Does time travel work out on the DS?
Chronos Twins introduces the novel concept of simultaneous gameplay on the top and bottom screens of the DS. It is essentially a 2D shooter, styled after retro platformer/shooters of the same type.
Under the premise of playing in the past and present at the same time, you control one character across both screens simultaneously. The top screen of the DS shows the present while the bottom screen shows the past. The backgrounds are mostly the same, using a slightly different colour palette, while the platforms, obstacles, and enemies vary. If your character is standing on a platform on one screen then they are safe, even if on the other screen they are standing on thin air. Enemies on both screens can hurt you and you must dodge or shoot them on whichever screen they appear. Likewise, obstacles such as rocks and pillars on one screen will affect you in both time periods and you must dodge or remove them from your path.
Jumping on one screen makes you jump on the other, but shooting uses two separate buttons and you must shoot in both the past and the present separately. Having to shoot enemies on each screen ensures that you have to constantly switch views between the top and bottom screens, even when having reached a supposedly safe point platform-wise. There seems to be no way to watch both screens without constant switching, looking at both screens from a distance for example creates no advantage. Damage meters and danger markers appear on both screens to alert you to the screen where you should pay attention, but many times it is both and the danger message is just one other thing that you are unable to track at while looking at everything else.
A lot of repetition and memorization is required and this is ultimately how all of the levels are completed. The gameplay never feels fluid or intuitive. Most levels contain checkpoints and continues are offered after every level, these are essential for making progress due to the sheer difficulty of the game. As a platformer/shooter with only one screen it would be a tricky game, but having to memorise almost double the amount of information to be able to get through each level escalates it to fiendishly difficult.
While the dual screen gameplay is new, the levels appear to be all too simple. Each level has new types of obstacles and challenges but there is nothing really unseen. The game is styled after retro shooters and the concepts seem to be ripped straight from other games of the genre. The changes added to continuing levels include more obstacles and enemies, on rails levels with enemies chasing after you, and rather easy bosses. All these elements you could expect from any other shooter, but there is not the polished formula that you would expect from a game of a genre with a long history.