This Throwback Thursday piece is dedicated to our guest, @mehvechan, the Senior Artist for Bungie’s Visual ID and Design team. As described on her Wiki page, Mehve “is one of the artists at Bungie who created and designed the Halo Universe. She was responsible for designing the UNSC Pillar of Autumn. Her official title is artist, but she is also the art director, graphic designer, and illustrator all rolled into one.” During her free time, she continues to pour her passion into art through her Facebook page “RoosterMonkey.”
Thank you for your time, Mehve. Let us dive into her Legend of Mana story:
“It’s so tough to choose one game to talk about. I was going to write about Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar or Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny as those were some games I seriously got into as a kid, years before the Super Famicom and Super Nintendo became my go-to pastime when I used to play by myself or with my younger brother. But Legend of Mana has a special place in my heart. It has been a long time since I played it. This game was available on the Playstation or Playstation One.
Legend of Mana was a great successor to Secret of Mana. I recall the game’s graphics being beautiful and otherworldly with a touch of quirkiness. While Secret of Mana could allow three players on screen at the same time, Legend of Mana could only do two. But that quirkiness and new gameplay mechanics more than made up for it like setting down the different lands to create the world of Fa’Diel, capturing and raising pets, and growing plants. These things played an essential role in how my character grew in power and survive the many encounters in her journey. It almost goes without saying that I had too much fun with this game. I spent a lot of time tinkering on weapons and gear in the forge until I could pass the next level without dying a lot. And to play with a second player? I went to a neighboring house, knocked on the door to see if a friend (my brother, or my boyfriend — who I later married) could come out to play.
There were very few (and thankfully non memorable) crashes. But there came a point when I could not remember which combination of plants and seeds I needed to level up my gear, so I found a really thorough online guide and printed it out. I felt like a kid with a Game Genie. That guide allowed us to tinker so well that we breezed through the deadly forest leading up to the Mana Goddess’ lair. And when we went up against the boss, my husband took on her peons so I could build up the power for the first strike. I landed my hit and prepared for the worst. But then the end cut scene came up. We were like…“What??? That’s it??” and sat there incredulous and burst out laughing.
We were playing the game for a while, carefully making our way through the harder levels, and spent a ton of time (way too much time it seemed!) improving our weapons and gear. We played almost every evening and at least most weekends for three to five months. Legend of Mana (among many other games) provided great bonding moments. There were likely Easter eggs, though I do not recall what they were.
Compared to other games, the tinkering was really interesting and unique for its time. Maybe the blacksmithing in Skyrim is the closest equivalent among games I’ve played since then. But the aesthetic is definitely different and intrinsic to the platform.
I haven’t followed up or kept track of where Square was going with the Mana series, unfortunately. I had enjoyed helping my kids play it a couple of years back (currently, Terraria is their thing).
I would have given it a 10 as it was extremely engaging, and I didn’t mind the non-linear storyline. The designers built enough hooks in it for me to have fun, and allow me to be OP with enough work. Or maybe that would be called exploits.
At the time, I never thought I would work in games. I had come from a print background and segued into Bungie from that angle. But games like Legend of Mana helped me grow an appreciation for the art style in games and exposed me to a more enriching experience beyond the button-mashing games of that period that often got me all aggro.”
Thank you again for your time, Mehve and thanks for stopping by! If you want to know more about Mehve, you can follow her on Twitter: @mehvechan If you want to stay updated on more Gamer Compatible reviews, you can follow us on Twitter: @gamercompatible or on Facebook: @gamercompatible.
Game on! And signing out.