Mana Khemia: Student Alliance Review

Mana Khemia: Student Alliance is a game that should have never been. The original Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis, developed by Gust, was mediocre to begin with, and the PSP version only serves to degrade what was already a less-than-enrapturing gameplay experience in a nearly direct port that suffers from a myriad of technical issues.

Mana Khemia is an RPG set during the course of an academic year at the Al-Revis Alchemy Academy and both alchemy and school play major roles throughout the game, incorporated into just about every aspect of the player’s adventure. The main character, Vayne, finds himself in a very Harry Potter-esque situation, orphaned and sent to this school full of colorful anime characters to find the answers to the many questions surrounding his past.

Student Alliance plays out almost identically to the original PS2 game, aside from a few new characters and craftable items. Players watch story segments to introduce each week of class, attend classes, and complete outside assignments with the help of the group of friends who make up the party. There are also periods of free time that allow players to complete side jobs, synthesize items, and venture off campus to find ingredients and unleash their frustrations on enemies.

And yes, there will be much frustration while playing Student Alliance. Due to a horribly inconsistent frame rate that manages to drop into slide show territory on many occasions, along with more loading than a professional moving company, it is difficult to derive any pleasure from the portions of the game that were actually enjoyable to begin with. Pauses for disc or memory card access accompany almost every action, from cutscene transitions, to enemy encounters, to NPC interaction, to menu selection. It is by no means the definition of fun.

The already adventure-limiting school setting and complex, tedious crafting system become less bearable due to the game’s technical issues, and even the once-commendable battle system, which employs pre-encounter on-screen enemy representation, an interesting tag-team “support” system, and a novel “burst” system, is rendered sluggish and inadequate. The hand-drawn art and battle sprites are still nice, but background visuals are a blurry mess. The game’s voice acting ranges somewhere between poor and mediocre, and the music is generic and repetitive.

Mana Khemia was a niche title to begin with, dividing players into love-it and hate-it audiences. Mana Khemia: Student Alliance is that same niche title… in a wheelchair… in the mud… with no arms. I would recommend that gamers avoid this one; if school-focused role-playing and item synthesis are exciting to you, please opt for the PlayStation 2 version.


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Author: Eddie Inzauto View all posts by
Eddie has been writing about games on the interwebz for over ten years. You can find him Editor-in-Chiefing around these parts, or talking nonsense on Twitter @eddieinzauto.

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