Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
88 of 93 people found the following review helpful
Mediocre Story, but Fun GameplayNov. 12 2006
- Published on Amazon.com
In truth, there really hasn't been a great Mana game since Secret of Mana back in 1993. Every Mana game since has been met with astonishing mixed feelings, and Children of Mana is no different. Why did I buy it knowing this? For the same reason many Mana fans continue to invest in Mana games. There's always hope that the next installment will give us the same joy that Secret of Mana did. Unfortunately, Children of Mana does not do this. It doesn't rekindle the magic Secret of Mana gave us, but that shouldn't suggest it falls short of it either.
The world is in peril when a mana imbalance threatens to send the world back into the dark ages. It is up to a hero or heroine to stop this from happening and thus you'll set out to save the Mana Tree and the world itself. Children of Mana by no means has a great storyline going for it. At least where it falls short in story it more than makes up for in gameplay.
No matter how you look at it, Children of Mana is a dungeon crawler. It is an RPG, but it falls into the dungeon crawling category. When you enter dungeons they're just swarming with monsters, and you'll be surrounded before you know it. So you'll have to make your way through a dungeon battling everything in sight until you reach the boss, take him on, and then you're done. Rinse and repeat. The process does, at times become annoying, but Children of Mana offers some variety and interesting aspects to the gameplay to make up for it.
The first tidbit of interest is how combat works. It's actually pretty fun to go through dungeons killing things. It's surprisingly addictive for the first couple of hours. You've got three hit combos you can perform on enemies. You can knock enemies into other enemies. There's quite a bit of intersting things you can do. However, what also sets it apart from a lot of dungeon crawlers is that you can't ahead of yourself too fast. First and foremost, you can't equip and use everything you find right off the bat. The game will actually restrict you from using overly powerful weapons until you have access to certain dungeons or until you meet certain expectations. This keeps the game from being too simple too fast.
You'll also have access to magic, of course. Each time you go into a dungeon you can take a spirit with you and use the magic that spirit provides for you. It's interesting to play around with as well. In dungeons you can also dual wield weapons, although not in the way you'd think. When I say duel wield I specifically mean you can equip two weapons but only use one each time. So you can't go about swinging both of them at the same time, which probably would've added more variety to the gameplay otherwise.
Along the lines of giving your character a different assortment of weapons, you can also give them gems that can improve their stats or combat abilities. It's interesting, but not really all that deep. You'll mostly find or purchase these gems.
Another interesting aspect is that the game is completely linear should you decide to not to dwell into the many sidequests the game has to offer. Children of Mana is not shy about offering you side missions to go on, and they're actually pretty well worth it. However, should you decide not to do any sidequests, the game becomes extremely linear.
The problem with the gameplay, however is that this rinse and repeat formula becomes very tiring very fast. It's annoying mostly because each dungeon plays out in the same way. Fight through a horde of enemies, retrieve the Gleam Drop, fight a boss and leave. Over time it becomes increasingly repetitive. Thankfully, Children of Mana has a great remedy for that too. It's multiplayer. Up to four players can play at a time, and the game is so much more fun that way. You and your friends can make your way through dungeons together, and sometimes it's just a blast to do. There are moments of slowdown when playing in multiplayer mode, but it's nothing to get too frustrated with, because it doesn't happen too often. The multiplayer alone adds a lot of variety and complexity to the gameplay.
As far as graphics go the game doesn't look too bad. The sprites look like they're ripped straight ouf of Sword of Mana... and the game is completely 2D. However, the Mana games have not been about taking graphics to the limit, they've been about its unique art style, which in Children of Mana is absolutely gorgeous. Its artwork is just beautiful to look at. Each environment is given extremely good detail. The only problem, as I mentioned, are that the sprites are not nearly as detailed. Musically, Children of Mana sounds fantastic. It's one of the best sounding DS games out to date. Very few of the current games hold a candle up to its fantastic soundtrack.
The bottom line is simple: Children of Mana is a very fun game to play with a very mediocre storyline. There's just enough variety and interest in the gameplay to keep one going for the adventure, even if the storyline is just not all that great to begin with. However, keep in mind that Children of Mana really is just a dungeon crawl, and it's uncrealistic to expect an RPG that's all about dungeon crawling to have a fantastic storyline that will blow you away. Also, even with its vast amount of variety in the gameplay, the whole rinse and repeat is so repetitive that some gamers may not even find the game worth going through at all.
