Note: This review is based on the Japanese version of the game.
The Legend of Mana series has reached its fourth. For those unaware, Final Fantasy Adventure on the Game Boy does not belong to the FF category, it belongs to the Seiken Densetsu series of games. So, FF Adventure, Secret of Mana and Seiken Densetsu 3 (sometimes referred to as Secret of Mana 2), which was never ported over, were all the games before Legend of Mana or Secret of Mana 3 as some would call it.
The fourth game in the series uses a new and unique feature called the Land Make. You find certain items and you place them on the map and out pops a dungeon or a town. The only restrictions are that you have to find the special Land Make items first and you have to pop your new location near an existing town or dungeon. Something like Dark Cloud don’t you think?
The towns and dungeons are mainly hand drawn, I think, which makes it the only other game aside from SaGa Frontier 2 that uses hand drawn art for backgrounds to a really great effect. The characters are all unique and sprite based ranging from giant talking birds to fairies.
The game also allows the player to customize the hero they play. You can choose from a male or female character then choose the weapon of choice for him/her. So, if you want range, choose the spear. If you want to hit hard choose the Broadsword or any other big weapon. Then you are given the chance to rename the character and finally choose a part of the map where the adventure begins! It’s like customizing the whole game.
The story? You guessed it, it centers around the Tree of Mana again. But if you bother to do a little translation you’ll discover the story is very interesting. The music in the game is good, to the extent that I currently possess the soundtrack! Atmospheric to fast paced music are some of the tunes you’ll expect to hear!
The battles in the game are almost the same as Secret of Mana 2 and are really fun. Unlike Secret of Mana, you can use two controllable characters in battle only. The third character being the pet you captured and raised! The Pocketstation makes raising the pet easier but is not really necessary. The bosses are HUGE! Expect long battles with those big guys!
The controls of the game are easy to learn and smooth. Learning what everything is in the Inventory screen might take quite some time though. Hey it’s Japanese, what can I say?
On a side note for Emulator users out there! The English Patch for Secret of Mana 2 which was never localized, has been released some time ago. So those who want to play the Super Famicom game should be contented until Square EA releases the English version of Legend of Mana. Or you could be impatient like me and import the game already. This PSX title will keep Action RPG players quite happy.