Summon Night: Twin Age Hands-On

We cast some spells and bash some monsters in Atlus' upcoming action role-playing game for the DS.

Though the Summon Night series made its debut on the original PlayStation in Japan back in 2000, it wasn't until Summon Night: Swordcraft Story was released roughly two years ago for the Game Boy Advance that its games finally began to make their way overseas. Following in the tradition of its immediate predecessors, Summon Night: Twin Age is an action role-playing game on a portable platform, but that's about where the similarities end. We recently had the opportunity to take this new Diablo-style game for a test drive and are quite pleased with how it's shaping up.

In the world of Clardona, all natural phenomena, such as wind and fire, is generated by spirits from another world. The beastlike Kascuza believe in working together with these spirits, while the humans prefer to force them to do their bidding through their summoning abilities. This disparate philosophical difference has spurred the two races to war, though the fighting has yet to reach the island of Jarazi where the young human Reiha and her younger brother Aldo live peacefully among the Kascuza. But all is not well because something drives the spirits mad and the two must depart from their home to discover the source of corruption in their world.

Use the touch screen to activate powerful spells and abilities.

Twin Age is an action RPG, but this iteration is much different from its forerunners, which featured random encounters and a side-scrolling combat system similar to the one found in the Tales series. In Twin Age, monsters roam about freely to be engaged or snuck around at will, and all aspects of the game are controlled in real time through the touch screen. Using the stylus, you direct both Reiha and Aldo through dungeons by tapping the location you want them to move toward or holding down to make them run in that direction. Though you only command one sibling at a time, swapping characters is as easy as tapping one corner of the screen. The AI that takes over for your partner is also responsive and useful. Melee combat is as simple to initiate as tapping an enemy, but depending on the situation, that may not always be how you'll want to handle things. Both of your characters are handled in vastly different ways, but the one thing they have in common is the host of powerful attacks that they unleash.

Reiha is an all-purpose spellcaster who can unleash the elements upon her enemies. Each spell she casts is performed by manipulating the stylus and affects monsters in different ways. For example, to cast flame burst, you draw a short line in any shape, which becomes a towering inferno that deals incredible damage over time to anything unfortunate to be caught within it. Spark shot, on the other hand, creates an arrow out of air that can pierce through multiple enemies and is cast by tapping a single target. Aldo is a powerful warrior who specializes in attacks of the more up-close-and-personal variety. His chain attack ability causes him to bum-rush a series of foes as dictated by quick taps of the stylus, while his land slash ability lets you draw straight lines across the screen that turn into powerful slashes.

Key to activating these abilities is the command palette, which is a panel of programmable shortcuts. You simply decide which abilities you want to have available at any given time in your menu system and change them out as necessary. You also have a panel dedicated to items, and it's always handy to have a banna yogurt handy for when you need some extra health.

As Reiha and her brother level up, they gain skill points, which can be spent while on the map screen to power up existing spells and abilities. This is all done through an elaborate skill-tree system, and as long as you've met the necessary requirements, you can expand your knowledge to learn entirely new powers. For example, Reiha can learn restorative abilities, while Aldo can become proficient in axes and spears to learn attacks that are specific to those weapons.

Skill points can be spent between dungeons to unlock new abilities or level up existing ones.

Much of the gameplay is spent dungeon-crawling as the siblings travel from one area to the next in search of the truth. Along the way, they will be joined by friends that fight alongside them, though there can only be a single active ally at a time, and he or she is always computer controlled. Danger is to be found at every turn, but save points aren't hard to come by, and helpful items are easily found by breaking open the crates or jars that appear everywhere. Occasionally, you're presented with titanic boss battles, which are always the most challenging and rewarding encounters to be found.

Twin Age features a brightly colored anime art style. The environments and monsters--especially the bosses--are quite imaginative. Character sprites are well animated, as are spells and attacks. Though most of the dialogue is text-only, there is some English voice-over work that pops up occasionally. The music is also appropriately ambient and fitting.

Summon Night: Twin Age will be coming out in the US on May 20. Be sure to check back at that time for our final opinion and review.

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Discussion

45 comments
EnigManic
EnigManic

This looks very interesting. I'm looking forward to checking it out.

Trashcan_Man
Trashcan_Man

The game Children of Mana was supposed to be---sweet!

samfreak
samfreak

Yay! This comes out on the last day of school for me! I've been looking forward to this game for a while, it looks so fun... I just hope it's got enough replay value, something that has a lot in it.

armageddon74400
armageddon74400

it looks so awesome i'm totally getting it when it comes out the combat kinda reminds me of tales of pirates (wich i LOVE) so i'm gonna be playing this game for a while i wonder if it'll have wi-fi multiplayer or something cuz that'd be awesome :D

wogboypaul
wogboypaul

persona 3 = legendary this game seems not as much (until i play it)

caffaleine
caffaleine

I might get this. I wonder what kind of WiFi it has.

axelviiii
axelviiii

Looks good, as always. Atlus almost always delivers.

