Lunar: Silver Star Story Review

For PlayStation

Rating: Awesome
   Lunar: Silver Star Story may turn off some gamers with its old-school 
graphics, but those who give it a chance will find themselves enthralled by 
one of the deepest and most satisfying RPGs ever released.
   First off, there's no way to avoid mentioning the incredible package you 
get with the game.  In addition to the two game CDs, Working Designs also 
included a soundtrack CD, a Making Of CD featuring 30 minutes of interviews 
with the game's designers, a cloth map of the game world, a hard-cover 
instruction manual over 100 pages in length, and a mini strategy guide 
which walks you through the first few hours of the game.  If all RPGs came 
with a package like this instead of just the game CD(s), the world would be 
a better place.
   Lunar's weakest point is clearly its graphics, which haven't been 
improved anywhere near as much as the gameplay in the transition from the 
old Sega CD version to the new PlayStation version.  The graphics may look 
outdated, but they're still very bright and colorful, and they're not ugly 
by any means.  Likewise, the animated intro sequence is far from techno-
logically incredible, but it will give you goosebumps nonetheless.  There 
are many animated cut scenes in the game as well, which usually appear when 
a new character is introduced or the plot reaches a climactic moment.  As 
nice as the animated cut scenes are, the transition from the old-school, 
sprite-based graphics to the cut scenes (and then back to the old-school 
graphics) is very jarring.
   One of the most refreshing elements of Lunar is its top-notch voice 
acting.  The vast majority of voice acting in video games is absolutely 
horrible, and with the exception of Resident Evil, it's not horrible in a 
funny sort of way.  And even if the voice acting were really good, it could
still be argued that it shouldn't be in RPGs because it would shatter the 
image of the characters that the player develops in his mind.  Fortunately, 
Lunar avoids all of these problems. Not only is the voice acting convincing 
and high quality, but the voice actors did a really good job of making each
character sound exactly as they should.  This will obviously be different 
for every player, but I found that Ramus really sounded like I thought he 
should, Mel really sounded like I thought he should, and so on.  The voice 
acting doesn't take you out of the gaming experience; instead, it draws you 
further into it.
   Elsewhere, the ability to save at any time is nice.  Some people might 
say that it disrupts the balance of the game, but I say it's a lot better 
than forcing you to re-play long stretches of the game just because you 
died before you got to the next save point.  Also, the music may not be as 
dramatic as some other RPGs, but it's still very good in a happier, more 
upbeat sort of way.  As with any RPG, there are some small oversights that 
are a little annoying, but it's nothing major.  The two minor oversights 
that come to mind are the inability to re-name your characters, and the 
fact that Ramus is an overweight, brown-haired boy in all illustrations of 
him, but the in-game Ramus sprite has blue hair and doesn't appear to be 
any larger than any of the other characters.
   The battle system in Lunar is just how it should be in every RPG: fairly 
quick and painless.  Unlike games like Legend of Legaia, Lunar never makes 
you run around for hours at a time doing nothing but getting in tedious 
fight after tedious fight.  Much like in Chrono Trigger, you can always see
enemies coming in Lunar, and there are no random encounters.  Players can 
take a completely hands-off approach to the battles if they want by 
selecting the AI option and letting the computer duke it out, but the 
computer isn't very smart when in control of your party.  For example, it 
often heals itself instead of attacking when no healing is necessary. Also, 
it consistently made one of my characters run to the corner and stand there 
instead of attacking.  Fortunately, controlling the battles yourself isn't 
a problem because the battle interface is very simple and easy to grasp.
   The strength of the bosses in Lunar is determined in a unique way.  
Instead of each boss having a pre-determined set of stats regardless of how 
strong your party is, the game takes the stats of the main character and 
multiplies them by a certain number for each boss.  This makes it un-
necessary to constantly run around getting in battles in order to build up 
your levels, and it also ensures that each boss will be just as challenging 
as the developers of the game wanted it to be regardless of how strong your 
party is.  You still can't avoid the standard battles altogether because 
you have to be at certain levels to learn certain magic spells, and without 
these magic spells you'll be as good as dead against the game's tougher 
   Lunar is far from short on dialogue.  Fortunately, the game's massive 
amount of dialogue doesn't come in the form of frequent, long, and drawn-
out story line sequences as is the case with many other RPGs.  Instead, 
there are huge towns filled with tons of townspeople to talk to, and it is 
completely up to you to decide how much time you want to spend chatting 
with the local residents.  Lunar is also the funniest RPG I've ever played, 
with lots of hilariously suggestive sexual references, and even references 
to Star Wars and Austin Powers.  Chatting with townspeople isn't a one-way 
street as it is many RPGs, and your cat-like friend Nall usually has 
something sarcastic to say in response to the townspeople.  Sometimes the 
humor in the game seems a little over-done and forced, but most of the time 
it's genuinely funny.
   Lunar lets you see more into the personalities of the individual towns-
people than most RPGs because you can talk to them multiple times in a row.  
Talking to townspeople multiple times in a row in most RPGs would result in
them saying the same things over and over, but in Lunar they usually have 
two or sometimes even three different things to say.  And once they do 
eventually start repeating themselves, the game's Fast text speed option 
ensures that there will be no time wasted scrolling through text you've 
already read.  With the text speed on Fast, there is never any scrolling 
text; each screen of text appears all at once.
   This game has always been great, and now that it's on the PlayStation, 
everyone can know it instead of just the unfortunate few people who bought 
a Sega CD.  Lunar: Silver Star Story is a classic RPG that no hardcore 
RPG fan should be without.  

Back To Reviews


© 2001