‘Tis a tale of long ago, when the Mana Tree was newly born. Illusia Isle located in the middle of a sea in the center of the world. Above it towered the great Mana Tree. I’m sure you’ve heard many stories about the Mana Tree and the Sword of Mana. The story you’re about to hear tells of the only time the holy sword ever dared to defy Mana. This is how it all began…
|Square Enix / Nintendo
|2 Mar 2006
|30 Oct 2006
|7 Dec 2006
|12 Jan 2007
Seiken Densetsu DS: Children of Mana was the first title of the World of Mana series to be launched, and also the first title to be developed for the Nintendo DS. The task was undertaken by Nex Entertainment under the supervision of Koichi Ishii, creator of the Mana series. It received positive feedback after its release in Japan on March 2nd, 2006 selling over 100,000 units in the first three days, but was not quite so favoured by the western public who received it on October 30th in the States, November 30th in Australia and as late as January 12th, 2007, in Europe. This last delay was mainly down to the translation of the game into various European languages.
The game takes place 19 years after the events of the later Playstation 2 title Dawn of Mana, and makes several references to the disaster that occured then. This time though, it is not the powers of Mavolia at work, but a mysterious man who claims that Mana itself is trying to destroy the world. The Sword of Mana opposes this, however, and falls into the hands of th main character, who sets out to stop the surges of Mana breaking out across Illusia and Fa’Diel.
The game offers the player a choice of 4 different characters (Flick, Tumble, Pop and Wanderer), each with slightly different stat boosts and level requirements for certain weapons, as well as slightly different reactions to certain elements of the environment (for example Wanderer’s greater constitution makes him more resistant to being launched backward by enemies than Pop, the lighter counterpart, but in turn he is slower to recover from attacking). The storylines for these characters follow the same progression with very little variety between them, and you can interact with the non-chosen characters in the Mana Village.
The game offers 8 levels to explore, each time returning to the Mana Village where the player can buy/sell items and Gems (which can be used to enhance certain stats and also affect the stat progression during level-ups). There are also an infinite number of Dudbear Quests that can be carried out in order to gain levels and items, and a number of unique sidequests given by other villagers. Effectively, the game acts as a Dungeon Crawler more than an Action-RPG.
Although the game offers multiplayer, it is only in the form of DS-to-DS connectivity, meaning up-to 4 players can take on the missions in the game, but they all have to be in the same room with a copy of the game each. This point in particular disappointed many fans hoping to be able to multiplay over Nintendo WFC. There is also no item exchange capability, and the progress of the game is only recorded for the player hosting the multiplay.
Graphically this installment stays true to the spirit of the series, and musically it sees the return of Kenji Ito as main composer, who with the help of Masaharu Iwata, Takayuki Aihara have created a soundtrack that fits this chapter of the series to a tee.
Due to the linear nature of the game, the limited multiplayer capabilities and the lack of locations outside levels many fans were turned off, but it still holds replay value for those that have given the game a chance, thanks especially to the sidequest functions and the gem fusion system.