Combining science fiction, flight simulation, shooter, and roleplaying adventure, Lunar Knights has a lot to offer, but how it's received depends on who's playing it.
In this combination of science fiction and fantasy adventure, the Earth is controlled by vampires who employ a dreadful device called paraSOL to control the weather and keep the sun from shining, which is obviously deadly to the non-nocturnal beings. The humans are quickly overtaken, excepting the few who can stand up to the vampires. Even the small, but burly, guild of warriors finds itself struggling with the blood-sucking undead.
Enter hero #1 and hero #2--polar opposites in the most literal meaning of the phrase. Lucien, who is powered by the moon, and Aaron, who is powered by the sun, come from completely different backgrounds and, only rightly, have access to completely different skills. Lucian weilds a pretty sweet sword while Aaron comes packing heat (that's guns
, people!). These two, along with their terrenial sidekicks Nero and Toasty, come together during a chaotic moment early in the game and decide, nay, vow
, to stop the vampires menace.
The game objective is simple...in writing. Players must dungeon-crawl through various locations, fighting monsters and solving puzzles; a standard RPG mainstay. At the end of most dungeons is the obvious boss which is just aching to be dealt justice. The bosses range from overpowered monsters to vampires equipped with powerful Casket Armor, for example. Once the boss is taken care of, Lucien and Aaron must take the vampire into space and expose it to sunlight to keep it from resurrecting. This is where the flight simulation and shooting comes in. In these moments you are tasked with destroying enemy spacecrafts and dodging asteroids, to finish the job, using the stylus. These moments play a lot like the "Gummi Ship" levels in Kingdom Hearts, but more simplified and perhaps easier to handle.
It's easy enough and even quite fun, but there are some irritating quirks that get in the way. Many games pit you, first, against hordes of lackluster minions before encountering a challenging boss. Lunar Knights has it a bit backwards. Monsters that roam the dungeon can seem terribly annoying and frustrating. Once past them, the bosses often seem pathetically weak, bested by little more than studying their battle pattern and using it to your advantage.
The myriad dungeon baddies also have weaknesses, so, unlike just fighting a single boss with one weakness, you'll be juggling several
, each with a different weak point to expose. Run away and the creatures only follow you, which makes healing an even bigger hassle or, sometimes, impossible. However, when you reach a point where the characters can learn the weaknesses of your enemies, the gameplay gets a bit easier to handle, this writer settles down, and really begins to enjoy Lunar Knights.
But breaking the game down to just the baddie and boss battles is a little reductive, and Lunar Knights has a lot of neat features, and outstanding moments, as well. The space shooting levels after vampire bosses are really fun, providing an enough challenge to make it worthwhile but not too much to scare players off. The stylus sees its share of use in these parts, a nice change of pace, as well as in other events in the game involving the elemental-powered terrenials. Also, if you happen to own one of the earlier Boktai GBA cartridges, you'll get the added bonus of a weather simulation (the Sun Sensor) instead of the in-game system. But it definitely changes the difficulty to the lighter side. And one can't complain about the animated cut-scenes, beautiful art and easy-to-learn fighting and navigation skills, can one?
There's a lot to like here if you are a gamer with patience, and if you are familiar with the Boktai (Vampire Hunter) series, you probably are. There are solid production values here, even if the story and dialog does go a bluntly purple). The game minus the quirks is still an enjoyable, solid one. It is especially recommended if sci-fi, vampires, and cute animalian familiars are your thing. If these tickle you pink then Kojima Productions's Lunar Knights is right up your moonlit/sunlit alley.