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Author Topic: In Defense of Sword of Mana  (Read 1826 times)

PowerPanda

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In Defense of Sword of Mana
« on: July 02, 2019, 11:17:54 pm »
When the Collection of Mana came out, I didn't immediately jump to play Trials of Mana, since I had played it before. Instead, I was interested in the game I hadn't played yet, Final Fantasy Adventure. In reading about it though, I found that it had been remade a few times. The one that interested me was the GBA Sword of Mana. So I played through the Wendel Sanctuary on both FFA and SoM. Both games have their charm. FFA plays a lot more like a traditional 2D Zelda game, and has a snappiness to it that is refreshing. I can definitely see why it has its fans. However, I chose to finish the story on Sword of Mana.

I've been surprised lurking online that Sword of Mana is not well-liked. The game definitely has its warts, but what it has over FFA is something that hackers can't fix. It managed to re-imagine a "Final Fantasy" spinoff as a "Mana" game. Jumping between this and Trials of Mana, I FELT like I was playing games in the same series. I did not feel that jumping between ToM and FFA. That alone made it worth playing for me.

The game is far from perfect though. It is in great need of 3 hacks:
1. Color correction, now that we have backlit screens.
2. Gameplay rebalancing. (I personally would just do away with MP entirely.)
3. A 3rd Party Member hack that allows the Boy and the Girl to travel together for the majority of the game. This was the big one, as the game just keeps creating awkward situations for why you can't travel together.

I won't be the one to create these hacks, but I wanted to highlight what I think is an overlooked gem. It gets flak for being an unfaithful remake, but I personally think it did a great job of retrofitting an old game back into the franchise it spawned.

Gideon Zhi

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Re: In Defense of Sword of Mana
« Reply #1 on: July 03, 2019, 12:55:27 pm »
It's been a very long while since I played it but I recall Sword of Mana tiring me out with grinding, item farming, and (maybe?) crafting stuff. I think I stopped roundabouts at the Vampire's castle, or possibly the desert. Again, been a very long time.

For what it's worth, there's *another* remake of FFA called Adventures of Mana for mobile + PSVita, which is much more true to the original, almost to a fault. They've altered the combat a little bit, but on the whole it's basically just a much more colorful version of FFA.

vivify93

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Re: In Defense of Sword of Mana
« Reply #2 on: July 03, 2019, 05:44:07 pm »
One of the reasons I really don't like Adventures of Mana is, aside from it being a lame Zelda 1 knock-off, the lack of ally AI. They're complete idiots, and just wander around slashing at air and hurling fireballs into nothing. Adventures of Mana Remake could've fixed this, but no. You just get idiot AI in 3D. Sword of Mana's AI isn't much better (Allies get caught on stuff too easily), but it's not complete trash unlike AoM.

I also agree with you about Sword of Mana feeling more like an actual Mana game, complete with Elementals and different weapons. I think the main thing that hindered it was it being a GBA title as opposed to something on console, but that wouldn't have worked back in 2002 for the vision they had.

What I'd like to do for Sword is make a hack that updates its terms to Secret/Trials of Mana's established terms, (e.g. Lumina instead of Wisp, Candy as opposed to Gumdrop, Dyluck instead of Durac, Pamaela rather than Pamela, etc.) and fix its godawful English font kerning. This is the first use of the GBA Final Fantasy font ever, and boy does it show...

In-game:


Mock-up:
« Last Edit: July 04, 2019, 01:11:22 am by vivify93 »
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PowerPanda

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Re: In Defense of Sword of Mana
« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2019, 07:55:50 pm »
I also agree with you about Sword of Mana feeling more like an actual Mana game, complete with Elementals and different weapons. I think the main thing that hindered it was it being a GBA title as opposed to something on console, but that wouldn't have worked back in 2002 for the vision they had.

What I'd like to do for Sword is make a hack that updates its terms to Secret/Trials of Mana's established terms, (e.g. Lumina instead of Wisp, Candy as opposed to Gumdrop, Dyluck instead of Durac, Pamaela rather than Pamela, etc.) and fix its godawful English font kerning. This is the first use of the GBA Final Fantasy font ever, and boy does it show...

