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The prequel to Secret of Mana, which debuted on Super NES in 1993, Sword of Mana is an action role-playing game featuring two characters — one male, one female — whose seemingly separate paths intertwine to fulfill a common goal. The great and powerful Mana Tree is on the verge of collapsing at the hands of an evil empire. The male hero, a man unjustly captured and enslaved as a gladiator, seizes an opportunity for freedom and begins a quest to find those responsible for his years of captivity. The heroine is a direct descendant of a tribe who has sworn to protect the Mana Tree at all costs. Sword of Mana features an identical overhead perspective and interface as found in Secret of Mana, including the Ring Command controls used to switch between magic and weapons while in combat.
Instead of being taken to a separate menu screen while the game is paused, players can view all of the available commands in a circle floating around the lead character. To switch among items or forms of attack, players can simply press left or right to revolve the ring of commands. As in Secret of Mana, combat against enemies takes place in real time, with the option for two players to team up to fight enemies using a Game Link Cable. Familiar characters making cameos are Niccolo the merchant and Li'l Cactus, whose diary helps flesh out the story. Known as Seiken Densetsu in Japan, Sword of Mana was previously released in the United States as Final Fantasy Adventure on the original Game Boy in 1991. The visuals and a number of other features have been enhanced to take advantage of the Game Boy Advance's increased power. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide