Brownie Brown might sound like a delicious cookie, but for fans of Secret of Mana it translates into something even more delicious. The company - currently operating under the name 1-UP Studio - was setup by Nintendo from hand-picked ex-Square employees, namely folks that had worked on both Game Boy and SNES Mana titles. The first product of this company was none other than Game Boy Advance's Magical Vacation, a beautiful and charming RPG that traded action for the more classic turn-based JRPG mechanics.
If the name of the game sounds familiar, you might have stumbled upon its sequel on DS - Magical Starsign, a game that was fortunately localized and released in the West. Sadly Magical Vacation never had that chance, remaining yet another interesting Japan-only title. Sword of Mana was the only game from the company that was officially released to western GBA owners.
The game sees you picking either a boy or a girl and one magic spirit. That last bit would certainly seem out of place were you not a student of the Will-O-Wisp Magical Academy in the Kingdom of Kovomaka. Everyone is preparing for a field trip to the mysterious Valencia Beach where an incident a few years prior still troubles both teachers and students. But kids being kids, it's off to have fun and adventure - until everyone is attacked and kidnapped by mysterious beasts know as Enigmas. By the end of the prologue, you are left alone on Valencia Beach and it's up to you to rescue everyone (teachers included), burdened with the knowledge that there's a secret magic war taking place which is being kept a secret from the general population while magic users are secretly being trained as soldiers. Harry Potter, anyone?
If this all sounds interesting then you'll be happy to know that a complete English translation patch has just been released. Despite a few minor text placement glitches, it is yet another excellent example of dedicated fan work bringing amazing games to a wider audience. Check out the first half hour of the game in the video below.
You can grab the patch from here and run it on your Retron5 or Retro Freak system using the original Japanese cartridge. Besides working on this game and Sword of Mana, Brownie Brown also helped HAL Laboratory to make another quirky JRPG, an obscure title very few people have heard or care about called Mother 3. (Just kidding!) Yes indeed, Shigesato Itoi's last chapter of the Mother series on Game Boy Advance would not have happened without the direct involvement of this studio.