Back in the 2000s, GBA was a return to 2D games, and there was a handheld rebirth of the 16-bit style of games. I totally get what they were doing with Sword of Mana, I just think that Brownie Brown kind of dropped the ball on it. Still, everything that is wrong with the game could be fixed, if people wanted.

The font shouldn't be too hard. I took a peek at the game in YY-CHR, and though I didn't find the text on my quick scroll-through, it appears that most of the graphics are uncompressed.

tvtoon

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Re: In Defense of Sword of Mana
« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2019, 09:34:05 pm »
Sword of Mana is the second best game from the series, however it struggles with the bloat inside: the history is over developed, most stuff is not needed for normal playtrough, the memory is glued with some esoteric bitmap crap instead of normal stuff... They wanted to do too much but landed few working things, probably a multiplayer game among those.

I play it once in a while just to reach the BLACKed monster list plus LV1 challenge. It is a lifetime achievement, I could tell you... :D

Sliver X

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Re: In Defense of Sword of Mana
« Reply #5 on: July 03, 2019, 11:24:34 pm »
I was a really big fan of Seiken Densetsu 1-3 but I finally just quit playing Sword of Mana (Back in the mid-2000s) around the Dime Tower: It just felt so tedious.

(I absolutely loved Adventures of Mana, though I did some arcane magic to play it with a Dualshock 3 on my Motorola E4: Not sure if I'd have felt the same way if I used touch controls.)

lexluthermiester

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Re: In Defense of Sword of Mana
« Reply #6 on: July 04, 2019, 12:21:07 am »
I've never understood the dislike generally shown toward Sword Of Mana. It's a great remake!

vivify93

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Re: In Defense of Sword of Mana
« Reply #7 on: July 04, 2019, 12:51:24 am »
The font shouldn't be too hard. I took a peek at the game in YY-CHR, and though I didn't find the text on my quick scroll-through, it appears that most of the graphics are uncompressed.
The kerning is my main issue though. Not sure how I'd go about changing that in YY-CHR...
All my life I've tried to fight what history has given me.

Bregalad

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Re: In Defense of Sword of Mana
« Reply #8 on: July 08, 2019, 03:21:34 pm »
I've never understood the dislike generally shown toward Sword Of Mana. It's a great remake!
Same here I enjoyed Sword of Mana and played through twice entierely. Although if I remember well there was issues, especially with magic being hard to use and missing it's intended target most of the time, but other than that, great game.

Basically it's Legend of Mana's artwork with Final Fantasy Adventure's story, and with it's new specific gameplay. Other than the story and some of the music, this game shares nothign with Final Fantasy Adventure so it's a bit extensive to call it a remake. If this is a remake of FFA, then Super Castlevania IV is a remake of Castlevania.

So yeah, great game, I don't see the point of bashing it. I prefer it over Legend of Mana (unlinearity often fails to work well in RPGs... especially if it can get you get struck) And also even over the original FFA, which is a bit annoying with its very, very deep dungeons and the need to pickle all walls to find hidden passages.

PresidentLeever

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Re: In Defense of Sword of Mana
« Reply #9 on: July 09, 2019, 03:14:18 pm »
Might try it as a liked FFA more than SD2-3.
Mini-reviews, retro sound chip tribute, romhacks and general listage at my site: Mini-Revver.

lexluthermiester

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Re: In Defense of Sword of Mana
« Reply #10 on: July 14, 2019, 01:34:52 am »
Although if I remember well there was issues, especially with magic being hard to use and missing it's intended target most of the time
I don't remember that. Hmm.. Might have to play through it again to remind myself.

Basically it's Legend of Mana's artwork with Final Fantasy Adventure's story
Same group of artists did both games.

I prefer it over Legend of Mana (unlinearity often fails to work well in RPGs... especially if it can get you get struck)
I enjoyed LOM too! It was definitely different, but it had it's own charm. I never got stuck though..

llakssz

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Re: In Defense of Sword of Mana
« Reply #11 on: October 13, 2019, 12:30:09 pm »
I was also very surprised to see that SoM wasn't so highly praised - I love it!
The music, the graphics, gameplay... I don't have any issues with it at all really.

