Lord of Magna: Maiden Heaven
Lord of Magna: Maiden Heaven will have you scratching your head in bewilderment on numerous occasions during this short – for Japanese Role Playing Game standards – but dynamic title. To be fair, it is a wonder this game ever made it to retail, since one of the studios involved with this title, and Rune Factory, shut down suddenly. Fortunately, Marvelous picked up the pieces and presented us with this ‘different’ and exciting JRPG.
The story, like most JRPG’s, is not necessarily going to blow you away, although it often gives you that ‘What might happen next’ feeling at times. In fact, this might be one of the more odd stories (overall) I’ve ever played through. Sure, you will have numerous moments of, “Great, another JRPG story” but there are always redeeming qualities around the corner waiting for you.
You are an inn keeper in a magical world, hoping to be successful as you had promised your father you would be. One day, your character heads down to the mines to collect crystals, the currency in the world. While in the mine, you are attacked by monsters and only escape because of the power of a mysterious girl named Charlotte.
Turns out, Charlotte has many, many sisters that you encounter along the way. The story unfolds in an unconventional way, which makes playing through the first time somewhat intriguing. I often kept playing just to see what would happen next, even when I was getting tired of the game play as a whole. The game is created with seven different possible endings, and the short length of this game seems to indicate that the developers hope players will play multiple times to see different endings. I had my fill after one play through, but that isn’t to say I won’t revisit this game in a few months time and do it all again.
What makes this different from other JRPGs is the combat. While traditional turn based combat is the norm, there is a ‘bowling’ mechanic that gives your attack positions a bit more meaning. When you hit an enemy with an attack, it will fall backwards into other enemies, like you are bowling. The more enemies you knock over, the more damage you will do. It takes the traditional turn based system and makes it appealing in EVERY battle situation. Strategically planning on where you will attack from is of the utmost importance.
Visually, Magna is outstanding, whether you are playing with the 3D turned on or off. The backgrounds are vibrant and the character animation are very good. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the audio. The music is passable – typical of many JRPGs – but the character conversations are minimized. When the characters do talk – generally at the beginning of cut scenes or during battle – the quality of the audio and the work of the voice actors is very good. It just isn’t enough.
The other disappointing aspect to this game is the world. While at times you are teased with exploring a vast open world, eventually players will realize that moving around the world and interacting with it primarily occurs via cut scenes, and not actual gameplay. This is a minor annoyance, to be fair, but something I would have like to see altered.
Overall, if you enjoy JRPGs and are looking for something new to play on your 3DS, this is a fantastic title. There is a lot to love here, and the interesting and unique combat mechanics will keep each and every fight interesting and different. The short nature of this title means there is plenty of opportunity to play again and again, trying to finish with all the different endings.