Heroes of Mana (JP) is a real-time strategy entry in the Mana series on the Nintendo DS. Released in 2007, the game features real-time combat with armies of up to 25 different units across a grid-based field.
For most gameplay, the top screen displays the map overview while the lower screen is the immediate map where the player controls his/her army by tapping on a unit and tapping their destination.
The upper screen has a fog of war and shows visible units and where the touch screen is on the map. While the game supports up to 25 units, most of their units will be monsters.
The player builds units and buildings on their airship using resources gather from the map. The resources are minerals, for buildings, and berries, for monsters.
The game features some role-playing elements; characters during the course of the game learn new skills over time, and can be given equipment to increase their attack and defense. The equipment can either be obtained by finding hidden treasures or beating missions.
The game features 20 story missions and dozens of bonus missions. The game also featured Wi-Fi connection functionality to download additional maps, missions and items.
The group, including the soldier Roget and his captain Yerchael, are on their airship, the Nightswan, when they're attacked by Ferolian ships. Unable to support the invasion, the group rebels against Pedda and team up with the Ferolians. Roget and Yerchael head over to the other nations in order to help stop the Peddan army.
As they battle the Peddan army, they discover that Inath is putting Black Mirrors in the conquered kingdoms, which are corrupting those around them. Roget and Yurchael are joined in their adventure by the elemental spirits, which are worried about the mirrors. After confronting Roget's twin brother, the Mirage Bishop, they find out that Inath and the Mirage Bishop have been corrupted by the ancient witch Anise, who is placing down the mirrors in order to summon a dark energy for her own power.
Roget and his allies journey to the Mirage Castle to confront Anise, only for her to finish pulling the dark energy from the mirrors before they can stop her. The dark energy kills Inath and the Mirage Bishop, and Anise combines her form with a possessed Peddan general to create the Goddess of Doom. The allied forces fight and defeat the Goddess, ending the threat from Pedda, and return to their home countries.
Heroes of Mana sold over 98,500 copies in Japan by the end of 2007. It sold 30,000 copies in North America and 50,000 in Europe as of November 2007, a few weeks after release in North America. Initial sales were lower than those for Children of Mana, the other Nintendo DS title in the series released one year earlier. Koichi Ishii attributed this to the overall lack of experience and popularity of the RTS genre in Japan.
IGN's Bozon praised the "classic character art" and "hand-painted backdrops", GameSpot's Kevin VanOrd noted the colorful graphics and "overflowing" animations, and Eurogamer's Simon Parkin said that the "fantastic presentation and artwork" "sugar-coated" the game. Patrick Gann of RPGFan, on the other hand, said that besides the cinematics and character portraits the graphics were not impressive, with poor sprites and animation. GamePro said that "the overall story doesn't grip players" and that there were too many characters too get attached to any of them. Gann called out the music as beautiful, though it was not mentioned by other reviewers.