On the whole, if you're looking for a game that's fun, you'll find it with Children of Mana. However, if you're looking for a game with a deep storyline and endearing characters, you won't find it in Children of Mana.
+Beatiful Artwork +Fantastic Soundtrack +There's a lot of variety to the gameplay +Multiplayer is a blasts +Tons of sidequests to do
-The storyline isn't good -Very repetitive
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Dungeon Crawl with Little Reward, CreativityOct. 31 2007
- Published on Amazon.com
Children of Mana is the latest Squenix addition to a long line of Mana RPG/adventure games that have moved into the Nintendo handheld world - this one being a game for the DS. And out of all the mana games I've played, it is by far the worst, and possibly one of the worst RPG games I've played. From story to game mechanics, this is almost a complete lemon, so if you dislike negative reviews, just skip this. I'll try and summarize the paragraphs so you can get my main points without having to read my entire tirade.
Complete lack of utilization for the DS hardware. The first thing I noticed about the game is the complete lack of stylus play, and the poor utilization of the dual-screen system. There's all this fantastic hardware for DS, and most of the games I've played have used it to some good effect, but CoM almost completely ignores it, opting to use one screen for maps/status when in most cases, your maps and status aren't really needed. After the opening screen, the stylus is not used at all. In fact, I have to wonder why they even put that one touch-screen in there.
Complete lack of character story. Even in the last GBA handheld installment of the series, the story had depth. Your characters had a history, and a reason why they met. And the supporting characters had some really touching material. In CoM, the village priestess is kidnapped, and all the village elders and warriors get together to discuss what must be done. Your character, who seems to have no real station in the village, voulenteers him/herself to go, and everyone is just like "bai. the potions shop is to your right on your way out of the village." Not even a "no, it's too dangerous!" or "let me teach you how to fight before you go." And that's only the first of many such oddities. Either the localization team has completely butchered and removed whatever insightful dialog existed, or it just never did.
Complete lack of story Sort of ties in with my last point. At the end of each zone, you fight a boss monster, and someone comes out to tell you "good job" and give you the tiniest scrap of explanation and some artifact that allows you to access a new area of the game. You go back to the village, speak with the veteran, and he asks you to go scope out another crisis. Of the handful of zones I've been to, that's been the extent of it. Sidequests are available through a shop, but you never meet who you're helping, and the fun of discovering the sidequest is eliminated because they're just handed to you. So far (though I'm assuming this changes later), there are no towns to explore, and no benefits to talking to people.
Weak character development And by character development, I mean level progression and the like. Most of your development happens through the aquisition of new weapons and armor, and the equipping of various gems you find. You can fuse gems together to create new gems with special powers. But that's pretty much it - no points to spend of any kind. All of your weapons and armor can be purchased from the shop, so questing for special weapons and armor is pointless. Furthermore, all wares have a level requirement, so apart from gems, there's no good way to max out a particular stat.
Shallow and frustrating gameplay elements Your 8 espers exist, but you can only take one of them into a dungeon with you, as opposed to previous games, where you do work to find the mana, and then its unique powers are available to you through the rest of the game. You cannot access the weapons, armor, or gems you pick up while you're still in the dungeon, or swap out your esper, until you've reached a save point. Each dungeon has multiple levels, and if you leave or die, you have to start the dungeon over again (or simply restart your game from your save point if you reached one while in-dungeon). The new gameplay mechanics are not always explained in the best way, such that I had to actually look up how to use and switch my espers.
The only positives... There are four weapons that allow you to complete some puzzle-aspects in the dungeon, and you have the ability to dual-wield so you don't have to keep switching weapons, which is nice. The graphics are cute - the whole game definitely looks just like a mana game, and there are even a few anime-style cutscenes. Your performance in each dungeon section is scored off how many monsters you kill, how many chests you find, and how fast you do it in - and from this, you can get special rewards. There's a multiplayer option, which is new and supposed to be pretty fun.
