Exploring Influences: Legend of Mana

This week’s entry is about another video game, one I first played twelve years ago. For a game as old as it is, Legend of Mana has aged gracefully, unlike many games from that time period. One reason for it is that the visuals in the game are created from watercolor paintings, giving it a unique look and feel and creating some dazzling scenery while it’s at it.

Everything about the game is an interesting way to put things together. When the game begins, you create the world by selecting a portion of a large map to use as the gameplay area, then it lets you start building.

By building, I mean exactly that – Once you choose a location for your character’s home, you’re given a set of building blocks to place on the map. The building blocks are just one of many items used to create your play world. You can put an artifact anywhere you please, as long as it sits adjacent to an artifact that has already been placed. Everyone receives the same building blocks, giving them the same locations and stories as everyone else who plays the game, but everyone’s worlds end up entirely different depending on the order they do things in.

While the game does have one large overall storyline, it also hosts well over one hundred mini-stories. Many of the mini-stories tie into the main storyline, but are not necessary to complete it, and most can be completed independently of each other. The way you handle the choices presented in each mini-story can affect which mini-stories come next, or whether you get to see others at all.
In that respect, the game and its stories are just a little bit different for each game started – Including if someone plays through it a second time.

A story doesn’t have to be complicated to be interesting, nor does it have to be long. Many of Legend of Mana’s mini-stories are just as riveting as the overall storyline of the game, introducing you to characters that are lovable and easy to relate to in only a handful of minutes. This, of course, is excellent storytelling, and teaches how important it is to keep from letting too many details bog our stories down. There’s no wasted characters, no wasted world space, and no wasted words.
Sometimes short can be very sweet.

Last week: The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
Next week: Lunar: Silver Star Story

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