Today’s topic : Bokura no Taiyou or Boktai for short and the western region.
The Bokura no Taiyou / Boktai series was developed by Kojima Productions studio of KONAMI, or KojiPro for short, produced and published by KONAMI. The games started coming out in 2003 and kept going up until 2006 and 2007 for the western regions, mainly for the Game Boy Advance before jumping ship to the Nintendo DS before “finishing” on a cliffhanger. The series started as an Action Adventure game with mixed Stealth elements, like another one of Kojima Hideo’s series : Metal Gear. The Boktai series though were not as stealth oriented though and were never intended to be like that. The first three games had Kojima serve not only as an executive producer but also as a director or co-director, the one who handled the ideas and primary game design as well as the creator and planner. When the first trilogy finished, the Boktai team wished to continue on the series and Kojima just served as the executive producer for the new trilogy which started with the last game we got, Bokura no Taiyou : Django to Sabata[Boktai DS for short in Japan] or Lunar Knights as it was known in the west. The Boktai games are a Trilogy starring twin brothers Django and Sabata and Boktai DS / Lunar Knights featured a different Django and Sabata and was set much latter in the timeline.
Stealth in my Action-Adventure game…KOJIMAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!
The first game had the interesting premise of putting vampires and other creatures of the Night, like demons and evil Gods from the Scandinavean, Irish and other mythological Lore in a Spaghetti Western setting with Spanglish as the main language for the setting and the names along with countless references to Spaghetti Westerns, it’s characters and even people behind the scenes, like Ennio Moriccone. The Lunar Knights game took it up a notch and decided to include a bit from other Horror related lore like the Frankenstein monster.
SO MUCH ENNIO MORICCONE! 🙂 😀
The gameplay was unique in that it used a specifically made cartridge for the system, forcing the player to use sunlight wisely, store it to play during the night but also use a real time night shift to induce genuine terror and anxiety when facing monsters and bosses. Especially when facing bosses since the purification had to happen during a time of strong sunlight.
Having Kojima on the helm meant some unique gameplay elements or at least a unique combination of two genres to bring something new at the table. Boktai almost managed it, but it still is a great series. The gameplay revolves around the sun and how the monsters of the game are affected but also how the weapon the main character has. The music was also phenomenal, mimmicking Ennio Moriccone’s style whith some chill inducing and fast paced tracks for bosses and battle themes to keep the pace and themes up.
Here comes the sequel!
The sequel continued the story and gave more insight in the vrothers relationship as well as their roots, for the focus of the story while introducing more characters and the world. The main change was the gameplay, reducing the Stealth element not by reducing it, but by giving the player more option to fight against the monsters, other than the Solar-powered Gun Del Sol, resulting in a more varied gameplay with many Action-RPG elements thrown in it like having the player level up as well as his proficiency with weapons, equipable armours and accessories but that resulted in the absence of the Gun Del Sol tweaking, meaning that the player could not customize just the Gun. It also had a great crossover with Megaman Battle Network 5 that was even included in the international versions
Oh Mr. Kojima, you really are a huge Megaman fan.
And the Trilogy ends!
The third game was meant to be the final in the series, having heavier focus on the story than the gameplay, to the point where it even had multiple endings, introducing just one single new gameplay element to the series and combining elements from previous games but restricted them. This wasn’t such a wise decision since it had a sequel, but back then it made sense and it was grandiose in it’s execution of it managing to nail the endings it had and leave a lasting impression both in gameplay and in story as a series.
And then Boktai DS / Lunar Knights came out!
And here comes Boktai DS for the Nintendo DS. Kojima finished his story in a masterfull trilogy, but fans of the series wanted more and who would guess, the people who worked on the series really took a great liking to it. So they asked Kojima to serve as an executive producer for this new one while setting years ahead of the game, effectivelly creating a continuity for the series and making Legend of Zelda styled, so that each iterations of the characters would not overlap with each other but also respect each creator’s vision for the characters. The game included a lot of new gameplay and a tremendous amount of new story elements making it something for every fan to crave about and drool. Despite that and the almost cliffahnger-y ending it had, it did not get a sequel. Critics both in the west and Japan likened it to Castlevania and critized KONAMI for being it’s own worst enemy in vampire slaying games, but that didn’t take away from the game’s high scores. For better or worse, the game had some Castlevania elements in unwillingly.
All in all, Boktai easily is one of KONAMI’s quirkiest and most fun titles but also one of the most unique, don’t let the fact that it has vampires in fool you. The series has a lot of potential and it’s ripe for making one of the most engaging vampire slaying tiltes out there with or without the Spaghetti Western elements that the Trilogy first had.