Release Date: October 19, 2004
Buy 'BOKTAI 2: Solar Boy Django': GBA
I would like to dedicate this review to my Onyx GameBoy Advance SP, which died in the line of duty during this review.
[ pause for moment of silence ]
Konami has been known for new and innovative games over the years, and their designer Hideo Kojima has been on the forefront of that design revolution. He is not only known for innovative games but entire series like Metal Gear Solid. The Boktai, or Bokura no Taiyo in Japan, is another great example of an amazing, if strange, innovation in gaming. The first Boktai did something that no other game before it: making gamers go out into the sun. Boktai 2: Solar Boy Django follows along that vein, but requires that the player depend on sunlight even more.
Boktai was not the first game I bought for my GBA SP, but it was the second. I have a love/hate relationship with the game that is tied to the bloody difficulty level. Kojima did not disappoint with this game because it's even harder. I do enjoy a good puzzle, and I love a good adventure game, so I enjoyed Boktai 2 immensely.
Controls on Boktai 2 are slightly better organized than the original, with the start menu having a quick access menu attached to it. This is nice because there are several more menus and features – like quick select – to this game than its predecessor. The developers even had the good sense to pause the game when the quick select menu comes up. Kudos!
The largest improvement to the game is the addition of more weapon types: spears, swords, and hammers. There are multiple versions of these weapons in the game, allowing for improved damage and even the forging of weapons to improve game stats. Of course, it requires that the solar sensor be basking in the glory that is our local star. Mastering these weapons is essential since the Gun De Sol is taken away early in the game.
Another addition to the game is three types of magic: lunar, solar, and dark. Lunar magic uses energy to cause effects like fire damage on weapon hits, solar magic depends on sunlight hitting the solar sensor, and dark magic is like lunar magic in that it uses energy, but does things like transform into a bat.
The third significant addition to the game is a level/skill system. With each creature killed, the player gains general experience points as well as experience in the weapon used. When a weapon skill increases, the weapon becomes more effective, and leveling up allows the player to split three points across the four core attributes: vitality, spirit, strength, and agility.
Combat has been made a little more complex with the property of an attack comparing to the property of a creature. Light is more effective than fire to a zombie with the new system. This, added with the new weapons and magic, make combat a little more difficult but certainly not impossible to master.
As mentioned before, the puzzles are of a higher difficulty than the original title. With the increased difficulty, the weapons and good concept of the control system become important. One of the early puzzles is to open a gate by lighting two lamps with fire luna magic. To get to one of the lamps, the player must press up against a wall and walk along a ledge, which takes a little practice.
The solar sensor is probably the best and worst part of the game because some of the puzzles require sunlight to solve. With a GBA SP, the game is stuck on the bottom of the unit, and that can be an issue if the player has large hands like mine. I actually developed a distinct holding style just because of the original Boktai. Another issue with this is that one of the best tactics in the game is to block the solar sensor to get one of the Undead under a skylight in the game and then unblock the sensor. This is easy on the old GBA, but takes some effort on the newer SPs. The game is good at picking up low light, though, especially if the solar sensor were calibrated in a dark room. It even picks up reflected light, but does not work well by most modern windows due to the UV filter film put on these days.
A safety feature of the game to prevent children from slow roasting themselves, since we gamers are not familiar with concepts such as sunscreen, is that the game will make the Solar Boy pass out due to too much sun and lock out the game for 24 hours. This is slightly different from the original Boktai, which would have the solar gun stop working.
Graphically, the game has had some improvement; the colors are richer and more vibrant than before. There has not been that much of a change in how things are represented, but the look has definitely been refined.
The audio portion of Boktai 2 has also advanced since the original. While the original Boktai always had impressive audio clips, Boktai 2 expands on the amount and quality of the audio and music. This is logical, since it seems that Boktai 2 is a refined and expanded version of the original engine.
With the graphics and sound being outstanding for a GameBoy Advance title, the engine of this game is the core foundation of an outstanding adventure title on the little screen.
Multiplayer can be summed up as deathmatch with zombie bots. The other mode is a shopping mode that allows the players to buy and sell items to each other for SOLL (solar energy points, the monetary system of the Boktai Universe). The replayability is not significant and the multiplayer is downright useless.
I really enjoyed Boktai 2: Solar Boy Django. The title conveys the feel of an anime show, but it is a solid adventure game with good puzzles. The sun sensor hook is great, as is the game’s awareness of time and location. The game is difficult in certain parts, I would certainly recommend this for any of the adventure fans out there.