PSX Review – Legend of Mana

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One of my favourite games from the SNES was Secret of Mana. I loved the graphics, story, and fantastic multiplayer! When the next game in the series – Legend of Mana – released back in 1999, it was a day one purchase for me! 17 years later, I recently picked up a copy and thought it would be good time to revisit this classic and the beautifully realized world of Fa’Diel!

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In terms of story, the game takes place in the land of Fa’Diel, and the Mana Tree has been destroyed in a war hundreds of years ago! Your job as the nameless hero of the game (you can choose either male or female) is to restore the Mana Tree and help rebuild the world!  Many of the characters that you meet (and you will meet MANY) actually have stories of their own that are interesting in their own right. The story definitely felt less epic than Secret of Mana, but the many littles stories actually felt more personal which I really enjoyed.

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The game progresses as you slowly rebuilt the world! Players do this by finding ancient artifacts that contain parts of the world in it! You initially have one artifacts which creates your “Home” on a world map – a cozy fantasy house built into a tree. As you progress in the game, you gain more and more artifacts that open up new areas like dungeons, towers, expansive outdoor areas, and even a number towns and cities! By the end of the game, the majority of the world map is filled with areas you have placed yourself!

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In terms of gameplay, this game is an action RPG. You take control a nameless hero and venture forth into numerous environments. While controlling the hero in non-fighting areas, you can run around freely and speak to townspeople. Controls are very simple – you utilize the control stick to move around and utilize the action buttons to interact with people.

The game gets more interesting when you start battling! When players approach enemies, the game shifts to attack mode and the players equips their weapons! There are tons of different weapon to choose from (similar to Secret of Mana) but players generally focus on one weapon for their play through. Initially players have quick and strong attacks. As enemies are defeated and players gain levels, more powerful physical attacks are unlocked! These moves can be used occasionally when the power meter fills (which increases as you battle foes). These attacks are DEVASTATING and many of them effect large areas of the map so multiple enemies can be damaged at once. Magic items can also be equiped which offer similar powers but have elemental effects. Four of these type moves can be equipped at once in addition to the initial quick and strong attacks, so strategy must be considered when choosing which ones you want to take into battle!

I found the combat much more engaging that in Secret of Mana. In addition, the battles were much more fluid with littles pauses in action. Upon finishing a battle, your health is also renewed which is a nice addition (although healing items can be used during fights)!

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In terms of the quests, there are tons of them to do! Many of them are obtained by speaking to towns people, or speaking to NPCs in the opening area of a dungeon area. While the quests are almost always very simple in design (e.g., go kill this boss, or go help this person), the stories that go along with the quests are quite enjoyable and really motivated me to complete them because I wanted to find out what happened!

As you venture forth on these quests, some companions will attempt to join you! This reminded me of Secret of Mana when you had a party of players to follow you along! Often times, the NPCs will leave after the quest (which I was disappointed about) but a few of them like the brother and sister duo (seen below) actually stick around and you can decide who you take on your adventures! These NPCs have much deeper quest lines and really develop over the course of the game!

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There is also a crafting and pet raising component. In terms of pets, they around found out in the wild! Once caught, they can be raised at your house! Different foods (which are dropped by enemies) can be used to help the pet gain levels and develop their stats! Apart from an NPC who follows you, one of your pets can also come on the adventure! I really loved this part of the game as I could finally have a bunny be my ally! The variety of different pets also kept me continuously training new ones to bring out on my adventures!

In terms of crafting, weapons and armour can be created and forged with secondary materials that given them powerful secondary materials. This can add more defensive and offensive abilities and added a lot of depth for those interested in crafting. Crafting was never my interest in games so I did not spend much time with this part of the game, but was glad that they added as it appears to be quite in-depth with a lot of customization.

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One of the main selling points for the original Secret of Mana was that it was multiplayer! I was really hoping for an option for my friend to join me on my journey, and the option is surpringly included – albeit with some caveats. At save points, players can import their freinds’ characters from other Legend of Mana games so that they can join your hero! Unlike Secret of Mana though, NPCs and pets from the game cannot be controlled by a second player, which is too bad because many of my friends don’t play this game (and tis don’t have a hero saved on a memory card) and thus cannot join in playing with me.

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In terms of graphics, this game is absolutely gorgeous. The 2D environments are beautifully realized! The environments are so different from one another – ranging from dungeons, deserts, forests, towns, and jungles, et cetera! The characters and enemies also have excellent style that fit well with the aesthetic of the rest of the game. The music is also fantastic with songs that I have continued to listen to for over the past 17 years. The soundtrack of this game is worth tracking down!

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Overall, this game is a 2D action RPG with beautiful graphics, amazing music, and simple but personal story. This game has aged surprisingly well, so if you have never played this game, I highly recommend it! I give Legend of Mana a final score of 9/10!

Final Score: 9/10

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