Review by LordShibas
"Even Better Than The First Summon Night Game"
As the swan song for my GBA collection of games, I chose to play Summon Night Swordcraft Story 2. I was a huge fan of the original Summon Night game for GBA, so I was expecting great things from the sequel. Fortunately, I was not let down at all. Summon Night Swordcraft Story 2 is simply an incredible game that builds and improves on its predecessor in almost every way imaginable.
Summon Night Swordcraft Story 2 is very similar to the first game, and it's almost more of a redux than a sequel. Don't get me wrong, there is a new quest, all new characters, new summon beasts, and all new areas to explore, but the core gameplay is very reminiscent of the first game. Even though it felt very familiar I enjoyed every minute I spent with Summon Night 2, and I would recommend it to anyone that enjoyed the first game, or someone that likes RPGs with a focused story and a good bit of dungeon crawling.
Summon Night 2 takes place in the same land as the first Summon Night, but the story focuses on a different village of Craftknights. While the first Summon Night game had an entire village of Craftknights, the new village (Cliff village) only has a few revered Craftknights. Among these Craftknights are Edgar and Aera Colthearts. You can choose to play through the entire game as either Edgar or Aera, giving you the option of having a male of female lead, much like in the first Summon Night game.
You will also get to choose a Guardian Beast that will act as your magic support during battles. Each of the four Guardian Beasts will have an elemental affinity which separates them from the others. The main character and the Guardian beast will have almost constant interactions with each other, and you will quickly capitulate to having a strong relationship with them.
The actual gameplay breaks down very similar to the first game. You will be exploring dungeons and various areas from a top-down perspective, and once you run into an enemy encounter, the game breaks away to a side-scrolling battle where you have free control over your character. During the battle, you can switch between three weapons that you have equipped and summon your guardian Beast to cast spells.
Prior to venturing into dungeons, you will have the ability to craft weapons from materials you find in the dungeons. The different weapons are the same as before: sword, axe, spear, knuckle, and drill. You can also use your crafting hammer, but there's really no point to it.
The one part of Summon Night 2 that differs from its predecessor is the crafting system. Atlus chose to simplify the crafting system a bit. Instead of having a weapon blue print that requires a certain amount of four different materials, you now only need one base material. Once you have crafted the basic weapon, you can then upgrade it accordingly. This is based on your current craft ranking. The higher your craft ranking the more upgrades you can add to any given weapon. While the new system does simplify the initial weapon crafting, it allows for much more versatility in the end due to the ability to add upgrades. The upgrades can add elemental affinities, special attacks, and durability increases.
Another change to the game is how the durability meter of your weapons is represented. In the first game, your durability meter was reset at the beginning of each battle, and losing weapons due to a lack of durability was never an issue. In the sequel, your durability level does not reset after each battle, so you will need to repair your weapons from time to time. This will make you play a bit more conservatively, but won't affect the game all that much, other than making you head back to repair your weapons every now and then.
Even though I finished Summon Night 2 a short while ago, I've already adjudicated it as being one of my favorite GBA games of all time. The way the story, gameplay, and crafting elements come together makes it a memorable game that held my interest all the way through and assured that I always had something to do or something to strive for.
Summon Night 2 has some of the best looking GBA graphics I have ever seen. It goes without saying that the side-scrolling battles look wonderful, but Atlus really touched up the exploration bits of the game for the sequel. Gone are the days of the first Summon Night game where you had to explore the same dungeon, level after level. Summon Night 2 now has many different areas to explore, most which are outdoors, but a few that are indeed dungeons. The outdoor environments are lush with flora and fauna. One area will have you exploring a forest, the next will have you in an area that resembles a beach, yet the next will have you in an ancient mechanical dungeon with robotic enemies everywhere.
The variety of areas is truly a great improvement over the original game and does a great job of keeping things more interesting than the mundane, multi-floored dungeon found in the first Summon Night game.
Many of the enemy designs are taken straight from the first game, but there are some additions as well. The returning enemies will require the same tactics to take down, but the new enemies will require you to test out all of your weapons on them to see which weapons are the most useful against them. The spells are also somewhat recycled, but again, there are some additions which keep things interesting.
