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Oct 9, 2007

Review: Heroes of Mana

One of the genre of games that I've been playing less of lately is Real Time Strategy games, because most RTS games are only available for PC and my PC is in dire need of upgrading. But luckily for me and all you RTS fans, SquareEnix makes games like Heroes of Mana.

Heroes of Mana is very like Warcraft III where you can collect resources and summon units for battle, but you still have main heroes that you must keep alive during battle.

Heroes of Mana follows a group of five Peddan soldiers that are sent on a scout mission to the kingdom of Feronlia, the home of the Beastmen, as it is rumored that they are prepared for war against your country. When your group gets there, you realize that they are doing no such thing and that your country has sent troops in ahead of you to raid and destroy the kingdom. Your group finds themselves soon on a journey to save the world from an ancient evil and your own country with the help of the Mana Goddess.

The graphics are amazing in this game. Bright and colourful, each character and unit is beautifully drawn and the cut scenes are elegant like most of SquareEnix's games. The intro video reminded me of a great anime cartoon. Very detailed. Much like the World of Mana games before, the graphics are most impressive for a DS game. The characters, units and battle fields are shown in 3D but the battlefield is on a grid for easy touch control moves.

The audio has a midi like sound to it. There is no characters voices, but lots of great battle music in the fashion of Final Fantasy. The music made each battle all the more intense.

The gameplay was pretty easy to pick up in the beginning with the help of the in game tutorial. The stylus made it easy to move units, group units and select menus. You could select individual units to move them or you could circle units to move them as a group.

Before each battle, you are required to pick a group of heroes to send into battle. You can choose a different group each time or stay with your favorites. New heroes are added to the roster as the story progresses.

Hero units are your most powerful units and can use magic to heal. Each monster unit has a weak and strong unit point. For example: Flying units are weak against archers and strong against ground units. Units can be summoned by entering your airship, building a unit building and selecting the amount of units you want, based on the amount of resources you have summon them.

Battles are won when all the enemies are killed and the final goal is reached. Each level, when finished, gives you a rank based on how well you do in the battle. Each rank rewards the player with items for your hero units to boost their stats.

My only complaint is that the small DS touch screen is so crowded with status and buttons that I kept accidentally tapping the wrong menus during battles. It was a little hard on one level to find the square to exit my units from the board too. It took me a few minutes of tapping around the 3D door way just to find the right square to click.

Bonus maps are provided for players to practice their skills on the battlefield between story levels and multiplayer is available through Wi-Fi and Mult-card play. Two copies of the game are required though.

So far is has been one of the better World of Mana spin offs since Secret of Mana. I highly suggest it to all those RTS and SquareEnix fans out there. This is an easy game to pick up and play.

Rating: 7 out of 10

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