Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete

While the series is apparently dead nowadays, the two installments of Game Arts’ Lunar franchise received remakes years after their original debuts on the Sega CD over a decade ago. The first installment of the series, The Silver Star, remade and released in Japan in 1998 for the Playstation, came to America the next year, courtesy Working Designs, as Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete. While not exactly in the top tier of Playstation RPGs, Silver Star Story still has its charms, and is a worthy remake in the end.

For starters, the remake dumps random encounters for collision encounters, which are a mixed bag. The collision system is barebones, as enemies will always charge your party no matter what levels they’re at, and trying to avoid many enemies itself is pretty tedious. The battles themselves are middling, as well. Once again, your input all commands for your party and let them and the enemy beat the crap out of one another in a round, with all moving around the field while doing so. Players can set up a few macros for their characters to spare themselves having to input commands for their characters, or let the A.I. control their party in a round, which, of course, isn’t exactly the best idea. Moreover, turn order is unpredictable, and many spells depend upon a character’s current location or the enemy’s location; in the former instance, moving to a desired position requires the defense command, which consumes a character’s turn, and in the latter instance, enemies constantly move around, sometimes throwing off desired spell effects. Thankfully, though, most battles end before you’re old and gray, and in the end, the battle system is neither great nor terrible.

Interaction, though, is one of the game’s high points. Like in the original, to start, you can save your game anywhere, always a welcome option. This time around, moreover, you can see spell and item effects and how weapons/armor affect your stats before buying it, things that have pretty much become standard in today’s RPGs. Additionally, Nall can hold a generous amount of items, with each character having their own small inventory to carry into battle. Moving around your items among Nall and your characters can be a bit tedious, although this is a minor annoyance at best, and alongside a nearly-spotless localization from Working Designs, interaction shines in the end.

Silver Star Story is pretty original for a remake, as well. A majority of the game’s town and dungeon maps are completely different, as are key elements of the storyline, not to mention the soundtrack. The main characters still return, though, but the mentioned changes were well more than enough to make the remake feel fresh.

The general plot itself, though, pretty much remains the same. Once again, Alex, a random nobody from the village of Burg, dreams of becoming a Dragonmaster like his hero, Dyne, and sets off one day to meet the White Dragon Quark, who looks very much like the reptilian equivalent of Keith Richards. At Uglydragon’s bidding, Alex goes off to seek three other dragons to become a Dragonmaster, eventually gaining the task of stopping the Magic Emperor from taking over the world. The only characters with any significant development throughout the game are Ghaleon, Laike, and Luna, and towards the end, the player sees an excellent bit of background tying them all together. In the end, while the plot is better than it was in the original, it could’ve easily been better.

As I’ve said, the soundtrack, composed by Noriyuki Iwadare, who worked on the original version, is completely different, in addition to a nice opening theme song, “Wings,” and another heard early into the game. It’s easily one of Iwadare’s better RPG soundtracks, despite its borderline MIDI quality at times (especially in the case of the normal battle theme) and unfitting sound effects such as the chukkas heard when your characters walk around in combat. There’s some voice acting, as well, most of which is superb—except Alex, who especially stinks in the opening scenes. Still, Silver Star Story is fairly easy on the ears in the end.

The game is fairly easy on the eyes, as well, though outside the frequent anime cutscenes, Silver Star Story largely resembles a 16-bit RPG, with very simplistic, disproportionate character sprites, occasionally misrepresentative of character designs, alongside otherwise passable scenery and monster designs in battle (though monsters you see wandering dungeons are fairly redundant and mostly gray). In the end, the game actually looks inferior to quite a few RPGs of the 16-bit era, such as Super Mario RPG and Chrono Trigger, and the developers, overall, could’ve definitely made an effort to make Silver Star Story actually look like a 32-bit game.

Finally, the game is a bit difficult, especially if you don’t use the right strategies against bosses and fully utilize your skills, yet is surprisingly short; even if you do the very few extras, you can still finish the game in anywhere from fifteen to twenty hours.

Lunar: Silver Star Story, overall, is a worthy, enjoyable remake, yet could’ve easily been better. Since the Lunar series is pretty much dead today, there probably won’t be any other means in the future by which to experience for yourself the story of Alex, Luna, and company, so if you can find the Playstation version, which has largely fallen off the RPG scene, it just might be worth a look.

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