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Sword of Mana (Game Boy Advance)

74
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.7
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Bregalad (917)
Written on  :  Dec 04, 2005
Rating  :  3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars

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Summary

Remake or not remake ?

The Good

Sword of Mana is a kind of "remake" of the original Final Fantasy Adventure on the original Game Boy. Trough, gameplay, maps, graphics has completely changed, and only the story seems to be pretty much as it was on the game boy game. Some music tunes are also taken from the original game, while some aren't.

Overall, I liked the gameplay pretty much. It's a lot from Seiken Densetsu 3. Your main character (you can choose between a boy and a girl) can hold each kind of weapon, and have to train himself to raise weapon level. Each weapon has a different attack range and speed. Also, there is 3 categories of weapons, and monsters are can be immunited or weak against some of these categories, making the game interesting to play because you'll constantly need to switch your weapons. You also get magic, trough "spirits", that you first have to found. Basically, you should push the R button to cast a magic, and it's range will change in function of the weapon equipped.

I liked pretty much the music, most of it is from Final Fantasy Adventure, that had probably the best soundtrack of all games on the original Game Boy. Now, the music is still good, especially the desert one. All others are average, but just the desert one is really outstanding. Sound effects are pretty good, none of them sound "serious", but they still sound fair. Graphics are very similar to what they were on Seiken Densetsu 3 on the SNES, so they're pretty good. Not the best graphics on the GBA, but they are sure above average.

The Bad

A big flaw in the gameplay is that the magic system is just plain TERRIBLE ! Press the R button shortly to use a defensive magic is okay, but you'll have to press it longer to got an offensive magic (they *could* assign it to another key). You'll simply hardly ever be able to hit the target you will, so you'll waste an incredible amount of MP to cast magic in air without hitting any enemy. Also, there is a strange system to upgrade your weapons by collecting seeds, plant them, and collect vegetables from them, that will be able to upgrade your weapons. Quite fun, but I didn't understood it very well, and actually, I upgraded my weapons more or less randomly, and it worked just fine. They could made a simpler and more efficient system here. Finally, about the weapon, the one that are fast are good, while the slower ones just suck because you'll always be attacked by the enemy during the phase where the hero begins his attack, that is very long because the weapon is slow. So battling with a slow weapon is nearly impossible. I end up using only spear, sword and fist, the 3 fastest ones, representing all 3 different weapon types of the game. All others are nearly useless.

Finally many bosses where just pain and the game is a bit too short. I beat one boss that was supposed to be strong with 4 hit with my spear. Don't level up too much like I did, else you'll get bored by the bosses. However, the few boss battle that are hard are HARD, that mean annoying. Not hard because you need high skills to beat it, hard because the boss' only weakness is some kind of magic, and because you're unable to hit it with your magic, and then you become out of MP, and that's very annoying. Finally, the AI for allies is very bad. Ah, yeah, I didn't mention that you can get allies in your team. They'll act incredibly wrong, anyway, so it's just like if you were alone.

The Bottom Line

Sword of Mana is still kind of cool, because it's a mana game, and because it has great gameplay since you don't face monsters that are immunized to all categories of weapons, forcing you to use magic. When this happen, the game suddenly become detestable. If you read my Secret of Mana review, you'll notice that I say that it's not fair to pass trough a menu to cast each magic. Unfortunately, that new system is much worse. Also, you'll have to take in consideration that the game is pretty short and not challenging at all. The fact that you have 2 heroes to play with can add some kind of replay value, but anyway the other one will join you. Overall, if you're a mana fan, play this. It is not really needed to buy a copy, just borrow from a friend, the game is that short.