Thursday, July 25, 2019

Sword of Mana (Game Boy Advance, 2003)

This is a full-on remake of Final Fantasy Adventure that makes it waaaaaay more Mana-y. For a more faithful-to-the-original remaster, check out Adventure of Mana for Vita and iOS/Android. I'll be doing that soon too.

This game changes a lot about the source material, adding new characters/story and even areas. Let's get into it.

Much like Dre, the people forgot about the Mana Tree. I believe this series is making a statement of people growing distant from nature, considering that people forgetting about Mana Tree seems to coincide with surges in technology and war.

It's always bad news when some dude creeps into the Mana Tree sanctuary. Throughout history a lot of dudes have wanted to bed that poor tree, like Julius.

This might actually be a callback to Secret of Mana, unless it's talking about the OTHER big war before that.

Emperor Vandole and his Mana Fortress did wreak a lot of havoc.

That...doesn't look like the Secret of Mana party, so I think this is talking about the previous great war. I wish this series had a concrete timeline somewhere that I could refer to.

Whoa. This all sounds like a pretty damn good game here. I'd play it. Where's our Mana prequel?

And in her ample bosom, she balanced a bottle of goat milk to feed the poor.

Now that the people have forgotten about the Mana Tree and gone towards capitalism, the world faces the existential threat of...

...Global Laming. People were warning us about this back in the 2000's! Now it's too late.

Here are the, ug, characters. They're fully Mana-ized, with the weird "precious moments" aesthetic of Legend of Mana.

You can choose to be a male hero or a female hero, and both are actually fully-integrated characters with their own dialogue and so forth. Whichever one you don't pick is still a part of the game. Nice.

I choose the Niña over the Niño. The male character has a penis, however. Not sure how that'll figure into the gameplay, hopefully I'm not missing out on any extra penis-related content.

That's right, I named my hero Britty. She's named after a friend of mine, the one responsible for...

...My God! What's that giant cat doing in the global laming? And is that a dead fish? This is the most apocalyptic image I've ever published.

Oh, right, the game. Right off the bat you'll notice that we're not starting in FFA's original arena setting with Spiky Tiger, since we're playing as the Girl (for now). The female lead here is, in fact, The Girl from the original game. So you get some backstory with her growing up among the Mana Tribe.

Britty's Mom tells the story of how she traveled the world, accompanied by a Gemma Knight. Are...are they getting cute and insinuating that Britty's Mom is The Girl from FFA, meaning this isn't actually FFA? DON'T MESS WITH THE CANON ANYMORE.

In any case, Britty is continuing the lineage of the Mana Tribe by traveling the world. Eventually she'll turn into a tree. The usual.

Also, wow, what a seedy kid. He looks like he's about to grab everyone's wallets.

Now, if you start as the Boy instead, you of course get a different intro.

He starts out hanging out with Lord Granz. Like the Girl in her intro, the Boy is younger here than he'll be in the actual game once it gets going. Both intros primarily consist of flashback, then the game starts out with the two of them in a town, grown-up. There's quite a bit before you get to the arena of the Spiky Tiger in this version.

Back at the Girl's scenario... The flashbacks continue, as Dark Lord's troops invade the peaceful Mana Village. Who is this seedy boy?

Okay, I'll just spill the beans. This kid is Willy. Yep, the same Willy from FFA who got killed at the very beginning in the arena fights.

Dark Lord arrives. While completely upstaged by Julius later on, he's still a bastard.

A nearby elder tries to be Dark Lord's therapist.

"You sound like chapters from a self-help book!"

Britty's mom, Elise, spirits her away to safety while Dark Lord's troops purge the area. The Mana Tribe can't be allowed to exist.

Julius arrives, and he's weird and purple. He looked pretty much like a normal guy in the original game, now he's deliberately designed to look like some kind of evil imp.

Because he's racist. The non-purples will bow down! The day of the purples has come!

He basically accuses the Mana Clan of hiding WMDs from The Empire.

The Girl gets into a political debate with him about how his own country has massive stockpiles of WMDs! This game came out in 2003.

Wait, what? A shocking revelation. Of course, we know that her real mother is a tree.

Her life is already being shattered by the Empire's attack, and you TELL HER SHE'S ADOPTED?

Yeah, she HEARD YOU. My GOD.

Gemma Knight Bogard whisks Britty away to a safe place, the home of this Hermann guy. Julius just sorta lets all of this happen while he battles "Britty's Mom"

The wife of Hermann is sassy. At least, as sassy as anyone gets in this Precious Moments-like doll house world.

Soldiers of Dark Lord arrive at the gate.

Whoa, the Boy is here too. Their paths intersect!

