Lunar Knights hands-on

During E3, we got a chance to sit down and blast through a level of Lunar Knights, and we were impressed. The heir apparent to Konami's Boktai series, Lunar Knights casts players as Lucian and Aaron, two heroes tasked with bringing down a cabal of vampires - and their attendant armies of the undead - who've conquered the world by blotting out the sun.

The "action" part of this action-RPG is pretty straightforward, with players exploring isometric castles and slashing or shooting whatever gets in their way. Lucian carries a sword (and can chain together some mean combos), while Aaron prefers a laser gun, and we were able to switch between the two with the touch of a button.

There's more to this than just weapon preferences, though; like in Boktai, your characters' power is relative to the time of day - sun-powered Aaron fares better during the day, while gothy Lucian does better at night. Unlike Boktai, though, Lunar Knights won't have a built-in sun sensor that rewards you for playing outside. Instead, the time of day, as well as the weather, are shown in the "digital sky" - that is, the DS' top screen. (If you'd prefer to play with a sun sensor, though, you can always plug a Boktai 2 cartridge into the DS' GBA slot.)

In any case, we had a generally easier time playing as Lucian. Not that it was night most of the time - it's just simpler to get up close and hack away at monsters than it is to aim and shoot across a 2D, isometric environment.

Basic attacks aside, both characters can use familiars, little monsters that hover just behind them. Each has a unique one - a black cat for Lucian, a happy flower (!) for Aaron - and using them turns Lucian into a hulking vampire and Aaron into a glowing sun-creature. They can also use a few non-unique familiars for special attacks, which bring the touchscreen into play. One had us drawing little circles to create tornadoes, while another enabled us to guide down meteors with the stylus.