Title: Adventures of Mana
System: Playstation Vita/TV
Release date: 06/28/2016
The main game/story
A game that literally came out of nowhere in the west, Adventures of Mana is the 25th anniversary remake of Final Fantasy Adventure for the Game Boy, which ended up being the first entry in the Mana franchise. After years of uninteresting or mediocre installments, does this remake of the original hold up well today, especially to a newcomer who’s never touched the series?
Concerning the plot, it’s a rather basic story, about having to stop the mysterious Dark Lord from taking control of the Mana Tree, a source of power in the land. You take control of a former slave of his and rebel against his forces in an effort to save the world!
Compared to the 8-bit sprites of the original, Adventures of Mana has received a noticeable improvement, although unfortunately in only a minor way. The new 3D visuals, while decent, tend to look rather bland at times, with plenty of scenery looking the same and even having objects with odd textures appear from time to time. Still, the hero and the enemies look decent and have good enough animations, although the animations of the partners you’ll get during the game can be rather stiff and questionable at best, giving it an odd feeling of cheapness.
Music and Sound
Unlike the visuals, however, the music was not only updated for the modern age, but is downright stunning. The newly arranged OST sounds lovely with the majority of the themes sounding like they were composed from the legendary Falcom Sound Team themselves, and are a treat for the ears. Of course if you don’t care much for modern video game music, the original GB OST is available for you to turn on anytime you’d like. It should be noted however that while the music does sound lovely, a few tracks show their age, mainly the tracks that were incredibly short and repetitive in the original version which are still equally so in the new soundtrack. Still, this is a fantastic improvement, and more than makes up for the lackluster visuals.
For the most part, Adventures of Mana controls pretty much the exact same as the original Legend of Zelda game, in that you attack with your main weapon with one of the buttons while using the other button for items that you gather along the way. Starting out with just a sword, you’ll eventually gain other items that are needed for solving puzzles, from a Battle Axe, a Sickle, to a Chain Whip and many more!
While these other weapons will of course help increase your strength at first, you’ll still need to use them even if you gain stronger weapons to solve puzzles such as cutting down trees or pulling yourself to a distant part of the current screen. The more enemies you defeat, the more experience you’ll gain, which will allow you to level up and choose what stats to improve depending on what class you choose. For example, a Warrior would increase Health Points and your attack power while a Sage would increase your MP and Magic Points, encouraging you to choose between all four of them off and on to keep the stats balanced.
When it comes to items, however, things get a bit tricky. Some items, like the mattock are required to access new areas in the game, but are easy to accidentally waste. Considering how you can’t stack items on one another and have to buy another bundle to take up one of your precious item slots, this can become a big pain in some areas of the game if you run out in the middle of a dungeon that needs them. Still, this minor issue is nothing compared to the horrible AI of the partners you get during your journey.
At some points in the adventure, a partner character will assist you for a certain amount of time, which can be hit or miss situations. One character may heal you on command if you ask for their help, while another may have a magic spell that’s required to defeat certain enemies. Unfortunately, pretty much every single partner that attacks with you is a pain to control, as they’ll usually fumble around in circles and only attack whenever they feel like it, even if there’s an enemy right in front of you. It’s really annoying to die due to the incompetence of these partners, but thankfully they don’t usually stick around for too long, and considering the easy difficulty of the game, staying careful is more than enough to avoid any issues with the AI.
In conclusion, Adventures of Mana was a big surprise for me. At first I expected an old GB RPG to show its age with only a minor visual and audio improvement, but I ended up getting something much more, in that I ended up playing a great game with amazing music and a decent story, that’s worth sticking through. However, the price only barely fits the game’s length, as even when trying to get all the trophies its pretty straightforward and the only time I got stuck was on an irritating desert puzzle that I needed to look up a guide for. I was very cautious considering the state of the Mana series as of late, but I ended up coming away very impressed with this title, and recommend it to all Vita owners in need of a Zelda-like experience, and if it goes on sale, then I can’t recommend it enough! I give Adventures of Mana an 8 out of 10.