Summoner - A Goddess Reborn (Europe) ISO
Nintendo Gamecube / GC GCN NGC ISOs
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Game Description & Reviews:
As the second (and perhaps, final) title in the Summoner series, Summoner: A Goddess Reborn (hereafter S:GR) merits comparison to the first game, which, unfortunately, did not have a Gamecube version. Therefore, this review will contrast the two by referring to the Macintosh version of the original Summoner.
Visually, S:GR is, as one might expect given that it came out later, noticeably superior to its predecessor. This is not just the result of improved graphics; the game's artwork is also enhanced - as even a cursory comparison of S:GR's Munari City with Summoner's Lenele would clearly indicate. Furthermore, the settings in S:GR are much more imaginative: while the original game took the player through swamps, forests and an island monastery, the second has lost cities, rivers of light and pirate hideouts - in short, a wider variety of locales. An added bonus is an archive containing the game's numerous cut-scenes.
In contrast, the musical score is much less impressive in S:GR. Though the soundtrack certainly serves its purpose, there wasn't any particularly memorable piece of music - certainly nothing that compares to Summoner's opening theme. The sound effects also suffice, whereas the voice acting is top-notch, with even secondary characters (such as the insane Imarbeth IX) being perfectly voiced.
S:GR made a number of changes to the fundamental gameplay of Summoner, none of which, in my view, constitute an improvement:
1) The lovely chain-attack combat system - one of my favourite features of the original game, has been removed and replaced by button combinations for different attacks. Since every character and summoned creature has different attacks with different combinations, one soon ends up remembering, and thus using, only a few of these. Indeed, given the fast-paced nature of S:GR's combat, I often resorted to simply moving and using the main attack, nothing more.
2) The vast world map where one could wander around and engage in random (and some non-random) encounters is effectively gone. Instead, one moves directly from locale to locale - and so there are no random encounters whatsoever in S:GR. This means that in order to level up characters, one needs to revisit old areas and fight the foes there again - which is a poor substitute for the range of encounters one had in the first game.
3) In S:GR's predecessor, the player could usually spot foes from a distance and work out a means to defeat them at his leisure, before closing in for the kill. This is much less common in S:GR; instead, fiends spontaneously appear in one's midst and one is compelled to combat them immediately on the spot, since they tend to give chase. As a result, whereas I could defeat an enemy in a variety of ways in the first game (shoot from a distance, backstab, use a spell, send a single character to deal with it, etc..) in S:GR, I found myself fighting most battles in much the same manner.
4) The first game had six slots for spells which could easily be accessed (either by mouse or hotkey). In S:GR, there is only one.
5) In Summoner, one could ultimately venture with as many as five units at a time, (four characters and a summoned creature). In S:GR, the maximum is three.
Thankfully, the long load times of the first game have been rectified in the second, and S:GR also boasts an improved map function, (though the game's camera does not zoom as far back as Summoner's.) In addition, a number of the features of the first game have been retained, such as solo mode, the allocation of skill points, the listing of quests and sub-quests, etc...
S:GR has twice as many playable characters as the original game, and a considerably greater variety of them, (including at least three non-humans). The number of summoned creatures is comparable, although the main character in S:GR transforms into them, instead of invoking them. Speaking of the main character, S:GR opts for one who is, in many respects, the opposite of the protagonist of the first title: Maia, a strong-willed queen of Halassar, is not endearing in the way that the hapless Joseph of Ciran was - but one does develop a certain respect for her in the course of the adventure. The storyline, for its part, contains familiar themes, such as trust, reconciliation, betrayal, destiny, etc..., though the overarching theme of the original Summoner - sacrificing the desire to avenge for the greater good - has no equal here. However, S:GR does have one very interesting, perhaps unique, feature: the ability to hear petitions and make judgements that have consequences later on in the game. This may well be the title's most important innovation; the introduction of some science-fiction elements in the game is also noteworthy.
All in all, Summoner: A Goddess Reborn has a strong claim to being the best Gamecube RPG that didn't originate in Japan: a solid, respectable, albeit somewhat conventional, successor to a splendid game.
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