'Summoner: A Goddess Reborn' (GCN) Review

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Daemon Poster
Summoner: A Goddess Reborn
Platform: GCN
Developer: Cranky Pants Games
Publisher: THQ
ESRB Rating: Teen
Rating: 3 out of 5

While the title "Summoner: A Goddess Reborn" is arguably better than "Summoner 2," it's important to know that they are the same game. If you played "Summoner 2" on the PS2, there's nothing new here. Move along. But if you're a GameCube owner looking for a quality role-playing game, this is your baby, warts and all. Watch this episode of "Extended Play" to find out why.

Not your average story

Most console RPGs are infused with ridiculous melodrama, but "Summoner: A Goddess Reborn" boasts a well-crafted tale. It takes place more than 20 years after the events of the first game, and in a different part of the world. Having ascended to the throne of Halassar, Maia is bound by prophecy to become the Goddess Laharah reborn. But poor Maia doesn't have a clue how to become a goddess. In her quest to fulfill the prophecy, Maia meets up with interesting characters and involves herself in political intrigue.

"Summoner: A Goddess Reborn" touts a deep and fascinating game world only glimpsed at in the first title. The plot is very good, especially when compared to most console RPG plots. What ties the game together, though, is the colorful cast of characters. These characters are no stereotypes. They aren't the angst-ridden cardboard cutouts of "Final Fantasy." They're believable. And then there's the fine voice work. Hearing well-written and well-acted dialog in a videogame is a rare joy.

Combat, treasure, levels -- You know the drill

As you wander through dungeons, defeat monsters, collect treasure, and level up your character, you'll notice a couple of major flaws. Camera angles are uniformly bad. You rarely get a useful view. And even though you can use the C stick to manually adjust your point of view, it doesn't let you zoom out far enough to get a good tactical angle. Even worse, when you move your character, the camera will swing behind you and often obscure what you're trying to look at.

The other flaw is the combat. This game is more action packed than the first "Summoner," but the fighting is often too frenetic. Enemies tend to attack en masse, and you'll have trouble targeting the mob of monsters eager to rip you to shreds. Sometimes the creature AI will inexplicably stop attacking you. The enemies will just sit around, waiting for you to pick them off with a ranged weapon or spell. You'll have plenty of attack moves and spells to master, but much of the close-quarters combat devolves into button mashing. At least your allies' AI behaves admirably. Healers are quick to heal, spell casters cast appropriate spells, and fighters bravely rush into combat.

Plenty of extra gameplay

As Queen of Halassar, Maia periodically checks back with her kingdom. This gives you a chance you deal with the mundane aspects of being a leader. You'll hear petitions from your people, spend funds on infrastructure, and make sure everything's running smoothly. It's a stark contrast to the hack-and-slash adventuring Maia indulges in at every turn. She's caught between worlds. She's a wise but reluctant ruler. She loves the adventure but cares about the well-being of her people.

"Summoner: A Goddess Reborn" gives you plenty of chances to take it off-road. Unlike the first game, which hit you with about a million side quests in the first hour of play, "Summoner: A Goddess Reborn" doles out extra tasks without overwhelming you. Since you have the ability to backtrack to previously explored locations, you can deal with these quests as you see fit, or not at all.

Porting problems

The move from the PS2 to the GameCube left "Summoner: A Goddess Reborn" mostly unchanged. The graphics are pleasing and the character models passable. However, the prerendered cut scenes are a horrible mess. Although the visuals are only slightly pixelated, the sound takes a huge hit. These cut scenes are overmodulated, making it hard to understand the dialog.


"Summoner: A Goddess Reborn" almost deserves a better rating. The story and characterization are better than in most console RPGs. But we were left wondering why these rookie mistakes are in a game with so much promise. If you're willing to look past these problems, "Summoner: A Goddess Reborn" will give you a lengthy quest and a rich world.

I give 'Summoner: A Goddess Reborn' an overall 3/5
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