She keeps the soldiers at bay while we flee. And...another character is introduced who immediately dies. So far all they've added to FFA is more intro with people dying!

D-Generation X's theme plays as Dark Lord and his troops do stereo crotch-chops outside the house. Now they're just showing off.

First the Mana Clan was guilty of having banned Mana weapons that didn't actually exist, now Dark Lord is saying he's justified in attacking this other town because they're harboring heretics that also don't exist.

We learn here that Dark Lord's real name is Prince Stroud, as the remake begins to flesh things out a bit more.

Dark Lord is really hung up on this "heretics" thing.

He evokes Vandole, the emperor of lies. Little does he know, his trusted accomplice Julius is the same dude.

The real question is...what drugs were Dark Lord's parents on when they named him that?

Dark Lord's Mom: "What should we name him, honey?"

Dark Lord's Dad: "Tyranitar!"

Dark Lord's Mom: "That's silly! We can't just name him after you!"

Dark Lord's Dad: "Tyranitar!"

Dark Lord's Mom: "I'm starting to think you aren't taking this relationship seriously! YOUR SON NEEDS HIS FATHER!"

Dark Lord's Dad: "...Frankly, my dear, I don't give a care!"

Meanwhile, the Boy's father really bows down to the bad guys and insists that he isn't harboring heretics.

Bogard is here too, and they end up holding off Dark Lord's troops while the heroes escape.

The Boy's parents don't make it, just like the Girl's parents. Damn you, Dark Lord! WHY SO MUCH MURDERING?

We finally warp to the present-day, as Britty is now grown-up...and fetching.

She's got some PTSD from all the junk she's been through.

Get ready, 'cause this game is heavy.

Uh, I don't know about that, Bogard. So far you seem like a terrible dad.

Finally...FINALLY we have control of the game. It has save statues, like Seiken Densetsu 3. The intro felt like it was about an hour long. Also worth noting? A waterfall in the background of the first area, a series staple.

The usual Mana ring-menus return. One thing I don't like is that the Girl can't use a sword; she instead uses this rod that looks more like some sort of attack lollipop. Only the Boy can use the sword. So that's kind of interesting, exclusive weapons. It's also silly in a followup to Secret of Mana where every character can notably use every weapon.

I send Britty out into the fields to fight things with her giant attack lollipop! Mana intensity!

That's one powerful attack lollipop. Who needs a sword?

You've gotten away with enough crimes, rooster!

She also starts with the Wisp elemental, which is already at level 1. That's a lot of elementals and weapons to level up. The Girl is apparently stronger with spells while the Boy is stronger with melee. Melee is also better overall in this game, so...ehh.

The visuals in this game are extremely Legend of Mana. I'm not a fan of that game outside of the soundtrack, so I don't know how I feel about this.

Star Wars joke here. This game is full of "Samaritan Requests" where you can optionally choose to help random people with their problems. The rewards are okay, and it doesn't hurt to just grab all of these requests as you find them.

Brit locks horns with a bee.

When you level up, you don't just choose stats to level up anymore. Now you choose a "class", which levels up several stats. They're essentially build-templates. You pick from one of these classes every time you level up. This gets interesting because leveling certain classes to certain levels and combinations nets you major bonuses. For example, getting Monk to 15, Mage to 10, and Sage to 10 makes you a God Hand, which is what I'm going for. Only 34 more levels. God Hand gives you greatly increased knuckle power (the fists/claws are my favorite weapon in this) and increased healing ability, which should leave me set for the rest of the game.

One cool thing is that when you level up, you don't have to spend the points right away. You just walk around with "LV UP" over your head and can accumulate levels like that if you want. The game isn't exactly hard at all, so you don't need to spend level-ups immediately.

At this point, Britty is tasked with finding something in the grass for a random girl.

She rummages around while a Chobin looks on creepily from a tree nearby and goes "HEE HEE"

She rummages until she finds...Julius. Well, that's the world's lamest surprise.

She's ready to dish out punishment. Of course, he avoids fighting her, like he does with the Boy in the original FFA.

We'll meet again soon. In the meantime...

...Chobin falls out of the nearby tree, and we beat him up.

Wait, we? That's right, the Boy is here now! The gang is all together!

She realizes that she knows the guy from when they were kids.

That's cool, they just got acquainted like adults and teamed up. A lot of games would have had her first beat him up for being a pervert after he accidentally looked at her shoulder or something, this one just has them being polite and talking like real people.

Presumably if I played out the Boy's intro instead, the Girl would have joined him at this point.

They team up to rummage in the grass together. It's so romantic!

Yanno, I'm alright with this vibrating lollipop. The sword is still pretty badass though.

Sword of Mana will continue shortly.

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