Children of Mana

Thursday 20 April 2006
For a game most often name-checked for its menu system, Secret of Mana always had a wealth of other pleasures to offer, from its lush environments to its absorbing combat and its engaging story.

And, at first sight, Children of Mana looks set to top it, with sumptuous locations and rambunctious, punchy action. But there's a caveat: this isn't an adventure.

There's no story, no towns to explore, no elemental powers to unlock. A pure dungeon crawl, Children of Mana limits its horizons to the multiplayer coop mode which so many SNES owners remember with such affection: requiring multi-cart link-up, up to four players can fight simultaneously, deepening the tactics and expanding the spectacle of the single-player game.

The basic play pattern barely changes throughout the game: set off from a hub village, where you can shop, volunteer for quests and choose one of the eight elemental spirits from Secret of Mana to accompany you on your quest.

Flammie makes a return to transport you to the world map, but she'll only take you direct to dungeons. Then it's a case of hacking and slashing through a few levels to get to a boss.