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Gameplay

The button configuration and menus are well designed when it comes to doing the
levels.
L – Ring Menu to select item (press Y to assign)
R – Ring Menu to select weapons (press button to assign, X or A depending)
A and X – Primary and secondary weapons, hold to do focused attack
Y – Use Item
B – Cancel in menu, hold to use magic
Start – Bring up option to use Magic Rope to return to the Mana Village.
Select – Activate Fury (see below)

And in town, well, it’s the basic Start for menu, use A to talk, B to cancel.

As you get hit or hit others, you gain Fury meter. When the Fury meter hits it’s max, you can hit SELECT to activate it. Your attack rate is faster until the meter runs down again, and your focused attacks are modified to do more power and have different effects (see the Weapons section for greater detail). You will also gain the effects of any purple gems you have equipped in your gem frame.

The bottom screen will display stats while in the town and during levels, but in the levels will also show the following info:
– An overhead map of the level, pinpointing the Gleamdrop and Gleampool and live enemies.
– Information on where to find the gleamdrop and pool (ie, "in a vase")
– Experience points til next level and current level.
– Equipped elemental and the magic spells it provides.

Also when in the Mana Village, your next step to advance in the game will be displayed below.

The touch system is used only for the menu systems that involve equipping items and gems, dialogue options when talking to people, and if you really want, choosing weapons and items during combat, but this is pointless because you’d do it much faster with the ring system displayed in the main screen. You can even skip using the touch screen altogether by navigating the menus with the D-pad and A/B.

Levels are obtained by killing, simple as. You don’t have to level up swords in the way SoM did, just the level of your main character. Each enemy will award a minimum 2 EXP points, though there are gems to modify this to gain more. Enemies will give you more EXP the less level you have, and depending on what level the enemies are (so for example the Rabites at the beginning of the game will start off giving you 6 EXP, and dwindle down to 2 as you gain more levels).

Your centre of operations for the game will be the Mana Village on the Illusia Isle. You’ll be given missions by Moti to progress along the game, and return here after the mission is complete. You can also obtain subquests to gain items and levels by visiting Dud Services, talking to villagers or talking to elementals. The Dud Services subquests are randomly generated, and the villager and elemental subquests are detailed in the subquests section.

When you visit a site for a mission, you’ll go straight in unless you’ve already completed the main mission previously. If the latter is the case, you’ll be given the option to carry out the subquest that you have picked up (you can only do one at a time), or to return to the site via a space-time rupture to redo the level and pick up items you missed, improve your level, beat your previous ranking, etc.

Missions are divided up into Zones, and to pass to the next zone you must find the GleamDrop and take it to the GleamPool. This is explained in more detail during your first mission. Also note that your HP is mostly restored between zones, so no need to waste items recovering at the end of a zone before you move on to the next. Each 4 zones, you will have a chance to re-arrange your equipment, save and review your Status.

Another thing to note is that the number of enemies displayed on screen will be limited as it was in previous Mana games, although this time it is not fixed at three enemies. It will start out as such, but as you advance in the game and improve your level things will start getting tougher. This can be used to your advantage in some levels, as you can leave a harmless number of monsters alive while you scout the rest of the level killing off the monsters one at a time, then go back for the remaining swarm. A cowardly tactic, but when you’re in a pickle the rules of chivalry not only get thrown out of the window, but are tied to a cannon and propelled out faster than the Black Hole ride at Alton Towers.


Ranking: Let’s see how good you are!

At the end of every 4 zones on a main storyline mission you will receive a score for how well you are doing in the level, and at the end of the level in total, after the boss, these scores will be added up and you will receive a ranking according to how well you did. Depending on your ranking, you will receive certain rewards, and the better the ranking the better the prizes. You also will have the option to choose a random item (marked by "???"). Generally this will not be a good choice, HOWEVER, there is at least one item (a Yellow Gem) that can ONLY be received via this choice.

You ranking scores are determined by three factors:
-Kills: The number of enemies you killed during the level, or the boss.
-Chests: The number of treasure chests you discovered during the level. This includes trap chests that you defeat, NOT ones that explode. Also, you don’t HAVE to pick up the contents of the chest.
-Time: The amount of time it has taken for you to complete the set of zones being ranked. This will not gain you points, but a multiplier that will take effect on the previously mentioned scores (the maximum is 3x).

Even if you don’t get all items or kills, you’ll find that getting through a level quickly will make up for that fact.

Note on Trap Chests: Depending on the colour of the chest, and maybe the location of it (I’m still trying this), the chest has to be defeated with a different weapon, so if it doesn’t go down with a hit from one weapon, switch to another.