While Square Enix has finally announced that Final Fantasy I & II are coming to the iPhone and iPod Touch, we have another RPG to play with! Song Summoner is a game that some people may remember as an iPod Click Wheel game. This version however includes the story from the original as well as an unreleased Song Summoner sequel in one big game.
Since Square Enix brought Crystal Defenders onto the App Store some whole year ago, they have been almost teasing us with similarities to the world famous Final Fantasy series. Song Summoner is about as we can get to the real thing at this point in time, with similar graphics and gameplay but a much different story. I was slightly worried to see what this game would be like for $9.99, but it's revolutionary features make it well worth the price.
Looking through my list of games I found what I believe to be the height of Turn Based games on the App Store. This game is the recently released Rogue Planet by Gameloft/Agartha Studios. I had an interesting time comparing the two to see which game comes out on top in graphics, sound and most importantly gameplay. I found Song Summoner to have a strong storyline that was backed up with some great sound effects and visuals, but the tipping point to make this game the better of the two would be it's revolutionary feature. Let's just say it involves songs and manages to do what Beatrider never achieved sadly.
I really like what Square Enix have done to the graphics in this game. Being a click wheel game originally I checked out the iTunes preview of the previous game to see what it is like. Between the two versions not much has changed with the iPhone version having sharper and clearer graphics as well as a larger view of the playing field obviously. The other comparison I wanted to make was between this and Rogue Planet. The cut scenes I found to be equally stunning but I found Song Summoner to have sharper all round graphics when in battles.
Between your fights there is a story that is played out through conversations between your character and other humans and non-humans that he meets along the way. These are played out in cut scenes that look quite awesome and detailed, especially all the extra scenery in the back. It looks good and builds a strong storyline for you to want to finish this game, serving it's purpose effectively in my eyes.
The battle fields look great in my opinion and probably a bit sharper than Rogue Planet. Depending on where abouts in the game you are currently fighting the scenery will change and there will be different items on the screen. For example in the city you will find walls and buildings while in the woods it will be more likely full of trees. There are lots of nice textures used in the battle scenes and it looks really beautiful.
The fighting animation is no where near as cool as the cut scenes we see in Rogue Planet. In Song Summoner it is just seeing a swing of a sword and some damage being taken off. Nothing that special about it but is what you would expect from your average turn based game.
The game runs very smoothly on all devices and there are no glitches or crashes that I could find. There is a slight bit of lag when accessing the iPod music track list but that can't be helped as it lags in any game that uses it. Overall this is a smooth and professionally made game, especially for one that has a fair bit going on at any one time.
Thankfully Square Enix has updated the controls in this game instead of keeping the same controls as the click wheel version. All the controls whether in-game or in the menu screens are used by the touch screen. It's pretty standard the controls with nothing revolutionary involved.
While in the actual game you slide your finger to choose the action you want to perform and tapping when you get to the action. To move you get a heap of squares that appear on the screen and you have to tap where you want to move. It's really easy to pick up this game and be able to play straight away. It's good that there is no learning curve or confusing swipes needed as the actual game is hard enough.
Song Summoner: The Unsung Heroes takes you on an adventure to rescue a lost brother (Pretty standard storyline) in the world where songs rule. You are a Song Summoner and you can use songs to make characters who will fight to the end for you. This game will take you on a huge campaign with 40+ hours to complete and heaps of locations and fights mixed in with a strong storyline. This is the type of game you would expect to be $40 and on the Nintendo DS, not a $9.99 game on the iPhone.
This game stands out from other RPG's on the iDevice for one simple reason, it's unique song summoning process. This is where you get to use your very own songs to create creatures and everytime you listen to the song on your iPod the stats of your creature will increase. This is such a great idea that has been perfectly executed and seems to work well with the game. Each creature has a limited number of uses so you will be creating creatures for heaps of your songs. The only thing I think that Square Enix could enable would be hearing your song while using that character in the game.
This game is turn based much like the Final Fantasy games. The aim is to defeat all your opponents before they defeat you. You have an array of special attacks at hand depending on your characters special skills and weapons. The levels start out quite easy but you are soon forced to choose strategies of attack if you are going to beat levels, particularly if there is a large boss character in the level. Between levels are usually some cut scenes which end up giving you a piece of the story before the next battle.
Your summoned creatures can also be levelled up in the Arena, which is a practice area where your creature has to defeat so many enemies in a limited number of turns. These award you with crystals which can upgrade the stats of your characters. Those wanting to succeed in this game are safer going down this route and it will also extend the length of the game.
Song Summoner: The Unsung Heroes is another game to consider for your turn based/RPG hunger. If you are getting a bit bored with the same game style in all of these games then Song Summoner may be for you, especially if you listen to your iPod music a lot.
Once again we have been given a DS quality game for a cheap price. While Square Enix haven't seen that much success yet on the App Store, this is probably their best game out so far. While you are waiting for Final Fantasy to arrive this is an excellent game to play. If you are willing to take the plunge at the premium price point you won't be disappointed with this title.