On the Gameboy Advance, Boktai was one of the most innovative games on the system. Incorporating the sun to actually play the game. The problem with Boktai was that you had a love/hate relationship with the game because of the sun sensor. Lunar Knights is essentially another Boktai game, but without the sun sensor. While the game loses its innovation, Lunar Knights may very well be one of the best DS games out there. It's beautiful, has a well crafted storyline and a lot of variety to the gameplay to make it good.
Hideo Kojima, best known for his Metal Gear Solid games, takes storytelling on the Nintendo DS up to new heights. In Lunar Knights, the vampires have blocked out the sun and essentially taken over the world. Humans have formed a resistance, but with the sun blocked out the vampires are far too strong for them. You play as Lucien, a vampire hunter who is out to settle things with the Duke, the leader of the vampires. Later on in the game you'll meet Aaron, another who is out to stop the vampires. While the two are after the same objective they're for different reasons that you'll learn later on in the game. Part of what makes Lunar Knights work so well is that much like Metal Gear Solid, there's a huge emphasis on the characters, and the story is well written. Almost each and every character you meet is distinct with a lively personality. Most of the dialogue that comes your way is text based, but there are little snippets of voice acting thrown in here and there, and for the most part it sounds pretty good. Not only do you get some snippets of voice acting but from time to time you get some anime styled cutscenes and much like the artwork of the game itself, it's absolutely beautiful.
Lunar Knights is a dungeon crawler, mostly. It's an action/adventure with some RPG elements thrown in for good measure. You'll begin the game as Lucien, and Aaron will join you later on. The two have different styles of gameplay. For one thing, Lucien gets his energy from the moon while Aaron gets his from the sun. Lucien also uses a Dark Sword while Aaron uses a Solar Gun. This makes a huge difference in how the flow of gameplay can shift.
Both of your characters have an energy gauge for their special abilities and such. Lucien absorbs his energy from the moon and Aaron from the sun. There's a day and night cycle that plays throughout the game. Sometimes the sun will be out and sometimes the moon will be out. If the moon is out, it allows Lucien to absorb energy and if the sun is out it allows Aaron to absorb energy. It's how the weapons work with this element that can either drive you nuts or set you at ease. Lucien uses a Dark Sword for close combat. Aaron uses a Solar Gun for long range combat. Lucien's Dark Sword doesn't use up energy, which is good, but if he ever runs out of energy (by running all the time or powering up his Dark Sword) the sword becomes less effective. However, it's still usable. Aaron, however, expels energy every time he uses his guns and if he runs out of energy then he can't use his weapon. Ideally enough, this means you'll probably spend the majority of the game as Lucien.
When outside, your characters absorb energy on their own, but a lot of the time you'll be in a dungeon that cuts off all access from the light period. In some of these dungeons you'll be able to find a skylight, but a lot of the time you won't, so you'll still have to be conservative with your energy. Likewise, running also takes down energy.
Also, as you go through the game, you'll acquire Terrenials. These creatures enhance the abilities of your characters weapons and imbue them with an element, allowing you to exploit some of your enemies weaknesses. There's a bit of trial and error, though as you don't know exactly what your enemies are weak to from the get go, but again, it adds some variety to the gameplay. There's also a trance meter that fills up, and when it's full you can unleash some really powerful attacks. Trance is also affected by the Terrenial you've got equipped. It's nice to have this kind of variety in a game, especially because it's still a challenge even with all these abilities at your disposal.
Getting through most dungeons is no easy task. As I said, this is a dungeon crawler and you'll have enemies swarming at you left and right. You won't usually find yourself overwhelmed, but you will find that enemies can dish out damage, and that it adds up quite fast. Some environmental factors also play a huge role and can deal damage as well. The game is fairly challenging. Most bosses, however, aren't as challenging as actually getting to them. And some bosses, when you defeat you'll have to drag them to Lucien's ship. This starts a sort of 3D space shooter which is controlled entirely by the stylus. The controls feel kind of weird, and the whole space shooting aspect of the game just feels out of place.
As far as the game looks, it's not too bad, although I was not impressed that it was all isometric. The artwork is beautiful, and the dungeons are very well designed, but the isometric look gives the game a GBA like feel. To add more to that feel there are some enemies here that are recycled from Boktai. So don't expect it to push the DS to its limit. However, this does not mean the graphics are bad. As I noted earlier, the anime cutscenes and artistic visuals are fantastic looking. Truthfully, this may very well be one of the best DS games out there because of how much in incorporates into the game. To compliment the game better, it has some of the best music I've ever heard in a handheld before. Lunar Knights isn't just a great DS game, but could also give even some console games a run for its money.
Simply put, Lunar Knights is one of the best DS games ever made. It's got a well crafted storyline, fantastic gameplay elements and enough variety to keep it interesting. If you've got a DS, then Lunar Knights should be one of the games on your list.
+Well crafted storyline
+Beautiful artwork and anime cutscenes
+Well developed cast of characters
+Very involving gameplay, with a ton of stuff to do
+The two main characters you control are both unique and distinct in their abilities
+Good challenge for anyone who wants it
+Very well designed dungeons
-Bosses are a little on the easy side
-The controls for the space shooter levels are awkward
-The Space shooting levels just seem out of place