Sword of Mana (RPG Special) (Game Boy Advance) Preview

By Adam Riley 28.12.2003 2

Nintendo and Squaresoft fell on bad terms just before the launch of the Nintendo 64, all the way through the days of the PSone and for the majority of the PlayStation 2's existence meaning that loyal Nintendo fans missed out on great games such as Chrono Cross, Legend of Mana, XenoGears, Front Mission 3 and the Final Fantasies VII through to the recently released FFX-2. It has only been in the past year that matters concerning their tumultuous relationship have once more begun to work themselves out, with the eventual launch of Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles on the GameCube and the huge success that was Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, the pseudo-sequel to the smash PSone hit, earlier in March of 2003. These accomplishments have now led to another surprise move from the RPG behemoths of Square Enix

The company has teamed up with one of Nintendo's Second Party companies, Brownie Brown, in order to bring the original Seiken Densetsu (known as Mystic Quest in Europe or Final Fantasy Adventure in the US and was in fact titles Final Fantasy Gaiden in Japan, meaning that it is, if truth be told, part of the Final Fantasy series!) from the old GameBoy kicking and screaming into the 21st Century...and what better system to complement the game''s new image than the immensely powerful GameBoy Advance? People may be wondering why Square Enix chose to use the expertise of Brownie Brown, rather than work on the project themselves. Well, the relatively new team, that was formed under Nintendo and former Nintendo-President Hiroshi Yamauchi's notorious Q Fund, consists of many ex-Squaresoft staff members who worked on none-other than the Seiken Densetsu / Secret of Mana series in the past and even on Legend of Mana for the PSone! Also, after creating the tremendously tasty RPG adventure Magical Vacation on the GBA, the team's first product for Nintendo, it was clear who would do Seiken Densetsu the most justice

Screenshot for Sword of Mana (RPG Special) on Game Boy Advance

Okay here is the deal: Sword of Mana takes now very-dated Seiken Densetsu and fully charges it up with gorgeous graphics that range between Secret of Mana on the SNES and Legend of Mana on the PSone in terms of sheer beautiful detail. All of the characters and their surroundings are rich in colour and have such a wonderful charm about them. There is a modicum of trouble regarding that old 16-bit mainstay, slow-down, but that appears to be due to some of SoM's engine being ported straight from the SNES Seiken Densetsu titles, and anyway, I can tell you from first-hand experience that it does not hinder the play in the slightest, with the only real major examples usually showing up when too many creatures are on-screen at once and you are swinging away with a weapon whilst your NPC is using magic to heal itself or aid you in the battle with attacking magic. As for the musical compositions, it is a mixed bag with the overall aural quality being rather muffled, yet the music scores themselves being extremely pleasant and instantly memorable

Screenshot for Sword of Mana (RPG Special) on Game Boy Advance

As for the story and gameplay

Screenshot for Sword of Mana (RPG Special) on Game Boy Advance

I am currently up to the eleven-hour mark and am approaching the final, extremely challenging, castle, but that is without completing any of the numerous side-quests or working on the second characters story. So I reckon that this first sitting will stretch to around thirteen hours maximum, which is okay considering the other options available to me after initial completion. The story may seem rather convoluted to some with the tale of the Dark Lord, leader of the Granz Realm, and his loyal servant Julius, a skilled swordsman and master magician, terrorising any members of the Mana tribe weaving here there and everywhere in order to keep the player guessing

Screenshot for Sword of Mana (RPG Special) on Game Boy Advance

Final Thoughts

Loyal fans have been waiting for this day for a long time

Developer

Brownie Brown

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Adventure

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (4 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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