E3 06: Lunar Knights Hands-On

It's up to two vampire hunters to defeat the vampires and save the Earth. From space vampires. Say that again until it sinks in.


LOS ANGELES--Today, a day after Kojima Productions and Konami announced their new Nintendo DS game, Lunar Knights, we had the chance to go hands-on with the title at Konami's booth and unearth some new details.

As we mentioned in our trailer impressions, the game revolves around two vampire hunters, Aaron and Lucien. Lucien is the melee fighter character, who starts out with a sword attack but can earn maces, staves, and other melee weapons as you go along. He's also imbued with the power of vampirism, and can change into a vampire after he builds up what's called a TAC meter, which allows him to suck life out of his foes. Aaron is the gunfighter of the pair, and uses a variety of ranged weapons to deal hot death to his undead foes. Unlike Lucien, though, Aaron has light powers, and can temporarily become an avatar of life when needed.

The TAC meter is a fairly familiar gameplay mechanic: It's built up as you land blows on your enemies, a la the Overdrive in a Final Fantasy game. When it's full, you'll be able to use the powers of one of your pets to launch into an extrapowerful attack that affects multiple enemies. The transformations mentioned above are two of these attacks, but some are more magical in orientation, and often revolve around interaction with the touch screen. We saw two of these. The fire-oriented attack has you drawing circles around your foes on the touch screen, which can send meteors down to hit them, while the wind-oriented attack has you creating a huge tornado by rapidly swirling the stylus around on the pad. We were told that other powers would involve other kinds of interactions, including blowing into the mic to create a blizzard.

The pets that you have available to you are elementally-oriented, with fire, ice, wind, and other elements represented, in addition to the good and evil pets that are only available to one of your characters. When these pets are following you around the screen, you can use your TAC powers if you desire, but they'll also add their elemental attacks to your weapon strikes, at the cost of a resource called energy. If you strike an ice monster while your fire pet is following you around, you'll obviously deal extra damage, but if you hit him while your ice pet is following, you'll barely dent him.

Your ultimate goal in Lunar Knights is to destroy a number of boss vampire enemies. The boss on display here at E3 was a fire-oriented vampiric unicorn, of all things, that dashed around the arena in which we fought him, leaving fire in his wake. He was tough to vanquish, but with a bit of hammering and one big tornado, he went down after a long fight. After the boss enemies are defeated, you'll apparently have to get into a Casket Rocket and attempt to purify their bones in the stratosphere! At least, that's what the gameplay trailer told us; we didn't get to play this part for ourselves. The space sequences look like an old-school Star Fox game, with a behind-the-ship perspective that seems to lock your ship into a fairly straightforward path. Still, it looks neat.

We'll be sure to have more coverage of Lunar Knights as the game gets closer to its release date, which as of yet is defined only as fourth quarter of 2006.

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