Review by Bkstunt_31

"Seriously, where's the challenge here?"

Children of Mana. DS. "Cool", I thought. I was just finishing up playing sword of mana for my gba (which I've put off for a long time), so I figured this game would be a good one to play next. I've played all the mana games with the exception of legend of mana (PS).

Gameplay/Story: 6/10

Ok. Start screen. New game. Here we go. From the start you can choose between 4 different characters to play as, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. You have Ferrik, the "balanced" character; Tamber, the dexterous, fast type character; Wanderer, the "tank" of the group with low magic skills; and Poppen, the "mage" type character. I choose ferrik to play through the game as. After you pick your character, you can also choose what hair color you want them to be, even though the character on the screen keeps his default hair color. It seems that they use your "preferred" hair color to display on your save file. Through the course of the game, you learn to wield 4 different kinds of weapons, 2 of which you can use at a time: the sword, hammer, bow, and flail. Each have their own uses and special abilities you can do after you fill up your Fury Gauge. Also, the spirits are back and all available for your use right from the get go. You can only take one spirit to take with you at a time. Also new to CoM is the "gem frame" system. You can buy gems, or find them, to help boost your attributes or teach you new skills. As you progress through the game, you can learn better skills and increase your capacity for equipping gems.

Children of Mana departs quite a bit from previous mana games (sword of mana, and secret of mana being the comparisons here). Instead of exploring a world (Wendel, Jadd, etc.), you more of, dungeon crawl your way through certain locales in the mana world, earning experience and gems along the way. My biggest complaint about this game is there is literally 0 difficulty to it. You may have trouble with a boss or two, but than you'll learn their attack pattern and the rest is easy. Of course this really cuts down on the gameplay. You can literally just stand by a monster for several seconds without having any fear of it attacking you. Also, since this is a dungeon crawl, if you die in any of these locales you visit, you'll automatically be transported to town. With whatever gold and exp. you gained intact. It is VERY easy to beat this game, follow the story line, press A, kill stuff, repeat.

The story is pretty good, your trying to stop a character known as the Mana Lord from flooding the world with the power of mana. I believe the story is set 10 years after the upcoming Ps2 mana game Dawn of Mana (making it a sequel?). There are some animated cutscenes throughout the game that you'll enjoy, portraying the events taking place.

Graphics: 8/10

The graphics in this game follow the same style as it's predecessor, sword of mana. Everything here looks good, the environments, the characters, the animations, everything flows smoothly. In some of the longer dungeons the locales can be very repetitive. It seemed that some of the side quests locations, which take you through the areas you've already beat, were randomly generated, and sometimes they'd start you off in the same room over and over. Other than that, the graphics and cutscene animations were top-notch.

Sound: 8/10

The music is pretty good. I've never particularly paid attention to the music in the mana series, but since I played SoM and CoM back to back, I could tell that there were some excellent songs they reused. Expect some catchy tunes, 1 or 2 that will stick with you. Good stuff.

Replayability: 6/10

Not too much to look forward to here. The replayability IS pretty good, since there are 3 other characters to play as, and sidequests you can do, but... why? You don't NEED the sidequests, as you'll get all the equipement/money you need just playing through normally, and changing characters only changes a SMALL amount of the story. Don't expect anything new when your done with this title.

Overall: 7/10

Overall, an enjoyable experience. An easy walk-in-the-park for any experienced gamer or Mana/Seiken Densetsu fan. I really don't have an opinion on the buy/rent debate, as I've never "rented" a handheld game. I'd try to buy it used. Have fun & keep playing! Later..

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 02/26/07

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