Parents' Guide to

Echoes of Mana

By Erin Brereton, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Fairly engaging battles can't salvage the drawn-out story.

Opening screen.

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While the graphics are excellent, other aspects of the app aren't notably original or exciting. Echoes of Mana is the latest installment in the Mana game series, which was introduced more than two decades ago. The storyline involves trying to find a special sword to save the Mana Tree, which supposedly can restore life. After rescuing someone from a jail cell your character suddenly appears in -- without any explanation of how or why they arrived -- kids set off on a series of quests without knowing how a weapon could save a tree, or what to do with it when they find it, one of several unclear plot points. In addition to leaving out some key details, the storyline unfolds at a fairly slow pace. Before they can click through to the next screen, kids have to wait while another character pauses and responds to a comment with "..." A number of conversations feel pointless because they don't reveal more about the characters or plot.

The battles, unfortunately, don't happen as frequently and may not last as long as kids would like. They'll have a decent amount of control in them, though, if they don't opt to automate those scenes. They can select their character's battle moves as they play, and if they think of it ahead of time, can customize their allies' strategy settings to target the closest enemy or the same one kids are attacking. The battle action isn't always completely smooth -- with multiple characters fighting at once in the same area, it can be hard to tell exactly what's going on. Conversely, characters sometimes move off screen as they're fighting, making the action hard to follow. Still, even with some viewing issues, the battles provide a nice break from the meandering story. Hardcore fans might get a kick out of seeing the classic Mana characters. Kids who are unfamiliar with the series, though, may be left with some questions about the plot -- and as a result, might have a hard time getting engrossed in Echoes of Mana's missions and fantasy world.

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