While partaking in the conversations that push the story forward, each character in the game has multiple anime portraits which do a great job of portraying the mood of the characters.
During the battles, even though there will often be quite a few enemies on the screen at once, there will never be any slow down, and things will always move quickly and look beautiful.
Summon Night 2 ramps up the visuals from the first game and it maintains the smooth animation and exciting battle sequences. It's without a doubt one of the best looking GBA games I've ever played.
Sounds and Music 9/10
The sounds and music of Summon Night 2 have also received an upgrade. Some of the same tracks and sound effects are re-used, but there is an increase in music tracks, and things sound a bit clearer overall.
Each dungeon has its own music which properly conveys the mood of the story at any given moment, and while some of the tracks loop over and over, they never seem to get old.
The sound effects are much like the first Summon Night and the different weapons clashing in battle sound great.
The story in Summon Night Swordcraft Story 2 is very simple, yet gripping and captivating at the same time. It does exactly what the first Summon Night game did and that is it focuses on a few individuals in a single village and spends plenty of time giving each and every character some type of meaningful role to play.
You will spend the most amount of time with your Guardian Beast, and while things between you and your guardian beast will be rocky at first, you will form a strong bond with him or her throughout the game.
Since I chose the male lead in Summon Night 1, I chose Aera, the female lead in Summon Night 2. I chose Dinah as my Guardian Beast. Dinah is a female, Devil creature that has a split personality. She has an evil side and a good side and there is no telling when the good side will show up to completely contradict her evil side's vocations. I highly recommend picking her as your Guardian Beast if you decide to play this game. Her two sides truly make for some laugh out loud moments that make her an incredibly unique character.
The main focus of the game has to do with an ancient seal that has been broken on a creature known only as Goura. It's Aera's job to re-seal the beast and bring peace back to the village. In order to do this, she must collect a series of ancient swords.
The story is a bit more straight forward than the first Summon Night, but it's interesting in itself and there are a few plot twists along the way that will really throw you out of whack.
If there is one thing about the story in Summon Night 2 that I did not like, it was the lack of a Craftknight tournament. In the first Summon Night game, there was a Craftknight tournament that you periodically had to partake in which was really fun, but it was omitted from the sequel. There are also a few translations errors that pop up every now and then, but nothing very frequent.
What can I say? This game is incredibly fun to play. The crafting, exploring, dungeon crawling, and story elements come together in a unique way that always leaves you wanting more. There is always a bevy of things to do and I often had to force myself to stop playing since there was just so much more I wanted to get done in any given play session.
The crafting aspect of the game makes for almost limitless replay value and there are over 200 weapons to craft, plus upgrades to add to each one.
While exploring the environments during the game, you now have the option of switching between your weapons on the field. Certain weapons can smash certain objects to produce materials for crafting. Tree stumps need to be smashed with axes, weak walls can be broken with drills, knuckles can push large boulders, etc. This also allows for some more puzzle oriented gameplay in the exploration areas, which is a welcome addition.
The random encounter rate is still fairly high, but getting into battles in Summon Night 2 is never really a burden, since you can always use the battles to level up your weapons and raise the level of your character and your Guardian Beast.
So Summon Night 2 plays much like the first game with a few nuances and a more balanced crafting system. It does a great job of blending the different aspects of the game and ensures that you will have rewarding and fun gameplay sessions.
Longevity and Re-Playability 10/10
I was able to get through the main quest in a little under 30 hours, but there are plenty of other things to do in the game. There are weapons to craft, bonus dungeons to beat after the main quest is completed, lots of side quests that the villagers will offer you, and a new game+ feature. I could have easily put another 10 hours into the game.
Summon Night Swordcraft Story 2 is without a doubt one of the best GBA games I have ever played, and I think that anyone who enjoys RPGs should play it. The gameplay is top notch, the facetious story will make you laugh, and the crafting system will cause you to search like mad for crafting materials. I can't recommend this game enough.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 02/12/09
Game Release: Summon Night: Swordcraft Story 2 (US, 10/17/06)
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