Hi there, I’m a new writer for this blog, and this is a new column you’ll see semi-regularly called Hidden Gems, where I’ll tell you all about awesome games that nobody played.
For the first article I bring you Boktai!
Boktai was a title on the original Gameboy advance brought to you by Konami.
That right there should tell you it’s awesome but if you need further convincing keep reading.
Boktai takes place in a post-apocalyptic-ish world where ‘immortals’ as they’re called walk the earth. These immortals are as you guessed, immortal. In addition to the immortals there are tons of undead walking around! You play as Django, a solar boy. What are solar boys? They’re people who have the power of the sun god Otenko on their side. Otenko follows you in the form of a familiar named, rightfully so, Otenko. He gives you hints throughout the game.
Thats a quick backstory, so how does it play? Well Django is given a solar gun, that fires bursts of solar energy at the undead (which we all know kills them), and can be used to stun the immortals. Throughout the journey you can find upgrades to your solar gun like different batteries, lenses, grenade launchers, and frames. The thing about the solar gun is that it needs sunlight to charge. Real sunlight. Like from the sun that you’re avoiding right now. The game cartridge had a solar sensor on it, with varying levels of solar sensing. This is probably why no one played the game. You have to be in the sunlight through most of it to advance. If you reach a boss (one of the immortals) they are IMPASSABLE without sunlight, no really, you can’t kill them unless sun is shining on your Gameboy.
An immortal can’t be killed by your solar gun alone. Sorry. Thats why you need the power of a PILEDRIVER. A Piledriver is a machine that Otenko summons for you at the beginning of a boss fight, it has various parts that all need solar power, and you have to charge them up and smash that immortal with the power of the sun.
From these descriptions you’re probably thinking this is an action game, I mean you have a gun, there are boss fights, and lots of enemies. If you think this you are WRONG. It’s a stealth game. It actually plays a lot like Metal Gear Solid. You have to sneak around the undead because once they see you they attack without remorse, and raise an alert like in Metal Gear, so other undead are drawn to your location. Another reason to be sneaky is that sure you’re firing sunlight at them and it hurts them… but they’re undead, they’re tough cookies, it takes about half your solar battery to kill them from the front. Like any good stealth game though, there are stealth kills. Sneak up behind an enemy and blast it in the back for an instant kill.
There are lots of different upgrades and items to find in the game, and although it’s short, there is replayability. Like the Metal Gear franchise you are ranked at the end of a run, and getting certain ranks unlocks new items. You are also given a password at the end of the game.
The password can be entered into the sequel for items / powers that a clean start wouldn’t provide you.
The sequel was more of an action game, but it still was very stealth and solar based. I admit I’ve never played the sequel all the way through as the cartridge is really hard to find and trying to emulate a game like this is damn impossible. There was a third game in the series too but it never reached American shores, however from the screenshots I saw it was almost completely an action game.
Another game set in the same universe but following a different story / characters was Lunar Knights, which was released on the DS. I did play this one, and it’s actually pretty fun. In this game you play as two characters, a solar knight and a lunar knight. You can switch between them at any time, the solar knight uses the solar gun that you know and love, but instead of charging it with the solar panel that is missing, you can find sunspots through out the various dungeons. The Lunar knight uses melee weapons, which were introduced in Boktai 2. The entire game is an action game, the stealth is still there but it’s not really important anymore as you can blast / slash your way through any problem. It’s also an action RPG so you can level up and get stronger / new skills through the game.
All in all the games are pretty sweet. Start with the original Boktai if you can find it and don’t sunburn easily. If you can’t, then Lunar Knights is pretty fun too and is probably 15 dollars by now.