Summon Night: Twin Age

Summon Night: Twin Age

Developer: Banpresto
Publisher: Atlus
Release Date: June 3, 2008

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Although delayed, Summon Night: Twin Age quickly approaches American hands with a message of comfort and hope. The most recent title in the Summon Night series takes place in Clardona, a nostalgic world of spirits and summoned beasts which has been marred by racial tension. Conflict between humans and the bestial kascuza has twisted the hearts of its inhabitants, driving them into deadly plots and secrets.

"Instead, it focuses its resources on combining the old favorites into a warmly familiar experience."

The stars of the show are a balm to the colorfully bruised landscape. Aldo, a boy plucked from a distant world, and Reiha, a girl who loves Banna Berries, lend their sword, spells, and smiles to smashing apart the injustices in their land. Although not actually twins, they share a strong family bond, not to mention a dangerous past, borne of the human-build Summoning factories. Their idyllic life in the marginalized kascuza lands becomes threatened when the spirits who suffuse everything begin to run amuck. Our heroes' travels soon bring them in contact with the human lands across the sea, which are also thrown into chaos after a number of incidents at their Summoner research facilities.

The control system is different than other entries in the series, taking advantage of the Nintendo DS's stylus. Aldo and Reiha move across their anime-cheerful world by chasing it across the lower screen. There, they encounter free-roaming monsters and engage in epic, squashy combat. Clicking on enemies designates them as the target of basic attacks. The buttons have two functions: allowing a character to stand still and attack, and allowing a character to reselect a special attack without using the stylus. Of course, there are special abilities, including magic, sword techniques, and items. They appear as icons filling a finite number of slots on the right and left sides of the screen. Clicking on one will queue up the ability which is then executed by a unique set of stylus strokes.

Combat flows smoothly from walk-about mode. The titular twin who isn't under direct control of the player follows AI commands until it's time to switch things up. Changing between the two heroes is a quick tap of the stylus away. Other allies also join Aldo and Reiha on their quest. Although the final party size contains several allies, only one of them at a time can participate in battle. Each of these additional party members is wholly outside the player's control, leaving more mental space for keeping track of immediately relevant dangers.

The upper screen is divided between maps and expanded character statistics for most phases of the game. It also displays tutorial information and reminders on how to activate each skill. The lower screen is where the action takes place.

It's a rare RPG these days that doesn't feature alternate story paths and an item-crafting system. Summon Knights: Twin Age is not one of the innovators in either field. Instead, it focuses its resources on combining the old favorites into a warmly familiar experience. The game also features a skill-tree system, relationship building, and post-game bonuses. The music tends toward tropical themes, underscoring the wonder of Clardona without nerve-wrenching orchestrations.

Atlus originally intended to release Summon Knights: Twin Age on May 20, 2008. Their prodigious output in recent months has led to a delay; expect to see the game on store shelves on June 3, 2008.

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