Children of Mana

Children of Mana is almost out, and we’ve got some fresh, pre-release details for you.

Yesterday Advanced Media Network and other gaming news outlets got a chance to participate in a telephone conference with Mr. Kouichi Ishii, Senior Vice President for Square-Enix. He has worked on such landmark titles as Final Fantasy I, II, and III, as well as XI, but this conference was about his latest production; Children of Mana for the Nintendo DS.

Mr. Ishii took questions from the press and gave great insight into the development of Children of Mana. He stated that Children of Mana contained a multiplayer design that they had wanted to implement with previous Mana games, but they were unable to accomplish until now. Mr. Ishii also felt that the Nintendo DS was an ideal platform because of its local wireless multiplayer capabilities.

Speaking of multiplayer, Mr. Kouichi Ishii wasn’t giving us any details on why the game didn’t feature the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. But Children of Mana has been out in Japan for awhile, and was more than likely one of the first games Square-Enix developed for the Nintendo DS.

Not one to leave out details, Mr. Ishii also was very proud of the single player aspect of Children of Mana. He was particularly happy with the ability to fully customize your character by using gems found in the game world. Children of Mana as he explains also features branching storylines between characters to add a entirely new dynamic not found in any previous game in the series.

Children of Mana does take a drastic turn in its basic design. Instead of a key and lock gameplay implication, like the previous Mana efforts, Children of Mana’s focus is almost solely on leveling up, and fighting monsters. This dungeon crawler like approach is apparent in the single and multiplayer modes, with the only difference being the random multiplayer dungeon design.

There was inevitably a question of about how Children of Mana fits into the franchise’s timeline. Mr. Kouichi Ishii was very quick to say that he felt that the Mana games, despite having similarities should be treated as individual efforts entirely.

When discussing inspiration for game design, he stated he draws heavily from his childhood, abstract images, and even the feeling of creation itself. Anyone familiar with any games that Mr. Kouichi Ishii has been credited with shouldn’t be too surprised with this revelation, since these themes are so prevalent in all of his games.

Mr. Kouichi Ishii did talk a little about a new upcoming title, Heroes of Mana. Stating that he is a big fan of real time strategy games, and he wanted to develop one for the Nintendo DS set in the Mana universe. Mr. Ishii says he believed that the Nintendo DS hardware is perfectly suited for a design like this thanks to the touch screen.

We at AMN enjoyed the time we had talking with Mr. Kouichi Ishii, and he has us all worked up for the release of Children of Mana due out at the end of this Month. Stay tuned to AMN DS for more updates.

— Stephen Smith