Boktai 2: Solar Boy Django
Gimmicky is one of those words that's often thrown around in reviews. Obviously, to be gimmicky, a game first needs a gimmick: something that's unusually innovative. Some gimmick games like the Eye Toy series, while ultimately neat, fail to be anything beyond gimmicky, while other gimmicky things, like the once silly rumble pack on the N64, are now standards in the industry. Now a GBA game has come forward with the gimmicks to end all gimmicks: something that lets you work on your tan and slay evil vampires at the same time. What could be better?
Boktai 2 is an action RPG somewhat in the vein Shining Soul on the GBA, but with a few diverse gameplay features, like stealth action and heavy puzzle elements. Make no mistake however, this is more of a dungeon hack than anything else, and it's a solid one at that. Combat, though somewhat simplistic in nature, still requires a decent amount of strategy because Boktai 2 has a pretty steep difficulty level. Not hard enough that it ruins the game, but there will definitely be some frustrating moments throughout.
Granted, that's all pretty standard stuff - so what's the gimmick in Boktai 2: Solar Boy Django?
Boktai 2: Solar Boy Django's gimmick is the integral use of solar rays through sensors on the front and back of the GBA cartridge. Translation: to take full advantage the game, you need to be outside in the Sun. However, this isn't just tacked onto the game to make sure you get some fresh air. Instead, it's central to Boktai 2's gameplay. Sunlight, essentially, is your magic bar and since you're chiefly slaying demons and vampires who are susceptible to the sun's energizing rays, you need a lot of it. In some dungeons, it's essential that you're out in the sun or the difficulty level gets ramped up considerably, and in some areas, you can't progress at all without solar energy. It's definitely a neat concept, but the solar sensor really limits when and how you play on your GBA, pretty much negating one of the defining features of the portable.
Unfortunately, while Boktai 2 itself is solid, one of the things that might hinder your enjoyment of the game is the timing of the release: in the middle of winter where it's not just cold, but where the amount of sun each day is at its least, and for many areas in North America, a time where cloudy and rainy weather is quite prevalent. Mother nature may get in the way of your enjoyment of Boktai 2 during this time of the year, so it might be best to wait and pick it up until the weather is more kind in your area. Still, if you can get past the limiting nature of Boktai 2: Solar Boy Django's defining gimmick, then its well worth owning if you're hankerin' for an action RPG on your GBA.