Mike: The original Mantra is one of my
all-time favorite shareware games for the Macintosh. An involving plot, combined with a good mix of action, adventure, and thinking, made for an engrossing game that was addictive and fun to play. As soon as I read about the sequel, which was released this past summer, I hurried to download it. I couldn’t wait to play it, to experience more of the same type of game play.
Adam: Anyone who has read this column since our review of the original Mantra knows that it is my favorite shareware game of all time, no exceptions made. So you can imagine I was just as ecstatic as Mike was when I found out that the sequel to Mantra, Mantra II: The Blood of Saric had been released. Of course, an immediate download was in order.
Mike: The game was what I expected, and at the same time it was nothing like I thought it would be. After giving Mantra II a try, I was reminded of one of John Travolta’s lines in the summer blockbuster Face/Off: “It’s like looking in a mirror, only… not.” That was my initial thought with Mantra II – it looked the same, it felt the same… but it wasn’t quite the same.
That’s not to say that Mantra II is a bad game. It’s a rather good game, and I enjoyed playing it quite a bit. Perhaps my feelings were based on a faulty memory; after all, it’s been quite awhile since I last took Saric around the land of Zarin in the original game. Maybe the game intentionally has a different feel to it; it’s not necessarily a bad thing to change a little. The most important thing, I guess, is to let Mantra II stand on its own merits, and not hold it side-by-side with its predecessor. When looked at in that light, Mantra II is a pretty enjoyable game.
Adam: Ditto for me. I was extremely disappointed from the second I clicked “new game.” I couldn’t believe how much this game differed from the original Mantra. But the more I played it, the more my feelings changed, and pretty soon, I was totally wrapped up in playing the game, and I have enjoyed every second of it.
Mike: With that said, let’s talk about the game itself. The story behind it goes like this: After the conclusion of the first Mantra, Saric ruled the land of Zarin, and under him the land prospered. When he passed away, however, his children fought over who should control the land, and Zarin and its territories were torn with fighting and chaos before a settlement occurred. Many years (and, I assume, generations) after this, the land of Zarin once again has become corrupt, and evil has reared its head. The last true surviving descendant of Saric has traveled from a small, little-known island to set things right and restore honor and peace to the land that his ancestor once ruled. You are that hero.
Adam: The game has a very easy learning curve, much like the original Mantra. You travel around using either the numeric keypad or the arrow keys, you talk to people and buy/sell goods by running into them, and you pick things up by walking over them.
There are tons of items you can acquire; from spells and armor, to swords and shields, and of course the 5 Mantra’s: Fire, Earth, Water, Air, and Force. And believe me, you will need every item you pick up, so don’t pass anything by!
There are many new enemies, some very large ones (hint, hint), but sometimes, you run into original Mantra-flavored enemies, and heroes (another hint), which really make the game special. As you progress in the game, the enemies will become harder to kill, and you will have to buy stronger swords, shields and armor to survive.
Mike: The adventure, once again, is engrossing, although sometimes it’s unclear what you’re supposed to do. I found the game a little on the difficult side, but I haven’t had the chance to spend a good deal of “quality time” with it, either. Be advised, though, don’t expect to finish this game in a few days. I sure didn’t.
Adam: Mike said it all here. This is NOT an easy game. It is a game with many twists and turns. There are many worlds to explore, many underground mazes, many puzzles to be put together, and many mysteries to be solved in order to move on to your next goal, which again as Mike says, is sometimes unclear.
Mike: The graphics are a little on the cartoonish side, but that is just my opinion. The sound is great, even though I was unable to play the background music without my machine freezing. I’m not sure why, but I’m betting my low RAM configuration and 68LC040 processor may be the cause.
Adam: The graphics, which I always take a first impression from, were disappointing to me in the first few scenes, but seemed to be better as I moved along. Maybe they grew on me. As for the music and sound, how could I be disappointed! Just like the original Mantra, the music is catchy, and you will find yourself humming it before long!
While we are on the subject of freezing, I need to bring out a big fault in Mantra II. The game was very buggy in my experiences. Frequently, when I would go to talk to someone, I would have to pause the game in order to go back to the main screen, because the game would lock up. And I had many more incidents similar to this occur.
I suspect that Mac OS 8 is the root of my problems, and hopefully the Syzygy Cult will release an OS 8 compatible update soon. For now though, those who have upgraded to Mac OS 8 should be prepared to put up with a little frustration.
Also, I keep my monitor on thousands of colors, but most games use 256. When I launched Mantra II, I got an unfriendly dialog box stating that there was an error, and to set my monitor to 256 colors. Though this may seem irrelevant to the review, high bit depth monitors are not uncommon now, and having the game automatically set the monitor to 256 colors is a common feature, one that Mantra II should have.
Mantra II comes in both PowerPC and 68K flavors. The 68K version takes up six MB of hard drive space, and needs five and a half MB of RAM – make it six or seven if you want the music. The PowerPC version takes up seven and a half MB of hard drive space, and wants around eight MB of RAM. You will also need QuickTime 2.5 to run the game.
Mike: Although you may have gotten a slightly different impression from reading my previous comments, make no mistake – I enjoyed playing Mantra II. It didn’t quite live up to my expectations, but maybe I was expecting too much. All in all, it’s a great game that grew on me the more time I spent with it. It’s from the Syzygy Cult, it’s free, and it’s an adventure game, and those three factors alone make it worth checking out.
Adam: Though my initial reaction was bad, Mantra II has become everything I thought it would be. The story line is excellent, as are the graphics and the music. All in all, it’s a very well done game, worthy of your download. A little frustration and compatibility problems are minor when compared to the quality of Mantra II.
Download Mantra II 1.0