That's right, you're staring at a real game on your iPod. A tactics based RPG similar in the vein of Final Fantasy Tactics has come to the iPod nearest you.
So what's the deal you ask? Well a fairly big gimmick and corny dialogue is what is up, but a unique experience, though a little repetitive, but still fun and hours of game play are to be had.
The land is in disharmony and the Mechanical militia has come through wiping out humans and trying to stamp out music and emotions. Your brother has been kidnapped and so you train as one of the last "Conductors" who can command music by shaping it into the form of "tune troopers"
Fighting with your music:
You pick songs on your iPod and transform them into various troopers of 5 classes: Solider, Knight, Monk, Mage and archer. They can be of various ranks: Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum and their stats imply ratings: E, D, C, B, A and S. There are rare cards and secret cards.
The generation system seems at most random, but it does appear that perhaps high rated songs with fewer plays generate some interesting characters. I had better results with my 5 star songs with less than fifty plays (read: Baby's Got Her Blue Jeans On with 8 plays -> Rare Knight card) than with my five stared top played song at almost 180 plays (Read Breakfast at Tiffany's -> common Woody Solider, low rank :( ).
Listen to your mentor when creating troopers. He will give you tips on what songs to pick: words like Soul, Hope, Rock, Song, etc, but only when he suggests them. He'll tell you what he thinks of your pick during most of these suggestions, so don't click yes unless he says it's a good one. This can get you Silver, Gold or even Platinum ranked troopers from the get go. Higher ranked troopers start with lower deployment points.
The Tune Troopers and Levels:
Your troopers have different movement, Range and Skills. So choose wisely. They can only be deployed so many times, and if you use a trooper with two deployment points in battle and they happen to fall, they return to the music after the battle as they lose a point for being used and a point for falling. Always enter battle with 3 points. You can "rewind" deployment with a special item. I lost my platinum mage this way... Boo hoo.
Leveling up is by the rank and through "pitch pearls" you earn at the end of battles. You can use the rehearsal room to earn pitch pearls in stages. Once a guy reaches platinum they can not train in the rehearsal room any more.
Watch for a lot of cliché names in skills: How about the "purple rain" and "Space Oddity" skills? And how about "shockabilly". Is this a play on words for Rockabilly? Also the special character "Golden Wing" reminds me of Jimmy Hendrix.
Tip: Use a high stated gold person in either normal or Hard rehearsals to rank up the pearls and then go to an easier rehearsal mode to apply the earned pearls to a lower ranked character. A three round normal mode will earn you on average about 150-200 pitch pearls depending on how well you do. Platinum ranks cost somewhere between 306- 663 pearls to go from bronze to platinum depending on the card. Development for Gold is 10X the silver requirement and Platinum is 4 times the gold requirement.
The Battle: Your main Character Ziggy always is deployed in full battles. I have currently seen anywhere from allowing 3 or 4 troopers or additional helpers to join you as the game progresses. The idea is always to keep Ziggy alive (Ziggy Stardust anyone?). There are keys to victory that are either wiping out the enemy completely or simply getting Ziggy to a specific point on the map. There are limited turns per battle, so think ahead. Ziggy always lags behind in points and rank it seems. He only ranks at the end of major story arcs, so always protect Ziggy! You may have to think carefully how and who you deploy as you may need to send groups of Troopers one way to open a gate while a second force moves to the main objective. Take movement into consideration and send your faster troops the right way! I've one time split my force into three that got me a little tricky...
Harmony attacks: Make attacks from troopers with the same class next to each on the board for increased damage. Ziggy can do harmony with any of the classes, and even of two or more different classes next to him when he attacks.
Groove points and Groove Boxes: Groove points during battle increase the strength of your troopers. You gain points by either playing songs on your iPod that have made tune troopers to accumulate play points, or by hitting a groove box in battle. Groove boxes will deal out special bonuses when hit in battle: Healing, Confusing enemies, damaging enemies, curing status or point out hidden treasure boxes.
Length? I'm not sure how long the game is going to be. It moves in stages across the map. So far I've been through about 8 battles with 2 being major boss battles (where Ziggy and his partner rank afterwards). From the story line currently I'm on my way through 3 consecutive battles chasing the main "boss" but there is no telling how the story will proceed in Final Fantasy like manner as I go to face the main boss. In real final fantasy manner there could very well be stages to the final boss, or I may have to face other underlings before I reach him who knows. I know I've already had about 4 hours or more of game play at this point, though a lot of it is spent ranking troopers and picking troopers.
Overall I give this game a B+
Pros: Unique gaming experience, with a fun, yet corny, story-line. Makes you think in how to deploy various troopers and move across the board to the best tactical advantage.
Cons: Drains battery like a banshee. For the first time I drained my battery to the point it had to wait before it would mount onto my computer!!! eep. The trooper selection is tedious and unfortunately there is no way to keep track in game what songs made which troopers. There is no connection at all to your music, outside of play points, in game once you create a trooper with a song. This is disappoint. I'd have giving an A- or better had music been better integrated somehow.
That's my thoughts.
For any interested people I've started a tag: Song Summoner for music I've used to create tune troopers with. I lost a bunch of the tags through the beta, so I need to retag here soon.
Some song recommendation. What can you find with these?
Growing on Me
(Don't Fear) The Reaper
All About Soul
Do You Believe In Magic?
I'm off to try some more song titles with the word Magic in them...