Play Time 5h 28m
Game Complete 74%
Heart Squids 18/32
Downward Stab Upgrades 0/3
Pistol Upgrades 0/3
Combat upgrades 0/?
Play Time 5h 28m
Game Complete 74%
Heart Squids 18/32
Downward Stab Upgrades 0/3
Pistol Upgrades 0/3
Combat upgrades 0/?
It’s time to take a look at one of the portable Shantae games. This one takes place after Risky Boots took away all of her powers so our protagonist is a little weaker than usual. She’s still as determined as ever though which is a good thing since the world is in peril once more. While the game isn’t quite as amazing as the PS4 one, it’s still a really fun game and proves once more that Shantae is one of the better side scrolling adventure games. Maybe she’ll be announced as dlc for the new Super Smash Bros at some point.
The game starts out with Shantae still feeling the fallout from not having her powers, but she doesn’t have time to dwell on it as the Pirate King has awoken. He plans to conquer the world. Risky Boots has made it her mission to stop him and Shantae agrees to aid her. After all, Risky may not be her favorite person in the world, but she is still the lesser of the two evils. Shantae can worry about her after saving the world. To stop the King, Shantae must find his 5 Dens of Evil and destroy him, thereby weakening him enough for Risky to vanquish him. Does she have what it takes?
The gameplay is a 2D platformer just like her last game. You try to get from the beginning of a level to the end to fight the boss. You can jump and swing your hair like a sword. A new power up can be obtained in each world like a gun, super speed, a sword that can stab through the ground, and much more. The game isn’t simply a matter of going from world to world though. Every time you get a power up you will want to go hack to the old worlds to see which new rooms can now be opened. There will also be old characters that you can talk to who are interested in items that you have obtained and will help you get through an obstacle. As such, remembering the story is certainly important for when the fans throws hints at you. It’s not as if the game is massive though so if you are unsure just go around and talk to everyone.
I wonder if Risky Boots is officially going to be more of a rival than a villain going forward. While she may have been the main villain at one point, it’s rare to start helping the main character and then revert back. She seems like a pretty cool character so I’d be okay with that.
Shantae is always a quality character herself and that doesn’t change here. She forgives Risky pretty quickly and doesn’t mind doing most of the work in stopping the villains. She has a lot of confidence and always gets the job done. While her trusting nature doesn’t always work out too well for her, Shantae keeps at it.
Her supporting cast is definitely not quite as solid when it comes to the heroes. Shantae’s uncle is on the annoying side while her friend Bolo is too clumsy to be of help. The bird owner is a decent enough character and I actually thought her plot would have a sad ending with how suddenly the guy she was with got turned to stone. Well, it was still a sad ending for her but in a different way. Shantae’s zombie friend is definitely a big troll but she’s a fun enough character. Shantae definitely shouldn’t trust her all that much though.
As always the game is very bright and colorful. The level designs really stand out and it’s usually pretty clear what you have to do. The attack animations are simple but very distinct. It just feels like a very modern portable game with a solid budget behind it. You’d be forgiven for thinking that it is a AAA title as the only thing hinting against this is the short length and to be fair, that’s something that happens to many big games as well. While the soundtrack isn’t quite as dynamic as the PS4 entry it is still quite solid. The themes have a quick tempo and really get you ready to tackle the level.
There are multiple endings in the game which are determined by how many collectibles you obtain. There are 20 Dark Minions wandering the world and by destroying all of them and absorbing their darkness into your lamp, you can get the hero ending. I got most of them but clearly not enough so the game actually ends on a rather sad note. It even leaves room for a sequel if the true ending did not exist. The game makes it easy to find these collectibles though and it’s not like there are too many of them so grabbing all the pieces of evil would be a simple matter. There are also heart containers to obtain and even more upgrades to buy for your attack power and speed. Obtaining money in this game is certainly a slow process but a steady one nonetheless. With the replay value and main campaign the game will probably be about 8-10 hours which is reasonable. It’s a little short but still not that bad.
