GSQ6: The sun is in your hand

I am back from PAX East and (mostly) recovered from my GDC ailment. I don’t appear to have picked up any new illnesses while in Boston, possibly because I religiously applied hand sanitizer after touching any physical surface, or possibly because all I ate there was seafood and my body is extra-powerful thanks to all the protein coursing through my veins. In any case, the madness of March’s first half seems to have subsided, so hopefully posts in this neck of the woods will be more consistent and interesting from now on.

I’m kicking things off in style with today’s entry, the Boktai article from GSQ6. This was the first article I wrote for GSQ6, an easy piece that flowed from into my keyboard from a place of love deep within my heart. I love Boktai; I love its marriage of wacky physical design and play concepts to solid, refined mechanics; I love its inventive refinements on the Metal Gear concept; and I love my memories of playing the game, back when I was a timid, fledging designer at a site-about-to-launch called, tentatively, 1UP. I think all of those things come through in this piece, which is in my opinion one of the strongest retrospectives I’ve ever written. I’m not blind to the game’s fussiness or why people find it off-putting, but I see the brilliance behind those surface annoyances, and I think this piece drills down to those elements of greatness.

Anyway, enjoy. And please enjoy the layout snapshot above, which is how I design GameSpite Quarterly spreads. This is what the magazine would look like in a better universe where full-color printing for a 200-page print-on-demand book is more reasonably priced!

15 thoughts on “GSQ6: The sun is in your hand

  1. Boktai is one of those games that I really wanted to get into. But the sunlight barrier is not insubstantial, as you say. Still, it’s not as much an issue in emulated form, as there is a patched version of the ROM floating around that allows you to adjust the sunlight at will, which means you can just put it on about half sunlight and cruise.

    If I ever get around to playing through the game, it probably will come through that method, despite my ownership of both Boktai and Boktai 2.

    Of course, the followup, Lunar Knights, doesn’t have those issues. It’s great fun, so anyone who was nonplussed by the lighting requirement should go and play that game, stat! Of course, if it was the stealth that drew you in, it might not be quite what you’re looking for, as stealth has been de-emphasized somewhat for more action-oriented gameplay.

    • The secret best way to play Boktai is on a GameCube Game Boy Player with a blacklight next to the sensor. The sun sensor is affected by blacklights, and you can turn it on and off at will.

    • Yeah, I was a tad disappointed with Lunar Knights. I didn’t like how it turned into a rather slow action RPG with boring combat.

  2. I played Boktai about four or five years ago, and while I didn’t have the most ideal handheld options* for the job at that time, I loved it. It helped a lot that I live in the south, though. Getting six or seven bars is no big problem down here.

    If any of you have ideal sunlight and work time conditions, and handhelds with reflective screens to play it on, I highly recommend playing Boktai in its intended element.

    * An old GBA with a D-pad that didn’t work as good as it used to, and one of those brighter screen SPs** that works fine but is nigh invisible in the sunlight needed.

    ** Before someone tries to correct me, no it doesn’t have a light off option! It’s the model released around the same time as the Game Boy Micro, and its button is for bright and brighter, not on and off like the original.

  3. Luckily, I manged to play through these on my old front lit GBASP.

    Something really satisfying about it being lunch time,90* and sunny. Then you fry some vampires.

  4. Jeremy, thanks for continuing to work on GameSpite. As an aside, are there any plans to start working on BakeSpite again?

  5. I really wanted to like Boktai. Really I did. I was a big MGS fan and After both ZOE games I was convinced that Kojima can branch out and do no wrong. I loved MG:GB’s throwback style to the MSX games, which Boktai certainly resembles. And I just bought an import GBA SP. I was destined to love the game.

    But sadly I bought it and then just gave up on it. The whole sun gimmick really just irked me. I seem to remember that the game almost required you to play under the sun at many times, and at the time I was only able to play games after school just before dusk, except for weekends, leaving me little time to play it under the sun. Also I had no idea about the blacklight trick.

  6. I really really liked Boktai but unfortuantely being from Ireland there was a window of 4 weeks in the year when I can actually play it. A real shame.

  7. I agree about the quality of writing on this article. It has a great mix of personal account (down to where and when the game was played) along with all the reasons the game is beloved despite some of its awkward mechanics.

  8. I keep looking at that image at the top of the article, and all I can see is the bang coming out of the gun. Was it just that surprised to be pointed at a castle?

    • I would say yes. I enjoyed it a lot. But there is a bit of shift in the gameplay away from stealth. It ends up being more action-oriented.

  9. I loved Boktai, but did no-one else think the sequel was a complete disaster? Reducing the emphasis on stealth and focussing on “RPG elements” made the game totally unbalanced and not fun. That, combined with the limited inventory space and the utterly infuriating weapon upgrade system was enough for me to chuck it in.

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