Chronos Twins (Nintendo DS) Review

By Mike Mason 22.10.2007 9

Review for Chronos Twins on Nintendo DS

We first covered Chronos Twins around this time last year in The Indie Scene, leading to bitter tears being unleashed when it was realised that it wasn't a sequel to Chronos Trigger. Starting development on GBA, developers EnjoyUp swiftly moved the project over to DS once the dual screened portable was announced, and not without good reason.

The 'hook' of Chronos Twins is that you are playing as the same guy but in two separate times (hence the title), the present and the past, each represented on a different screen of the DS in a vertical split screen style. Rather than the player moving one of the characters along, switching and moving the other, the game is unique in that you control both at the exact same time. You push right on the d-pad, both characters move right. You press jump, both leap. The only separation is shooting; each character has their own fire button, and their cannons cannot be fired at the same time, which means you have to balance and prioritise which of yourself is in the most danger from something shootable.

It's very difficult to see how this could have worked on the tiny Game Boy Advance unless eyes were to be crippled and precious little Game Boys to be hurled across the room in rage, so we're very pleased that Chronos Twins has been converted over to DS instead.

Screenshot for Chronos Twins on Nintendo DS

This is all a bit confusing at first, most likely because we've never played anything like it. You wander/jump/shoot along like in any side-scrolling 2D platformer, but because you are dealing with two characters who move in tandem rather than the standard one, you also have to take on double the threats and constantly flick your eyes between both screens to avoid hazards and basically combine the elements. Both of these characters share the same life and energy bars, too, to make things just that little bit more tense, so if one gets hit the other feels the pain too.

However, there are also benefits in controlling two times at once. Any platforms that appear in one time are active in the other time, though do not show up, so if you're faced with a huge gap to get across and no obvious way to do so in one time, you need only look at the other screen and do your platforming on that one. Big pit of spikes in the past but a nice simple bit of solid ground in the present? Providing it's high enough to keep you out of the pit (if you imagine it was superimposed on the bottom screen), across you stroll. You're going to have to take in two times the amount of information of most games to get anywhere in Chronos Twins. Thankfully, the game proclaims when you're close to danger on either screen, but this isn't always going to save you.

This is a complete brain overload initially, but EnjoyUp have clearly factored in that this would be the case and ease you into it quite gently.

Screenshot for Chronos Twins on Nintendo DS

Later on, the focus shifts slightly so that not only are you shooting and dodging obstacles, you also solve puzzles, such as getting across pits where there is no possible way in one time. You learn to 'split time' so that you control just one of the times and move something into place so that the path is clear in both times. Splitting time is also the only way to get some power ups, as gaps in walls exist on one screen but not the other.

The amazing thing about all of this is that it's all actually possible to do with a bit of practice. Sure, it can be frustrating, but we kept going back and conquering what we thought was impossible an hour earlier, only to move on to ever-more ridiculously cruel challenges. It's not difficult for the sake of it and to artificially lengthen the game, it's just a massive throwback to the games of yester-year, reminding us how tough games once were. The sense of 'old school' drips out of every bit of the cartridge, from the level design and overall challenge, to the visual style which screams with all the power (and colour palette) of the Mega Drive. This is a game for the so-called hardcore gamer in its purest form; gamers scared of a raised difficulty setting need not apply.

Screenshot for Chronos Twins on Nintendo DS

With the old-school sentiment, though, come problems. Character design, aside Nec (the hero), is Amiga-esque, and not in a particularly good way (the animation is pretty great, though). The sound is nothing special (though well-sampled). The story is no Shakespearean epic, revolving around you battling the alien/demon threat in both times because the enemy can somehow appear in more than one time at once, and is not really explained. You also have to get revenge for your brother's death. It's not really clear how this time machine that basically splits Nec in two works either, explained by a random bunch of babble to fob off players.

The translation of the story and the text in general is pretty appalling in parts, with us coming across multiple errors of both grammar and spelling within about a minute. The font chosen for the text in itself is close to unreadable at times. The save system is automatic but never tells you when it has actually backed-up your game, leading you to guess until you realise it does so at the end of every sub-level. Levels end abruptly without any indication that you have moved onto the next.

Screenshot for Chronos Twins on Nintendo DS

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Chronos Twins is exactly the kind of thing we like to see: a brand-new idea that brings an exclusive experience with it, and well done to boot. It's also refreshing to play something that is completely unforgiving in its difficulty while not impeding progress with persistance. We're extremely intrigued to see what EnjoyUp can do next with a game built ground-up with one system in mind, rather than a title that has had its platform switched over mid-development.

Developer

EnjoyUp

Publisher

Oxygen

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (44 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

It rips graphics from many Capcom games - http://boards.ign.com/chronos_twin/b7880/75722291/p1/

If that is true, it doesn't stop it being a good game. I've not heard of any legal action being taken from Capcom's side, anyhow.

Surprised there haven't been any more comments so far to be honest, I remember there being quite a bit of interest when I wrote about it last. Really fun little old school game.

Great and nostalgic game!!
Is very fun and challenger.

Good Review article.Congratulations.

Chronos Twins is fantastic!!!

I need more games like this.

Shame this is never likely to ever break into the DS charts...sounds like a fun little game. Might have to check this out.

I'm surprised, indeed!

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

Great Game! Great Games Reviews!

http://www.wiids.co.uk/2007/10/22/chronos-twins/
http://www.eurogamer.net/article.php?article_id=85803&page=1
http://my.opera.com/Nplus/blog/2007/10/22/n-review-chronos-twin

Indeed, the reviews all tipped in seemingly just after I'd put this up, and all seem positive so far! I hope it manages to sell a few copies, even though I know it's wishful thinking to believe it'll crack the top 20 DS chart.

I really liked this game at first, but it's beginning to become a pain... I'm currently at a boss which seems almost impossibly difficult. Not only does it have incredibly hard to dodge attack patterns which barely give you a chance to attack back, but almost half the times I try to do it the game crashes during on of the boss' attacks... To be honest it kinda feels like they didn't actually test half of this game... >.>

Still good fun when it's not crashing though...

Still a proud member of the 'omfg amazing water in games' society

Funny...I never had it crash once on me. It IS difficult with those insane patterns, but I think that's part of its old-school appeal. It's so satisfying when you complete each level.

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