The lowdown I was surprised to find this used so quickly, considering it only came out a short while ago, but now I see why. By itself, any one of these flaws wouldn't be enough to ruin the game, but this many annoyances and shortage of RP aspects together make it an almost worthless pursuit. It's fine for a dungeon crawl, but with so little rewards, why not just replay a more compelling dungeon crawl game? I recommend D2 for solo play, and Gauntlet, Zelda Four Swords, or FF Crystal Chronicles for really fantastic multi-player dungeoncrawl. And, if you're interested in how the Mana series is done well on a handheld, pick up Sword of Mana.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Another Mana game to drop the ball.March 20 2007
There's No Stopping Space Vikings T. Edwards!
- Published on Amazon.com
There's really not a lot to say about this game because there isn't much to it. Pick a character, engage in a brief plot point, and then go slay some monsters. The story is minimal and a pretty standard spin on the "Save the Princess" plot found too often in RPGs. This isn't necesarilly a bad thing because it makes this game very pickup and play friendly. I haven't played this game in well over a month but I know I could pop it in right now and not be lost in the least.
The gameplay is very reminiscent to the Shining Soul 2 on the GBA, only with a certain added depth that SquareEnix is good for. You get these little crystatls that you can equip and combine to boost your character's abilities which is both neat and adds a decent collection factor to the game but that's where the ingenuity of this game ends. After that it's straight up hacking and slashing with a very restrictive magic system that in my opinion isn't even worth paying attention to. You do earn various weapons as you progress through the game but they're more situational than anything, you will most likely pick a favorite and stick with it until you are forced to use another weapon for 2 seconds of its usefulness. You can take missions for rewards, but guess what, they're just more of the same crap the story line presents you with and really aren't much more than a clever way to disguise level grinding.
A true sequal to the Seiken Densetsu series this game is not, it may even be a step back from the GBA Mana installment, Sword of Mana. At best it's only a sub-par dugeon crawler. Only pick this one up if you are pining to play a Mana game or suffer from severe ADD and boredom.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A Few Things About Children of Mana...June 18 2007
Koopa In A Half Shell
- Published on Amazon.com
It kinda sucks writing reviews about games that have already been reviewed by a bunch of people. For one, less people are likely to read another review about the same game, just to hear the same story blah blah blah ...
So the sum of the reviews is that Children of Mana is a mediocre game, and that is no lie. I can't say much about the Mana series, because the only other Mana I've played was Secret of Mana, and I absolutely loved it. Then again, I loved every single RPG on the SNES.
Children of Mana is addictive in the beginning, but only in the way that most character developing games are addicting; you want to level up you character. Something in your gaming soul drives you to want to level up your character, in the same inane way you want to "Catch Them All!" or level up your Pokemon for hours upon hours for no apparent reason whatsoever. To which you'll soon discover the horrible redundancy of this game.
Children of Mana is a dungeon crawler, and a horribly made one at that. Simply put, the title "Pinball of Mana" would have been more befitting than Children of Mana. Hitting monsters causes the monster to bounce back into some other object in the dungeon which in turn begins to bounce around, and at some point in this pinball-like movement, you get hit and you start bouncing around until you finally hit something and stop bouncing. Then you repeat the process all over again.
I was extremely disappointed, since I had taken such a long hiatus from gaming and was looking forward to my first Mana title since Secret. The main story is drabby, and chock full of long boring dungeon crawling. The side quests, which make the game infinitely longer, are more boring, more elongated dungeon crawling. It seems like there's no end to the redundancy.
Still, some people like that, and it could consume hours upon hours of brainless hacking and chopping and bouncing around. If that's what you're into, this game was made especially for you. But please, don't buy it for the retail $29.99.
Hopefully Heroes of Mana will redeem the Mana series... I've heard some disappointing remarks about the other Mana titles, and would love to see a great followup to the legendary RPGs of the SNES...
Yes, I am calling for a DS Chrono title, or a Gaia title, Lufia title .. ANYTHING! Hell, give me a followup to the Secret of Evermore, I don't care. I would really like to see a Chrono Trigger DS..... OOOOOHHH wouldn't that be sweet?
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
children on manaJune 1 2007
- Published on Amazon.com
granted im no mana coneseur but im having a ton of fun with this game. me and my 6 year old son play this often and spend a great deal of time 'dungeon crawling'. i suppose a good deal of my personal enjoyment is the fact that my son loves it. im always looking for great games the 2 of us can play together and this one fits the bill. i must mention that in the spirit of multiplayer ds games we also love bomberman!