Overall, Shantae has brought out another winner. The game is certainly very polished and the story is fun. The characters are very distinct and the game doesn’t reuse any bosses. There’s a lot to like here and I would definitely recommend the game. It was fairly close to scoring an 8 and an extra level probably would have sealed the deal. Regardless you will be missing out if you don’t get this one.
Sword Art Online has always been known for having video games where the plot seems like a bit of a backdrop. Sometimes nothing actually happens until the very end as the characters just hang out and have a lot of fun. That’s not necessarily a bad thing and I have enjoyed the last SAO games to an extent. At the very least the gameplay is always a lot of fun. However, that’s the catch. If the plot isn’t too engaging then you need the gameplay to be top notch and I’m afraid that this one just didn’t quite make it that far. Part of me feels like I needed to give it more of a chance, but considering how long I’ve had the game I think it is just that the gameplay didn’t pop out enough. It could have done better.
The premise of the game is what if Arc 1 happened, but you were around to save everybody. While Kirito is usually known as the hero of this world, what if you were the one actually responsible for saving it? You play as a bland character with no real name who shows up one day. Naturally there is a new heroine as well and since she isn’t used to fighting games like this one she is counting on you to lead the way. So far…that’s really all that’s happened. I made it up to somewhere around the halfway point of episode 1, but the game refuses to progress. The task master keeps sending you into the forests to grab a bunch of plants and potions over and over again. Rather than sending you to get all of them at once he is doing it one at a time. By the 10th trip back and forth you will be wondering what the point of all this was. I just want to go ahead and fight the boss. The current mission I’m on is to grab more plants.
I’m fine with a slow boiling plot but the missions should at least feel slightly relevant. These just don’t make any sense and usually a mobile game should try to suck you in at first. You need to start off with some big events and then tone it down and throw in the filler missions to buy time. This game just didn’t have the balance right and the story is the main reason why I finished so quickly. It just wasn’t even trying.
Then we have the gameplay which fortunately was on point. This part is actually the most impressive bit. The screen adds a little control pad onto it that is actually interactive. Meaning that for once you can actually move around and fight in 3D. The gameplay is the same as your average beat em up which is something that I didn’t really expect to see on the mobile side of things. It’s pretty impressive and that’s the highlight of the game. In terms of pure gameplay it is probably the best mobile game to date. It helps take away the repetitious nature of the game a bit. I have heard that the gameplay gets repetitive though and since there are only 1-2 attacks I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the case. Still, at the moment it hadn’t had that affect.
The animation looks really stunning for the main menu, but in game it’s a little less impressive. I’ve heard that the game also diverges a little further from the actual arc as characters like Leafa show up. Essentially think of this as an alternate version of the arc where all of Kirito’s friends from the future also got to appear. That should make clearing the game a whole lot easier right? Unfortunately the game doesn’t really have a soundtrack. Just another element that hurts this game quite a bit.
As with Dragon Ball Legends there are a lot of features here that I don’t really understand but the game doesn’t even try to spell them out for you. It’s like a big mystery, but one that the game doesn’t want to help you out with. I didn’t really try to get into all of that stuff. I figure that I’ll still be strong enough to beat whatever bosses go my way right? The Story Mode is really the only mode to play here, but you can choose to fight the levels with online players helping you out or doing it offline. I’ve heard tat it gets near impossible to do it all solo by the end so we’ll see if that’s true. (If I ever go back)
The campaign seems like it’s quite long and the game has a ton of replay value so you don’t have to worry about a lack of content here. Really, the only issue is whether the game will hold your attention long enough for it to matter. See, mobile games are good for short sessions on the go or when you don’t have time for a normal game. Online Mobile games already destroy the first part and if they are too intricate with long levels than it beats the second one as well. This game is unfortunately in both categories as I believe even when playing solo you need an internet connection. There’s also not much that you can do in a short play through. This game would have ironically been a lot better as a full fledged SAO game. Not to mention that the plot would be perfect for it as well.
