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For Atlus USA, 2008 was a very busy year as the publisher released a whopping sixteen RPGs across five different platforms. Seven of those RPGs were for the Nintendo DS, and included Etrian Odyssey II: Heroes of Lagaard and a personal favorite of mine, Rondo of Swords. But neither of these are my focus here, because another game was lost in that shuffle, and that is Summon Night: Twin Age. A woefully underrated RPG, it's not a game you'll play for the story or for a massive challenge. Twin Age is a game you'll play because the combat is just so dang fun.

Developed by the now defunct Flight-Plan, this game followed the adventures of long-time friends, Aldo and Reiha. Players select one of the two as their main character for the story, and can swap between either for combat. Aldo is a melee-focused fighter while Reiha is the mage. Battling is quite simple, requiring the player to merely tap on the desired enemy to attack — much like clicking on foes in Diablo. Characters will then auto-attack until victorious, with AI party members intelligently assisting as needed. Aldo and Reiha are always part of the team, but there are additional teammates that join up as well as summoned beasts. The main pair both have special skills at their disposal to supplement standard attacks and use them wisely in battle. It might be a fairly straightforward combat system, but it all works wonderfully via the DS touch screen.

As I said at the start, the story is not very memorable and the game is only around a dozen hours long, but I really enjoy the time I spent with Summon Night: Twin Age. It's a shame this was simply a one-off from Flight-Plan's tactical RPGs or the action RPG Swordcraft Story games. This gameplay formula is a fantastic mash-up of JRPG style with hack-and-slash combat, and the one-tap gameplay makes it so easy to play. It's not an annoying button masher. A few other games attempted similar systems, Ragnarok DS being the closest. There was also the unlocalized Soma Bringer, though it was more action-based than a simple tap combat system. Whether it was the flood of other RPGs related during 2008 or people just not knowing about it, Summon Night: Twin Age is a hidden gem and one that I would recommend to anyone with a DS.

Michael A. Cunningham

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