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Lunar Knights Review

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Developer: Kojima Productions Publisher: Konami
Release Date: February 6, 2007 Also On: None

One might think from the name of this game that it is a sequel to Lunar: Dragon Song, but it isn’t. Given that information, one might assume that it is a standalone title, but they would once again be mistaken. Lunar Knights is actually the third game in the Boktai series. Why they didn’t call it Boktai 3 I do not know, but such considerations are beyond the point. The important thing is the quality of the game in question. Is Lunar Knights a game worth playing? Read on to find out.

Graphically, Lunar Knights is slightly above competent. The graphics look fairly good, but, at the same time, I would not accuse them of pushing the limits of the DS hardware. The environments look appropriate for the most part for what they are supposed to represent, but enemy appearances seem to be recycled a lot. In fact, two of the early bosses look alike with different color schemes. Still, the graphics in this game are not worthy of any major complaint.

On the sound front, the music in this game sets the mood really well. Some of it is semi-addicting even. The battle sound effects are typical fare, with nothing unexpected to speak of. This game does contain a reasonable quantity of one-liner voice acting, and most of the voices sound pretty good. The intro animation even has a narrator give the entire back story. Granted, the DS has been capable of voice acting since day one, but I’ve seen very few games use it on the level of Lunar Knights, especially third party games. So, overall, the sound adds a lot to this game.

In terms of gameplay, the easiest way to describe this game would be to call it a hack ‘n’ slash RPG, although it isn’t entirely hacking and slashing. It’s a game with an RPG level system where you fight enemies like an action game. Let’s just leave it at that.

Lunar Knights stars two characters: Lucian and Aaron. Lucian is a dark swordsman. His attacks are shorter range but more powerful than Aaron’s. Aaron is a solar gunslinger. His attacks are long range but weaker in general. Following the general trend of Boktai’s emphasis on day and night, Lucian gets his power from the moon and Aaron gets his from the sun, which adds an interesting element into deciding which character to use when.

The actual battle system is nothing too complex. For Lucian, Y is used to swing his sword, an effect which can be comboed by repeated presses of the button, and B is used to guard, an effect which protects against enemy attacks. Guarding normally reduces a guard meter, but if you time it just right, not only will your guard meter not go down, but the enemy will be temporarily stunned. Aaron’s attack system is the same except that Y fires his solar gun instead of swinging a sword. Also, you can hold R to target the nearest enemy when using Aaron, and can keep pressing the button to switch enemies if the need arises.

There are two things that keep the battle system from being completely dull though, the terennial system and the trance bar. Terrenials are sort of elemental guardians. Depending on which one you have equipped, your attacks will flow through that element. Of course, this means that the game has a system of elemental vulnerabilities that you need to learn, but you acquire the terrenials one at a time, so you can learn, and there are not nearly as many elements as in, say, the later Pokemon games, so the system won’t be too hard to comprehend.

The trance bar is basically a special status meter. You fill this meter by attacking or being attacked, and then you can activate a trance mode or a special attack, depending on which terennial your character is using. If a character is using his “default” terennial (the dark terennial for Lucian or the light terennial for Aaron), a full trance meter can allow them to go into a sort of trance during which they can’t use weapons but are instead equipped with powerful elemental attacks. Using one of the other terennials results in the ability to perform a special move, which will vary depending on which terennial is being used. Systems like this have been seen before, but at least this system prevents the game from being solely about approaching an enemy and mashing the Y button, although, at the end of the day, it still is.

In terms of the leveling system, it’s fairly standard. When you get a level up, a message will appear in the upper left hand corner above your life and energy bars. Each level up gives you a certain amount of status points which can be assigned as you see fit to increase your life meter, your energy meter, or your attack skill. Each character levels individually, and both characters gain experience no matter which character is battling, so you do not need to worry about balancing your use of the two characters if you have a distinct preference for one or the other.

Each character can acquire multiple weapons over the course of the game, and, by collecting junk elements from item shops and dungeons, you can upgrade the power level of these weapons. It is a good idea to do so, as the difficulty of the enemies does increase with each passing dungeon. Each increase to a particular weapon will cost more than the one before it in terms of how many elements you’ll need to collect.

One other thing about this game is that after you defeat a boss you will need to purify him. To do this you will have to traverse a space shooter level. You just know they had to throw in some major touchscreen use since this is a third-party DS game, and here it is. The controls for the space shooter levels are simple: you move your ship by dragging it with the stylus. You fire at enemy ships by touching them with the stylus. It’s not a drastically bad system, but it makes it impossible to fire and move at the same time, which makes the levels, and particularly the bosses, harder than they need to be. Still, you only have to do one of these per boss, and you don’t have to do it for mini-bosses, so there won’t be enough of these to bore you to death.

The game is broken up into chapters, and doesn’t really seem to be that long of a game if you just cruise straight through it, but, by the time you go to the trouble of preparing yourself level wise and weapon wise for each new area, the game will clock in at a reasonably long length of time. Overall, this game probably isn’t one that’s going to be worth playing again after you beat it, but it will last long enough that, even for only one play through, fans of action RPGs might be able to get enough value out of it to make it a worthy acquisition.

Graphics: 7
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 8
Creativity: 7
Replay Value/Game Length: 8
Final: 7.7
Written by Martin Review Guide