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Old 08-31-2009, 04:45 PM
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Default Mana Khemia 2 Impressions

I'll change this into a full review when I finish the game, but I'm probably about 75% through the Raze's (the male lead) path and that's plenty to give some initial impressions.

Overview:

Mana Khemia 2 sticks firmly to the style of the original. Alchemy, combat, the school system with grades and jobs, almost everything from the original is back with only minor changes. If you're familiar with Mana Khemia 1, you can probably skip right over the pros and cons section to where I've summarized what's changed at the bottom.


Cons:

Graphics - There's no getting around this. I didn't notice any improvements from the first game. It's a PS2 game and hardly an impressive example of it. It has sprite graphics, I haven't seen a single cut scene yet in the game. Monsters still roam around the map represented by the same blob regardless of what type they are.

It's not a big deal to me, but for those who really care about graphics, this game will probably be painful for you to play.


Slow Plot - At least for Raze's story, the game spends a lot of time without much of anything really happening other than just making it through school. There are a few odd happenings that hint at other things going on. However, for the most part your main concern will be surviving classes and getting good grades.

I do mean surviving classes quite literally. For those who have played the first game, Flay (Gun in the Japanese version) has revised his role and is not the Vice Principle of the Academy as well as the teacher of Raze's class. He certainly keeps things interesting.


Pros:

Dialog - This game reaffirms my opinion that Gust is second only Nippon Ichi in terms of great dialog that keeps you laughing when they want to be. The Ar Tonelico games take a bit more serious tone than the Mana Khemia ones, but they certainly don't skimp on the humor here.

I believe they do an excellent job at it too. It keeps the text from getting dull despite not much real plot occurring for quite some time.


Combat - I'm grateful that a series that had an excellent combat system didn't decide to scrap it to make some mediocre replacement in the hope that a more real time battle system might bring them a few more sales. It's a turn based system where how frequently you move depends on the speed of the character/enemy.

Allies and opponents can also be delayed when attacked and even become stunned if hit many times repeatedly. In addition, there's a great system in which you have 3 vanguard characters and three vanguard characters fighting, and three in the back sitting around slowing regaining SP.

You can have characters in the back swap places with the vanguard to take a blow for them, to combo and attack chain, or just because you feel like it. You pretty much need to as well as your SP doesn't last long, your most powerful abilities often taking more than half your SP.

There are other more complicated factors such as Unite Mode, co-op attacks, and Finishing moves but I won't explain everything. Just know that it works very well and is a highly enjoyable combat system.


Alchemy - If you're anything like me, you'll become completely addicted to alchemy. Becoming obsessed with filling out every recipe you can. As not only are you making yourself new items and equipment to use, every new item you make unlocks a card on one of your character's Grow Book. This will let you purchase new abilities, and increase your stats.

This is where a large part of your character growth comes from. You do gain HP and SP just from killing enemies but all abilities and stats come from your Grow book and your equipment.

I find myself excited every time a new chapter starts and I can run to the stores and buy the new recipes that are available. Or when I can access a new area and see what new ingredients I can find so I can make some of the items I couldn't previously.



What's Changed:

The Bad:


Grow Book - The Grow Book no longer is a sphere grid type system. Rather than unlocking new paths, you just have a card open up that you can always access. Just doesn't seem as much fun to me.

It's kept a little more interesting in that they have three slots to purchase from on each card, but the third is only available if you've made a 100 quality version of the item.


Rumor Shop - Seems to be gone completely. There's now a class system that each character can have separately that functions in much the same manor. This would seem to be a good thing as now you can have one for each Ally rather than a single one overall. However, you simply open up a new one every 20% grow book completion rather than from a variety of odd tasks.



The Good:

Hard Mode - Let's face it, Mana Khemia was just too easy if you were putting much effort into keeping up with your alchemy. Hard mode gives you a decent challenge even if you do. I've managed to die to a couple of the bosses and had numerous other close calls.

You may want to go easy on the X-Heal potions though. They're a bit OP for how easy they are to make them.


