Chronos Twin, not to be confused with the Chrono Trigger series, blends arcade shooting with platforming rather nicely. Originally destined for the Gameboy Advance, the game was ported over to the DS platform the moment they found out about the dual screens. Taking a few years to port a game is rarely done, but in this case it was all for the better as without the careful use of the Nintendo DS, this game would be nothing.
The basic premise of Chronos Twin is that the planet of Skyla is being taken over by a group of aliens and the protagonist's brother went to battle them to help restore peace to the world; however, not all went according to plan. Now, many years later, our hero, Nec, is planning to avenge his fallen brother by removing the aliens from his home planet. The key element to this game, which makes it different from the other hundred and one side-scrolling shooter games, is the dual screen aspect.
Nec is in the past and the present simultaneously and this is shown across the two DS screens with the top screen representing the present and the bottom representing the past. If you move something in the present time, it will have little affect to the landscape of the past; however, move anything major in the past and the present time will be altered. This can make the game very hard to play, especially when creatures are attacking you in the past and the present at the same time whilst you're trying to avoid lava. Furthermore, the enemies exist purely in one time - not both -- meaning you will have to be on the lookout on both screens.
As the game progresses, Nec's arsenal is upgraded, including the addition of a shotgun. Yet, the most useful feature of Chronos Twin is the ability to control time. This time control is an "upgrade" after completing a few levels and will freeze either the present time or the past and allow Nec to travel unconstrained by the affect of the dual play. Later in the game, though, it's required that the two times merge and exist in only one time line. This may seem like the game is about to get easier; however, this merged world is equally as hard and doesn't remain merged for long. Then there is the issue of separating time, which in itself spawns a few more battles.
The basic level design is a little on the simple side: you go right, you kill a lot of enemies and you jump over other enemies and obstructions. Yet, after a while the game becomes a little bit more complex and will require a little backtracking to actually progress any further in the game. This learning curve is gradual and feels very natural -- at no moment is there a massive difficulty jump which makes the next level impossible to play. Nevertheless, the dual screen use in the early levels will seem a little hard, even with the basic design, as it takes a while to get used to controlling the same character over two screens that have their own enemies.
With 15 separate levels, and usually three to four "zones" inside each level there are plenty of enemies to kill, and many hours to waste with this game. Not to mention the fact that once the main 15 levels have been completed, a few more bonus levels become available. Although these levels still follow the basic premise of the game, it's a nice little addition. Unfortunately there are no multiplayer, co-op or WiFi modes included in Chronos Twin, which would have enhanced it especially if there were battle modes.
In terms of audio pleasure, this game is pretty generic, really. The usual shooting sound effects are there, and the background music for the game is neither outstanding nor appalling. If Nec dies in game, the other characters will teleport him back to the main ship, and that noise is probably the most distinctive and irritating noise of the entire game as it's very loud and pulls off the sound of electricity very well.
Graphically this game is very clearly a GBA game. The backgrounds to each level will rarely change without the movement of Nec. The sprites are similar to those from Dragonball Z or Megaman games, but they're still of a high quality and the characters do have a depth and there is clear definitions for muscles and shadows.
Although we're in 2007, and the game isn't visually that great, the gameplay and the general dual screen mechanic makes it something that needs to be picked up and enjoyed.
Final Verdict - 7/10
Many people will simply give up on this game, as it does take a little bit of time to get into. It's one of those games where you'll turn the DS off once you die and then go back to the game about two minutes later as it's infuriating but addictive. With no real character depth or that much character development, those who want a world to fall in love with are looking the wrong way. Yet, this is a solid arcade/platformer game.