bomba's House Of Flancakes

Posted on Sep 21st 2018 at 08:00:00 AM by (bombatomba)
Posted under Pure Nostalgia, Lunar Silver Star, Sega CD, Lunar Silver Star Story Complete


Lunar: The Silver Star was a landmark title when it was released back in the early 90's, not just in the combat system and story, but also in the presentation due to the format, that being CD-ROM.  And according to history, it was, but I never played that version extensively.  Instead, my nostalgia lies within the remake, Lunar: The Silver Star Story (specifically the version translated and published by Working Designs for the Sony PlayStation.  This year I picked it up (for the third and final time) with a motive to finally complete it, and I did.  It was an amazing experience, and one I would like to share with you all.

** There are most certainly spoilers for Lunar:SSSC within this article.  They are very light, and really nothing more than you will find in the "Making of" disc included with the game, but still here nonetheless. **




While I got my love for the Lunar franchise with the PSX remake, once upon a time I owned the Sega CD original - and before the remake was released.  I got it in an lot purchase along with Lunar: Eternal Blue, Vay, Dark Wizard, Heart of the Alien, and Sonic CD  (along with a few more titles) for about $45 back in '97.  I didn't really play it either, though I did at least boot it up to see if it worked (which it did) and played the first hour.  It seemed like a fun game at the time, but I was deep in the first disc of Final Fantasy VII, so what I played was gone in the drama of Cloud and company escaping from Midgar (and how I was going to grind my Materia out).  I sold it (also in a lot, but for three times the paid amount) a few years later to help finance my regular game playing habit.  It was a good price, but man those games go for a lot these days.

Lunar: The Silver Star was developed by Game Arts (creators of many past greats) and published for the Mega-CD in June '92, later translated by Working Designs and published for the Sega CD in late '93.  All in all it was a traditional JRPG, though the battle system, CDDA audio, and anime cutscenes help distinguish it from all the rest.  It centers around a child named Alex, who eventually goes on to save the world.  You knew that, right (outside of the minor details, like the names)?  Sorry.  Anyway, you venture forth with a rotating cast of characters (up to five in a party) in pursuit of the mantle of "Dragonmaster" (last held by Alex's hero, Dyne), to eventually challenge the might of the evil Magic Emperor..  That is an oversimplification (I assure you), but you get the gist, right?  End of history lesson.  Let's get to the nostalgia.

This is the third time I have purchased this game, and the third time I am playing it, however, this is the first time I will play to completion.  In the past I would play maybe four to eight hours in then stop, the first time due to my working on the line at Ford, and the second due to collector's fatigue (I think).  This time will be different, and I am resigned to play to completion.  Original PS1 hardware is a priority, split between my original PS1 and my PSOne with the attached LCD screen, with maybe a test on my PS2 (on the big CRT only; no need to see those low-res cutscenes on a 60" projector screen).  I wanted to try this out on my PS3, but couldn't find an affordable memory card adapter in time (and truth be told didn't really want to be saddled to my basement setup for this experience).  Oh well.

After all was said and done, this was a nearly twenty-four hour journey, and the primary thing I learned was that I really need a sleep button these days for my gaming!  If I had planned this better I would have ripped the discs for playing on my PSP, which permits me rapidly turning something off without worrying about saving.  With kids back in school (and the ever changing IT work schedule; junior system/network admins can I get a witness), my daily gaming life rarely has spaces of time longer than ten minutes in a stretch, and at any moment I might/will need to get up and take care of something, so the ability to walk away and not have to worry about LCD/CRT burnin or putting excessive hours on a projector lamp on pause screen is imperative.  It was a great reminder as to why I won't be getting into modern "television focused" console games anytime soon.


The thing to remember is this was $59.99 on release, when many PS1 games were $40 USD

My first eight hours of Lunar: SSSC were pure nostalgia, though maybe a little challenging.  Of course I first had to leaf through the very nice manual (which still smells of cigarette smoke from the previous owner) and watch the included "Making of" disc before starting to get the nice warm fuzzies going.  Nostalgically speaking, the voice cast was the main sticking point for me, and none of the newer versions could really hold my attention because of this.  There are a lot of interviews and little clips of them working and having fun on the "Making of" disc, as well as the Game Arts devs (which is fun, given the tech they are using).  And of course there is the big "spoiler", which I imagine was a big selling point for fans of the older games.  Apparently (at the time I hadn't seen it) in the original Lunar you left on a ship to travel across the sea to adventure, and one of the main characters, Luna, elects to stay behind.  But in the remake Luna stays with the party, and in an emotional (and I imagine surprising for some) sequence Luna grabs Alex's hand at the last moment and is pulled aboard.  You know, back in '99 when I played this I was convinced that this was a major spoiler, and was kind of ticked that Working Designs included it in the "Making of" disc.  Man was I clueless, but then again I hadn't really played the original.

