|.||Lunar: Silver Star Story [Complete] thoughts||
Note: Do NOT read this article if you haven't played Lunar: complete! It contains spoilers!
This is the first article I've written in a very long time, so I figured, what better way to get back into the swing of things with an article about my favorite RPG series, Lunar? Be warned, however, this article contains *SPOILERS*. In fact, this article assumes that you've played both the original Lunar: the Silver Star (Sega CD, 1994), and the remake for PSX (1999). Also, everything I say in this article are my opinions, and not necessarily the opinions of anyone else on my staff. So, here we go.
What a game! The remake of Lunar is the most incredible RPG I have ever played in my 19 years of life on this earth. And I've played a lot of RPGs. Not surprisingly, my favorite RPG before the remake was Lunar: Eternal Blue (Sega CD, 1995), and before that, Lunar: The Silver Star (Sega CD, 1994). Before I go on, I should let everyone know that I am *not* a "sub" purist, and therefore, I have no problem with english voice-overs! Please, no e-mails sounding like "Wahh, they ruined the game with english voices, nooo!". I've had plenty of subbed/dubbed wars to last me a lifetime. ;)
The storyline was much improved over the original. In the original, the Black Dragon goes insane, and 4 heroes have to stop the Black Dragon before he destroys the world. There are a ton of loose ends in the original, including a) why did Ghaleon blame Quark for Dyne's death, and why did he want to rule the world in the first place? You're shown that Ghaleon does indeed have some sort of heart from the "secret garden", but you never get to see anything else kind about him. b) You don't see Luna very much at all after Saith, and therefore don't feel as sympathetic towards her when Ghaleon kidnaps her. Also, her rebirth from Althena to Luna is never fully explained. You never really learn why it happens. c) The ending seemed totally rushed! You never get to see Mel turn back from stone, you don't get to see what happens to everyone... it just seemed totally rushed. There are various other loose ends, but these are just a sample.
The remake fixes a great deal of these. To start, Luna does NOT abandon you when you go to Meribia, and she instead joins you on the boat. The song she has on the boat is very emotional, and you get to see a side of Luna that you were unable to see in the original Sega CD version. You become very attached to Luna, and when she is kidnapped you feel more hostility towards Ghaleon. Speaking of Ghaleon... Ghaleon has a heart in the remake! You actually see what the true Ghaleon is like when the Dyne flashback movie is played: Ghaleon truly could not understand why Dyne sacrificed his magical powers, and why the goddess wanted to be reborn among her children as Luna. He felt that the world needed a leader to guide people, for without leadership, the world could not survive. The world was changing around Ghaleon, and he could not bear the thought of people leading themselves. I also think that Ghaleon was jealous that Dyne could see something that he could not, and inside of Ghaleon burned such a rage that he had to do something about it.
Such is what happened. Ghaleon carefully planned out his plan, for years he led a double life as Ghaleon / The Magic Emperor. He began kidnapping singers to try to find Althena, for he knew that even as a human, Althena would have the most beautiful voice of any human, and her voice would have magical powers. Which is funny, because he may never have found her if it hadn't been for Ramus wanting a stupid dragon diamond. ;)
As you can see, I feel that the storyline is one part where Lunar shined the most. Every RPG should have an engrossing storyline, and Lunar: SSS has the most incredible one of them all! Somehow, RPGs like Breath of Fire and the 7th saga just didn't do it for me. They lacked character development, an incredible storyline... they just didn't give me the hours and hours of enjoyment that I have received from the Lunar series.
More on storyline later... let's talk about the cut scenes. Obviously, the cut scenes in the remake put the cut scenes in the Sega CD version to shame, there's no comparison! The Sega CD was too limited to do that kind of high quality animation. These cut scenes helped you to identify more with every character in the game. From the boat song with Luna... Luna turning into "Evil Althena", to Alex willing to sacrifice his powers to save his true love, the power of these scenes was evident. Even I, the "great Zophar", am really emotional at heart, and I won't lie and say that these scenes didn't touch me... because they did. Remember, the name of my website, and my own nickname, come from the Lunar series. Did I mention that my nickname prior to October of 1996 was Ghaleon? :)
On to the voice actors! I must admit, most of the voice acting was incredible! As you may not know, John Truitt is my favorite voice actor from any video game I've ever played. He has that 'sneering' type of voice that is both evil and inviting at the same time. He fit the role to a "T". He's been in all 3 Lunars, and I feel that his best acting was seen in the Lunar 1 remake. I also enjoy his outtakes tremendously. Rhonda Gibson has also returned to play the speaking voice of Luna, and her soft voice does the trick. However, i did have a few gripes. Is it just me, or was Ramus the most ANNOYING damned voice you've ever heard? And if you noticed in the outtakes, even though Ramus had but 1 line, he (or was it a she?) couldn't get it right! I hope that voice actor doesn't come back.
I also think that Laike and Mel's voices sounded a little too similar. I wasn't expecting to hear such a swashbuckling voice from Laike... he didn't strike me as that kind of person, but that's just my opinion. Also, I loved the voice actor for Royce, but why didn't she have more speaking parts? Also... I feel that the addition of Royce to SSS really overshadowed Xenobia... in the original Lunar, Xenobia was the only leader of the Vile Tribe. In the remake, Royce seems to takeover most of her role, and she's reduced to not much else than impersonating Lemia, and falling hopelessly in love with ghaleon. Blah.
And Phacia?!?! Gah! What were you thinking, Game Arts? This was the most complete waste of a character I have ever seen. She was supposed to be evil, but somehow, she never does anything evil. Sure, she has a 'change of heart' and joins your side... only to do very little at the end other than hold off the other 2 sisters. I do realize that at the end, she tells you that the Vile Tribe will have a new life now... but I just think that her charactar was wasted. I was hoping the three sisters would merge into some evil monster at the end, but alas. Somehow, the three Vile Tribe sisters reminded me of WCW's Four Horsemen... almost never together.
