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Summon Night: Twin Age

Score: 85%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Atlus
Developer: Flight Plan
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ RPG

Graphics & Sound:

As far as presentation goes, Summon Night: Twin Age looks and sounds great. Although some of the characters suffer from a twinge of "generic anime", they are fairly well detailed and really stand out, especially on the DS's screens. The same can be said for enemies; there's a lot of palette-swapping going on throughout each level, but a new crop manages to work its way into the mix just when the old set outstays its welcome.

Story sequences are told via giant character portraits that slide in and out depending on who is talking. While some games might try to get by with one or two portraits, Twin Age features several that hit a full range of emotions. These are further accompanied by short bursts of voicework. There isn't enough to really say "yay" or "nay" on the quality, but like the multiple portraits, it lends enough kick to add a little emotion to otherwise plain text.

The soundtrack is great, though very few of the tracks really stand out. However, long-time readers will probably remember that one of the few credos around here is that the best soundtrack is one you really don't know is there, placing Twin Age in good company.


Gameplay:

Summon Night: Twin Age centers on two siblings, Aldo and Reiha, whose adventures begin when they set out to investigate why the usually tame spirits on their island home have suddenly gone wild. Their quest soon takes them to the human world where they discover that even the humans are having their own spirit troubles. Although the story isn't overly complicated or very deep, it is good enough that you'll want to keep playing, mostly to see what impact your decisions will have on how the plot develops.

At various times in the story, you'll have the chance to decide which way the story should go. Usually you'll have to decide which part of the story to reveal next in a conversation, though other times you'll have to decide which path to take or who to believe. Deciding who to listen to plays a major part in the gameplay; the more a party member likes you, the more useful they are in battle. Slighting a character's opinions won't cause them to leave your party or stop fighting, but they won't be as effective in battle. You can also bond with characters through short conversations that bookend each chapter.

While I would stop at making these sort of conversations a major gameplay component, it would have been great if they mattered a little more. The system does a good job at pulling you into the story and making you think about what is being said, though the consequences of certain choices aren't that major. You always have direct control over the main characters and chances are you'll find one extra party member you like and stick with them for the duration of the game - so it really doesn't matter if the other people like you or not. Also, story elements always come out during conversations, even if you don't ask about them, so other than altering the ending, conversation paths usually lead to the exact same information.

Aside from going through the main quest, you can also take on several side-quests that usually yield new equipment or other treasures. You can also create monsters to join your party or create new weapons. Both add just a little more to do in the game, though I never found them to be that deep of an addition. Monster creation is limited and, with one or two exceptions, the most expensive weapon to create is usually the best one.


Difficulty:

Unless you come across a patch of high-rank enemies (which tends to happen a lot around the halfway point), enemies usually pose little problem. If you do run into trouble, there are more than enough save points in the game, including the option to suspend play, making the game portable-friendly.

Bosses, on the other hand, usually require one or two plays before you can figure out how to defeat them. All bosses have a major weakness that can usually be exploited with the right strategy. However, the right strategy usually involves letting two physical characters wail on the boss while you stick behind and have a healer constantly cast healing spells. One of the nastier aspects of boss battles is that most are preceded by a lengthy story sequence that you can't skip.

If one of your party members does happen to fall in battle, they are only out for a short time before rejoining the battle. Unless an enemy is just about to die, it is usually better to fall back and wait for the other party member to join you. The tactic doesn't always work, but it is better than trying to tough a battle out, dying and having to watch a lengthy conversation again.


Game Mechanics:

You can switch between Aldo and Reiha at any time while your third party member acts independently. While there are a few strategic advantages to switching out party members depending on the battle, you'll usually stick with one party throughout the game. This is partly because of the affinity system, but you can only switch out party members between chapters - so it is easy to forget to do it.

The control system is very responsive and sort of a hybrid between Phantom Hourglass and Revenant Wings. Tapping or dragging the stylus on the screen moves your character, while tapping enemies initiates an attack. Special abilities and items are stored in slots that run along the left and right sides of the screen. One tap activates the slot while another uses it. Some abilities require you to draw on the touch screen as well. These tend to be some of the more powerful abilities in the game, though the trade-off is that they take a little longer to activate.

New abilities are purchased using a system similar to Diablo. Unlocking one skill opens up new branches that lead to other abilities. The system is restricted to your character's rank which unlocks as the game progresses. Depending on how much you grind your party, it is entirely possible to max out all of their skills.

Summon Night: Twin Age may have its flaws, but it is also a solid title and one of the better Action RPGs currently available on the DS.


-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

Windows Stronghold Crusader Extreme Sony PlayStation Portable Space Invaders Extreme

 
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