At this point, eight hours into the game, I made a strange decision.  While doing some research on the game during a lull at work (again, junior system/network admins, can I get a witness) I found a video on the "World of Longplays" channel on YouTube showing a beginning to end play of the Lunar: The Silver Star, which lasted about nine hours.  Thinking it might be a fun little experiment, I settled on a schedule of playing tLunar: SSSC at home, and coming into work and catching up on the Sega/Mega CD original.  It turns out this was the right thing to do, as it catapulted me through the game and gave me a massive appreciation for not only what Game Arts and Working Designs were trying to do with the first game, but for the amount of effort that went into the PS1 remake to make it the masterpiece that many know it to be.  The only downside to this was that after this began, I mainly thought of my game experience (with some exceptions) in relation to the original (even though I only watched it).

Despite my nostalgic feelings, it is in my opinion that the first four or five hours are the worst part of the game.  Not to say that it is bad, but it feels the most bloated, especially in light of the original.  It seems that every time your characters decide to travel to a new destination, you are forced into a new area that was not in the original.  While I now understand that this was done to balance out the random encounters and (seemingly needless) overworld wandering from the original, is still does get annoying the third time this happens.  The problem is that some of these areas can be quite challenging.  Of course, this was done (I believe) to keep grinding down to a minimum, so that one can just progress and have fun, but leaving a city to investigate the appearance of a potential Dragonmaster and having to spend an hour plowing through difficult enemies can be a little frustrating.  A good example is the trip from Vane to Lann.  In the original you can get to Lann in a matter or a few minutes, but in Lunar: SSSC you run into the formidable area of Nanza and the Nanza Barrier, the former which is chock full of difficult enemies (which with a little practice you can avoid at your own peril) and the later features a little wild goose chase that you cannot skip.  This kind of thing doesn't happen throughout the whole game, but it feels especially heavy in the beginning of the game.

I found hit points and character stats in the remake are handled in a very novel way.  First, leveling isn't really all that important for your stats, as it is mainly for gaining magic and techniques.  In fact, this was one of the first games I've played where leveling doesn't turn into a "HP" arms race.  Near the end of the game most of my characters still hadn't broken through the two-hundred.  But at the same time, most enemies will be able to hit you for anywhere from a fourth to a third of your health with one hit at nearly any point in the game!  It's a real eye opener, in my opinion.  And speaking of battle, man they can be hard!  This is one of the biggest non-story or character differences between Lunar the original and the remake.  In the original enemies would generally attack in line of sight, so it was fairly easy to hide magic users and weaker characters in the back.  In the remake most enemies will make a bee-line for one of your magic users, often bypassing your tanks like they weren't there. Also, to those original Lunar players who hid in a corner of the screen to minimize the amount of enemies that could attack, this no longer works.  Baddies will happily pile all over each other in an effort to kill your party.  To balance this all status ailments (including death) disappear after battle, and if Nall (your flying cat-thing companion) has Angel's Tears in his inventory, he will occasionally revive fallen characters on his own (though not as effective as doing it yourself).

As for grinding, you are generally better off buying better weapons and armor, unless you are near a level where a spell or extra attack are available.  So, much like Final Fantasy II/IV, an old hand can get to the end of Lunar: SSSC fairly quickly, but it is also rather easy to get into a situation where you don't have enough defensive stats to survive an attack by a boss.  I guess I should be thankful, as most of the time you will get the required levels just by walking through the areas once (or twice) and fighting all the available enemies.  Like I said before, not bad at all, but when you are hot to get to the next story point it can be a little frustrating.

The rest of the game from this point is a bit of a roller coaster, as a nice rotating cast of characters move in and out of your party as the story progresses.  I want to say that around the time Kyle dresses in drag and gets added to your party was my "aha!" moment for this game.  Up until this point I was simply alternating between soaking in the nostalgia and getting annoyed by the number of enemies within some areas.  Sure, at this time I was able to use the environment to help out maneuver enemies, and I did (though I paid quite dearly for this tactic around the time I was freeing Meribia).  I don't think I ever hit a "oh man when is this going to end" part, similar my experience with Xenoblade Chronicles 3D (which for the record happened around the fifty-five hour mark).  Plenty of surprises, betrayals, and honest to God (near) tear-inducing emotional scenes await players of Lunar: SSSC.

