Out of nowhere, Square Enix has simultaneously announced and released Song Summoner: The Unsung Heroes, a new SRPG exclusive for the iPod challenging players to rescue their brother from the Mechanical Militia.
The game has you controlling Ziggy, a Conductor that can create Tune Trooper warriors out of your iPod's music tracks, similar to Monster Rancher's CD-generated creatures. Further integrating your All-4-One MP3s, Song Summoner will boost the "groove level" of your Tune Troopers every time you listen to the songs that birthed the units. Now you actually have an excuse for listening to "I Swear" several dozen times a day!
So, why are we talking about this iPod game on DS Fanboy? We thought it would be interesting to compare this new title against the other portable strategy RPG Square Enix recently released (in the U.S.), Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift.
As we're sure you'll let us know, there are some features that Song Summoner can't compete with, such as FFTA2's 400+ quests and other multitudinous offerings, but, for the purpose of outlining what publishers can learn from a game release such as this, let's look at the five points in which the iPod title outshines the DS epic.
Gallery: Song Summoner: The Unsung Heroes
Cost: $4.99 (£3.99/€4.99)
With a price as low as this, this guarantees that almost any gamer with a compatible iPod and even a slight interest in RPGs will pick this up. Could the same be said for Final Fantasy Tactics A2, which usually retails for $39.99? One could argue that Square Enix was only able to make Song Summoner so cheap due to cutting manufacturing costs, scaling back marketing, and making other concessions (e.g. contracting a small developer), but does that really matter to gamers who just want a decent, inexpensive game?
Digital distribution is the future! No more dealing with insufferable game store clerks! No more waiting for FedEx to finally deliver your game from Amazon several days after your order it, or even several weeks after you preorder it. As soon as you decide that you want the game, you'll only need to click the "Buy" button in iTunes, just as you would with audio or video files.
Right now, DS owners have no comparable solution for quickly getting complete games onto their system. iTunes distribution even beats out pirating the game, as you don't have to wait for someone to dump the cart, find a site hosting the ROM, or worry about incompatibility problems with your flashcart. Plus, you know, you're not breaking the law.
Unintentional Comedy: Ridiculous dialogue
This isn't really a selling point; we just wanted to use this image!
In all seriousness (or in however much seriousness you can muster following an Uncle Jesse photoshop), we doubt that Song Summoner's goofy premise of using music to fight tyrannous robots is any worse than FFTA2's intentionally light and simplified plot.
Localization: Simultaneous worldwide release
With its announcement, Song Summoner has been made available to anyone who wants it in the U.S., Europe, and Japan. FFTA2, on the other hand, debuted in Japan on October 25th, 2007. The Sealed Grimoire later arrived in the States and Europe nearly eight months later in June 2008, more than enough time for fans to create an unofficial translation patch for pirating and playing the game early.
Genre Innovation: Music integration
Though creating in-game content with your own music isn't anything new (see Monster Rancher, Audiosurf), we've never seen anything similar to this in a strategy role-playing game! What innovative features has FFTA2 added to the genre? Area maps? Larger enemies? Equipment embedded with job abilities? None of that sounds nearly as exciting as charging up a "groove level" just by listening to Ace of Base's "All That She Wants," which you probably were going to do anyway!
With those points argued, let us know why you think Final Fantasy Tactics A2 outclasses Song Summoner. Or, if you're crazy enough to agree with us, let us know why you think publishers and Nintendo have a lot to learn from the iPod/iTunes games model.
The game wasn't revealed and released until just a few hours ago, so we're sure that there are still a lot more details worth mentioning when comparing and contrasting the two games. Why not try out the game and comment with some of those details? It's only $4.99 to buy it!
See also: DS Fanboy Review: Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift
Reader Comments (Page 1 of 1)
7-08-2008 @ 12:43AM
I'm curious to see how good this is. My copy of FFTA2 should be arriving today. I doubt this game will really offer up much. Nice idea but I can't imagine playing long term on my iPod.
7-08-2008 @ 4:20AM
That's why the game has manual saving, along with auto-saves after certain points, including turns in battle.
Oh, if I had a compatible iPod, this would be downloaded NOW. Hell, I'm halfway thinking of downloading it anyway, then backing it up onto CD-RW (if I can nab one) so a feared computer fry doesn't steal it from me.