I have started hacking the game, and have 2 very different things I hope to release soon.
They have been basically complete for months, just I need to finish them off a little.

For people who think the game might need some balancing, they should be happy with it :)
I've learnt a lot doing it.

Two things I am curious about:
  • Ripping some sprites out of the game (and palettes) programmatically?
  • and any idea of the music format? From what I could tell, it's not 'sappy', so I'm lost!

If anyone has made any hacks for this game at all please let me know - I searched before but couldn't find anything.
I have documented and reversed a bunch of stuff.
Thanks  :)

lexluthermiester

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Re: In Defense of Sword of Mana
« Reply #12 on: October 16, 2019, 08:37:41 am »
I was also very surprised to see that SoM wasn't so highly praised - I love it!
The music, the graphics, gameplay... I don't have any issues with it at all really.
SOM is well loved! :thumbsup: There are a ton of hacks for it as of late.

I have started hacking the game, and have 2 very different things I hope to release soon.
They have been basically complete for months, just I need to finish them off a little.

For people who think the game might need some balancing, they should be happy with it :)
I've learnt a lot doing it.

Two things I am curious about:
  • Ripping some sprites out of the game (and palettes) programmatically?
  • and any idea of the music format? From what I could tell, it's not 'sappy', so I'm lost!

If anyone has made any hacks for this game at all please let me know - I searched before but couldn't find anything.
I have documented and reversed a bunch of stuff.
Thanks  :)
There's a lot of knowledge out there about SOM. DataCrystal is a great resource as well as many of the people here on RHDN. Kethinov, Queue and Zhade have a wealth of knowledge I'm sure they would be happy to share.

llakssz

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Re: In Defense of Sword of Mana
« Reply #13 on: October 16, 2019, 12:07:25 pm »
SOM is well loved! :thumbsup: There are a ton of hacks for it as of late.
There's a lot of knowledge out there about SOM. DataCrystal is a great resource as well as many of the people here on RHDN. Kethinov, Queue and Zhade have a wealth of knowledge I'm sure they would be happy to share.
I think you are thinking of Secret of Mana (SNES, Seiken Densetsu 2), not Sword of Mana (GBA, remake of Seiken Densetsu 1) - the game we are talking about in this thread! :)

I can't see any public information about hacking this game apart from this.

There is a Polish translation submitted here but that was released 12 years ago and the team isn't active anymore, and also a Chinese translation but I think that was similarly done a long time ago.

I've done a lot of work already, and hopefully by the time I am done we will have a tool where most of the text and data will be editable.
I have no idea about graphics and maps though :)
« Last Edit: October 16, 2019, 12:13:27 pm by llakssz »

Spooniest

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Re: In Defense of Sword of Mana
« Reply #14 on: October 16, 2019, 07:50:24 pm »
I mean...

My only experience with Sword of Mana ended when I couldn't use one of the shoulder buttons on my GBA, as it had been destroyed. There is a part in the game where you have to use the shoulder buttons (one of them) to jump or something...

Also, the thread title just makes me want to get punny and say "You mean you're shielding Sword of Mana from criticism?" :D
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lexluthermiester

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Re: In Defense of Sword of Mana
« Reply #15 on: October 16, 2019, 11:13:56 pm »
I think you are thinking of Secret of Mana (SNES, Seiken Densetsu 2), not Sword of Mana (GBA, remake of Seiken Densetsu 1) - the game we are talking about in this thread! :)
Oh right, my bad. :banghead:  I saw "SoM" and thought "Secret" :laugh:

I mean...

My only experience with Sword of Mana ended when I couldn't use one of the shoulder buttons on my GBA, as it had been destroyed. There is a part in the game where you have to use the shoulder buttons (one of them) to jump or something...

Also, the thread title just makes me want to get punny and say "You mean you're shielding Sword of Mana from criticism?" :D
You really should play through it again. Both the male and female stories are compelling and interesting.  :thumbsup: