Sword of Mana is Square Enix's second title for the GBA and, like Final Fantasy Tactics before it, it's a remake of one of their earlier classics. The original version, on the old black and white Game Boy, was sold as The Final Fantasy Adventure in the West--although it was actually the first game in the Japanese Seiken Densetsu series (which also includes the highly regarded Secret of Mana) and is nothing to do with the Final Fantasy franchise at all. In fact the game plays a lot more like The Legend of Zelda, because there's no turn-based combat--just real-time action. With such an illustrious pedigree you'd expect a lot from Sword of Mana and at first you won't be disappointed: the graphics are gorgeous and the sword- and magic-based combat is immediately engaging. However it soon becomes clear that the game lacks the variety of Zelda and instead replaces it with Square Enix's usual finicky role-playing elements. More problematic is the complete stupidity of the various computer-controlled characters that are supposed to help you out throughout the game, but instead just get in your way. Neither element is enough to ruin the game, which is still a superior action RPG--but they do make it fall a little short of the portable classic it could've been. --David Jenkins
- Choose a character and race to save the Mana Tree. The direction of the story changes and varies according to the character you choose.
- Master Ring Commands from Secret of Mana by swapping out magic and weapons quickly to find the best way to fight your enemies. The Ring Command system gives you the control you need to defeat your foes.
- Watch for other characters from the Mana series, including Niccolo the merchant and Li'l Cactus, whose diary entries provided Legend of Mana with both humor and warmth.
- Fight as a team with the link mode for two-player cooperative game play. Team up with a friend and raise your swords together against a common foe.