Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Boktai: The Sun is in Your Hand - Met the Solar Tree

Boktai was a game marketed with a gimmick - the cartridge includes a solar sensor on it and the gameplay changes based on whether sunlight is hitting the solar sensor. That alone intrigued me enough to look into it. The fact that it was also billed as requiring stealth gameplay and was produced by Metal Gear Solid's Hideo Kojima further enticed me.

After playing the game for a couple hours, my reactions are mixed.

I liked the stealth gameplay. It took me awhile to get the hang of, but having to avoid or sneak up on enemies rather than all-out assaulting them is a great touch. The way the game encourages you to use stealth is by having your weapon do more damage to enemies if it hit them in the back than in the front. You can take down enemies with a straight on assault, but it will take longer and they will see you - meaning they will shoot at or rush at you. Once I got the whole stealth stuff down, I found myself greatly enjoying it.

The rest of the pure game mechanics work nice too. I like all the items and inventory management. I like the different attachments and settings for the gun. I like that you have to store up energy for the gun and can only recharge it in certain ways. I like the isometric way and the different weapons and the way they fire. I also like that there is an element of exploration to the game - you can move between different areas and will have to come back to some once you acquire new items.

As for the whole solar sensor thing, it really seems to make playing it a bit of a pain. Perhaps it is the way that the DS's screen is designed, but I found that when I had a decent amount of sunlight hitting the cartridge, it was hard to see the screen. If I held the DS at just the right angle, I could see the screen well enough and get sunlight onto the sensor, but it was not very comfortable. Actually, it was a lot easier to position the DS when I was outside although screen glare was still a problem. I do want to try playing it with my GBA as I think (or hope) that its screen is more viewable in direct sunlight.

I also decided I was an idiot because I have wanted to try this game for awhile, but kept waiting until I was on vacation in Nova Scotia where there would be plenty of sunlight. Well, not only did the year I finally play it involve only three days of sun while I was up there, but I also finally realized that Salt Lake gets a ton of sun and there is no reason not to play it there.

I do enjoy the gameplay quite a bit and hope to come back to it in the near future. Besides you get to destroy undead with the power of the sun. How cool is that?

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