Dawn of Mana, the true sequel/prequel to the original Secret of Mana for the Super Nintendo has finally made its way to North American shores and to be honest, it didn't live up to the greatness that is Secret of Mana.
When I first picked up the game, I looked at the back and manual before popping it into my PS2 and from the screenshots and descriptions, the game looked similar to that of the Dark Cloud games with its singular path levels and cartoon like graphics.
The game follows a young man named Keldric as he tries to rescue his friend, Ritzia with the help of his new found friend, Faye the Fairy and his new weapon, a vine sword created from a splinter from the Mana tree that gets stuck in his arm.
Other fairies give you new magic spells through the game but they only last for so long and then they're gone. I prefer if you could have kept the spells and recharged them but you can only recharge Faye's magic which will gain new spells as you level up in each round.
The battle system allows you to use your sword, sling shot or magic against enemies as well as a new panic system which uses the Havok system. The panic system allows you to throw, roll, etc. object to scare your enemies for a few moments in which they will produce medals and power ups when you attack them.
The power ups allow you to build up your character's levels each round but are unfortunately reset at the beginning of each new round. This system was a bit annoying to figure out at first but once the game got going, it becomes second nature to push boulders down the hill first before hack and slashing. I didn't really care about the resetting levels because there isn't much difference in power between levels or maybe there is and I didn't notice.
Each round or chapter, as the game calls them, you have to complete a boss battle which I found each to be hard and lengthy compared to the rest of the game. It took me half an hour to take out the very first boss. THE FIRST BOSS!!! I killed the final form of Sin in FFX quicker than that.
At the end of each round, the game tallies up all your time, how many items you got, objects smashed, etc. and gives you a rated like S, A or B. This is why you don't want to run through the game without employing the panic system for medals. Do so and your rating will be low each round.
The music and the graphics in this game were great and very much like Dragon Quest VIII. Each round had new music and each of the characters spoke so you didn't have to read the text if you didn't want too. The graphics were cartoon like and made for some interesting looking characters.
I liked how designers kept some of the original monsters from Secret of Mana like the cute little yellow bunnies and such. I was annoyed to see another feminine male hero in this game but I understand they're all the rage in
All in all, I did like this game but with other games like The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and Final Fantasy XII available, I would suggest playing those first and then grabbing this game up afterwards. It wasn't a terrible game nor an unplayable game; I just think there are better RPGs out there and definitely better games from SquareEnix. That's all.
Rating: 6 out of 10