Overall, I do applaud how ambitious the game is when it comes to the gameplay. The way it is set up this game could last for quite a while. Still, it just isn’t interesting enough to play when there are so many other options on the field. Perhaps that will change and I still have it downloaded so perhaps I will check it out at some point when I have less games to juggle, but that will be a long ways away. If this sounds like it’s up your ally then check it out, but my recommendation isn’t quite as confident as for most of the other games. This one just isn’t on quite the same level.
Play TIme 30h 16m
Poke Miles 103
Pokemon Stats (Name and Level)
Mr. Mime 22
Mime Jr. 11
Pokemon is one of those franchises that is consistently excellent! The games always deliver with a ton of content and it’s just a lot of fun. One can always debate which series handles the turn based combat the best, Pokemon or Final Fantasy. I personally tend to think that Pokemon has it perfected, but it’s a close battle. This is the kind of game where grinding is fun and trying to catch em all feels like a real accomplishment. Especially since the game has hundreds upon hundreds of Pokemon to capture. I’m still waiting for the game that has every single Pokemon in it. Ideally that’s what will happen for the upcoming Switch game.
The game follows a kid named Terry who is determined to be the very best trainer that there ever was. He is so good that he gets two starters. Naturally I went with both fire starters to kick things off since you really can’t go wrong there. If you weren’t afraid of fire before then you soon will be! Of course it does make the team a little less balanced, but that’s just how it has to be sometimes. Rounding out the team that ended up beating the Elite 4 was Yveltal, Steelix, Pelipper, and Lucario. (The two fire starters were Charizard and Delphox) A pretty solid lineup I’d say and one that works wonders.
You have a childhood friend who also wants to be the best and she has plenty of fights with you as the game goes on. You can’t help but feel bad for her as she tries everything but simply can’t catch up to Terry. Surprisingly she isn’t even the champion at the end as a different character gets that role this time. I think a good way of subverting the trope in this game would have been for Terry to sit down after beating the Elite Four when she walks in and challenges him. Sort of the reverse of the original Pokemon games. Then the credits roll and after that it is heavily implied that you lost but vow to challenge her again someday. Still, whether she won or not the main heroine was pretty solid. Probably one of the better ones from the games and maybe even The best. I was glad that she was always eager to fight.
The main plot involves Team Flare who are trying to destroy the world. They plan to use a machine to wipe out all of the Pokemon and over 99% of humanity. Terry quickly shows up to stop them but the villain organization is massive so this task won’t be as easy as it sounds. I think the villain plot got a little less screen time than in some of the other games, but it was enough to be satisfying I suppose. Lysandre makes for a good main villain. His final form was super cool and naturally his theme music was really good as well. Ultimately the group may not have been much of a threat to Terry but then again who is?
One area where this game really excelled is in the music. It may not be a stretch to say that this game has the best soundtrack in all of Pokemon and that’s saying something since all of the games are already so good. In particular, I enjoyed the main Gym Leader theme and the one that plays when you fight the successor in the Lucario battle. Most of the battle themes were quite solid though. Til now the best soundtrack would probably go to Omega Ruby but I have to give this one the edge even though Omega has the single best track in all of Pokemon.
The graphics are really nice as well. I haven’t played a Pokemon game since Diamond so the series has certainly come quite a long way since then. Soon I’ll be playing Pokemon Sun so we’ll see if that game steps it up even more. The characters are 3D animated now instead of sprites, but it’s in a style that should still feel familiar for long time fans. It’s all very easy to look at. From a gameplay perspective the game also shines here as you won’t get lost very easily since the towns all look rather distinct. The map is really helpful with how detailed it is and your normal walking speed is quite fast. There really aren’t any inconveniences to be found here which is great.
Going back to the gameplay, it’s already been perfected so there’s not much more that this game needed to do. It brings you the classic type system as launching attacks that have a superior element to the opposing Pokemon will result in massive damage. Meanwhile you can now Mega Evolve which was a big feature for this game. I wouldn’t say that it seems to affect your stats all that much, but it does come attached with a really cool visual that makes the game that much more hype. The gameplay is fast and you are even able to turn off the attack animations to streamline the process even further. I definitely don’t see how they can improve on the gameplay even more, it’s just so good. Sometimes the simpler battle styles end up being the way to go. Make no mistake though, while it’s easy to play it’s hard to master.
