Overview of Summon Mate
Summon Mate, from the developer of Tenmilli RPG, is part game, part gateway to building your own dungeon and engaging in PvP. As such, some of the significant features of the game are of little value or entertainment while playing the game and are really designed for the PVP crowd. As such, the game itself is of less interest than its features might suggest. Although it shares the same graphics, portrait orientation (adjustable to landscape), battle mechanics, and interface as Tenmilli, it lacks the unusual escape dungeons and puzzles that make Tenmilli so attractive. There is NO story to grab your interest, and absolutely no dialog among characters.
You play with a party of 4 active fighters, and another group (I'll call them the "bench") who travel with you and can cast spells when not in battle, but are not available during battles. You have another very large group who are "on call" to join your "bench," and a another set of up to 15 who are stored in a "warehouse" in Shrine City.
Shrine City is the sole location where you can create new monsters, strengthen existing monsters, and bring into play the "on call" and "warehouse" monsters. You originally get monsters after you defeat them in battle, and randomly are allowed to make a "contract" with the defeated. Making a contract brings the monster into your "bench," while deferring to make the contract puts them in the "on call" group.
While the game has the usual equipment shops, and the typical leveling mechanism, the complexity of the monster use is the only thing that makes this game somewhat unusual. Creating monsters is a bit like weapon enhancing and a bit like class change in other games. When you merge two monsters, you may get a new type (and one of the merged monsters vanishes, just as in weapon enhancement in other games) or just an improvement in the magical skill of the remaining monster. However, this merging process (called "absorption") results in the merged monster starting at level 1. The leveling pattern remains the same for that type monster, but its starting base will be a bit higher than the base of the original monster. This makes it unproductive to "absorb" a monster unless you need to create a new type (think "class").
The complexity of the monster merging (think "recipe" in other games) can be daunting and makes it nearly impossible to obtain all possible monsters. Some of the "chains" to create a high level monster require over 10 merges, some of them using rare monsters. Furthermore, the strict requirements ("recipes") can be difficult to fulfill. Even with the help from the developer website, there are mysteries to unravel (try to find a "fist" type of monster) to create some of the monsters. (There is a wealth of information on the wiki associated with the game, but the translations from Google are not always helpful.)
The monster creation stuff is, unfortunately for the player, not really a significant part of the game. It is designed more for the player who wishes to make his own dungeon and engage in PvP. Sadly, much of the game shares the same intent. You can just level up your 4 characters (you don't need any of the high level monsters available as the game progresses) and almost never need to use magic (just healing magic if you like). Of course magic may be helpful, but you can "auto" without magic in almost every battle, even against almost every boss.
Although there is no IAP, there are a few options to "watch this video" for significant rewards (including fighting high yielding metal monsters). These video ads run 5-30 seconds and require an internet connection. The ads are optional, but one of these spots is very helpful to obtain the materials for a specific required monster to be created in order to unlock part of the game.
The interface is excellent and requires a minimum of tapping. For example, if you are in a shop and click on weapon/armor item, it will show you the +/- for EVERY character in your group (active + bench). There are multiple save slots.
Although "money" is scarce until late in the game, you usually don't need to buy anything as the dungeon treasures yield ample equipment. Once one of your characters learns a warp skill, world map movement becomes reasonable. There are no restore points except in Inns, but that is all you need.
The most difficult part of the game can be knowing what to do next. The world map almost always shows you the next location, but sometimes you will need to think through what you know to advance. For example, the world map might point you to a castle, but the castle may have paths to multiple dungeons.
There is a small post game (one new dungeon, but it serves only to provide "seeds" and quick grinding). In addition, IF you have "captured" all 160 monsters, you unlock a special menu that allows you to fight 9 special battles (with cameo appearances by the heroes of Tenmilli RPG) to obtain a few "drops" not otherwise available. These drops are somewhat rare, and it can take multiple tries to get one. Even worse, some battles do have multiple drops, but the game doesn't tell you which, so you might make many futile attempts.
In summary, in order to finish the game, just straight forward dungeon diving, in an almost linear path, without much use for monster creation or decisions about tactics, is all you need. Unless you like the challenge of acquiring all the possible monsters, or wish to engage in the PvP aspect, there is nothing special about Summon Mate.Posted in JRPGs, Reviews