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Chronos Twins DX (Wii) artwork

Chronos Twins DX (Wii) review

"Platforming with myse-elf, oh oh..."

Chronos Twins DX showcases a "make you or break you" sort of premise, as it's not your run of the mill, obstacle-based platformer. Rather, it presents you with a horizontally split screen containing nearly identical pathways, each with its own set of roadblocks and foes. The protagonist, Nec, appears in both sections simultaneously, and you must control both of his bodies. No, not one at a time--both, together, all at once. For instance, when "top Nec" jumps, so does "bottom Nec." When "top Nec" executes a Mega Man-ish slide, so toes his lower counterpart. The only thing he and his other self don't do together is shoot. You actually need to press separate buttons to fire a shot with one Nec or the other. A concept like this is either going to pique your interest or send you screaming into the night.

Right away, you probably have some questions, and most of them begin with either "why" or how." As the story goes, Nec's world, Skyla, has been conquered by a seemingly invincible alien named Twime. After years of research and failed attempts to dispatch the villain, someone discovers that she somehow controls herself in two time periods at once, granting her invulnerability. Don't ask me how this works, just smile and nod. Anyway, scientists develop a time machine with a neat feature that allows its user to visit two time periods at once. In theory, this should allow Nec to finally defeat Twime, assuming he can survive her playground of misery and eliminate her henchmen. And so, we follow Nec and Nec (yeah, I'm pretty sure that was an intentional pun) as he/they embark on his/their journey...

Even if you're interested, you're probably thinking this title sounds like hell. Honestly, it sometimes is, but it's also surprisingly fair and balanced for the most paqrt. It doesn't bog you down with a lot of overwhelming segments right off the bat, instead easing you into its cruelty. The first couple of stages feature only the most basic challenges, each one giving you plenty of time to stop and think before you act. For instance, you might run into a simple pit, a slightly out-of-reach platform or a remedial push-block puzzle--nothing too major. You also learn some basic rules at this point, especially those pertaining to pits. As it turns out, you only fall to your death if neither Nec is sitting on ground. As long as either past or present versions of yourself sit on dry land, you're safe. The one not resting on the ground mysteriously floats in the air instead of plummeting. Again, smile and nod.

Some later levels throw a multitude of challenges at either Nec, where one might have to dodge lasers while the other needs to mind harmful environmental fixtures. Leaping over a laser with one character might put the other in risk of landing on a damaging piece of floor, so you need to be aware of both warriors' surroundings. On top of that, one character might also engage in combat while the other hops over spikes or avoids rotating blades and the like. Again, this all sounds overwhelming, but the game eases you into these segments, and you're more than ready to rise to the occasion by the time you face them. No, experience won't make them super easy, but you'll at least be acclimated to the game's strange mechanics.

Still, I got stressed out occasionally and took breaks, but kept returning rather than giving up. Variety mostly kept me coming back, because I knew that I would eventually get past a particularly tricky spot and find myself in a completely different sort of trial. Although I struggled with reflex-based segments, I knew something more relaxed would come eventually, such as engaging fights or stimulating puzzles. The best of these made use of the "split" ability, which allowed one Nec to fly solo for a short while. With that, I could interact with objects I otherwise couldn't reach, such as a block requied to give me a boost to a lofty platform or a switch that opens a door thwarting one of the Necs.

I'm not going to lie, though: this game will eventually break you. The difficulty rating ramps up decently around area three, and viciously come four and five. Around that time, you'll encounter segments that seem impossible, including a fight against a mini-boss that rapidly zaps back and forth between eras. Worse than that are the few scenes that involve floating platforms that randomly exist in different periods. In other words, the first two bits of ground might be in the present, but the next two lie in the past, and every other platform after that could go either way. During these moments, you really need to examine each screen before jumping, also keeping a lookout for electrical traps and the occasional conveyor belt. You'll perish often because of sections like these, cursing the game's lack of infinite lives, but thankful for it's unlimited continues and perfectly positioned checkpoints.

I'll be honest about one more thing: the game gets exhausting during its closing stages. Dying isn't as big of an issue as starting over, and having to do so constantly gets tiring because you then have to repeatedly slog through content you've already completed--including puzzles. This issue is only exacerbated by rare glitches that cause you to take damage when nothing is around, or even moments where damage or death are unavoidable.

Over time, you learn the best methods for dealing with each particular conflict. Even though the hardships you face are harsh, they aren't all that difficult to master. And when you see your hard work pay off, you feel all the better about it. You eventually become addicted to beating the odds and seeing what else this twisted adventure is willing to throw your way. Following each victory, the cycle begins anew with a fresh set of crushing moments to push you to the brink, and you learn how to push back and breathe a sigh of relief. Obviously, this sort of setup isn't for everyone, but those who love punishing but fair challenges will be more at home with it.

Ultimately, Chronos Twins DX is a weird and worthwhile (albeit somewhat awkward) platformer. It succeeds by standing out and making the most of its gimmick while providing you ample time to learn it ever-changing rhythm. However, we need to admit that this title has limited appeal, and is definitely not going to please everyone. If you're not down with controlling two characters at the same time, trying desperately to split your focus between two separate screens without losing your mind, then forget this game exists. Leave monsters like these to the masochists who dig them--myself included.


JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Staff review by Joseph Shaffer (October 08, 2020)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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