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Secret of Mana

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Reviewed by Yan Zhang "But time flows like a river, and history repeats..." One of the famous quotes that I know of, and was added to in many games on the PC. Why? Because of the purpose, the plot, the deepness, of this quote. Near the end of 1999, about, (Deja Vu! Who played Chrono Trigger?), a fortress called the Mana Fortress rose, and attempted to use up the world's mana. A hero brought it down with a slash of the Mana Sword, but the whole civilization was ruined, as well as mana... The story picks up from here. You, a young Hero, dropped in front of the Poto Village's Elder's doorstep mysteriously, picked up a strange sword, and found that it is THE Mana Sword and monsters are attacking the village! Too bad, you are thrown away, abandoned, banished, from your home. You are now just a helpless outcast, with but a rusty sword (for mana had been drained from the sword last time it was used by the last Hero), venturing to stop all you have done, and look into your mysterious past. You will meet several characters, including a beautiful young girl in search of her lover, Dyluck a young, wild sprite trying to help you on your journey a gallant, brave knight named Jema a 200-year old (but still looks young) sage named Luca... Oh, who could leave out the villains? :-) a dareing knight who wants revenge on the hero, namely Geshtar a necromancer who takes a strange turn of events, Thanatos a young lady (or it seems) Fanha a dangerous foe, sheex... added to dramatic turns of events, makes this a very interesting plot.

Graphics 7 out of 10

The scenery is beautiful, smooth grass waving in the wind, beautifully drawn and animated enemies, sweet flowers here and there... one of the best works I have seen from Squaresoft. However, they DO need a little work, so I won't make it perfect. A lot of repetitive enemy shapes and villager shapes here... but the vastness of the amount of enemies and characters still gives it a lot of variety.

Music and Sound 10 out of 10

PERFECT! I'm not joking either. The field theme has a calm beat to it, as if you are really out there, enjoying the wind. The snow theme has a sorrowful side. Very calm, very quiet. The battle theme is the best I have seen (or heard). Very fast beats, mixed with sounds of weapons and spells, making it very easy to get absorbed into battle. It is very memorable. The two ending battles are the same way. The fight with Thanatos gives you a feel as if you are in a crypt. It sends chills down your spine, and the spell sound effects gives it an extra beat. As for the fight with the Mana Beast, it is as if it is your last chance - a fast beat there, a slow one here, a sudden rise of tone here, and a sudden drop here. A work of genius. There is absolutely no music in games I liked better, except some FF2/FF3/FF7 battle themes. But the rest of the music makes up for that. A stand my ground, 10 out of a 10.

Game Challenge 8 out of 10

Ha ha ha... The game has its odds or ends. Say the first boss, Metal Mantis? You literally CAN'T LOSE! But say the Jabberwocky, who constantly poisons you, knocks you off of your feet, has like 1000 hit points, and does three consecutive Lv. 3 Acid Rains on you, totaling about 300 damage even with your best armor at that point...will be one of the hardest bosses to fight! Also, how about the Spiky Tiger? I'm an expert, and I can't win that battle without getting MANY Cups of Wishes and Herbs, and trying less than 2 times. He goes berserk, always make you unconscious, engulfs you at any moment... is even harder. And I won't even go to the 4 consecutive bosses at Pureland... So, overall, it is very challenging. but some bosses are just TOO easy (Geshtar's Mech Rider, for example), so I will give it an 8.

Game Play-Fun 7 out of 10

Game play is very fun. the magic effects are ASTOUNDING! As well as charged up weapon attacks. (Lv. 2 Sword Attack is cool, because you dash forward, twirls the blade around in front of a dumbfounded enemy, then do about 200 damage to him. ^_^, the Lv. 8 sword attack is Raiden's torpedo ^_^, the Lv. 2 and Lv. 3 glove attack, respectively, is a Flaming Uppercut and a Hurricane Kick (sorta) ^_^) Notice I'm using a lot of ^_^? It's because it is funny to see cute characters do them! The only reason I rated it a 7 is because of the tremendous time required to build up weapon/magic skills (which is a must near end of the game, and to get 360,000 GP for three sets of Gauntlets, Needle Helms, and I believe Metal Suit. (Someone correct me on this). It takes about 4 hours to do all these. :-(

Replayability 8 out of 10

Almost all RPGs I know have almost no replayability at all. Because you beat it once and it's over. But this one and Chrono Trigger aren't. Chrono Trigger explains itself with like 15 endings... well, but his one has a LOT of secrets. A secret shop, a secret Light Tower, a secret Face, a secret way to get the Mana Sword without Mana Magic... etc. (Hey, a lot of secretseseses) But, secrets might not be your favorite things, so I rate it an 8.

Game Value Score 9 out of 10

Definitely. With everything I said, it is definitely worth its price, unless you don't like to find secrets. Otherwise I would rate it a 10.

Plot 10 out of 10

Just about the best plot I have ever seen. The events are all chained up. It is somewhat similar to Chrono Trigger, though... WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD! Your mother who dropped you in Potos turned out to be the Mana Tree itself... The hero at the beginning of the story is actually your father, also the ghost you saw... The story is actually in the future, not past... And many, many more plot twists!

Overall 9 out of 10

It is absolutely the best game I have ever seen, played, beaten... I beat it about 5 times all ready. It stands out from other RPGs, making it almost like an interactive story... This is probably a must-buy. If you're a good RPG player, (I believe I beat this in 2 days of time) like me :-), it also becomes a must-rent.

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