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Dawn of Mana review

If this is the dawn, I'd hate to see the sunset


  • Beautiful character designs
  • Top-notch soundtrack
  • Cute and cuddly moments


  • Repetitive as hell
  • Maddening camera
  • Wounded lock-on targeting

Dawn of Mana trades RPG tradition for action, eschewing classic elements in favor of tired double-jump platforming mechanics. Its initial moments are filled with hope, as the colorful characters of Keldy and Ritzia are introduced. The basics of play are explained: knock inanimate objects like barrels, lumber, and boulders into enemies, and those monsters will panic for a few moments while you whack them with impunity. Since only panicked baddies drop upgrade items, and fully-aware opponents can knock you ridiculous distances, your only choice is a constant cycle of stun-and-kill.

As interesting as this indirect twist on hacking and slashing might sound at first, it grows old almost immediately, thanks in part to a camera that blocks the view whenever possible, and takes forever to orbit your character, leaving Keldy forever vulnerable to assault from off-screen. Worse, the physics are unpredictable, monsters sometimes won't panic at all, and target-lock obstinately refuses to latch onto nearby enemies in favor of those hopelessly out of reach. Granting the player a vine with which to whip objects around is pointless when controlling basic brawling is next to impossible.

More info

GenreRole Playing
DescriptionPoorly conceived and badly executed, Dawn of Mana's bright cotton candy visuals and stirring soundtrack together serve only as sugary sweet counterpoint to the dismally sour experience of actually playing.
US censor rating"Teen"
UK censor rating""
Release date1 January 1970 (US), 1 January 1970 (UK)