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Song Summoner: The Unsung Heroes - Encore

For: iPhone

Still on pitch

Product: Song Summoner: The Unsung Heroes - Encore (iPhone) | Publisher: Square Enix | Format: iPhone | Genre: Music/ Rhythm, RPG, Strategy | Players: 1 | Version: US | App version: 1.0.0
Song Summoner: The Unsung Heroes - Encore (iPhone) iPhone, thumbnail 1
Heralding a rare meaningful relationship between music and gameplay that doesn't involve tapping out beats, Song Summoner: The Unsung Heroes - Encore combines traditional tactical role-playing with a funky musical twist.

An original composition replayed on iPhone and iPod touch, this clever game still sounds sweet despite some transitional issues.

Song Summoner follows white-haired youth Ziggy in a quest to locate his brother who, five years earlier, was abducted by robots.

Bent on silencing the music in everyone's heart, the mean-spirited mechanoids have been waging a successful war against humanity and converting them into mindless servants. Ziggy intends to halt their efforts as part of his brotherly rescue mission.

Role-playing grooves

The game's tactical turn-based battles feel familiar, but the unique universe is something totally fresh. Quirky dialogue, an intriguing premise, and an original sense of style set Song Summoner apart. It's frequently cheesy, but that's the charm.

You don't have to enjoy the story or the game's style to get into its rich tactical role-playing, though. Battles employ genre conventions with units moved about an isometric grid in turns, special pearl points earned from combat acting as experience that boosts stats and unlocks new skills. What makes Song Summoner different is the way in which you assemble a combat party.

Music pulled from your iPod library gives birth to tune troopers. Character class, stats, and skills are drafted based on a track's title. The impact of the actual music on unit generation is non-existent, but does play a role in the game elsewhere.

Extra-curricular grooves

Time spent listening to tracks that you've used to create units earns you pitch pearls. These act as experience points that can be used to raise a unit's rank, boost their stats, and unlock new abilities.

This extends the experience beyond the confines of the game itself, encouraging you to strategise about which tunes you select for units.

Not all is upbeat in Song Summoner. The visuals suffer unsightly pixelation, which is no doubt a byproduct of the game being brought over from its original release on iPod. Character artwork remains beautifully clear, but the graphics are clearly not built for the larger iPhone and iPod touch screen.

Out-of-control grooves

Re-orchestrated controls also mark this conversion. While definitely better than fussing with a sensitive click-wheel, they're not ideal.

Moving units in battle usually requires holding down a finger on the screen instead of just tapping where you want them to go because the game rarely registers the intended input. Units end up being deselected and menu items are accidentally chosen as a result.

Tiny characters, grid spaces, and menu options complicate an otherwise simple touch control scheme. A fingertip is simply too blunt a surface to work with such a small interface. The ability to zoom use multi-touch during battles helps, but the graphics don't scale in an attractive way.

These issues keep Song Summoner from being super sharp, though they don't have it falling flat either. The game's charm and inventive application of music keep it grooving through these flaws.
Song Summoner: The Unsung Heroes - Encore
Reviewer photo
Tracy Erickson | 7 December 2009
Song Summoner rocks thanks to a clever mix of music and tactical role-playing, even though the graphics and controls don't completely roll with the same quality
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