The Mana series is back, but not much has changed.
The Children of Mana demo in Square-Enix’s booth at E3 takes you through a dungeon which seems to be right at the beginning of the game. You are able to select one of three different characters, but the only apparent difference is the summon creature that comes with them.
The dungeon has you climbing a tower to rescue someone the character apparently knows. However, for some reason I didn’t catch, there’s something in the tower causing space to be distorted or something. Because of this, the staircases disappear, but it doesn’t really matter because some Mana light or something is there, and if you find a Mana seed in a pot you can use it to travel up to the next floor.
Battle is very similar to previous Mana titles, and the enemies shown look exactly the same as their counterparts in Sword of Mana. The graphics don’t seem to have improved much over the GBA in any sense. You can set weapons to the A and X buttons, heal with Y, and summon your magical buddy monster with the B button. Weapons have secondary functions if you charge them. The sword can reflect projectiles. The bow puts enemies to sleep. The flail’s standard usage to pull you across gaps is now a secondary function, and the hammer pounds the ground instead of swinging sideways. One odd difference about the battles is that attacking enemies knocks them backwards, and if they hit another enemy or an item, they will do damage to it. And if you hit an enemy with a hammer swing, you’ll send them flying across the level like a hockey puck with every other enemy they hit ricocheting off the walls and each other.
The boss battle in the demo is painful. So painful I didn’t bother to finish. You battle against a large phoenix on the top of the tower. It flies back and forth across the level, but doesn’t take any damage at first. Then suddenly a cut-scene shows a sword falling out of the sky. It promptly disappears, but its power makes it possible to damage the boss. It isn’t much easier to hit it though, mostly because the stage is so huge that you have to look at the map to see where the enemy is coming from and when you do find it, it’s often too far away to get to in time to hit it.