Legend of Mana - Retroview

Legend of Mana - Review

By: Paul Johnson

Review Breakdown
   Battle System 3
   Interface 7
   Music/Sound 9
   Originality 10
   Plot 9
   Localization 7
   Replay Value 9
   Visuals 8
   Difficulty Very Easy
   Time to Complete

20-100 hours


Title Screen

   As the 4th installment of the series Seiken Densetsu (Legend of Holy Sword) by Square, this game meets up to expectations if, thats an if, you look deep enough. If you don't want to look deep enough to find things then I reccomend you leave. This is not the game for you. But if you have patience and you look deep enough then you will love this game.

   The battle system on this game isn't terribly remarkable. Basicly you walk around punching X all day long and using a ST every once and a while. Fights are in real time. X is fast attack, (Square) is heavy attack, (Circle) and (Triangle) are assigned to abilities. L1, L2, R1, R2 are assigned to magic/ST's. There are 11 different weapons (Sword, 2HSword, Axe, 2HAxe, Spear, Staff, Hammer, Knife, Bow, Glove, Flail), most of which can do 3 consecutive quick attacks while spears and staves can do 4 and gloves 5. Each weapon has a myriad of specials called ST's which are basically fancy damage attacks. You also get Abilities such as Tackle, Jump, Spin etc which help you in certain ways (For example: Tackle knocks your opponent to the other side of the screen, Crouch regenerates health twice as fast but with no defense, Moonsault gives you a humongous jump, Counterstrike lets you do an attack 4x as powerful as a power hit if you're hit while it's on). During battles you also get the help of an NPC character and a golem/pet. When a character runs out of health there is a timed ressurection, and if there is atleast one other character left when the timer gets full then you are alive and back at full health. Basically you are invulnerable. There is little challenge with the fights in this game.

   In addition to purchasing your weapons, you can also create and temper your own via use of the blacksmithy acquired after the quest "Watts drops the hammer". You can purchase the material you wish to forge you weapon out of or, if you're a true treasure hunter, you can fight enemies mindlessly until you get a truely rare material (DiorWood, Adamantite, DragonScales, Gaeus'sTears, and TuttleRock are the 5 rarest). After you have your new weapon, you can then change it by adding secondary materials to it. These items create mystic cards if the requirements are met and will change the weapon in a certain way depending upon the card itself. You can do anything involving weapons to armor as well.

   About midway into the game you also get the power to make Golems. After the completion of the event "Professor Bomb's Lab" you will have a Golem workshop beside your blacksmithy built. At its most basic, you combine 1 weapon and 3 pieces of armor to make a Golem body and then put logic blocks in it's programming grid, each logic block is made out of 2 pieces of weapons, armor or instruments. There are details but I won't go into them.

Talk About A Scam
Talk About A Scam 

   Fairly early into the game you can catch and raise monsters. This is terribly far from Pokemon, so don't feel ashamed or anything like that =). Now, you can't just walk up to any monster you see, pick it up and take it to your corral. You have to find a monster egg at a certain location in the playfield, most often these locations are also boss locations. And it isn't as simple as waltz up there, pick up the egg and claim it your own either. For some reason, the monsters can see you through the eggshell and although they aren't particularly bright they know to run from you. In order to catch them, you put down a piece of meat or fruit and keep out of it's view by staying behind it. When it looks at the meat/produce it'll usually eat it (Certain types of eggs won't eat certain types of meat/produce. Poltergeist eggs, for example, won't eat any meat). After that the egg falls asleep and you capture and send it to your corral. After several days pass from walking around the world map the egg will hatch. At this point the monster is yours. It will level up normally, but you can also feed it meat/produce each time it levels up to make it's stats raise even faster. Any type of monster can be caught in the exception of Demi-Humans, which can still be caught but must be done so in a different way. For the sake of your time I will not go into that.

