Friday, December 26, 2008

Song Summoner: I'm feeling like nobody loves me/Funky and I'm a microphone junkie

Well, Christmas has come and gone, and Boxing Day is upon us. I made quite the nerdy haul, including a Tamagotchi (wat) and several pounds of sweets. I also received an iTunes gift card from my younger brother, which has proven to be the most well-loved gift of them all.

Now, I very seldom use iTunes for the sole reason that I have better things to do than drain my bank account on the one (besides caffeine) thing I can be considered an absolute addict to: data. Suffice to say, it's fortunate that the size of my PC's hard disk exceeds my wants. Barely. However, with the gift card, I can just spend $50 and be done with it, never to resort to anything but borrowing and ripping friends' CDs ever again.

I figured I might as well get something besides music and Afro Samurai episodes, so I checked out the games section. Up until now, I had assumed from the paltry offering of games included with my iPod that the only games released for the little rectangular lovely were puzzle games (AKA Games for Your Mum) and clones of Windows Games titles from the 1990s. While I was correct in most cases (Chinese Checkers? Colored Googaw Match 47? Sign my ass up!) I noticed, of all the fucking things, a Squeenix title in the mix. Intrigued, I dropped $4.99 of my play money and waited patiently.
The basic premise of Song Summoner, and supposedly its greatest draw, is that you create military units from songs on your iPod and use your army of Tune Troopers (shit you not) to rescue your cute little brother from evil robots. That is, hand to God, the game in a nutshell. Compared to other Squeenix titles, it's almost childishly simple, which is far from a bad thing.

You play as Ziggy (the fellow with the sword, no relation to Mr. Bowie), and must rescue your brother Zero (lower right; seeing him caused me to yelp for reasons I'd rather not explain) using skills taught to you by the Soulmaster, who is a whole other tub of awesomeness himself.

The game plays a lot like Final Fantasy Tactics without the ripping your short hairs out in rage because the enemy mages have unlimited potions and you can't reach them on yonder rocky outcropping. Naturally, you're controlling everything with the click wheel, which lends itself better than one would imagine to SRPGs. I think that this is accomplished so neatly because the game was created with the iPod in mind, rather than being a port of a previously popular time killer like Windows Solitaire.

In fact, the lengths to which the game goes to remind the palyer that it's an iPod game is one of the most amazing parts of the game. It revels in its platform, and that makes it even more lovable. The most obvious feature is, of course, the ability to go to the Hip-o-Drome and create your soldiers from songs on your iPod. Sometimes you'll even get hints as to what kind of song will make a good Trooper at that point in time. The end result looks something like the lovely lady off to the left here. To my surprise, the incorporation did not end at the unit creation. You actually earn points to give your Troopers an extra boost in battle by listening to songs you've used to create them. The game can fucking tell what you're listening to, which song created which unit, and how many times you've listened to a particular song since your last play.

Graphically speaking, it's a pretty little game. It looks like it plays: a lot like Final Fantasy Tactics for the PSX. The character art is consistent and appealing, the maps are simple and polished, and the system graphics are crisp and easy to understand. I actually have no complaints about the graphics.

The music is appropriately grand. For me to compliment a video game's music is rare, since my relationship with game music usually swings between 'mute-button-jabbing rage' and 'grudging acceptance'.

What about the story? Well, let me tell you a secret: It doesn't fucking matter.The premise is simple, as is about everything else. What does matter is the fact that it has taken me two hours to write this sodding review because this game's siren call keeps distracting me from the keyboard. The game is an absolute fucking bloodsucker. I laid myself down with it last night and put two hours in without even realizing what I'd done until it was too late. I think one reason it's so addictive is because it's just so fucking accessible. If you're a misanthrope like me, the iPod is just one of those things you always leave the house with, because you never know when you might have to ignore someone. Pulling it out of your pocket for a quickie is hopelessly easy, and I've caught myself doing jsut that on several occasions just today. Another factor is the fact that it relies on the same principle that the Monster Rancher games did, more or less. Put a CD in, get a creature in return. The only problem with this is that I have, in effect, 773 files with which I can create monsters. It's like having Mosnter Rancher 2 and being told that you can just go hog wild in the Alternative section of the local record shop. Just One More Syndrome sets in immediately, and those little quickies turn into fullblown gaming sessions mighty fast. When this happens in the supermarket, it can culminate in you running your face right into a pole.

Of course, an hour later I realize that I did not end this article. I had intended to end with a bang.

But I didn't.

Because I picked this fucking game up again.

Get it. If you like music, you'll love it. If you don't fuck off. Actually, if you don't love music, why in the fuck do you have an iPod?



Anonymous said...

So, basically, Monster Rancher for my iPod?

Now this is a game I can get behind. (If only iTunes wasn't retarded and loaded on this computer.)

... Also, is that another Tutu reference I see?

Blast Bigfist said...

I-it is... =_=