Side-scroll shooting with a twist.
Review written by
January 11th, 2010
I had never been the one to rush to the store whenever a new side-scrolling platform shooter came around. Difficult, repetitive, and above all, undeniably classic, these games always appealed to a specific group of gamers. A group that I, unfortunately, never found myself a part of. But in the spirit of objectivity, I will cast my prior preferences aside to write this review. Again, I'd like to mention that this game was gifted to me by the developer, in this case EnjoyUp. I will add that I am truly sorry for my incredible lack of punctuality in getting this review up.
Chronos Twins DX is the WiiWare alternative to a DSi downloadable game by the same name (sans 'DX'). Thus, the game could be considered a port, although it would appear that the visuals have been updated, if only slightly, to accommodate the bigger screen. It fits comfortably into its genre, vying for attention on a virtual stage with competitors like Super Metroid, the Mega Man games, and a few other notable titles. Does it compare to the competition? It depends on how much the individual player is able to enjoy/tolerate the major differences in the formula.
Chronos Twin DX's gameplay can be conflicting. Partly unique and partly frustrating, it's the definition of a mixed bag. Every game needs something to distinguish itself from its competition and Chronos Twins DX does so with extremity. The main focus here is the use of two different fields of vision instead of one. This means that the player must control two different sprites on two different playing fields with two different sets of enemies. It sounds mind boggling, but the developer was able to utilize this functionality to the game's benefit, for the most part. When I mentioned that the two sprites are controlled separately, I wasn't completely summarizing the experience.
Controlling isn't actually as difficult as it sounds. The two sprites have locked movements, meaning they both share the same motions. The only distinguishing actions the two characters can do is shoot and freeze time on their field, allowing the other to do actions without controlling the first one as well. Both sprites also exist in roughly the same fields, save minor differences for the sake of boss fights and platforming challenges. For example, I was going through a level of floating platforms. I jumped onto the first platform, and immediately noticed that there wasn't any second platform within jumping distance within the top visage I was watching at the time. I looked down to the other one and found that the next platform was only there. I jumped to it and found that for the most part, the platforms alternated between the two 'screens'. The other character wouldn't fall in because the two were locked in their motions, meaning that if one is on a solid object, the other doesn't necessarily have to be (he'll just float to parallel the other).
What this amounts to is two things. First, there's a lot of clever uses of this gameplay feature. Many stages require complex thinking about using the two screens to the player's advantage. Secondly, it means that things can get overwhelming at points. Often there would be two completely different set of obstacles, meaning that I constantly had to switch which screen I was focusing on, which got disorienting after only a short while. In general however, the gameplay is fun. It's a callback to the classics while adding a few interesting changes.
For a 1,000 point WiiWare title, the length of play is satisfying. Although within specific levels there's less variety than I would have liked, there's actually a large amount of variety between the levels. Thus the player has something to look forward to at the end of each one. There's the standard fare of unlockables and powerups to get throughout, each with either a better weapon or a way of getting though the next area. It's a useful tactic, but not one that hasn't already been fleshed out before.
As for any story to keep the content interesting, there is one. It's not deep or complex but it's there. The only complaint about this is that the 'cutscenes' show a lot a influence from the 8-bit era of static imagery with text. The intro scene with which the game begins especially goes on for a while, for a cut-scene the player will undoubtedly care little about.
I was pleasantly surprised by some aspects of the game's visuals. There was a certain charm in the combining of 3D environments and 2D sprites. The environments, while not with complicated polygons, are colorful and filled with depth. There would be large magma creatures in the background, looming around, or busting cities under attack. There was definite detail given to certain other aspects as well, like the room you go to when you run out of lives and need to spend a continue. Motion works well most of the time and I experienced few problems.
That being said, the game is still essentially a port of a DS game, meaning that everything could look even better had they put more effort into fully translating the graphics for the home console. Also, the game really was made for two screens and sometimes the two fields can feel a bit horizontally narrow, especially in widescreen. Overall good, but not without its flaws.
Essentially basic, the music and sound do their job but little more. I wouldn't be surprised if most, if not all the sound effects were taken straight from the DS game, meaning that some of it sounds muffled and simple. The music is effective, for what it is. Not much to say because the sound didn't wow me or horrify me. It simply was.
Chronos Twins DX does plenty right. There's a good amount of enjoyment to be had. I just can't help but think that the experience would be better on DS. It really feels like it was made for a portable console with two screens. Wii owners who find themselves to be fans of the side-scrolling shooter will have plenty of fun, but it probably won't go down in their or anyone else's hall of fame.
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