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Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete - Review

"All Things Are Real, Unless You Dream They're Not"

By: Paws


Review Breakdown
   Battle System 5
   Interface 6
   Music/Sound 10
   Originality 7
   Plot 9
   Localization 10
   Replay Value 7
   Visuals 8
   Difficulty Mildly Hard
   Time to Complete

35-45 hours

 
Overall
a humble eight
Criteria

Title Screen
 

   Once upon a time, as the fairy tales go, there was a young boy who wanted to be a hero. Sound familiar? It should; it's the basis of the story found within the remade Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete.

   The game had its perhaps dubious beginnings on the Sega CD, published by a small company (but rabidly followed by those who knew them) called Working Designs. The game was, in essence, totally remade using most, if not all, of the original plot, and released as a yummy extras-filled package in late 1999. And so it begins.

   The battle system is simple and well done, though incredibly generic. At the beginning of each round of battle, you choose an option for each of your party members to act out during the fight. Once everything has been chosen, the order in which the actions are processed is determined by speed. Defending works just as any normal RPG does, reducing the damage the character takes, and items are the standard fare of healing, reviving, and magic-replenishing varieties. Items are limited to the amount each party member can carry, which is approximately eight items. Enemies are clearly marked during dungeons (ie, they wander around) and while some are escapable, most will actively seek you out once you have entered their cognizant range. It's generally a good idea to fight most everything you come across anyway to make sure your levels stay at a decent rate in order to advance. Defeating every enemy isn't required, but it will keep the game at a decent difficulty.

   The battle system also includes an artificial intelligence system which at first glance seems to be missing the key point of intelligence -- that is, when left alone, the AI will use every character's strongest magic to whoop up the weeniest enemies. However, once you take a deep breath and delve into the AI system, you will notice you can program up to three sets of commands for the party as a whole. Personally, I never really used the AI, as my strategy tended to shift around too much to want to program a new sequence for every hour of gameplay.


Staring into Nothing...
Staring into Nothing...  

   The interface within the game is done extremely well, though there is nothing that makes it so amazing you'd want to write home about it. Controls got tedious just because they were so different than the games I normally played (for example, 'O' was save rather than cancel) and it took a while to adjust. Menus were easy to navigate, but the limited number of items tended to frustrate me more than anything. Overworld maps and navigation was smooth and easy. I would have liked to see a little more movement in the sprites, but their straight-spined look doesn't really detract, just leaves you wishful for a bit more. Shops use the same simple menu format as your character item menus, though I do wish you could move between characters when purchasing.

   The visuals are one of my favorite points of the game. Done in an anime style, they're very cutesy and fit the fantasy setting of the game superbly. Cutscenes are done as well as any ADV film, and the battle sprites, though made for functionality more than form, don't look out of place in the least. Every detail, down to the flutter of Luna's skirt hem and the breeze blowing by Nall's wings, is taken into consideration and the detail in everything (not counting the previously mentioned stiff battle sprites) is exquisite. When talking within the party and to some outside character, small facial insets will appear with the text bubble (a Working Designs tradition, it seems), and each character has half a dozen or more facial expressions which can be encountered over the length of the game. My personal favorite is when you get Alex to snoop through Luna's underwear drawer....

   Originality does not particularly abound. As the opening said, it's a pretty generic 'once upon a time' fairy tale, though the story has unique twists and a few familiar ones spiced up for interest. In essence, though the story type didn't need fixing, it was certainly made better. The plot did tend to plod along at some stages, but you were never running around like a chicken with your head cut off trying to figure out what to do next. While some people may scream at the linearity, you really don't *have* to immediately rush to the next plot point. In fact, if you do, you may just miss one of many tiny opportunities to pick up a fancy bromide or to hear someone say something important, shocking, and/or hilarious. Being able to stop and smell the roses, and not having to worry about where you're going next? Sounds like a good deal to me.


Would you *want* to see this again??
Would you *want* to see this again??  

   The replay value is a mixed bag. The story grabs you and won't let you go until the ride is over, and it can be quite an emotional ride, as it seems intended to be. At a short average of 40 hours, it wouldn't take too much to go through the game again. Considering the secrets held within, such as the bromides and the baths, it would be a fun romp to play it over again. I myself have only played it completely through once, but as I write this review I am playing through it again. I suppose I may be disappointed I won't be as thrilled and shocked and angry as I was through the first time, when I didn't know what was coming next. I wouldn't have immediately started playing the game after I beat it the first time, but now that some time has passed, and I have played other games, it is time to go back and fondly relive the story.

   As for the time to complete, a good 39 hour stint brought me through it all the first time. Though I have heard people brag of beating the game in 20-25 hours, I don't believe you can really spend so little time on the game and still find all the little secrets and stop to talk with everyone. The only problem I had with the length of the game was that the last two hours seemed to drag a bit compared to the rest of the game, which followed the plot steadily, albeit slowly.

   Localization, as in all Working Designs games, is everything if not perfect. No funny little grammar, spelling, or wording boo-boos here, let me tell you. Aside from the *cough* occasional naughty reference, the game is filled with familiar phrases and attitudes. Catch phrases like "Milk does a body good" make the gamer extremely comfortable even in the game's fantasy setting, and kudos must go to the excellent mix of reality and escapism. Other game companies could take a page from the style of Lunar.

   The music found within this game is simply mind boggling. Songs abound, sung or wordless, that enraptured this reviewer. I can say in all honesty that Lunar's soundtrack is the only video game music I listen to outside of when playing a game.

Say Cheese-Bromides!
Say Cheese-Bromides!  
No more muting the TV to listen to another CD when Lunar is on! Not only is it spectacularly composed, it fits each scene so well it gives a whole ambiance to the whole game I have seen little of elsewhere. From someone who doesn't really care one way or another about game music, I cannot say enough how much I enjoyed it in this game.

   The rebirth of this Lunar game really struck a chord within me. I can truly say, as I display the box of goodies on top of my TV next to my PlayStation, that it is definitely worth playing at least once. So what are you waiting for? I know what I'm waiting for -- Lunar 2!





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