Electronic Theatre Preview: Children of Mana

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Electronic Theatre Image            Children Of Mana is the evolution of a title commonly thought-of as one of the best RPG’s ever made. Although a few sequels have arrived in the western-hemisphere since, none have captured gamers as Secret Of Mana for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System managed to, and none have seen as much commercial or critical success.

            The Mana series is set to explode over the next few years. SquareEnix have big plans to put the titles Electronic Theatre Imageback on the RPG map and, with the recent expansion of their retail and distribution networks in Europe, we can expect big things.

            Children Of Mana purposefully avoids relations with the PlayStation’s rather poor World Of Mana and the Game Boy Advance’s mediocre Sword Of Mana – directly relating itself to the SNES’s title; right down to using revisited images of items such as Treasure Chests and returning traditional enemies into the fray. Fears that the title will remove the story element in favour of Multi-Player action are unjustified, as even in the incredibly limited E3 demo it was apparent that, while Wi-Fi play results in little more than a Hack-N’-Slash, the Single-Player progresses through as you would expect.

            The Elemental Sprites, which offer magic abilities, are now granted individually and controlled by holding the B Button to perform their solitary attack. The Triple-Hit Combo System returns, but the Level Gauge remained distinctly absent from the E3 Code. The Item Rings also return, pausing the game to allow the player to select Weapons on the L Trigger and Items on R. A new deflective shield has been added is executed by holding the A Button, which also acts as the main attack button. Each character can now sport two weapons, with the second attached to the X Button.

            While the title’s graphics may be deemed fairly simplistic when compared to the likes of Metroid Prime: Hunters and New Super Mario Bros., there’s little need for the 2D sprites to be presented any better, and special-effects through magic use add depth. The Touch Screen is used in a rather generic fashion – displaying the Map, your area and Level; and the Experience required to progress to the next – but the title still remains a tour-de-force of RPG know-how, and will most likely become the NintendoDS’s essential Third-Party release late this year.



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