Looking at the site, this seems top-notch in production value, at least for an iPod title. The videos show fluid motion (the grid selection reminds me of playing Solitaire (why'd I type "poker"?) on my now-dead old-gen nano), the music on the site (which seems to be part of a soundtrack; wonder when that'll be downloadable) is nice, if not a bit reminiscient of Star Wars in at least one instance, and when you consider that no-story games are available for GBA at higher prices than this, I'd say even a basic story of boy-best-bad-guys would be nice for a 'Pod.
Fifty. Tune. Trooper. Types. And that's not even counting abilities, which I'm not sure if are standard to e Trooper type (WHY is Starship Troopers coming to mind?!).
Overall, this was extremely neat news, and if I can convince my sis to let me get it for her (or if I can skeaky-sneak my way to her comp), I'd totally like to have her try it out. Still, N*Hanna Monspears Boys + [c]rap would make for some strange Trooper generation, I'd think.
7-08-2008 @ 4:22AM
I guess you guys forgot to mention that they don't have to pay a composer money either, yeah? I wonder if you would get more hardcore units out of songs from the metal genre...
7-08-2008 @ 6:01AM
But... there IS music for this game. One of the videos on the site shows a selection from the SS:TUH soundtrack, IIRC.
7-09-2008 @ 4:03PM
The game is actually a 126 MB download and 98.5 MB of that is the game's musictrack. It has roughly 2.5 consecutive hours of music all told.
To see it for yourself, make a copy of the .ipg file, change the extension to .zip, and extract it. You'll get 54 AAC tracks. About 12 are little fanfares for the beginnings and ends of battles and the like, but the rest are music.
7-08-2008 @ 7:56AM
WTF is up with the black guy with the badly-dyed purple hair?
7-08-2008 @ 9:08AM
I won't touch FFTA2 for 2 reasons. First, the story blows. Its far too thin, and a super long game like this needs a damn good story to couple the great gameplay.
Second, this is game you'll be playing for months and months and months. Hell it'd be November by the time I was able to move onto something else. There are far too many other games out there with better stories that I'd rather be playing (thanks Atlus!), and not to mention FFIV DS is also out this month, and it has a fantastic story!
Sorry Square, but your recent efforts are nothing to be excited about, just keep the ports/remakes of old games coming, those were your best years anyway.
7-08-2008 @ 11:48AM
LOL! Nice. I do wonder if Microsoft will make Zune games, to combat this...
7-08-2008 @ 2:57PM
Seconded about the Zune..
8-01-2008 @ 8:25PM
Microsoft already announced plans to release XNA for Zune, so professional and independent developers can create anything imaginable for the device.
7-08-2008 @ 10:30AM
I would love a version of this to be in the iPhone App Store at launch. Who owns an iPod anymore anyway...? ;)
7-08-2008 @ 10:44AM
Chris L said...
No love for the iPod Touch...? *sniffle*
7-08-2008 @ 11:09AM
Ong Backer said...
Sounds ripe for homebrew. I hope someone gets on it. PC, PSP, what ever!
7-08-2008 @ 11:32AM
Sean jdahsdka said...
I'd probably download it, if my ipod classic wasn't in california, being repaired by apple. :-/
7-08-2008 @ 12:47PM
THIS IS AMAZING! I'm going on a trip to Europe tomorrow and this is just the kind of thing I needed to keep me from getting bored. Yes, I'll have my DS with FFTA2 and my PSP with MGS:PO; but I am one easily bored kinda guy and this will be another great thing to add into the rotation of crap to play. Off to downloadan now!
7-08-2008 @ 1:05PM
Yeah. Because The World Ends With You was TERRIBLE. Especially that story! :rolleyes:
7-09-2008 @ 4:04AM
Paul D. Waite said...
> Now you actually have an excuse for listening to "I Swear" several dozen times a day!
Who need an excuse?
Best. Song. Ever.
7-10-2008 @ 11:17AM
Depends on which version. If you're talking about the ORIGINAL version by John Michael Montgomery, then yeah.
7-11-2008 @ 3:50AM
i loled at the full house pic.
i don't lol at anything.
This game does look cool but I've never even looked towards picking up FFTA2. I checked it out thinking it was a remake of the original Tactics but it wasn't.