   Magic is handled rather poorly in this game. You either buy or make your own instruments via use of elemental coins and primary materials. After the instrument is made, you can attach it to a special slot (L's and R's) to use during battle. You then press the button and wait for the thing to charge in order to do any worth-while damage. When the enemy is in the selected area (You'll know what I mean when you see it), you release the button and it'll cast the spell. The attack power maxes at 109 (DiorWood flute plus gold coin) and it rarely does any damage worth considering.

   The menu itself is easy to sort through. Because of the way it's set up, you will spend little time in the menu. With several main topics, each having some sub-topics and on occasions sub-sub topics it's pretty detailed. For example: You click on the main topic 'Items'. It shows the sub topics 'Items', 'Weapons', and 'Armor'. You click on 'Armor' and it shows the sub-sub topic 'Stat' and opens up the Armor window. This can be applied to pretty much everything else, just the Weapons and the Armor sub-topics are the only things with sub-sub-topics. In the workshops the old SoM ring menus show up as well. Basically you side-scroll between a ring of icons with text of what that icon is/leads to at the top of the screen. Quite handy and easy to get through.

   LoM throws you into the hero's role even more realistically than other games, in my opinion. Instead of the game being centered around others helping you get something done, it centers around you helping others get stuff done. You ever heard of those great adventurers with the famous exploits? Well thats presently what the main character is going through.

Ever Dance With The Devil In The Pale Moonlight..?
Ever Dance With The Devil In The Pale Moonlight..? 

   Music in this game is just phenomenal. It will put you in the mood and further enhance the plot of this game. From the penultimate boss theme 'Irwin on Reflection' and 'Complicated Destiny', the riveting theme of Larc 'The one who waits for the breath of destiny' to the simple 'Places of soul' and the adventerous 'The wind sings of a journey', they will all beg for downloading and listening to over and over again. The sound effects on this game are normal, little positive or negative about them.

   Originality is the category upon which this game excells in! From the land placement system to the forging and tempering system and the quest system, there is little that is more original than this game! The plot itself is original (although some fight that it is original in a bad way). But I'll go into that later. You can actually customize the appearance of the landscape, make your own weapons and temper items into them, and the quests are just revolutionary.
   This is probably the first game ever where the main character is NOT the focus of the game. Many will say that this means there is absolutely no main plot but that is not true. Basically, the main character is in a support role and helps tip the scales for 3 main quest arcs. There are 68 quests and most of them are closer to side quests but some are parts of the main 3 quest arcs. There is also an extensive backstory to the game if you bother to look for it.

   The localization went well. There are no visible typos or vague statements. LoM throws you into the role of the helper/hero quite well for this new style of things. With a plot focusing upon helping others, you could say that it is fairly well suited to the U.S. audience. Whether or not it went well in japan is unknown to me.

   The replay value of this game is humongous as well. With 68 different quest, all monsters able to be caught and raised, golems to build, weapons to forge and temper, rare items to acquire, rare materials to obtain, and 2 exclusive levels of difficulty availible only on New Game + you'll be playing this for quite a while.

   The graphics of this game are extremely well-polished sprites in beautiful painted backgrounds. The ST's and magic are nice as well. The closest thing to an FMV is the opening movie and that in itself isn't really close... The plunge attacks aren't much to see either. Most of these graphics seem kiddish and such, although they have well-drawn sprites. And, as I said before, there really isn't any difficulty to this game. The battle system gives you so much power and the monster so little it isn't fair for the monsters. You can blow through every single boss quite easily with only a few exceptions (Boreal Hound or Tropicallo anyone?). The only exception to this is on occasion you have trouble triggering something social like a certain quest or finishing another. When that happens it's usually more frustrating than hard.
   The time taken to complete this game is anywhere between 10-150 hours. 150 hours only if you want some super-tempered weapon, maximum strength armor, level 99 monsters and extremely powerful golems. Most people will play for about 20 to 30 hours however.

   This game is a true gem, if you look past the obvious flaws. How many emeralds have you seen that don't have a scratch? I've never found a single one. As long as you are willing to look deep enough, you will like this game.

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