Game Review - by Jeremiah Pratt
About: The story line for Lunar Silver Star: Complete has also been broadened, so the game is in no way a repeat for veterans. The basic story, however, has remained the same: You play Alex as he and his friends, including the blue-haired temptress, Luna, begin an adventure that will change their lives. Alex aspires to become a Dragon Master, guardian of the goddess Athena. Along the way, the group becomes involved with the leaders of the world in a fight between good and evil, with the lives of their families and friends at stake. So it's not a completely original story, but it's told well.
It's all in the story Lunar follows the adventures of Alex from the small hamlet of Burg. Alex's sidekicks include the irrepressible Nall, a flying cat with a sharper tongue than Dave Letterman, and Luna, a singing beauty raised by Alex's parents. A host of characters support Alex's quest, ranging from an arrogant magician's apprentice, to a hyperactive priestess, and an ultra-manly (and occasionally ultra-drunken-and-goofy) bandit. All of them put their strength behind Alex to purge his world from an advancing Emperor that will stop at nothing in his quest for power. Alex's adventures start out when his friend Ramus persuades him to loot a nearby cave for a massive diamond. That's a fairly simplistic beginning, and in fact, the very early portions of the game are simple in plot. Yet in Lunar, this is actually a good thing. The story gives you time to learn about your characters first, before dumping the fate of the free world in your hands.
When LSSC was released on the Sega CD it gained a sizeable and devoted following. The game was improved and re-released on the Saturn, and was a huge hit. The demand warranted a PlayStation version of the game, and Working Designs brought it to America. Thank goodness.
RPG's are nothing without battles, and Lunar's battle system offers up a few surprises. It's round based, which means you give all your commands, then the action starts (ALA Legend of Legaia, Wild Arms). Menus both inside and out of battle are simple and easy to learn. This system is the first I've seen to take distance between people into account. Your party members can only move so far towards the enemy, and if they fall short before you can attack, you lose the chance. Ditto for the monsters, who have varying distances of attack. Making positioning an important element in battles adds to the strategy and fun. Battles can be tough, and your closing distance could be the key. You can let the computer control your characters if you so choose, either one at a time or the entire party. I sincerely recommend you don't bother, as the AI tends to use up items and spells when you don't quite have a need for them yet. This doesn't really distract from gameplay, as you can control your characters well on your own.
The new version of the game has undergone significant improvements. All the cut scenes are now animated FMVs, full screen and beautiful. There is a huge amount of spoken dialogue, and the characters have been aged. Of course, the biggest criticism of LSSC is the game graphics. They are 2D, balloon-headed and follow-the-leader style. The settings and characters are simple but they feel much more finished than some of the gameplay graphics on newer games. I also found that the use of audio - people telling their stories - helped overcome the graphic simplicity. The sound-bridge added a refreshing breath of multimedia.
Every single one of the actors has voices. Which is close to twenty major characters. (Luna has two in fact, one for talking, one for singing!), and they're actually dubbed fairly well. This scale of voice acting really pulls you into the game, and gives the characters a tangible feel not achieved in other RPGs. Music is also well done, you'll pick up a few of the familiar themes as you play. It may not be the awe-inspiring soundtrack that the original SCD Lunar had, but it's still really, really good.
If you can, run out and pick up the collector's edition of the game. It comes with a hardbound manual, a cloth map of the world of Lunar, a soundtrack and a "Making of Lunar" CD. The manual is gorgeous, with full color illustrations and a silky book ribbon. The mapů the map kind of looks like a screen-printed hankie, and doesn't have very many towns shown on it, but what the hell. It's a real snazzy hanky. The soundtrack is a game soundtrack.
"The Making of Lunar" is actually really cool. It is an hour or so, and is a pretty complete documentary. They interview both the Japanese and American developers. There's a wacky Japanese guy talking about "Mr. Sega CD" and "Mr. PlayStation" and how their storytelling styles differ, and the contrast between the look of Japanese and American programmers is always worth a laugh.
Overall, the film is quite enlightening, and brings new Lunar players up to speed. The disc also includes a mini-game called Lords of Lunar. LoL is an up to eight-player game of Pong. Each player picks a character and castle (a square of bricks on the board) and then tries to keep the little ball from wiping out all of their bricks. The LSSC package is just too good to miss. It's an RPG, but it's a film, and it's more than either of those. Nostalgia needn't even enter the equation; play LSSC because it's a great game.