[Preview] Fortune Summoners

Fortune Summoners is the third title from indie publisher Carpe Fulgur and the first American release from Lizsoft.  Carpe Fulgur is the small translation team that brought over Recettear and Chantelise from EasyGameStation and somewhat changed the perception of what a Japanese indie could do in the west.  With over 200,000 units sold on their EasyGameStation titles, Fortune Summoners could potentially follow the same successful standards Carpe Fulgur has created.

Below the jump, you’ll see my impressions of the demo and find out what you can expect from the game.

Lizsoft isn’t EasyGameStation.  Fortune Summoners was built by one man with help only from others on the aesthetics.  MEL did the game design, sprites, programming and music for Fortune Summoners.  With this level of work, you can begin to understand how much heart and patience was put in to the game.  This is MEL’s vision and it’s a solid title for people that enjoy Action RPGs.

What we get from Fortune Summoners is a game that has many of the cute aspects from Recettear with the action platforming of a Castlevania.  It controls fairly loosely, but the attacks have a wide variety with the methods of implementation that works around the different height levels of the platforms.  This works in conjunction with the combo system to provide a really interesting system.  What Fortune Summoners adds to the genre is the an additional ally to your battle.  These allies are interchangeable at any time and the mechanic defines the whole world.

As Arche, you are the new girl in town.  She’s a bit of a tomboy, but she has the will and want to learn how to use magic.  As a sword user, she is completely incompatible however, she wants to prove to everybody she can do both.  Her new school facilitates her learning, but she unfortunately isn’t able to afford the elemental stone required to use magic.  Wanting to join in with the class, she decides to go out and find her own stone.  Upon accomplishing her goal, the demo ends.

Helping Arche to get to this goal is her new best friend, Sana.  Sana is a water elemental user with a completely different play style than Arche.  She is able to charge magic and her attacks hit with more range. This is all at the cost of her speed of attack and carries an MP charge.  When switching between the two it’s mostly fun to note the different interactions they have with different characters.  Sana will always have a different interaction with the other characters in the world than Arche will.

While this demo really only set up the bare basics of what the game will be, it does give some insight in to how the main game should play out.  The idea that you can switch between characters on the fly sets up many different elements to the game.  Platforming elements and variable strategy in fights allows a bit of depth to the game that sets it apart from other 2D action games.  One way this was implemented in a puzzle was to separate Sana and Arche to get through a water level.  Sana can use her ability to breathe under water to open new pathways.

The fire user Stella wasn’t playable in this iteration, so we don’t know what this third character does provide.  However, through the manual and the trailer, we can see her ability to clear shrubbery that blocks the team’s path.  The spells are also affected by element type so how effective your allies are seems to be variable.

One of the biggest things I wanted to see more of however was the character customization system they hint at.  Sana’s outfit can be changed from blue to green with the equipment she gained.  I don’t know if this will be expanded on and would seem like a waste if it weren’t.  The equipment I gained for Arche didn’t do any noticeable change to her wardrobe.

This trailer also shows how much potential the magic users have.  Sana only had a pair of spells, however you were able to choose from the two on the fly.  As you progress, the spells only grow in number and with this accessibility, the differentiation of attack has lots of potential.  The growth of the RPG system will continue to add on top of the tight attack system and should create some great depth of variety in action.

Fortune Summoners does offer up mission systems from dialog options, so the potential for that paired with the 3 different characters creates something interesting. The only mission I took was a simple find the item mission for Arche’s father, but with the great number of townspeople, this has the potential to be greatly expanded.

From what I’ve seen, the game still needs some work in localization.  I’ve come across a small number of typos through the demo.  My Hori EX2 fight stick was also unable to register so I had to play through my keyboard which wasn’t nearly as responsive as I wanted it to be.  If you have a gamepad, I strongly recommend using it as the gameplay pretty much demands to be played on something better than a keyboard.  Their is a bonus feature that allows you to fight against any of the characters you meet in the game.  As of the demo, it’s not particularly deep and isn’t really worth it.

It should be noted that this won’t be the Deluxe Edition that Lizsoft created in their rerelease.  That version came with new professional voice actors, updated graphics and additional downloadable content.  We are only getting the updated graphics most likely due to the cost of licensing from those voice actors.  As a good note though, the western release wont’ have any of the heavy DRM restrictions Fortune Summoners had when released in Japan.

Currently, this is Carpe Fulgur’s most expensive game to date.  This may be because of their contract for licensing or it may be because of the level of translation work. The concept of the game does work and should be worth the asking price to most. It’s something different from many games while still staying true to the humor Carpe Fulgur has created.  It’s a cute game with a lot of good things going for it.

Fortune Summoners is coming in at $25 to Steam and Gamersgate on January 17th.

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