As I’ve said before, Carpe Fulgur knows charming when they see it. Recettear and Chantelise prove that. They’ve now turned their sights on Lizsoft’s side-scrolling, action-RPG. How does this one measure up?
First impressions are usually spot on. However, there are times when more examination is needed before you can really pass judgement. Fortune Summoners is an example of one of those times. When I first started playing FS, I frankly wasn’t impressed. I found the controls to be completely unresponsive, and the enemies far too difficult. I was ready to give up, but since I liked the animation style, and I was intrigued by the story, I decided to seek advice on the forums about the wonky controls. Thank goodness I did- FS does not play like a standard 2D hack and slash game- It plays more like a fighting game, where enemies are capable of dodging spammed attacks- In order to succeed, you need timing, patience, and the ability to mix up combat moves. It’s also supposed to be difficult- perhaps TOO difficult. However, on the easiest difficulty, FS becomes more of a joy than a punishment to play. I’m still not completely sold on the controls. I feel they just aren’t quite responsive enough- and I feel I can fairly blame several of my characters many deaths on not turning or attacking with the fluidity I expected. Considering the fighting game like nature of the controls, I also feel it was a mistake not to include d-pad support for the x360 gamepad. I understand that FS is an older title, and that Carpe Fulgur handles Westernization of existing work rather than revamping control schemes- it’s just a bit of a turn off.
Luckily, or “fortunately” (ahem), FS makes up for some of my gameplay gripes with colorful graphics (running in full screen mode this time! Yayifications!), memorable characters, and a pleasant soundtrack. Of course, the patented Carpe Fulgur charm shines through in the dialog translations. While not nearly as quotable as their previous works, Fortune Summoners still tells a delightful tale in a competent manner, and provides many a chuckle along the way. I especially love Arche’s first encounter with the Merkids- They threaten to devour her and her companion, explaining how they have a taste for manflesh- Arhce then starts listing HER favorite foods, because she thought they were comparing notes. There were a few odd turns of phrase that seemed out of character for the Carpe Fulgur team, but overall Fortune Summoners has more moments that really work than those that don’t.
Fortune Summoners is definitely old-school when it comes to puzzle solving and direction finding. There are items to collect that seem to serve no useful purpose, it’s not always immediately obvious where you need to go next (letters from friends provide a fairly good clue… usually), and there’s no map function. Remembering how to navigate from place to place was tricky at first- I had to tap into stagnant NES skills in order to successfully get around. There was a bit too much backtracking for my liking, especially involving the first cave, but a good variety of enemies and environments elsewhere in the game prevented me from getting bored. Being able to switch between characters and utilize different spells and combat moves was enjoyable as well. I also liked how companion AI could be modified to aid during particularly intense boss battles.
Fans looking for a challenge will certainly not be disappointed by Fortune Summoners. There’s also a lot of value to be had here- The main quest is lengthy, and optional bonus missions provide even more to do. Still, I can’t help thinking that the $20 asking price might be a bit high. I recommend you give Fortune Summoners a try, though- It’s a little rough around the edges, but it’s definitely an enjoyable enough romp.