The Elite Four also do seem to be quite a few pegs above the Gym Leaders which is good. In the final battle they got me down to my final Pokemon and he was nearly out. Steelix had to handle 4 opponents all by himself and that’s considering that my whole team was stronger than the champion’s by a range of 5-10 per Pokemon. These Pokemon were no joke and yet the Champion was able to one shot a few of them. I also did like how we got a bonus fight at the very end of the game right when you think the credits are about to roll. This game did a nice job of throwing in surprise fights around every corner. Of course, I wonder what would have happened if you lost to that guy. I feel like it’s unlikely since he is a little weaker than the Champion and only has 3 Pokemon so it’s a fight that you are definitely meant to win.
The base game should take you around 30 hours. That’s already a really sizable chunk of time and after that you’ve got a ton of bonus content to get through. Catching Mewtwo and Zygarde will likely be your first steps, but then what? Well, you can go after the 3 Birds, head to the Battle Tower, and catch the 200+ Pokemon that are still out there. It’s the game that keeps on giving so if you end up trying to do it all then it’ll likely take at least 50 hours or maybe more. It’s easy to see why I spent about 100 hours on most of the Pokemon games back in the day. These really feel like AAA titles.
I’ve been going on and on about how great the game is, but that’s because there really isn’t anything wrong with it at all. The game is pretty much as perfect as you can get. I also did like the EXP system in place here where everyone in your party gets some. It’s a great addition to the game, especially since you will want a strong party of 6 by the end. This prevents you from just powering up the top 2 for a while and then having to power the others up later. You can turn it off at any time as well so it’s not like it ever forces you to use it.
Overall, Pokemon Y is an excellent game. I think I would probably say that it is the 3rd best Pokemon RPG game behind Pokemon Ruby and Pokemon Fire Red. I’d put it above Pokemon Diamond as well as the various spinoff games and big console versions. I’d highly recommend checking it out whether you are a Pokemon veteran or a newcomer to the franchise. Just be warned that once you start the game up you won’t be able to bring yourself to leave it very easily. It’s a real page turner from start to finish.
Play Time 14h 29m
Armor: Mythril Haub
Belt: Mythril Belt
Badge: Thunder Badge
It’s time to take a look at the Crystal Chronicles. Final Fantasy has had a lot of different game lines over the years and they all seem to perform fairly well. You’ve got Tactics, Chocobo, Crystal Chronicles, The Rhythym music games, and the main line. By completing this game I have finally been introduced to another segment of the series but it certainly pales in comparison to the classic style.
There isn’t much of a plot in this game but I’ll give you the general premise. You start out by picking what kind of job you want to have and in turn what kind of creature you are. After that you travel with a little circus troupe as you purify the world of Miasma. To do this you must go to each area and take a drop from the Legendary tree. You get to the tree automatically by clearing the level and beating the boss. Eventually you will be able to reach the final stage where you must successfully defeat numerous phases of a final boss until you save the world. There are a bunch of subplots and lore that you will run across over the course of the game as you meet with new people. It’s luck based on when you encounter them so just keep running back and forth in the overworld until this happens. One such plot is a black knight who is going around beating people up. From what I could gather, the big boss known as Raem has been eating his memories which is making him go crazy. There’s also a mysterious little fellow who is always lying and stealing whenever he is around. Most of this is filler as you can guess. You never even get to fight the Black Knight even though he is mentioned and hyped up quite a lot.
The gameplay is that of a 3D action title. You hit opponents with your sword/staff or fire off some magic bolts at them in real time. This also means that you can dodge their counter attacks. By all accounts this should be a real good decision on the game’s part since who doesn’t like fighting in real time? Well, it is good but not all that great. Your hits never feel like they have a lot of weight behind them. It’s a more limited version of the .Hack style. Still, it works well enough in the game and nothing is more satisfying than walking into a room with a bunch of enemies and still managing to pick them all off. Divide and Conquer is crucial here.
