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Mana (series)

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Mana
聖剣伝説
Mana logo.png
Basic Information
Developer(s) Squaresoft/Square Enix
Publisher(s) Squaresoft/Square Enix
Platform(s) Gamenoy, Super Nintendo, Playsatation, Gameboy Advance, Nintendo DS, Playstation 2, Android/iOS, Playstation Vita, Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch
Release
First Game Final Fantasy Adventure
June 28, 1991
Gameboy
Latest Game Collection of Mana
June 11, 2019
Switch
Best Selling Game Secret of Mana
August 6, 1993
SNES
More Information
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The Mana series (聖剣伝説, Holy Sword Legend) is a collection of action-RPGs developed and published by Square Enix. The English name for the series is derived from the concept of mana as a natural energy source and the holy mana tree featured in each game.

Series Overview

The Mana series is Square-Enix's premier action-RPG, with each game utilizing real-time combat and eschewing the common separation between between battle screen and the exploration screens. This focus on action was born out of series creator Koichi Ishii's dissatisfaction with the turn-based command menus seen in Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy series at the time, citing that he did not feel a genuine connection between selecting a command from a menu and then seeing it play out on the television screen.

This aversion to old-fashioned command menus is further emphasized via the Ring System--when the player needs to use and item in battle or select a spell, a rotating circle of icons appears and allows the player to sift through options more quickly than through the standard box design. As hardware strength progressed, this system would be taken a degree further by keeping the action flowing while the ring is active and allowing players to select options even while fighting.

Conceptually the series is about the balance between civilization and nature, contextualized in-game as the conflict between those who seek to exploit the mana energy and those who preserve it. The natural splendor and resources of the planet are represented by the essence of mana, the ethereal life energy that sustains the world. This concept is physically manifested as the colossal mana tree seen in each title, but mana also exists in every living creature and is the quintessence that acts as the foundation of magic.

The connection between magic and mana is embodied in the eight spirits--sentient representations of the four Paracelsian elements as well as darkness, light, Lunar light, and plant life. No playable character is able to utilize magic until they personally meet with one of these spirits and form a pact. Due to their nature, these spirits have become the few recurring characters of the series.


History

Koichi Ishii is the creator and producer of the Mana series, beginning with the original title of Final Fantasy Adventure on June 28th, 1991. Originally pitched as a companion or "gaiden" title to the Final Fantasy series, this connection was dropped as soon was work began on the sequel, as Squaresoft's staff believed that the first game featured enough original content and design focus to deserve an independent setting.

The sequel, Secret of Mana, proved to be a great financial success for Squaresoft and firmly established the Mana series as a third pillar for the company alongside Final Fantasy and SaGa. The series would receive another Super Nintendo installment in Trials of Mana before migrating to Sony's Playstation, along with the rest of Squaresoft's developmental focus, in the late 90's. Mana would return to Nintendo hardware (and portability) on March 2, 2006 with Children of Mana for the Nintendo DS. The series would enter the third dimension later that same year on December 21st, with Dawn of Mana on the Playstation 2. Unfortunately, the title was not well received by fans and the series would lose it's position in Squaresoft's, now Square Enix, hierarchy of franchises. The rising popularity of fellow action-RPG Kingdom Hearts also played a factor in Mana's dormancy, as the Disney collaboration would prove to be more financially viable for the company during the time.

This series would receive one more handheld adventure in the form of Heroes of Mana for the DS in 2007, but a hibernation of six years until the release of Circle of Mana on March 5, 2013, for iOS and Android devices. Released only in Japan, the digital card game proved popular enough to generate interest in the series and lead to the development and release of Rise of Mana 366 days later on March 6, 2014, for mobile devices and the Playstation Vita. Rise of Mana is a free-to-play title that returned to the franchise's action-RPG roots, and was a financial success--boasting over two million players by 2015.

The revival of the series on mobile platforms would lead to development of high definition remakes of the original three games, beginning with Adventures of Mana on February 4th, 2016, Secret of Mana HD on Febuary 18th, 2018, and the upcoming Trials of Mana HD scheduled for April 24th, 2020. Concurrently, the first three titles in the series are available via the Collection of Mana for the Nintendo Switch. The package deal was an early title for the console in Japan and launched on Jun 1, 20017, before being released digitally for the international market on June 11, 2019. A physical distribution for the collection was released on August 27 of the same year.

Mana logo.png
Main titles
Side stories
Remakes