In the end, I really enjoyed my time Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete, and promptly sunk into a multi-week long bout of post-gaming depression after completing it (a sure sign of a great game).  I find it very hard to really put any negative marks against this game, and if you are a fan of the genre (JRPG) then you will like this game.  That is, unless you are a big fan of Lunar the original.

One final note: Getting your hands on the title can be a little tricky, but only if you are nostalgic for the Lunar: SSSC version specifically.  You can get a remake for the PSP, which features a prologue as well as graphical and audio changes to the game (and is noticeably cheaper than the PSX remake).  But if you have an Apple "i" device and a spare $7 USD, you can get the "Touch" version, which is basically Lunar:SSSC but with a different voice cast.

Thanks for reading!


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Comments
 
I love the first 2 Lunar games mainly just for their charm. I picked up the Playstation remake of 2 as a kid and it cost me $100 if I remember correctly. Im far north in Canada and it was a small independent store so Im sure there was a mark up, but I never regretted it. Got so much joy out of that game and jammed to the ost for years to come.

Glad you were finally able to clear it! These are still great examples of fun light jrpgs. You meantioned you also got Vay in that lot. Curious if you played that one too. Its got some of my favorite NPCs, they are quite humorous to talk to and often break the 4th wall. Also has a great soundtrack too.
 
@Crabmaster2000: Thanks Crabby!  I did play a bit of Vay, but similar to Lunar I think I just popped it in for a sec to see if it worked.  All I remember is that unlike Lunar, it was hard!  After reading this I went and looked up a nice group of reviews and it appears that Vay is quite well known for it's excellent script.  Looks like I'll have to add this one to my lists as well.  Thanks for commenting, Crab!
 
Started commenting at work on Friday, but got sidetracked with actual work! I love Lunar SSSC, and it's one of the first legit RPG experiences I had that really affected me, alongside Final Fantasy VII. While I was captivated by the latter's mix of wacky characters, serious story, "out there" side missions, and in-depth Materia system, Lunar drew me in the from the moment I powered on my PlayStation with the disc inside, because it opened with a catchy song and montage of characters in a full animated sequence. The lovable characters, bright & colorful graphics, catchy tunes, simple mechanics, and the visible enemies (so you could choose most of your encounters), all contributed to my enjoyment. The story, while simple, was nice, and I got sucked in pretty quickly. And just like the Aeris death scene in FFVII, this game had a couple moments where I legitimately cried, and was among the first moments where a video game emotionally affected me to that point. I played through it quickly, and when I found out that Working Designs was releasing the sequel in similar fashion, I knew I had to have it. Thankfully, I got it for my birthday the following year, and devoured it quickly, though I skipped the epilogue, because I wasn't leveled up enough to progress. Years later, I picked up the Sega CD version randomly while on a business trip, though I haven't played through it yet, because my nostalgia and love for the series is tied to the SSSC version. I did play through the PSP version later still, and while it was fun, it was definitely inferior (overall) to the version I played first, in part, because of the voice acting. The translation might be a bit more accurate, but I enjoyed the Working Designs take on the game, and that will forever be my preferred way to play it. Great article!
 
@MetalFRO:Thanks a lot, FRO.  I totally get you with the nostalgia factor, as it has colored experiences for more than one game (Final Fantasy III is a really big one, which I may cover in the future).  Since you do actually have it, I would highly suggest playing through in the original as an experiment, as it is much shorter than the remake (I watched someone do it in nine hours), and is so different that it is it's own unique experience.  Anyway, thank you for commenting and also for the story (I love those!).
 
Great article! Got part way through it to where you mention that you didn't have a memory card adaptor for the ps3. When I got my console awhile back and wanted to play the older games I found out that you can create a virtual memory card in system from the dashboard. The other cool thing I discovered was the when in game, if you tap the ps button once, a menu pops up that lists "other". That option brings up a 'smoothing' option that smooths out the pixels and makes a nice difference.

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So I'm an odd ball. So I am usually the last to post on a blog/forum. So I only post about weird games on weird platforms. So I have a strange relationship with commas and parenthesis. So what? Hey, at least you don't have to car pool with me to work, right? So have a heart, eat a blueberry, and don't forget to drop the empties in the box on the way out. I get deposit on those.
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