using the sword master. Their plots are all the same, or so I understand and to be honest I don't see why anyone would take the time to play through the game with all the characters since they are basically the same.

There is also a gem grid in this game. It gets bigger as you go along but there are different gems that are used for different things. Attack +4, Magic +4, Sonic Wave ECT. So it adds Attribute points or skills or lets you walk on ice as if it was normal ground. The gems range in size and stuff as well. I found I never had to switch things up much until I got better gems near the end but even then it always worked out best for me.

I found that if you just equip the sonic wave gem and use your sword you can easily beat any enemy. Bosses go down in under 30 seconds most of the time. Only the last boss takes about 3 minutes and that's due to him moving around and to unreachable spots.

The game offers side quests and other things but it doesn't add anything besides some manner and useless back story. Combat is rather bland as well as it's just hack and slash and once you get the hang of it you won't be giving the enemy a chance to attack. The level designs can be fun though and some feel like mazes.

Each level has a specific goal, which is shown. You always need to find the drop and the portal. You need to carry the drop to the portal to get to the next level. The goals rang from kill all enemies, kill a certain enemy, kill a certain group of enemies, or just find the stuff in chests or hidden by rocks or weeds or whatever.

So, what does this game offer? Really, it isn't much past what I've said. There is local wifi support and if I knew a soul who not only owned a DS but also a copy of this game I could talk about how it works but I don't but it's suppose to make it slightly more fun.

Children of Mana is also very short but what DS game isn't. It took me just under 14 hours to get 100% in the game. For a dungeon crawler that is pretty bad since most seem really long. Heck, Pokemon Dungeon seemed longer than this game and I didn't do nearly as much in it, side quest wise.

If you're looking for the next Secret of Mana then you need to look elsewhere, maybe to World of Mana which is due some time in 2007. To be honest I wasn't overly disappointed with Children of Mana but it's far from perfect and by the end I was sick of it all. If you have some spare money lying around and don't care if a game is painfully mediocre then give Children of Mana a spin but I didn't find it worth the money or the name. Square really owes the Mana fans a good game. How about a port of the third game since it never came to the states?

Story - 6/10
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 7/10
Control - 7/10
Game Play - 6/10
Replay value - 4/10

Final Score - 6/10

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 01/10/07

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