Adventures Of Mana is a classic RPG first released in 1991 as Seiken Densetsu/Final Fantasy Adventure/Mystic Quest for the original Game Boy. It was such a hit that it was remastered in 2003 as Sword of Mana, where many quality improvements were made. A new fan service has arrived, and we have the 2016 edition for Android and iOS.
Adventures of Mana
Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Available on: Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Android (tested), Wii U, Wii, iOS
Now known as the Mana series worldwide, titles like Secret of Mana on the Super Nintendo and Legend of Mana on the PlayStation have defined most fans’ expectations of later installments. But it was Final Fantasy Adventure that set the roots, combining the RPG elements we love with on-screen action of games like The Legend of Zelda.
Continuing the trend of porting all the old school classics to the new systems (please keep going!), Square Enix decided it was time to release Adventures of Mana. This new version not only re-renders everything in fully polygonal graphics to bring life to this fantastic world, but also do some quality changes like translation improvements. Other changes include an auto-save feature, Game Center achievements, and a new control system for those playing with touch controls. A floating virtual stick moves your character, two virtual buttons handle attacking and using items or magic, while three extra virtual buttons at the upper-right portion of the screen let you have three more weapons, items, or magic spells at your disposal.
You may have liked or hated the original Final Fantasy Adventure, but one of its key strengths was how straightforward and quick-paced it was. It doesn’t relies on a convoluted story with tons of unexpected twists, and it didn’t make us of long and unnecessary tutorials like Sword of Mana. The original game trusted you and never hold your hands. Adventures of Mana takes the same approach. Minimal plot setup, you jump right into battle from the beginning, and you are thrown to the open world immediately afterwards. Beautiful.
One of the main reasons it works is because how simple and well designed everything is. You are moving linearly through an open world, where your next goal at any given time is the only new place you can reach. Its dungeon puzzles are similar to those found in the original Legend Of Zelda game on the NES, mostly concerned with tripping switches to open doors or stairways, destroying walls to open secret passages, and using keys to unlock doors that block your path. It gets a bit more complex than that game, allowing for multi-floor dungeons and making use of switches, but in terms of puzzle design, the feel is almost the same.
Outside of the dungeons, your march forward is fueled either by finding a new item that allows you to pass an obstacle, such as a grapple chain that allows you to cross certain chasms, or by helping out an NPC in some way. As a consequence, you’ll be getting new toys to play with fairly steadily throughout the first two-thirds of the game, which helps keep the relatively simple combat system from getting stale. There are many different weapon types you can find, each with their own style of attack and special ability. You can perform simple canned combos by hitting the attack button repeatedly, or wait for a meter to fill up in order to deliver a powerful super move. You’ll also learn magic early on, giving you an alternate means of attacking. Magic points are limited enough that you can’t really go to town with your magic, however, so you’ll probably only use it for curing and solving the odd puzzle.
There are some oversights with the port unfortunately. Earlier in the game you will find foes that can one shoot you. No big deal, since you can move and dodge easily. The problem here is that unlike in the original game, there’s no period of immobility when you move to a new screen, and enemies can spawn right in front of you. The 3D graphics also make it less clear where the boundaries of the screen are, so you might accidentally move into the next screen mid-battle if you’re not paying careful attention. Though you’re able to move and aim your attacks in all directions, the game is still built heavily around the cardinal directions, making it trickier than it should be at times to hit certain objects or enemies. These are relatively minor issues, however. For the most part the game plays as well as it always did, a fine and quality action-RPG that will leave you a mark just like Zelda games.
Adventures Of Mana is a welcome addition to the ever growing Android/iOS game library. The price seems just right for a game that will clock you around 10 hours, specially for a classic but simple RPG that you can pick up and play anywhere with just some battery in your phone.