|System: PSP||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: Mar. 10, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
The character progression is a bit cumbersome. Even though it takes a few notes from the Final Fantasy XII license system, it doesnt achieve quite the same magic. The experience you gain is spent on leveling your character. Youll have to use your skills of alchemy in order to advance the characters. Spending your experience on one attribute will open up three other status blocks in your Growth Book. Crafting the status blocks with the original spot will give you new attributes, thus resulting in leveling up. Since the license board was one of my favorite parts of Final Fantasy XII, I did enjoy this aspect.
I understand this is a game about alchemy and it is even cool to have all of the school-themed stuff. However, why do I have to use alchemy to make important things like health potions? As I stated earlier, I had some moments of frustration with the teleporting back to the school aspect to help your team. When you visit the item store, you learn that there are no items in the item store. Instead, there are ingredients expensive ingredients. So, if I am seriously in need of help for my party and I dont have all of the ingredients to make a health potion, I am out questing to find the items in order to make my party viable enough to finish the prior quest, and it proves more distracting than rewarding in the end.
Another problem plaguing this game is the inconsistent graphics. During battles, things look great. The sleek animations for the characters and their attacks are wonderful. You almost hate transferring from the battles to the outer world mainly because the outer world is so blurry that things look smeared and dull. One of the reasons this may be is due to the frame rate issues the game has. There will be times that the game will just stop in place and it will recognize the action you just pushed. For example, when trying to go to the menu, more often than not, you will have to wait nearly three seconds to go into and out of the menu. This may seem consequential on the surface, but when you need it to happen and it takes that long, it becomes bothersome. At first, I faulted the controls, but then I realized it was more due the loading times of the game itself. One other issue is the constant load screens; they happen at every turn and it is another distracting thing from the game. The sounds of the game are typical and the anime voice over work is so-so. Some of it is nicely done, while others, at times, will cause you to groan every time the character speaks. However, despite those faults mentioned, the soundtrack of the game is nicely done in an RPG flavor.
Mana Khemia: Student Alliance wants to be a good game, and in fact the PS2 title from last year was a good title. However, problems inherent to porting games to the PSP hinder this game more frequently than it should. If you can get past the load times, frame rate issues, graphic impairments, and meticulous alchemy mechanic being shoved down your throat at every turn, then you will like this game. Seriously, even if you are a fan of the original game, you will be hard-pressed to find the appeal of this title and will be disappointed in the end. Play the original, itll be cheaper and more entertaining in the long run.
CCC Project Coordinator