Ads are gone. We're using Patreon to raise funds so we can grow. Please pledge support today!
Google+   Facebook button  Twitter button 
3DS | DS | PS3 | PS4 | PSP | VITA | WII | WIIU | X360 | XB1 | All
Legend of Mana (PlayStation) artwork

Legend of Mana (PlayStation) review


"People are always complaining about the lack of originality in videogames. Playing what is essentially the same game over and over again seems almost impossible to avoid considering how few unique titles there truly are. Legend of Mana takes some stabs at originality, but the original features are what makes this game far less enjoyable than itís predecessor, Secret of Mana. Who says creativity is always a good thing? "



People are always complaining about the lack of originality in videogames. Playing what is essentially the same game over and over again seems almost impossible to avoid considering how few unique titles there truly are. Legend of Mana takes some stabs at originality, but the original features are what makes this game far less enjoyable than itís predecessor, Secret of Mana. Who says creativity is always a good thing?

The thing that sets Legend of Mana apart from other console action RPGs is the nonlinearity. After choosing to play as either a male or female character, you pick an empty space on the world map which is where the game will take place. At the start of the game there isnít a single town or dungeon. It's up to you to find in-game objects that can be used to create locations, which will ultimately restore the sacred Mana tree featured in previous titles. New locations and objects can be found at different times, so thereís really no ďcorrectĒ path to take.

This nonlinearity is an excellent idea, but the fractured narrative ends up doing more harm then good. Instead of a central quest there are over 60 miniquests which last an average of half an hour a piece. With no clear goal, completing the missions can become a bore. It doesnít help that most of the quests are silly. Accompanying a goofy merchant and chasing a cactus creature around the world isnít exactly compelling. There are a few sequences of dramatic quests, but the dialogue is so dull that itís hard to get involved in the storyline. Granted, Secret of Mana had a laughable plotline involving rescuing Santa Claus, but at least that was mildly engaging compared to anything here.

What manages to be more compelling than the narrative are the dazzling visuals. I didnít care at all what happened in each quest, but I loved seeing what each new area looked like. The lush, hand-drawn visuals look like something out of an imaginative childrenís book. The vibrant use of color and stunning backgrounds make Legend of Mana arguably the most visually impressive PSone game. Itís just too bad that the gameplay is so disappointing.

Another change from Secret of Mana is the combat. While that game had fighting somewhat similar to the Zelda series, Legend of Mana greatly diverges from that. Once again, the change isnít for the better. Instead of finding the right moment to strike and defend, all you need to do is hammer the attack button. This works when fighting puny little rabites or the presumably frightening final boss. Even with an abundance of different weapons and skills, the combat is still nothing more than button mashing. I got through the entire game without even bothering with magic. It was just so much more effective to simply stick to the melee attacks. The lack of challenge is alarming considering my health only dropped below the halfway mark a couple times and I only saw the game over screen once.

The repetitive hacking and slashing can be somewhat remedied with the cooperative mode. A second player can upload his own character or play as one of the NPCs and join the fray. While this multiplayer action isnít nearly as good as the three-person parties from Secret of Mana, itís still a welcome addition considering how the dull the combat is. Unfortunately, the game becomes even easier with an adequate friend to play with.

Even with a friend to play with, itís impossible to avoid the plentiful backtracking. The quests can be vague, so plenty of exploration is required, which leads to facing many of the same enemies over and over again. It doesnít help that the many dungeons are essentially mazes. Going through the same screen over and over again doesnít exactly make for a fun time when the combat is also so boring.

The many sidequests end up being more engaging than the 60-plus missions. At your home there is an abundance of rewarding endeavors to spend time with. Weapons and armor can be crafted at the workshop, as can a golem to accompany you in fights. The most rewarding sidequest was raising a pet. By growing the right vegetables and providing my creature with the proper diet, I created an effective fighting machine that made my adventuring even easier. Of course, interesting sidequests donít make up for the rest of the weak game.

If Legend of Mana was as fun to play as it is to look at, it would probably be a classic. Unfortunately, the gameplay and lack of an interesting storyline end up detracting from this game. Itís nice seeing some original ideas in a relatively tired genre, but whatís the point of having new things when they just donít work well? Just stick with Secret of Mana if youíre looking for a great time.

Rating: 5/10

djskittles's avatar
Community review by djskittles (January 29, 2006)

A bio for this contributor is currently unavailable, but check back soon to see if that changes. If you are the author of this review, you can update your bio from the Settings page.

More Reviews by djskittles
Shadow Hearts: Covenant (PlayStation 2) artwork
Shadow Hearts: Covenant (PlayStation 2)

Forget what you learned in history class: Princess Anastasia was a feisty princess that traveled the world defeating monsters, and Rasputin sold his soul to a demon in exchange for magical powers and a sweet fortress. Also, the catastrophic casualties of World War I can be blamed on a secret society that unleashed ďm...
Brave Fencer Musashi (PlayStation) artwork
Brave Fencer Musashi (PlayStation)

Brave Fencer Musashi is a treasure trove of delightful oddities. First, thereís the amusing food obsession with locales such as Grilliní Village and characters named Princess Fillet and Ginger Elle. Next, thereís the pint-sized hero, Musashi, a pre-teen samurai with a very high opinion of himself. Factor in ot...
The Hobbit (PlayStation 2) artwork
The Hobbit (PlayStation 2)

Bilbo Baggins, as many of us know, is a typical hobbit. Heís portly, laid-back, and perfectly content with never leaving Hobbiton. However, due to his recruitment by a wise wizard and a bunch of dwarves, Bilbo sets out on a quest where he encounters some awkward camera angles, many boring stages, and a final couple l...

Feedback

If you enjoyed this Legend of Mana review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!

You must be signed into an HonestGamers user account to leave feedback on this review.

Info | Help | Privacy Policy | Contact | Links

eXTReMe Tracker
© 1998-2014 HonestGamers
None of the material contained within this site may be reproduced in any conceivable fashion without permission from the author(s) of said material. This site is not sponsored or endorsed by Nintendo, Sega, Sony, Microsoft, or any other such party. Legend of Mana is a registered trademark of its copyright holder. This site makes no claim to Legend of Mana, its characters, screenshots, artwork, music, or any intellectual property contained within. Opinions expressed on this site do not necessarily represent the opinion of site staff or sponsors.