Preview: Dawn of Mana (PS2)

Publisher: Square-Enix
Developer: Square-Enix
Genre: Action RPG
Release Date: 3-30-2007

Square-Enix definitely has its stalwart series that their fans depend on for their fix of RPG gaming. However, one series certainly has been on the forefront of the RPG communities mind lately, and they keep questioning why Square-Enix just hasnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t been able to recapture the magic that was born with Secret of Mana. Indeed, the Mana series has had its fair share of games added to its lore, but none have even come close to duplicating the success and fan base that the first one spanned. Well Square-Enix is trying to right the ship and up next is its 2007 Playstation 2 release: Dawn of Mana. Certainly this year has been, in the opinions of some, a big improvement year for Square-Enix, but will they continue the trend in the year 2007 with Dawn of Mana? Well we shall see, but the information we have now certainly does look promising.

Dawn of Mana will be directly linked to the main series, making it the first game in the Mana series since the SNES was in its heyday. Specifically it will be classified as a prequel and will seek out to explain many things about the Mana universe. Graphically this game, from screen shots, looks as amazing as you would expect something from Square-Enix. The game will feature very vivid and colorful backgrounds, with characters that, in terms of their graphics, will look very pleasing to the eye. Certainly one would expect this from Square Enix but with the PS2 in the final moments of its life this will be a very graphically able title to have as one of their final outings for it. However, the crux of the Mana series (and probably what Mana fans want to know about) is the game play, and on that front there is plenty to report.

The game play of Mana will remain unchanged for the most part, featuring a hack and slash style mixed with abilities, magic, and more. You will play as a character named Eldy who will have a fairy who gives you the magic part of the equation. Both characters have their own stats and like previous Mana games both characters will bring something different to the table with their strengths and weaknesses. Early reports show that Square Enix will use the controls to their fullest, and it will require a bit of a learning curve for newer players to the Mana series to learn, but veterans should be able to get in the rhythm fairly quickly. With magic, ranged, and regular attacks there are a myriad of ways to defeat your foes but none seems more fun then the attack that will induce â┚¬Å”panicâ┚¬Â in your enemies. Simply put some special attacks where you strike an enemy with a special attack where you hit some kind of item that will go towards your enemy or cause some other kind of chaos the enemies will panic by generally running around in a huff. When they do this, this will cause them to in some cases drop power-up items that youâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ll need to progress.

One thing that does it noticeable by its absence is a co-op mode. Square-Enix has decided not to include one for various reasons; however, it remains to be seen whether or not a Mana game will feel like one without a co-op mode, especially when you consider the nature of the game play that Dawn of Mana offers. Whether or not this is a major deterrence is yet to be seen. However, what we have seen shows a lot of promise for Dawn of Mana. Slated for a March 30th, 2007 release Dawn of Mana should be one of the better early RPGâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s of 2007.