But other than that, the character development and voice acting was incredible! They left an even nicer window open for Lunar: Eternal Blue than the original Lunar for Sega CD left. I also like the various plot changes that took place... the fact that Alex loses his dragonmaster power just as Dyne did, in the exact same way, seemed only fitting. There were a few loose ends that annoyed me though... you don't really know what happened to the Dragons. Did they perish when Althena's Fortress and/or the Grindery went to hell in a crash of fury? I guess that's another assumption you're supposed to make, though I don't see how, since there are dragons in Lunar: Eternal Blue. Ahh, well... and we still aren't sure what happens to the Vile Tribe, other than that they are looking for new green land. I felt a lot of sympathy for them (Cadin somehow reminded me of The Matrix in the remake... it was very different in the original), and you never find out if they really do get settled... guess we'll see if Phacia makes good on her promise in the remake of two. ;)
I feel that the remake of Lunar was much more difficult than the original. In the original, you could close your eyes and keep hitting attack, and not worry about dying. 90% of magic spells were obsolete by the end of the game. In the remake, they did away with most of the useless spells, so by the end of the game, you would still be using the majority of spells. You also could die very easily in the beginning of the game (I died a couple times in the White Dragon's cave). However, the game did seem to get easier as I went along, and the only really hard part in the final fortress was Ghaleon himself. Still, it was a big improvement over the original lunar, and it was also longer. (I can beat the original in under 15 hours, my time for the remake was about 30 hours, 30 minutes).
The bromides... ahh yes, the bromides. I only found five the first run through... although I know where most of the ones I missed are. The bromides really keep us hentai (if you don't know what that means, I'm not going to tell you) entertained. ;) It gives me, at least, a reason to go back through the game. I also missed the female springs, due to the fact that I forgot to buy a bar of soap in the ship (damnit!), and I didn't know that the locked red chest in the Vane cave contained an extra bar. Sigh...
Now we come to the final part of the game itself... the music. The music was a mixed bag, really. In the original, every single track seemed to fit. However, I feel that the remake did not fit in all of the parts. The new Burg music seems very watered down (and why it was also the music to Saith is a mystery to me... Saith did not remind me of Burg at all, heck, they even had a nice sized boat!) Meribia's new music fit well, although I didn't like the fact that Black Rose Street's music didn't sound "Vane-ish"... but then again, neither did Vane's new music.
There were, however, some tunes that I loved. The opening song conveys the story of Lunar much better than the original did (I refer to the American versions, of course). I keep listening to that tune over and over (in fact, I'm listening to it as we speak.) It can even make me a little teary eyed. The boat song was pure genius. The Vile Sisters boss music was also very catchy. But Ghaleon's Final Battle music... I didn't think it was possible to dethrone the original final battle music, but I loved the remake's final battle music even more! While I was fighting Ghaleon (I'll never be sure of the exact amount of time it took me to beat Ghaleon, since I had totally lost all track of time, but it was somewhere between 15 minutes and a half hour!) I couldn't help but get out of my chair while battling him. I've always felt that the most important aspect of an RPG, next to the storyline, was its music. (Sorry FF7). Music can truly make or break a game. I was not sweaty and gasping for breath while fighting Tyr in Breath of fire, or Kefka in Final Fantasy III, but I was while fighting Ghaleon! The music is superb, and it conveys the urgency of the battle. The remix of it that is on the soundtrack CD is even better!
I liked the new dungeon musics... except for the Dragon cave music (this is a Dragon Cave, not Chrono Trigger 6,000,000 BC) and the Lunar 2 dragoncaveish-sounding music (why, Game Arts, why!?!). There was also some music that seemed thrown in (Laike's marching type music near the end). Other music (like Nash in the magic weapon, and the frontier music) was very good, but you only heard them at one part in the game. :( However, even though all of the music wasn't perfect, it sure beats the heck out of FF7 or Breath of Fire's music. But then again... what doesn't? ;)
I don't want to sound like I'm complaining, I LOVED this game! It is without a doubt my favorite RPG of all time. But since I love it so much, I have to point out the parts that I feel could have been improved. By the way.. I LOVED the new enemy system. You can now see all of the enemies, and can even avoid some of them if you're running low on health. Although you reallly should try to fight as many of them as you can, since you won't gain vital EXP without fighting them.
The soundtrack CD was great... but it's a shame that the remixes of Lunar 1 music that is on the CD wasn't put into the game. Tracks I loved: 1, 3, 5 (I liked this one even more than 3, to be honest), 6. 7. 8. 9, 10, 11, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 23, 24. Tracks I felt didn't belong, or just plain stunk: 4 & 18. The others were remixes that I didn't hate or love, I was somewhere in the middle with them.
The making of CD was great! It was cool to see a lot of the voice actors like Jennifer Stigile (singing voice of Luna, Royce, and singing voice of Lucia in Lunar 2), Rhonda Gibson (speaking voice of Luna), and others. It was also interesting to see that Ashley Angel came back to do the part of Alex (he had a whopping seven words in the original: "Ghaleon, what are you doing?!? Noooo" and "Luna!"). The outtakes at the end of Lunar: SSS were classic, as always. I laughed hardest during John Truitt's (simply because he is my god) and Ramus (mainly because the voice actor was such a joke).
Well, that's about all that I have to say about Lunar: Silver Star Story [Complete] for now. For reading my entire rant, I'll let you all in on a nice little present. Especially for those "subbed" purists who read all of this junk. See below. Enjoy ;) If you want to discuss Lunar: SSS furthur with me, you can e-mail me or find me on IRC, in #zopharsdomain or #lunar on efnet.