I think what really hurts this game at times is how much the multiplayer aspect of the game is stressed. You’re meant to play this with a few others as everyone takes a different occupation and you go through the world. You can do this on your own but then it’s like playing the game 4 times over. You also better make sure your allies are as strong as you since the game stacks the difficulty up accordingly for each player. I played solo and can assure you that it took a lot of grinding to get through the final boss. I had to bear virtually every level twice and a few levels for a 3rd time before I finally got strong enough win. Part of the reason why it takes so long is because it doesn’t go by a traditional level up system like most Final Fantasy titles. Instead you obtain artifacts at the end of each level and you choose which one to keep. This will give you a +1,+3 for one specific stat. There are 3 stats in the game, Attack, Defense, and Magic. Alternately sometimes you can choose to get another heart or another command slot which is essentially a quick select for spells and Phoenix Downs. I highly recommend the latter 2 so unless it’s vs a +5 or something then it’s the best bet. You can’t get any artifact twice so only replay each level a few times. Eventually there will be no artifacts left so you’ll be wasting your time. You only get a new memory from each area once every 3 years so you could replay it for equipment, but it’s usually best to do both in one shot so switch up the areas as best you can.
Also, the equipment is very important here aside from the artifacts so try to get yourself a master class weapon and at least a Mythril level Defense & Belt. That’s like getting multiple upgrades so it will save you a lot of time. Getting to the final boss only took around 10 hours, but it took around 5 more hours to get to a level where I could beat him. As it so happens with many RPG games like this one, by the time I grinded high enough to beat him it seems like I went overboard so I didn’t even have to use any of my Phoenix Downs. I ended with about 20 extra, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry right? The bosses can be tricky so you just want to figure out what the best approach is. The game isn’t very straight forward so sometimes it will be handy to look online to see what you need to do. For example you need to use Cure on the memories in the final level to unlock your super attacks and the minions only respawn in the second last phase if you beat both so just take down one of them. Be warned in the final phase that you can accidentally heal the boss with your cures so definitely try to avoid that.
I dare say that the game’s biggest weakness here is the plot. You can make a case for the terrible level up system as well of course, but you really expect a dynamic plot from Final Fantasy. Sure, we get little cutscenes before each level as a narrator talks about how great the places used to be, but it’s just all very dull and boring. The actual characters have no personality and everyone is just going through the motions. There is never a sense of danger at all and the game simply isn’t cinematic, but at the same time it isn’t colorful like a Nintendo game either. It’s like playing a game full of exposition with nothing ever coming out of it. If you look really hard at the mini cutscenes and optional side quests then sure you’ll probably understand the lore, but there’s still nothing epic about it. I want a real plot, whether it be a slice of life one like in Sword Art Online or an end of the world adventure like Sonic The Hedgehog 2006. At least give me something.
There is a good amount of content here so I can’t really critique the game on that aspect. You can keep playing this game for a very long time if you want to get all of the artifacts. Especially since you won’t know what the level’s mission is until you beat it and that affects which artifacts you get. If you want to see the mission then you need to get your GBA ready and connect to the game. Again, they put too much of an emphasis on this connection part if you ask me. If the game had decided to be a little more self contained then I really think that it would have ended up being a whole lot better. Instead it just limits itself. I can’t see myself going back to the game for any of this, but if you really enjoyed the experience then go for it.
The graphics aren’t very good, but it’s mainly because of the artistic direction that the game went in than with the actual effort. The character designs are on the chibi design and none of the creatures look particularly threatening aside from the final boss. At least that guy seems pretty intense and it’s a monster design that is memorable. Unfortunately the soundtrack isn’t particularly good either. I can’t think of a single good theme in the game and that’s really a bad sign. Final Fantasy is known for its stellar soundtracks so I was actually rather surprised that this one didn’t hold up so well.
