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Review By: Joel Fajardo
Developer:   Game Arts
Publisher:   Working Designs
# of Players:   1
Genre:   RPG
ESRB:   Teen

Lunar: The Silver Star Story earns a gold in excellence.

I remember being in 7th grade and reading some random, generic, video game magazine (At this time, VGH didn’t exist; if it did, I would have been reading that.). And although it wasn’t a great issue, I remember seeing one thing that caught my eye: it was a game. What was so special about this game that I was pulled to it by merely a glimpse, you ask? I was an assortment of things, all of which I do not remember. But, what I do remember is that it led me to buy a Sega Saturn; what I do know is that I was captivated by its old-school look; what I do recall is that it was a Sega CD classic that I always yearned for. What was it? Well, It was Lunar. Lunar: The Silver Star Story.

Lunar is a story about Love. Lunar is a story about Adventure. Lunar is a story about Magic. That is what makes the Lunar world, and that is what leads the hero, Alex, to start his adventure. Alex is a young, green-eyed boy who has always dreamed of going off on daring adventures as the man he idolizes did—Dragonmaster Dyne. One day, Alex’s friend, Ramus comes running to tell Alex that a dragon cave near town has opened. Excitedly, Alex decides to tell Luna, his childhood love, about the trip that he’s going on; she decides to go with him. Once in the cave, they meet a dragon, and after a test, they receive a dragon diamond. The party acknowledges that they can not sell the dragon diamond in the little town of Burg that they live in, so they must travel farther to the town of Meribia in order to sell it. What they don’t know is how Luna’s magical voice will be her downfall; what they don’t know is that Alex has a destiny to become a dragon master as he has always dreamed; what they don’t know is that they will meet several traitors who will try to sabotage their hopes and dreams. Thus, the game begins.

In few ways is Lunar graphically advanced over many of the other 16-bit RPGs during the era it was released. It looks like it plays—traditional, old-styled, and outdated. All the characters have oversized heads with minute bodies, stubby limbs, and the rest of what you’d expect for an RPG of its kind. Likewise, magic spells (and the four dragon "summoning" spells) aren’t even the least bit impressive. Sadly, many of the classic SNES RPGs (i.e. Final Fantasy II and III, Chrono Trigger, etc.) rank markedly superior in terms of graphical achievements compared to what you’d find in Lunar.

In one and only one way does Lunar stand out from its 16-bit rivals: Full (animated) motion video. I often find myself saying "this game has the best animation ever" or "this game has the best FMV you’ll ever find", but Lunar truly does shine in this category—like a silver star. In the two game-CDs that come with Lunar, you’ll be treated to about one hour of eye candy— one hour of full, lush, gorgeous FMV. Nothing (although Saturn’s Magic Knight Rayearth comes close) can even touch Lunar in that respect (of animated FMV)—not Wild Arms, Guardian Heroes, or MKR. In fact, the intro is one of my all-time favorites next to those games. The FMV is added nicely throughout the game—it’s inserted during key events, allowing you to feel closer to the characters, feel scared for them, or awe at what they see. Everything is so well-detailed and drawn, that it’s hard to believe that it is actually coming from your PSX—it truly is a sight to see.

But that is the limit of my impressiveness with Lunar, for Lunar contains many flaws as well—most notably its battle system. Lunar is so standard in combat that it’s almost painful to play at times. It has the basic "attack", "item", "magic", and "run" options, with the addition of an "AI (artificial intelligence)" option (which, without a doubt is artificial, arguably intelligent). To make matters worse, the enemies are dull and repetitive, have few and redundant moves, and lack the originality of FFVII. On top of that, the main bosses don’t have a set level of difficulty—instead, their difficulty is based on a multiple of Alex’s level. Big mistake. This is implemented so that you could wiz through the game without having to gain levels to kill the bosses. Big, big mistake. The result is an unchallenging, 28-hour game. Horrible mistake.<sighs> The worst part is how the battles appear. Long gone are the random battles of the FF series, and in come the much hated Earthbound, watch-and-try-to-avoid-too-quickly-moving
-enemies-on-the-screen approach so you don’t have to get in a battle.

As for the music, much was lost from the conversion from 16- to 32-bit. The music on PSX Lunar is good, but nowhere near great or even good like the Sega CD’s version is. The music is most certainly not heartwarming, nor is the battle music intense. It’s all rather… bland. The FMV scenes where the characters talk sound rather nice, as well as the general voices during key events in the game. But, it just doesn’t cut it.

As for extras, Lunar definitely excels there. WorkingDesigns has set a breakthrough in terms of packaging. You get: a.) an oversized box, b.) a cloth map that only has three locations on it (you don’t do much long-distance traveling) c.) a music CD to the game (which you’ll only listen to about once) d.) a " Making of Lunar CD" which you’ll watch from occasion to occasion (plus, there’s a secret pong game on there, so you’ll play that once in a while.) and e.) a hard-cover manual with a bit of art. What’s the cost of all of this? About $10 more added to the game. It’s worthless crap, but it looks nice. =)

I saved the most important part of the analysis of Lunar for last: Regardless of its flaws, Lunar is a fun game and an enjoyable RPG. It just isn’t amazing and has too many minor flaws. The plot is nice, the characters are lovable, and the translation is grand. But, it doesn’t offer a challenge (it’s WAY too easy) and it’s too unoriginal (even though it’s supposed to be old-style). One interesting thing is that two people can battle in fights together, taking turns (It’s basically the same thing like if you and a friend were to keep passing the controller to each other back and forth. Except, in this case, you can each have a controller, although first player stays in control of the battle.) On a positive note, the story is touched up from the Sega CD version. Nothing much more to say.

If you want a quick and easy RPG that starts off sluggishly, but progresses nicely, and is only about 30 hours long and $50-$60, Lunar is the game for you. Although fun, you won’t find yourself coming back to the World of Lunar too often unless it’s to view those awesome FMVs. Most definitely try to borrow this game from a friend.

Overall: 7.9


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