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Lunar Knights Package Art
Action RPG
Kojima Productions

Lunar Knights

Vampires have conquered Earth. Using a weather control device called paraSOL, they have shielded the planet from their only weakness -- the Sun. That is, until now. A mysterious vampire hunter named Lucian and a fiery resistance fighter named Aaron team up to upset their plans for a vampiric utopia. One wields a dark sword, and the other a solar gun. Working together they make the most of any form of sunlight, widening a crack in the Sun shield with each victory.


Variety spices up this DS adventure. Lunar Knights makes use of all of the following visual styles at various points in the game: anime, 2D, 2.5D and 3D. The anime cinematics by Studio 4 Degrees (responsible for The Animatrix) introduce the story in each chapter. The in-game conversations are handled by 2D characters on the top screen. The bottom screen shows a 2.5D view of the dungeons. Lastly, 3D models are used in outer space battles concluding each chapter. It sounds chaotic, but everything flows together quite seamlessly.

The anime cinematics are just the icing on the cake of the rich 2.5D dungeons. The enemies and heroes are lovingly crafted and provide a solid base for the anime. At the pinnacle of 2.5D sprite animation are Aaron, Lucian, the vampire bosses and the whimsical sphinx minibosses that are met in battle. Other enemies follow closely in animation quality as each sprite compliments each nuanced enemy AI.


Toe-tapping big band music heralds our hapless heroes in high style, while dungeon music is more appropriately subdued. Partial voice acting gives life to many characters, especially to the elemental creatures called terrenials, which assist Lucian and Aaron in their quest. Sound effects use what memory was left after music and voice were squeezed in.


Gameplay mixes a variety of elements into a surprisingly cohesive whole. RPG-inspired character stats and inventory management gives some room for strategy. While hack-and-slash dungeon action is less strategic, players must still manage energy and health levels plus enemy attack patterns. Elemental terrenials may be equipped to increase effectiveness over enemies as well as solve dungeon puzzles.

Lunar Knights's top screen weather simulator replaces Boktai's real sunlight sensor, but the latter can still be used if the Boktai Game Pak is inserted in the GBA slot. Weather effects energy levels, which decrease with movement and most weapons. Lucian can recharge by moonlight, Aaron by sunlight, but neither can if the weather is cloudy or they are indoors with no skylights. Items scattered throughout dungeons and hidden fairy caches ensure that players have something to fall back on should their energy levels run too low.

All of this action is tied together by the story, which follows our heroes as they meet, join up and relentlessly pursue their vampire overlords. Cinematics, dialogue or both introduce each chapter with a dungeon serving as the meat of each. At the end of most dungeons lies a vampire boss. Each vampire battle ends with the fallen foe fleeing to outer space in Sun-shielded casket armor. Players must then navigate a 3D outer space shooting stage fraught with enemy drones, asteroids and boss ships. Finally, the vampire is destroyed via a giant solar satellite that blasts the casket with sunlight.

Between dungeons, players may peruse the world map, buy from shops, upgrade weapons and stay at inns. Players may also re-enter dungeon areas to gain experience and items and even replay the 3D space battles to hone their touch screen, drag-and-tap dogfighting skills. While all this is available, it's more likely that players will instead be drawn onward to the next dungeon challenge.


Setting an example for all DS games, Lunar Knights sports both single-card and multi-card play for up to four players. Players face off in a 2.5D dungeon-style brawl, where fighting other players is like fighting any other enemy. The host chooses time limit, number of wins and stage, while individual players can choose their character, weapon and a bonus item that ranges from health fruits to invisible traps and bombs.


Despite the dark, gothic subject matter, Lunar Knights is a lively, vibrant game. Characters act out of personality-driven motives, functioning within a realistic world of time and weather change. The strategy of inventory and stat management approaches RPG-level, while the core of the game remains satisfyingly action-oriented. With ease, Lunar Knights brings a whirlwind of different elements together in smooth, polished style.

final score 9.5/10

Staff Avatar Paul Starke
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"In Japan this was named a 'trouble bug.' (...Is it really a bug?)"

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