Children of Mana
Are these kids worthy of the Mana name?
Being a huge RPG fan I was really looking forward to Children of Mana. Everything about it looked really appealing, with adorable character art and clean bright sprites. But it seems I was prejuding the game on its cover. Thirty minutes into the game and I was already getting bored, although it isn't as bad as Lunar Genesis which only took me 5 minutes to get tired of.
You could argue that it's only meant for a handheld so I shouldn't expect anything deeper, but if you did argue that you'd be foolish. I can understand that people may just want to pick it up and play for a bit on their journey to school or work, but with this game you have to sit with it longer, as you can only save every so often in the dungeons, and if you die or leave half way through you have to start from the bottom floor with all the monsters back in their places again.
You'll be stuck doing floor after floor of the same thing, button bashing your way through for 40 minutes until you finally get to save your game. That's pretty much all you do for the entire game.
The battle system is pretty easy, although they did try to spruce it up by giving you four weapons to play with that have two functions each depending on how long you hold down the button they've been assigned to, and a magic attack which is performed by a mana creature that you get to pick yourself.
"You'll be stuck doing floor after floor of the same thing for 40 minutes until you finally get to save."
Although, with so many monsters on the screen at once it can get quite difficult, and no doubt you'll find yourself dying and having to start the dungeon all over again more than once. At one point I got so annoyed I swore at my DS, turned it off and didn't touch it again for days. I don't think it's forgiven me for that - I still keep dying.
At least the gem frame provides some variety to the whole experience. Throughout the game you'll pick up special gems that each have their own powers, from boosting stats to granting you new abilities. These gems can be equipped to your characters using the gem frame that gets bigger the further you get so you can equip even more gems at a time.
You can also go on quests, but I don't know why you'd really want to bother, all you do is go back to the same dungeons you've just been to and go through them again, this time with a different layout. Whoop-de-doo (yes that was sarcasm, if anyone failed to spot it).
However, despite the boring levels, it is possible to invite a friend along to join you in your game and help you clear the dungeons. Although I advise against pairing up with Kikizo staff who just run around stealing all the items and drawing all the monsters to me so that I die. I don't think some gamers quite understands the concept of co-operation...
This game is nothing new, and is disappointing compared to its SNES predecessor.