Overall, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles really wasn’t for me. The gameplay isn’t bad, but I did have an issue with the level up system and the sheer amount of grinding to beat the game. I’m not usually opposed to grinding, but when your upgrades depend on luck and the game doesn’t tell you much then it can be rather annoying. It becomes a bit of a chore to play the game once you enter the end game as even the old levels get buffed to the point where the enemies are stronger than the ones in the final dungeon. Throw in the fact that the plot was so weak and there isn’t much reason to play this RPG. If you want a good action game then check out Legend of Zelda. If you want a big plot experience then play a main Final Fantasy title. There’s just no room for the Crystal Chronicles and I’m hoping that the Wii game is a little more fun.
As I am currently playing through the Sword Art Online Fatal Bullet game, I figured that I should finally go and wrap up one of the spin-off manga titles. This one shot is based on the mini Asgard arc and has always been known as a relatively weak story. Unfortunately the manga makes it even worse by adding in a ton of fan service so you can probably already tell how this review is going to end.
The manga starts off with Suguha letting Kirito know that some players have finally found out the location of the hidden sword Excalibur. The heroes had found it about a year earlier but because they were so slow the rest of the world caught up. Kirito has to form a group of 7 people in order to conquer this quest but it may prove more dangerous than expected. If the heroes don’t complete the mission quickly than the whole virtual game will turn from a happy fairy based one into an apocalyptic ice land. Fortunately Kirito is up to the task.
This is Sword Art Online so I should probably bring up the unfortunate fan service right away since we all know that it’s coming. The manga sets the tone for how this is going to play out right from the beginning as the very first panel on the first page is a fan service shot. The author even mentions at the end that he added more than usual. It is constant enough during the volume where it probably happens every chapter. Some of the scenes are totally made up for the manga and really don’t help the overall case. It really limits what the rest of the manga can hope to accomplish.
At least the general art looks pretty good. The characters are very detailed and this translates well into the fight scenes. The quality here is high so it’s too bad that this artist couldn’t have picked a better arc than this one. Of course, this manga also has to have a quick flashback to a certain scene in arc 2 just to fit that extra bit of fan service in. So, very solid art but it’s used for scenes that really don’t help the overall manga.
Fortunately Kirito is a pretty solid main character as per usual. He comes up with the plan to save the day and even uses a new skill that is game breaking. He is always surpassing his limits so it should really come as no surprise. Even when everyone tries to mess with Kirito like putting him on the spot by asking if he would pay for the meal, Kirito takes it in stride. He was happy to pay and comes across as a solid team player.
Klein unfortunately looks about as bad as ever. He is still a very desperate character who will try to ask out a computer program and he is also super weak. The guy doesn’t even work well as a comic relief character but he does help to make Kirito look even better. That always seems like the real reason Kirito keeps him around. Klein just can’t go one page without humiliating himself.
Sinon gets the biggest role from all of the heroines. Unfortunately the author uses it for the wrong reasons at times but at least her fight scenes are solid. Since her bow and arrow skills are double that of the usual max, her weapon is actually pretty overpowered. Her reaction times are likely second only to Kirito’s here so that is very useful as well. Considering that she has apparently had the account for a day (if I recall correctly) Sinon must have trained a great deal.
Leafa is around just to feel bad for the creatures getting destroyed by the other players but doesn’t do much beyond that. If anything she can be a little on the annoying side since she knows about the Asgard myths but conveniently forgets about them until right after the fight. Asuna, Lizbeth, and Silica don’t actually get to do anything. They are basically just here to fill up the party.
Then we have the main villain who is certainly a terrible character. He’s a very sketchy villain whose goals are terrible and so there is absolutely nothing to root for in his character. There is also the prisoner who has a big plot twist which does not help her character. That’s because her actions up until the plot twist are extremely manipulative and she was basically using the heroes. Certainly not a very nice thing to do if you ask me. Not that it would have been much better without the twist but the character was having too much fun with her role. The plot twist is pretty obvious but the manga does a good job with it since the characters are self aware about it. They all know the twist but decide to play along anyway. Even then they only play along because Klein essentially forced them into doing so.
