I am a man composed of practically nothing but guilty pleasures. My movie collection is dominated by a combination of cheesy 80s romantic comedies and slasher flicks, my bookshelf contains more Conan comics than it should, and my iPod... well, we'll get to that in a minute. In my youth, one of my guiltiest pleasures came in the form of the Monster Rancher games. The general idea was for players to train and breed "monsters" to battle in arenas. Acquiring these fighters was accomplished by putting a CD or DVD into the console and then having a unique creature generated by a sampling of the data. It was like Pokemon, only more addictive, because I could waste countless hours trying to create the Ultimate Monster by going through my entire CD and DVD library.
Song Summoner: The Unsung Heroes revisits the creation techniques first introduced by Monster Rancher and then employs the battles found in the Final Fantasy Tactics series. Instead of using a disc, though, the game uses the song library on your iPod. When you have more than 5000 songs in your library, there are a lot of possibilities to be had. Creating fighters, sadly, is pure guesswork, as there doesn't seem to be an actual pattern to what song attributes affect fighter stats. I started off going through the songs on my Top Rated playlist and wound up with some really weak characters. Meanwhile, as ashamed as I am to admit this, I actually had an insane amount of luck with the results generated by Lindsay Lohan and Ashlee Simpson songs.
Shut up, you're not allowed to judge a man by his guilty pleasures. It says so in the Bible.
There's an epic story to Song Summoner, of course, that takes itself far too seriously (as so many of Squeenix's games do) about a boy named Ziggy who sets off to rescue his brother from an evil robot army. Music seems to have taken the place of magic in the world, and the tragically-named Ziggy is one of the last "conductors," capable of using music to summon fighters to help him battle the Metal Militia. This doesn't seem too difficult a task, since you can take as much time as you want to go through your library and create a powerful fighting force. There's more than a passing similarity to the Tactics games here, thanks to the goofily-epic story, the isometric perspective, the surprisingly deep combat, the cutscenes narrated with lush static character images, and the numerous character classes.