Characters - At least on Raze's side, there are no main characters I found to be annoying or dull. The first game suffered from a couple of them. I enjoy all them in this one. I especially like having a main character who's not such a wet noodle.


Bazaar - Let's face it, it's annoying when they keep using the same ingot or piece of cloth over and over again until you run out. And that item is made with some rare ingredient that's only found in one location. So you need to trek off and gather it if you want to make the item.

So for this game, they added the option to open a Bazaar during Free Time and sell some of the stuff you made. After the little bargaining mini game you see your sales and profit for the day. Anything you convinced people to buy will get noticed by the stores which will start to sell that item.

If you're good about selling the key stuff, you can get by pretty much just on the items you gather via the normal game progression without special trips.


Conclusion:

I'm enjoying the game greatly. Had company over Friday/Saturday but played it Saturday evening and straight through all of Sunday, evening staying up later than I should with work the next morning. Few of the games I play keep me engrossed to such a degree I basically play without breaks.

The combination of amusing dialog and addicting game play succeeds even where the plot doesn't draw you in.

It's so much like the first game that if you ever played it, you'll probably feel much the same about this one. I think it's on track to be a little better than the first via minor improvements and more interesting characters.

If you haven't played it I would recommend it to any JRPG fan who can stand bad graphics and listens to the Japanese Language track. I haven't tested it myself but I've heard the English voice acting is particularly bad.
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Old 08-31-2009, 05:15 PM
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I have 1, should i play that first so this one makes more sense? Or are they not too connected?
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Old 08-31-2009, 05:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kickingtotalass View Post
I have 1, should i play that first so this one makes more sense? Or are they not too connected?
Yeah, I have the first one, but not sure if I want to get this one yet. Hell, I still haven't played the first one...I suck.
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Old 08-31-2009, 05:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kickingtotalass View Post
I have 1, should i play that first so this one makes more sense? Or are they not too connected?
From what I've seen you'd have no problem playing 2 without having played 1. I haven't seen any major spoilers yet either, but as I haven't finished it I can't promise they aren't there.

However, it still seems it would make sense to play 1 first. You already have it, and if you don't like it you're probably not going to like two. Might as well try it before you buy a second game you might never play.
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Old 08-31-2009, 06:09 PM
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I think i'm 6 hours in now. It's been fun so far but not ground breaking.
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Old 08-31-2009, 08:28 PM
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This Magna Carta 2?
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Old 09-01-2009, 03:13 PM
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Originally Posted by BladeofTheImmortal View Post
This Magna Carta 2?
Sorry, Mana Khemia and Magna Carta are different series.


I have a warning to anyone else who plays this. There's a class early that serves as a tutorial to unite mode that I wasted about an hour on trying to figure out how to get an A on.

Finally I searched the web and found a number of other people having the same problem. General consensus is, it's not possible to get an A your first time through the game. Just deal with the B.
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Old 09-01-2009, 09:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BStroms View Post
Sorry, Mana Khemia and Magna Carta are different series.


I have a warning to anyone else who plays this. There's a class early that serves as a tutorial to unite mode that I wasted about an hour on trying to figure out how to get an A on.

Finally I searched the web and found a number of other people having the same problem. General consensus is, it's not possible to get an A your first time through the game. Just deal with the B.

lol I didn't try a second time but I was pissed when it gave me a B for it. It seemed like the game was set up so that you would need to have to go through all 3 classes though.
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Old 09-03-2009, 05:49 PM
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Looks like i'm done with Mana Khemia 2. After about 15 hours of Raz's storyline my save data got corrupted on the PS3.
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Old 09-03-2009, 06:14 PM
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Originally Posted by weasl View Post
Looks like i'm done with Mana Khemia 2. After about 15 hours of Raz's storyline my save data got corrupted on the PS3.
damn that really sucks, I might set up 2 cards now and copy current stuff constantly... whole card or just that data?

I just started 1 and so far i'm really liking it. It's my kind of JRPG, tacky, sarcastic, & funny.
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