I think the only positive change that the manga did was give Sinon an extended fight. At the very least I don’t recall that happening in the show. It’s not much, but it shows that the manga did something right. With the artist’s skills he/she should still do well in a future SAO manga provided they focus on fight scenes and not adding anything else that would be tragic for the manga’s score.
Overall, This was definitely not a good SAO volume and it doesn’t do this wounded franchise any wonders. It just continues to make the same mistakes that the franchise has always made. It had great fight scenes, but is bogged down by all of the fanservice. I’d recommend just sticking to the original Sword Art Online manga instead of checking this one out. You’ll thank me for it someday.
Play Time 20h 3m
PS4 Trophies 30/38
Characters Met 41/46
Enemies Met 90/121
Weapons Unlocked 52/72
Terry Level 60
Masamune Level 6
Dragon Lance Level 2
Chakra Hand Level 0
Elf’s Harpoon Level 0
Frizbar Level 0
Wing Bow Level 1
Hammer Whip Level 0
Were-Buster Level 0
Terry Jr Level 60
Masamune Level 9
Dragon Lance Level 6
Chakra Hand Level 0
Elf’s Harpoon Level 0
Frizbar Level 0
Wing Bow Level 3
Hammer Whip Level 0
Were-Buster Level 0
Gnome Level 7
Salamando Level Max
Undine Level 0
Sylphid Level 2
Dryad Level Max
Luna Level 0
Shade Level 0
Terret Level 61
Masamune Level 0
Dragon Lance Level 0
Chakra Hand Level 2
Elf’s Harpoon Level 0
Frizbar Level 0
Wing Bow Level 1
Hammer Whip Level 4
Were-Buster Level 6
Gnome Level 8
Salamando Level 8
Undine Level 8
Sylphid Level 8
Dryad Level 8
Luna Level 8
Shade Level 8
The Secret of Mana is an RPG that I had heard of in passing but never focused on too much. It just got lost in the shuffle next to Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest. Well thanks to the HD PS4 remake I have finally gotten to play it. It’s definitely a great RPG as you would expect and the real time/turn based mix will remind you of the .hack series.
I renamed the main characters so bear with me here. Terry is the chosen hero who is finally able to wield the Mana Sword. Everyone is shocked and dismayed because once the sword is lifted the world is supposed to fall into ruin. Terry meets a girl named Terret who needs help in stopping a witch to rescue the hero named Dyluck. Unfortunately this is a dead end but she must continue on her quest and since Terry has nothing more pressing to do at the moment he agrees to join her. Finally, they run into a sprite known as Terry Jr. who was scamming people for money. We show her the error of her ways and add one more member to the party. Now we must attack the enemy fortress and save the planet!
The gameplay is a blend as I mentioned earlier. You have a number under your character. Once it rises to 100 you are free to attack again and deal some damage. While you can attack sooner than that, it will almost definitely miss and even if the attack lands it will be weaker. Furthermore, the count will go back to 0 so waiting it out is just the better option. Also, you should start leveling up your magic early on as it is incredibly useful. Level them all up if you can, but you should focus on 1 in particular to get it to a high level early on. The Gnome magic was really useful for me, but each boss is typically a different element which is why you want a lot of them.
Equipment is extremely handy in this game as well and is basically mandatory to clear the game. You want the top of the line stuff and if you think you can beat an area without purchasing some armor then wait til the next village. Each village gradually adds better equipment options so you save a lot of money by just waiting. Of course, earning money is actually pretty easy in this game so it’s not something that you have to worry about that much. It will come naturally. Likewise, the EXP grind here isn’t bad either. It will go very quickly. That’s why you just want to stay at the top of your game since the A.I. won’t help much. They tend to just get crushed very quickly throughout the game.
