Sword of Mana! Finally, a true sequel to the great Secret of Mana! Or so some people would have you believe. Sword of Mana is, in fact, not a sequel at all. It’s not really even a completely new game. The original version of this game came out for the original Game Boy system and is titled Final Fantasy Adventure, since the Mana series was obviously too crappy a series to be able to stand on its own two feet.
This adventurous Final Fantasy is actually a prequel to the Secret of Mana we all know (or don’t know) and love (or hate (or feel neutral about (or like just a little bit (or hate just a bit, for that matter)))). As many Game Boy Advance titles do, this game falls short of being quite as good as its counterparts for other, more stationary systems.
This game contains a lot of the elements that make Secret of Mana so fun (including the crappy AI), but it does not include perhaps the most important and most fun feature. This feature, of course, is the multiplayer aspect. Sword of Mana does let you link up with friends, but you are only allowed to trade character data for use as a sort of summoning spell. What this means, in clearer terms, is that you can summon your friend’s character, but it will only do a quick little dance of doom, if you will, and then it will be on its merry way.
Despite this seemingly reasonless leaving out…thing, the game is still rather enjoyable. It most likely would be as enjoyable as Secret of Mana if it were as long as that title, but Sword of Mana can be beaten easily in 10-20 hours (depending on how many side quests you decide to do), so it just does not have as much content as Secret of Mana.
The music and visuals are certainly nice and pretty in this game, and definitely not eyesores by any stretch of the non-cynical imagination; but they also don’t scream out AMAZING when you look at them. They do fit quite nicely with Secret of Mana, although it might be easier to compare them with Legend of Mana, as they seem closer to it than they do with SoM.
There are quite a few sidequests to do, and if you are the type of person who likes to play through a game once and then replay it, stopping to do all of the sidequests, then it’s quite worth your while to replay this game. There is also the option of replaying the game with two characters—the hero and heroine—rather than just the hero, as with Final Fantasy Adventure. The length of this game may make the game not quite as fun as SoM on a single playthrough, but the fact that it is so short makes it all the more easy to replay it enough times to get everything you could possibly want out of it.
If you are a fan of Legend of Mana or Secret of Mana or Final Fantasy Adventure or RPGs or action RPGs or Game Boy Advance or any such thing, Sword of Mana is worth checking out. It is relatively new, so it probably costs just about as much as any other Game Boy Advance game ($29.99 or so), but you could always find it used at your local EB Games or GameStop. I’d go so far as to say that this game would be perfect for you if you were getting tired of playing really long RPGs like Dragon Warrior VII. In any case, give Sword of Mana a try.