Mana Khemia: Student Alliance Review
Mana Khemia: Student Alliance box art
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 doesn’t achieve quite the same magic. The experience you gain is spent on leveling your character. You’ll 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.

Mana Khemia: Student Alliance screenshot

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 don’t 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.

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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, it’ll be cheaper and more entertaining in the long run.

By Matthew Walker
CCC Project Coordinator

RATING OUT OF 5
RATING DESCRIPTION
1.0
Graphics
The blurry, out-of-battle graphics hurt your eyes so much you’d wish this game came with a blindfold.
2.5
Control
At times, you will wonder if it is the controls of the game or the load times that make them seem broken.
2.0
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Typical anime fare – some good voice work and some straight up annoying stuff. The soundtrack is the redeeming quality to the sound.
1.5
Play Value
Play the original PS2 game.
1.5
Overall Rating - Avoid
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Multi-player: A co-op mode were you can battle monsters together to get rare items.
  • Jump Start: Install part of the game on to the memory stick to make loads faster.
  • Academic Quests: Players will take on quests that the professor assigns. If you fail your mission, you may have to stay after school. Also, depending on who you work with for your assignments, the outcome of the story will change.
  • Avatar Crafting: Personalize your characters by “crafting” skills and stats instead of just leveling up through combat. Crafting skills and stats allows the player to create unique characters like a warrior that excels in summoning magic or a magician that’s an expert at snipe shooting.
  • Item Crafting: A comprehensive item/weapon crafting system. Create anything from healing potions to swords through alchemy.
  • Team Crafting: Craft items using your team’s recipe.
  • Symbol Encounters: No more random encounters. Visually confirm and engage enemies.


  • Screenshots / Images
    Mana Khemia: Student Alliance screenshot - click to enlarge Mana Khemia: Student Alliance screenshot - click to enlarge Mana Khemia: Student Alliance screenshot - click to enlarge Mana Khemia: Student Alliance screenshot - click to enlarge Mana Khemia: Student Alliance screenshot - click to enlarge Mana Khemia: Student Alliance screenshot - click to enlarge Mana Khemia: Student Alliance screenshot - click to enlarge Mana Khemia: Student Alliance screenshot - click to enlarge Mana Khemia: Student Alliance screenshot - click to enlarge Mana Khemia: Student Alliance screenshot - click to enlarge Mana Khemia: Student Alliance screenshot - click to enlarge Mana Khemia: Student Alliance screenshot - click to enlarge

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