Reviewed: April 12, 2007
Released: February 6, 2007
It seems that Kojima Productions has taken a little time off from the Metal Gear series to bring us Lunar Knights for the Nintendo DS. This game is the predecessor of the Boktai series on the GBA with a few changes that youíll notice right away and a new name. It even takes place in the same environmental setting as Boktai. Itís no Metal Gear Solid but thatís no problem.
RPGís arenít that rare on the DS so this game is entering an already crowded market with the likes of Final Fantasy and Lost Magic. The Boktai series was known for being revolutionary for the GBA. It introduced a new element to the world of gaming, the use of real-world sunlight. While not so revolutionary, Lunar Knights still can hold its own as one of the better DS games on the market even among a plethora of RPGís already available.
Let me just start out by saying that if youíve played the original Boktai games for the GBA and you hated the real-world use of sunlight then do not fear. It was not included in this game. If you havenít played the original Boktai games for GBA then you probably donít know what Iím talking about. The Boktai series had the only games for the GBA that used a light sensor to determine if it was daylight. To trick this little mechanism was quite a feat, but you donít have to worry about that because they took it out.
The first thing that youíll notice when you first pop this game in is that it is text-driven like most RPGís for the DS. If you havenít gotten used to reading a bunch of text to learn the story of a game then just give up now because itís not going to change. For the most part, the text isnít too bad and tells the story very nicely. You play a sword-wielding vampire hunter named Lucian that is out to kill all vampires, and in doing so, return light to the world.
Lucian gains his power from the moonlight so it adds a little bit of strategy to the game. When the moon is out, Lucian will be stronger. If the story sound sounds a little like Castlevania to you then youíre not just losing your mind because the story is similar. Along the way you will meet an ally named Aaron. Together the two of you are out to save the world. The story isnít the most original but it wonít bore you to death either.
The action in this game is what really stands out, and what really surprised me. It isnít your typical turn-based RPG. Itís more of a hack Ďní slash approach. Of course youíre equipped with a sword that is way too big for your body, but who cares, the bigger the better. You donít have to wait for your enemy to attack you. You can perform a rush attack from a distance and catch them off guard. When controlling Aaron you can attack from a distance using a projectile attack from his blaster weapon. Throughout the game you will be given a chance to play with both characters. In fact you will have to switch back and forth during certain portions to complete tasks.
What is a Kojima-developed game without some sort of stealth influence? By blowing into the microphone on the DS, you can make Lucian whistle and catch the attention of your enemies. When the enemies come to explore the area from which the sound came, you can hide and sneak up on them from behind. This is never a necessity in the game but does add another level of depth to the gameplay.
Another unique aspect found in the game is the space ship flying. After you defeat, or supposedly defeat, the dungeon bosses you must get into a space ship and fly through space to finish them off. This is the only time in the game where you get to use the touch controls. You use the touch screen to not only control the ship but also target other enemies. It isnít the smoothest-controlling part of the game, but the experience of flying a space ship keeps the gameplay fresh.
If you get stuck or just get tired of the main story and want to take a break you can find a couple of friends, up to 3, and battle each other via the DSís wireless ability. You only need one game to do this so not everyone has to own their own copy. This adds some lasting appeal to the game.
Unfortunately, if you are looking for your typical RPG packed full of mind-bending puzzles then look elsewhere because Kojima Productions have cut out any kind of puzzles. The original Boktai games were well known for their masterful puzzles, but this time around the focus is more on the action and less on the puzzles. Itís amazing how much an occasional puzzle can really mix up the gameplay and keep it from getting stale. Iím not saying that the gameplay is stale, but a few puzzles placed throughout the game would have definitely been a plus.
This game is a mix between 2-D and 3-D anime graphics. Some of the graphics appear 3-D but are only 2-D while some of the bosses are truly 3-D. This is because the graphics are mostly based off of the Boktai games for the GBA in which it was all done in 2-D. These environments appear textureless and could have been redone for the DS. The new bosses, however, have been done in 3-D and look great.
The game also uses a large number of bright colors. I guess you can say that this game is the opposite of bland. Iím not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing. There are different shades of oranges, blues, purples, pinks, reds, and yellows. It has basically every color that will catch your eye, and distract you. These colors are not just found in the environments either. Lucian, for example, has bright purple hair and pail skin. Most of the characters in the game are clothed in interesting wears as well. Overall the game looks pretty unique to say the least, but in the end it seems to work well.
The soundtrack is amazing and matches the atmosphere of the game, but the lack of consistent voice-overs somewhat hurts the overall experience. Most of the story is presented in text but occasionally there is some voice-over work. This is on very rare occasions so donít expect to hear much. Overall, the lack of voice-overs on a regular basis is disappointing, but not enough to deter any one from playing through the game. The sound effects, like the soundtrack, are also well done and add to the feel of being a vengeful vampire hunter.
Finding a solid RPG on the DS isnít that hard. Your first instinct may be to purchase Final Fantasy III. If you enjoy turn-based RPGís, then you may not find what youíre looking for in Lunar Knights. On the other hand, if youíre bored of those turn-based RPGís and want to try something different then Lunar Knights will surely not disappoint. It just depends on what youíre interested in, and even if you prefer the turn-based style you may want to give this one a try and at least rent it. It is full of action and lacks the slow down of most turn-based games. Given the addition of single-card multiplayer, you canít go wrong for 30 bucks.
I am big fan of Final Fantasy III for the DS, but the change of pace in Lunar Knights was quite refreshing. I didnít like the use of colors as much in Lunar Knights though. I felt that it just used too many bright colors, and it took away from the seriousness of the game.
All in all I think that Iíll stick with the slower-paced turn-based style, but it all depends on preference. Some may find the quicker action-filled pace to fit them better while others, like me, enjoy the slow-paced gameplay that has become a trade-mark of most RPGís.