Terry is a reasonably solid main character. He does actually talk and everything so he has a real personality. His personality is that he’s a hero and while that may not be all that deep or anything, the character means well. We do get a random plot twist involving his Mom which was kind of out of left field, but Terry took it in stride. Terret is a solid heroine. Her whole adventure is about saving the legendary Dyluck which is a nice twist of events. You rarely see the heroine have to go and save the famous hero and I can definitely get behind this. Shockingly they don’t even try to get you into a contrived romance with her as Terret only has eyes for Dyluck the whole game. I can applaud the title’s restraint here. Terry Jr probably has the least time to get really good, but she’s not a bad character. I still don’t get why she is referred to in the plural sense, but I don’t want to assume that it’s a translation error. Either way, she helped to raise everyone’s spirits.
As far as the villains are concerned, I would have liked them to have had more screen time. The villain group shows up out of nowhere and half of them are defeated quite quickly and without a chance to really show off their personalities. The King who makes a deal with the main villain wasn’t very smart, but made for a decent antagonist. Thanatos is the main villain to watch out for and he is definitely pretty strong. I like the design and he made for a cool antagonist. Then we have the Team Rocket trio who felt really out of place. They weren’t quite as hype as the others.
One major plot point is that you have to choose a side. Destroy the Mana Beast or destroy the Fortress. I felt like the game couldn’t really decide which the right option was as the Fortress is evil from the start, but by the end of the game we decide to destroy the Beast instead to balance things. This was part of the main plot and it made no sense. Now, I know a lot of behind the scenes stuff happened with this game and that is probably what made the plot feel rather off at times. It’s unfortunate but that’s also part of why I consider this RPG’s plot to be one of the weakest RPG plots in a while. It takes a little bit to get going and then once it does it’s like we’re playing an abridged game. Not to the same extent as Sonic Forces fortunately, but enough that parts of the plot feel weird like with the Beast. Personally I would have helped the guy, but apparently he was going to destroy the planet in the process so I suppose that wasn’t a viable option. Then we have a guy named Genma who talks tough throughout the game, but never actually got to do anything. Ah well, at least he looks rally tough.
The graphics were switched from sprites to 3D character models which usually works pretty well, but perhaps not in this case. The boss designs looked a little more intimidating in the original version and the colors were nice and sharp. As far as the cutscenes go, the characters don’t actually move their mouths while talking half of the time. Not a big deal I suppose, but basically it had the art style of World of Final Fantasy without the detail. I guess if this allowed the game to come out a few years early then it was probably worth it. As far as the soundtrack goes we have quite a few tunes. Each area has a different theme and they all work pretty well. They are classic rpg style themes so they should remind you of the good ole days.
The length of the main campaign is roughly 20 hours give or take so it’s definitely a solid amount of time for the rpg. You will almost certainly need to grind by the end so I’ll give you a pro tip here. Max out your Dryad skill since you cannot defeat is he final boss without it. I made it to the final boss without leveling it up at all which meant I had to go back and grind it out. If you level it naturally then it won’t actually feel like a grind. You’ll probably end up shaving an hour or two off as well. For replay value you can probably nab most of the trophies to end up with the Platinum. Out of the 38 in the game, I think around 26 are obtained just for completing the game. That’s a pretty solid number if you ask me. If you want to get the Platinum then you need to make a backup save before you beat the Blue Dragon as there are some rare item drops that you can’t go back for. It’s probably a good idea to defeat every new enemy you see as well to register them. Getting the Platinum here isn’t hard at all but it does take a little time and nobody wants to replay a 20 hour game just to get one missed trophy.
Overall, Secret of Mana was a pretty fun game. As far as RPG stories go the plot was rather weak, but the gameplay was still enjoyable. I just love RPGs in general as leveling up and grinding can be a blast. I can see why they got so big back in the day. Many RPGs will end up being quite solid by the end since you get used to the characters as you shared so much time together. This one is no exception and there is certainly a lot to do. Even without replay value, the story length justifies the price that you paid for it. Maybe I’ll get to play some more Mana games in the future. Until then, I recommend checking out this game and seeing what the Secret of Mana has to offer you. It’ll test your mettle one way or the other.