Taiyoh!

Gabriel Silvas, Columnist

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In a place not to far from here and now, the end of the world approaches. Immortals, beings removed from the cycle of life of death, carry out the undeadening of all life, annihilating them if they will not submit to the will of the Galaxy-Universe, “Dark”. Mankind has been virtually wiped out, with only a handful of sanctuaries keeping them safe from Vampires and other Immortals, though it’s only a matter of time before they are overrun by the various tribes of these monsters. However, the undead all share a weakness in sunlight. A gunslinger by the name of Red Ringo once roamed the land, defeating the undead and purifying the stronger Immortals through devices that were powered by the sun; The Gun del Sol, a gun that utilizes the sun to vaporize the undead, and the Pile Driver, a massive construct that uses four solar rays to utterly annihilate Immortals. One day, Ringo disappeared, supposedly slain by an Immortal known as The Count of Groundsoaking Blood, but both his weapons and his mentor, Master Otenko, were passed on to his son, Solar Boy Django. Now, Django continue’s his father’s work and wanders the land, traveling to the undead city of Istraken to search for The Count and avenge his father.

Produced by Hideo Kojima and released in 2003, the first game of the Boktai series was released on the Gameboy Advance. Following the adventures of Solar Boy Django, this relatively obscure gem of a series, inspired by a mix of Spaghetti Westerns and Norse Mythology, accumulated three main games and a spiritual successor that was still heavily connected to the original trilogy’s story. Blending stealth mechanics with RPG elements, the main gimmick of the series is the inclusion of a UV chip on the game cartridge. Using actual sunlight powers the Gun del Sol, giving it energy and boosting its power. Occasionally, the battery on the weapon will need to be recharged, so the more sunlight hitting the sensor, the more energy will be available in-game and the faster the Gun del Sol will recharge. However, using it too much could overheat the gun, prompting the user to go to the shade and wait for the gun to cool off.

Django himself is a reserved, quiet, but kind lad, but there are plenty of other characters who do the talking. Master Otenko, the embodiment of the Sun and the mentor to countless other vampire hunters include Django and his father, guides him through the various dungeons, offering insightful advice against the numerous undead and their Immortal masters. Along the way, the pair encounters memorable people like Lita, the Earthly Maiden in charge of the Solar Tree; Sabata, Django’s estranged older brother who utilizes Darkness as opposed to the Sun, but is firmly on the side of good, though his introduction had him working for less moral characters; and Trinity, a young boy from a future ravaged by the Immortals, who manages to save Django when he was sealed inside a tomb. Many other side characters also appear, particularly the citizens of San Miguel.

The Immortals want nothing more than to eradicate and turn all life. While some beings that fight against Django are just ancient creatures used by the Immortals for their own devices, such as the giant wolf Garmr and the golem Muspell, most of them are very much evil. The Count of Groundsoaking Blood, while the arch enemy of Django, is only small fry compared to the likes of Hel, the Dark Queen of the Death Clan of the Immortals and sister of Moon Beauty Mani, the mother of Django and Sabata. In the second game, members of the Shadow Clan, chiefly Duneyrr, Durathror, Dvalinn, and Dainn, conspire to awaken the Ancestor Piece known as Jormungandr, a being known as an Eternal, which are so powerful that they can never be destroyed, only sealed. Finally, Ratatosk, the last surviving member of the Demon Clan, gathers allies in Hresvelgr, Nidhoggr, and the reborn Count in order to revive another Eternal known as Vanargand, which was sealed away by the Lunar Clan long ago.

The subsequent games in the series, while keeping the core aspect of the first game intact, added some more mechanics and changed some things around. Boktai 2 introduced the Sol de Vice, gauntlets infused by the power of the sun to enhance various melee weapons. Boktai 3 also introduced the Solar Bike for Django to ride to the various dungeons. Both games also introduced the TRANS System, a way for Django to channel into his inner light and darkness, using various abilities to cause heavy damage to his enemies.

The aforementioned spiritual successor, Lunar Knights, was released on the Nintendo DS in 2007. Taking place in the alternate future that Trinity hails from, the Vampires have all but taken over the entire world, harvesting humans as livestock while completely protected from the Sun via the paraSOL system. Taking the role of Lucien, a Darkness-wielding swordsman, and Aaron, a young and idealistic gunslinger, the two work to free the world from the grasp of Duke Dumas, the leader of the Vampires after killing a grownup Trinity and the Lord of Destruction, Ratatosk himself. This title, while keeping many aspects of the original trilogy intact, changed the way the sun works in that it is all in game, making it easier for people that don’t live in sunny environments.

Unfortunately, the game’s gimmick became its undoing. Depending on the climate you live in, you might not get as much sunlight or it might be too hot. Because of low sales, the third game never made it over to America. Considering it’s been around eight years since the release of Lunar Knights and the recent developments of Konami’s changing business plans, it’s very unlikely that another installment will be made.

Even with the flaws in the sunlight mechanic, the game and series itself is a cult classic that definitely needs to be looked at, with fun gameplay, lovable and cool characters, and pretty catchy music. There are a lot of secrets to find, difficult bonus dungeons to tackle, and even a crossover with Megaman Battle Network where you take down Shademan. Games with this much heart put into them need to be remembered.

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