Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy Review
Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy box art
System: PS2 Review Rating Legend
Dev: Gust 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: NIS America 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Aug. 26, 2009 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Teen 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

By bombarding a single enemy with regular attacks, you can stun them, in which case your next blow will do critical damage. Oppressing enemies in this way or exploiting some elemental weakness will build up a wing meter called the Unite gauge. Once the gauge is full, your party will do increased damage as well as accumulate extra alchemy points (AP - more on that later) at the end of the battle.

Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy screenshot

Taking the combat one step further, however, you'll have support characters in your party who you can call in on the fly to either add additional damage to attacks or block incoming attacks from enemies. Once a support character has been called into battle, the character they swapped out with will begin to replenish their SP (magic energy) as they sit on the sidelines, so to speak. It's an absolutely excellent system that's both rewarding and downright fun.

Tying everything together is the academy itself, where most of your quests originate. You'll have to sign on to take certain classes, and you'll be graded on your success at the end of each assignment. Your dorm is where you can go to synthesize new items and equipment, and in addition to their typical function, items are linked to customizing your character through something called a Grow Book. As you defeat enemies, you'll earn AP, which can then be spent in the Grow Book to increase various stats. Each item and piece of gear is represented by a recipe card, and as you acquire new cards, you'll open new options to grow your characters.

Most of your gear will come from alchemy, so you won't rely too heavily upon vendors. Synthesis plays a huge part of Mana Khemia 2, and the process is enjoyable and addictive. Don't be surprised if you find yourself sidetracked for hours just scrounging around for ingredients needed to complete a particular recipe.

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On the production front, the game is a bit lackluster. The graphics and music get the job done, but it's a presentation that could have easily been pulled off on one of the two current handheld systems. Mana Khemia 2 is mostly made up of 2D assets with a few 3D elements tossed into the backgrounds that give the game a real sense of visual depth. The chibi sprites are cute, but the animations are very conservative. The background art and character stills are reminiscent of Square Enix's Mana series, and the way in which various 2D elements are stacked makes for some very attractive dungeon areas. The school, however, is pretty ho-hum, and the visual effects are fairly unremarkable as well.

Surprisingly, there's a healthy bit of voice work crammed under the game's hood, and many anime favorites (such as Yuri Lowenthal) lend their talents to the character roster. It's typical JRPG delivery - teen angst and all - but it's fun for what it's meant to be. Our only major complaint here is that, during battle, characters will repeat the same one-liners over and over… and over again. The music is generic fare, with hard-rocking, lead-guitar-laden combat sequences and uber-silly jigs during more light-hearted exchanges.

The individual elements of Mana Khemia 2 are nothing special, really, though this is one game that is certainly greater than the sum of its parts. The story doesn't take itself seriously, but the gameplay here packs quite a punch. It's a great marriage of mechanics that should satisfy RPG fans still gaming on the PS2. The presentation and production values are conservative and aged, but you'll likely be having too much fun with the game to notice.

By Tony Capri
CCC Freelance Writer

RATING OUT OF 5
RATING DESCRIPTION
3.4
Graphics
The entire world is cute and expressive, however, the animations aren't very impressive. The overall resolution is fairly low.
4.1
Control
Control when moving about dungeons is simple but a lot of fun. The battle system and other gameplay mechanics are mostly a joy.
3.5
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Most of the tunes are fun and fitting, and there's tons of voice work. Themes do get lopped off abruptly sometimes, though, and characters repeat the same one-liners during battle way too often.
4.4
Play Value
There's a lot of game to enjoy here, and the two perspectives are different enough to warrant additional playthroughs. Either way, you'll never see everything the game has to offer in a single run, and it's a very engaging experience.
4.1
Overall Rating - Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Dual Battle: ManaKhemia2 adopts a unique type of turn based battle system. You will have a set of attackers and supporters that switch in and out throughout the battle with attack/support actions.
  • Massive Item Crafting: Over 100 items to craft. Players can search for ingredients throughout the world and create new items using what you've found.


  • Screenshots / Images
    Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy screenshot - click to enlarge Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy screenshot - click to enlarge Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy screenshot - click to enlarge Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy screenshot - click to enlarge Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy screenshot - click to enlarge Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy screenshot - click to enlarge Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy screenshot - click to enlarge Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy screenshot - click to enlarge Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy screenshot - click to enlarge Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy screenshot - click to enlarge Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy screenshot - click to enlarge Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy screenshot - click to enlarge

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