Summon Night: Twin Age
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2008-07-04 Nintendo DS Action/RPG E10 (Everyone 10+) Atlus / Flight-Plan

I haven't played an RPG in quite a while, especially on the DS. In fact, the last ones that really got my undivided attention were Magical Starsign and Rocket Slime. Summon Night: Twin Age came as the right game at the right time. An action/RPG fully controlled by the stylus is something I've wanted more of since I played Magical Starsign. It just worked so well that I don't know why there haven't been more games like this for the DS.

The story of Summon Night: Twin Age takes place in Clardona, a world where the humans and the Kascuza (or demi-beasts, as the humans call them) have their differences regarding the spirits and summoned beings. While the Kascuza respect and work with the spirits, the humans want to enslave and control the summoned beasts. In a small island, away from these conflicts, live Aldo (a summon beast) and Reiha (the summoner). One day, they witness as the spirits are engulfed by darkness and go somewhat crazy. Shortly after, they embark on a quest to find out what's causing the spirits to act this way and hopefully put a stop to it.

You pick Aldo or Reiha as your main character, respectively your warrior and magic user, and the story will be told from their perspective. However, no matter who you choose to be your main, both characters will be your active party and you can switch between them at any time during combat.

In your journey, you will meet other supporting characters. These can't be controlled directly, but you can add one of them to your active party and choose the way the act by turning combat, skill use and object use on or off. At the end of a chapter, your party members will also gain support ranks according to how much you use them and talk to them, which makes them more effective in battle.

Most of the game takes place in combat. Here, your screen becomes a true Swiss knife, with two menus lining the sides of the touch screen: the one on the left for items, the one on the right for the active character's skills. Everything is a simple tap away, being using a HP recovery item or a special skill. Tapping an enemy will attack it. Tapping a skill will activate it, tapping an enemy will use that skill. Some skills require you to draw lines to hit multiple targets.

It's a very simple system, but it's not perfect. The problems arise when multiple enemies are crowding the screen, making it hard to target anything, be it monsters to attack or allies to heal. Bosses that are larger in size than the regular character sprites also make you lose track of your characters now and again because of their proportions. And you can't really rely on your party's AI, since they're not very bright. But like I said, as they gain ranks, they become better at supporting you in battle.

The skill tree is by far the most impressive feature in the game. As Aldo and Reiha level up, they gain skill points that you can distribute among the available skills. You can level up skills you have already learned (to a degree) and unlock new ones as you progress.

The crafting system is also interesting, allowing you to create items, weapons and armor from materials you collect in battle or from chests. Other special items let you upgrade your weapons by adding certain attributes and effects to them. Crafting is certainly cheaper than buying items, and with so many materials it's worth experimenting. You will also be able to create summon beasts to help you in battle, provided you have flasks and the right monster parts.

Summon Night: Twin Age is a cute game to look at. The little sprites are adorable, the artwork is fantastic and I quite like the backgrounds, even if they are fairly simple. I enjoyed the bits of voice acting, even if the dialogs weren't voiced in their entirety, and the music was pleasant throughout.

In the end, Summon Night: Twin Age may be a simple hack-n-slash RPG, but it has a good story, plenty of character development and lots of crafting to keep you busy. Little details like choices throughout the story and building your relationship with supporting characters are a very nice added touch. Despite its colorful and cutesy appearance, Twin Age is actually a very in-depth game, but manages to be accessible and easy enough for anyone to pick up and play.

Special thanks to Aram Jabbari, Benjamin Karl and Atlus U.S.A. for providing a copy of this title.