Will47
Will47

I just got Children of Mana and realy like it, these two look a lot a like I will have to got this one to.

Deadbolt6
Deadbolt6

I always wanted to get into the Summon Night games on the gba but I never really had the time. I'm thinking I'll start with this one though.

lionheart234
lionheart234

Looks like another masterpiece by Atlus..... xD love the old school 2D graphics..... must add to my collection of games.... Only problem is that its unlikely to be released in the uk which means i may have to import it.... = [

Sunrie
Sunrie

This is one that I'll end up looking into

8shadowmaster8
8shadowmaster8

The game is good, I have it in japanese. Unfortunately, a while ago my save was deleted, and later I was drawn to better games. Better? Oh, sorry, I mean other. Not many games are better than this one is.

motang
motang

Sounds very cool, and it looks like it will be coming out in a month...awesome!

nelfer320
nelfer320

This seems interesting. I love how the DS is getting all of these cool looking rpgs.

horror_spooky
horror_spooky

At first I thought this game was just a generic run-of-the-mill DS RPG, but after reading this preview my opinion has totally changed. My only quip is that it seems like it would be a perfect co-op game, but there is no mention of co-op in the preview. :(

e-racer22
e-racer22

I'm pretty excited about this title. I played the first two on the GBA and I highly recommend them. As the preview noted, the combat mechanic of the GBA games are much different real-time affairs but fun none-the-less. As you DS can handle GBA carts, I'd recommend trying to find these online, I think you'd really like them.

basal1sk
basal1sk

oh i get it the giraffe was drunk

BrunoBRS
BrunoBRS

looks cool, if it gets good scores and i have some money left i may buy

LotsOfGrenades
LotsOfGrenades

Well, isn't that awesome? I get out of the Navy when this game comes out! I am pretty pumped for this game, it looks pretty amazing. Although Atlus put out the horrible game, Rondo of Swords, they have released above the class action RPG's.

blood_dragonx
blood_dragonx

o jogo parece bom,bom vai pra lista de compra

nate1222
nate1222

I love that JRPGs are becoming more ACTION oriented. As a youth (I'm 32 now) I loved Final Fantasy, Secret Of Mana, Phantasy Star and Shining Force. As time went on, Western RPGs began to take hold due to having the same depth and customization while being more action based. I liked the change and it affected my feelings about JRPGs. Current JRPGs like Dark Cloud 2 and Rogue Galaxy have won me back over and I play them as much, and sometimes more than, Oblivion. Since I own a DS, Summon Night: Twin Age might find its way into my library.

megamanzxa
megamanzxa

it loks like an awesome game i hope i can get it

The__Element
The__Element

Hope this is like The World Ends With You. Loved that game.

ChibiStewie
ChibiStewie

ok now yesterday it said may 20th now it says june3rd please tell me the release date is a typo

Samslayer
Samslayer

Looking forward to seeing the reviews for it

Koto2291
Koto2291

this game looks SO awesome, im gonna go get it the day it comes out. Summon Night: Swordcraft Story was awesome, so this should be awesome also. we either need more SN games in english, or a Japanese Coach for the DS.

_AbBaNdOn
_AbBaNdOn

The combat and graphics looks great but the game looks like its incredibly shallow. I wish it was more diablo-esq. it would be cool to see a cutesy game with diablo style depth. I'd kill to have an action-rpg game mixed with NIS style games that have killer depth.

WoWmustbemylife
WoWmustbemylife

Atlus quit publishing games with cute art styles. or ill keep buying them :o

TalesofRaGnArOk
TalesofRaGnArOk

Reminds me of Children of Mana...not good. But thats just me. I just seemed to notice: Atlus just pulls you in with its cutesy-anime artstyle and then leaves you hanging...But I fall for it. Stupid good character designs.

majidok
majidok

Cutie graphics :) Though more Final Fantasy-ish than Atlus anime inspired games .

icettx
icettx

O.O wowee i love this game can't wait, i'm going to order it from an online stroe soon as its out in america, shame atlus don't take so well to england.

Aglanor
Aglanor

Definitely keeping an eye on this one. Looks quite interesting... And never can get enough RPG's.

dudesyeah
dudesyeah

Looks pretty cool... I will definitely be watching this one.

acidrain1976
acidrain1976

Looks fun. I'm always down for another touchscreen action-RPG. :)

myols
myols

Yes, it's suppose to stray away from the GBA games which has caused many people concern. It looks like it will be a great game, and I wish to see more when it's available.

beer_fanatic
beer_fanatic

but I think this one is different from those two but I think its more like in the ps version of summon nights... but I really think that this is a great game to get...

Raykuza
Raykuza

I played the ones for the GBA and they were really good. The weapon crafting was very fun and I hope to see more of that.

pjV2
pjV2

Sweet, I played one and two one the gba and they were awesome.