Mana Chronicles by Spearhead Entertainment icon

Mana Chronicles ($2.99) by Spearhead Entertainment is a side scrolling hack-n-slash game with RPG elements for your iPhone.

In the game, you take control of Leon with the goal of stopping the Inferno troops from invading and destroy the world.

Mana Chronicles combines side-scrolling hack-n-slash action like that found in the iconic Castle Crashers on Xbox Live and just recently, the PlayStation Network. But the game has it’s own unique style by having RPG elements like leveling up, super abilities (ice, fire, and lightning), a world map, loot, missions, and a soundtrack that fits the adventure you’ll be sucked in to.

I haven’t beaten the game yet, but the story is pretty intriguing. You start off with a character named Fratley and lead a horde of evil minions on a path of destruction through the mortal realm. Fratley then encounters Leon, who you will have to defeat to progress. After that, you move on to the second level and begin your journey with Leon.

Mana Chronicles by Spearhead Entertainment screenshot

The controls are pretty simple – there’s a d-pad button on the lower left corner and attack buttons on the right corner. The main attack button is the large, middle one with the sword, and it’s just a basic attack that can be chained off. The other smaller buttons are for special attacks that you’ll gain as you level up.

I found the current d-pad to be a little problematic, as I found it hard to control the direction the character is facing when you’re in a flurry of attacks. I felt I had my finger in the right place but my character was actually in the opposite direction. The d-pad needs a bit of modification, in my opinion, to make the gameplay feel better.

The screen will move along with you, though I found some times where I found my character stuck along the edge of the screen and it would take a while for the screen to adjust itself accordingly. I had a problem with this, since I expect a more fluid and smooth transition for a side-scrolling action game.

Because of these two things, I didn’t get too far in the game. But I did like the leveling up and special elemental attacks (Castle Crashers, anyone?), and the graphics and soundtrack are pretty good for an iPhone RPG hack-n-slash. I could do without the constant shout from Leon as I attack though, it got a bit annoying.

Mana Chronicles by Spearhead Entertainment screenshot

There are three areas to go through, each with multiple levels. The levels consist of slashing your way through hordes of enemies, and there’s a boss fight at the end of each. You get ranked for your performance. There are missions that can be unlocked by doing certain actions in the game, so it should be pretty fun to try and unlock them all.

Customization is the key. You will find treasure chests along your way which will contain health or loot. Opening the Inventory menu will allow you to change weapons and armor to boost your character’s stats, which means more ravaging destruction among your foes. I was not able to find any items like potions in my inventory though – the only way to recover health is to kill enemies and hope they drop red orbs. Blue orbs will replenish your mana.

The really cool thing about this game is that you will ‘absorb’ your enemies and be able to transform into them for a short period of time and get a special set of abilities that is specific to the absorbed character. It’s unique and adds a new twist on the game.

I see a lot of potential in this game. But I would wait for an update before shelling out your cash for this one. It could just be me, but I just found the controls a bit hard to work with for this type of game, and the jerky side-scrolling transitions were starting to get on my nerves.

The boss battles also weren’t that challenging – one of the ones I encountered didn’t involve much action. It was a big, hulking guy that was extremely slow to attack. I stayed in one spot right on top of him and just kept attacking, taking damage from the three times he attacked before I killed him. The other ones can be beaten without much effort as well – spamming the attack button finishes them off in a minute or so.

I prefer challenges in games, and there was a lack of this in some boss battles. But this is personal taste, but if you are a real gamer and prefer challenge, I’d avoid this for now.

Interesting story so far though, I’ll give it that. And the soundtrack and graphics are nice, but that’s just half the battle. The game still needs work. It would also be nice to have Retina Display graphics and icon.

Keep your eye on this one, who knows what improvements the developer can make on it.