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Boktai 2: Solar Boy Django

Sit back for a minute and take in your surroundings. Chances are, you’re sitting in a slightly uncomfortable chair, staring blankly into a bright computer screen. Maybe you’re reading this in the safety of your bedroom, your cluttered workspace at the office, or wasting time during your lunch break at school. You might even be listening to music, or gripping a drink in one hand and the computer mouse in the other. Out of all the potential things you could be doing, there is one thing that you have in common with all the others reading this: you’re inside a room. There are walls and ceiling around you, shielding you from the uncaring life beyond. However, you can’t hide in the darkness and isolation of that room forever. When you finally venture forth into the world, you’ll get to feel the Sun’s light heat bearing down on your body. In case you can’t handle the heat, Boktai 2: Solar Boy Django might make the transition a little but smoother.

Not much to say about GBA screenshots.

As the Sun rises in the realm of Boktai, it brings hope and promise to a terror-ridden land. The Undeadening Curse has swept though the cities, turning countless people into mindless zombies. In the previous installment of the series, a young vampire hunter named Django went on an epic crusade against the evil behind the curse, wiping out a few nasty foes in the process. After cleansing the city of Istrakan from the curse’s corruption, Django set his sights on San Miguel. While he may have succeeded in rooting out most of the evil, a few more things still have to be taken care of before he can finally restore the his hometown to its former glory. Armed with the legendary Gun del Sol, he bravely marches into San Miguel…only to have his precious weapon stolen from him mere seconds after his arrival. Unarmed and outnumbered, it’s up to Django to save San Miguel from falling into darkness.

They’re too small to really riff into.

Luckily, our hero is not completely helpless. Though he lost the Gun del Sol, he can still wield swords, spears, hammers, and a few other basic weapons. While these may not seem to kick as much ass as a legendary handgun, they still pack more than enough wallop to send the average baddie packing. However, these weapons are more than what they seem. Utilizing a small sensor built into the game cartridge, you’ll be able to absorb the energy of the Sun’s rays and convert them in Django’s own magical powers. Should you not have immediate access to a sunny sky, you’ll be able to recharge your powers at various stations strewn throughout the game. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to get away with playing in the seclusion of your room; killing most of the enemies require you to consume your severely limited supply of energy. You’ll also be granted special magic spells that can be used to further customize your weapon’s abilities. Combined with a newly revamped leveling system and a few other features, you’ll likely everything you need to win the day.

Especially isometric adventures like this one.

Thankfully, Boktai 2 doesn’t entirely revolve around you powering up your weapons and hacking away at everything that moves. Considering that your energy supply is somewhat limited against an army of undead minions, the majority of the progression through the game will rely on stealth. Instead of brandishing a solar-powered blade against his foes, Django will sneak through the countless corridors and mazes that make up the game’s massive areas. Taking a page out of the Metal Gear game series, our hero will be able to sneak down hallways, tiptoe past a zombie’s field of vision and stay out of sight. Should the need arise, he can lean up against a wall and tap on it, creating the necessary distraction to get him by unnoticed. Such stealth sequences are mixed up with a wide variety of puzzles and obstacles, usually including the movement of certain boxes or the hitting of a particular lever. Though none of these are very difficult to solve, they do add something more to what could have been a dungeon-crawler style RPG.

Let’s face it, these kind of games are not made on the strength of their graphics.

Considering that you’ll be spending most of the time sitting underneath the shiny glare of the sun, you probably won’t be able to get a good look at the game’s several areas. Sadly, Boktai 2’s graphical presentation has not been improved since the previous installment. You’ll still get to explore towns, churches, dungeons, and plenty of other dark and foreboding locales. Everything drawn at a 3/4 camera angled perspective, allowing you to see around corners and observe rooms. Nearly all aspects of the levels, from the mossy cracked walls of the cemetery to the ornate marble floors of the cathedral are portrayed in a wide variety of colors. In the midst of such a serious and lonesome quest, Django looks as lively and undetailed as ever. While he may still have his flowing red scarf and signature spiky hair, his is face is comprised of nothing more than two black pixels for his eyes. At least the dramatic background music and sound effects are done well. While this game may be something pretty to look at, it still lacks the allure as some of its contemporaries on the GBA.

Thank goodness the gameplay is so good.

All things considered, Boktai 2 has turned out well. It takes the concepts of the previous game and expands upon them, offering a brand new world to openly explore. The transition between the Gun del Sol and the multiple weapons is decent, implementing a slew of new features necessary to see you through the game unscathed. The emphasis on stealth makes the game far more than a simplistic hack n’ slash RPG, forcing you to think and strategize on the go. While the presentation may be a little on the bland side, it can still stand proudly among other more popular GBA titles. Fans of the previous installment may appreciate the new features, while others may dislike the similarities between the two games. But for those that have yet to taste the sweetness of the Boktai series, give this game a chance. Even if it doesn’t satisfy your RPG, stealth, or adventure fixes, it’ll let you get some fresh air.

8 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is a Senior Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in February 2005.

Gentle persuasion

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