Game Reviews

Mana Chronicles Review – Walk the Line

Wipe-out legions of demon-spawn using your wits, magic abilities, and a whole lot of tap-tap-tapping in this side-scrolling, hack’n-slash RPG from Spearhead Entertainment. How does combining old-school action gaming with old- school RPG gaming come out?

Title: Mana Chronicles | Developer: Spearhead EntertainmentGenre: Action, RPG |

Players: 1 | Version: 1.23 | Size: 29.1MB | Price: $2.24

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Mana Chronicles is what you’d get by cross-breeding an old-school, side-scrolling arcade game – say, Final Fight – with a very easy, paired-down fantasy game. You’ll spend most your time repeatedly tapping the attack button while trying to line-up your character on the same plane as your enemies, while trying to stay facing the right direction.

Mana Chronicles is more arcade than RPG, so don’t get too excited about leveling or accumulating trinkets. You won’t be leveling your character and assigning points to stats, but instead will auto-level when you’ve gained enough experience. As you wade through the hordes, you’ll find item-drops and treasure chests which allow you to customize your character. You’ll discover a smattering of swords, armor, and jewelry during your brief adventure (this game is really easy) which you can equip for various bonuses. Equipping an item is as simple as tapping the new item, and looking at which stats go up and which will go down. I didn’t find any items that had special abilities or magical properties during my time with this game, aside from these straight-up stat bonuses.

Your character, once you’ve killed enough enemies, will be able to launch a special-attack whose effects depend on which sword you’re carrying. Some bosses, when killed, will become part of your soul, allowing you to temporarily transform into them during battle for a large (but short) power-bonus.

Controls: Mana Chronicles feels like a game run through an emulator. There’s an on-screen d-pad on the left, which you’ll use to move around, and a small control on the left that contains a large attack-button, as well as buttons to trigger your special abilities. While the controls themselves were responsive, I often found myself running just a bit too far, or facing the wrong direction while swinging, or getting stuck in a multi-attack when I really need to move. In order to hit enemies, you need to be almost exactly on the same horizontal plane – a difficult task to achieve, at times.

Graphics: I’m not sure what happened here, and after all the build-up to the game’s release, I was sorely disappointed. For one, the game doesn’t scale to my Evo’s screen, leaving black borders on the sides. But even worse are the graphics themselves, which look to be on-par to a Nintendo console. The game play graphics are okay at best, but the Inventory panel is simply awful – text is horribly rendered and hard to read against the background, and the Health/Experience area is cluttered with over-sized stats.

Sound: Mana Chronicles sports tinny, low-quality synthesized sound effects – again, very Nintendo-like in its presentation. The background music is decent, and goes well with the Japanese RPG theme.

Options: You’re given a toggle for background music on the intro screen, and can view a one-page tutorial that introduces you to the general screen components. Every stage you complete will be assigned a letter-rating, encouraging you to re-visit them and try for a better score.

Verdict:
Mana Chronicles is a fun little action/RPG, but I found it to be entirely too easy. You can essentially stand in-place, and wait for enemies to run into your sword. When it comes to the bigger baddies, hit them a couple times, move out of the way when they strike, and repeat. With the screen-scaling issue and poor graphical quality leaving a particularly sour taste in my mouth, I find it hard to stomach the $2 asked-for by the developers. There really isn’t enough to keep you busy for long, and the lack of depth and variety make it a rather “meh” title. Still, there aren’t many games in this genre yet for Android, so kudos for trying.

Rating: ★★★

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