Lunar : Silver Star Story Complete
   The original Lunar : The Silver Star for the ill-fated Sega CD system has long been lauded as one of the greatest RPGs ever created, rivaling the Final Fantasy series and other top-notch, classic titles. Starring Alex and Luna, longtime childhood friends, players followed the captivating tale of Alex and his dream of becoming a Dragonmaster. Thanks to the Sega CD's dismal market share, however, most gamers missed out on the title which made Working Designs a respected industry name.

   That all changed, of course, when Game Arts decided to completely remake Lunar for the Japanese Sega Saturn a few years back, with a PlayStation version following soon after. After countless months of delays, Working Designs is once again releasing Lunar to a North American audience -- a much larger one, this time around. The verdict? Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete boasts countless improvements over the Sega CD original (a full listing of changes is available here) and presents an overall gameplay experience that no gaming enthusiast weened on 'old-school' traditional RPGs should miss.

   The storyline, perhaps due to its age, is fairly unremarkable: the idealistic youth must gather an eccentric group of friends and confront the ubiquitous, inimical tyrant to save the damsel in distress. The most appealing element in Lunar, however, is the character interaction, storytelling and dialog which carries the player through the plot. Character development draws and immerses one into Lunar's world, forming strong attachments with all the characters involved -- one must be completely inhuman to resist enjoying Nall's spirited antics. As expected from a Working Designs translation, humor is assiduously laden throughout the game. It's even tempting to call Lunar a comedy-RPG. Hilarious sexual innuendos are thrown around freely, but thankfully the game doesn't rely upon them too heavily. Dialog isn't limited to humor, of course --more serious, though rare issues are handled deftly as well. In the end, it's rare to find an RPG which actually makes it enjoyable to hunt down and tirelessly converse with every single NPC possible.

"Lunar's been delayed AGAIN?"

   Nearly an hour of splendid anime sequences, occasionally blended with CG, accentuate the storytelling aspect of Lunar through the standard denouement to the elegant climax. A well-cast complement of voice actors also do a fantastic job of adding an aural depth to the game's characters both inside and out of the cinemas. Over 20 minutes of outtakes await after Lunar's end, as well, with several amusing quips made during the recording process. It's extremely disappointing, though, that most songs from the original aren't included in the remake -- overall, the Sega CD version excels far past the PlayStation remake in musical composition and instrumentation.

Dynamic movement in battle

   Lunar takes the traditional turn-based RPG battle engine of lore and significantly increases strategy with near-free character movement. Particularly later in the game, the position of your characters takes on a critical role -- one will likely not survive several boss battles without spacing your characters out and making them less vulnerable to radius-based attacks. As characters level up, many gain the ability to perform multiple attacks in one turn -- by the game's end, around level 45, Alex can attack four times before his turn is up, and perhaps more with further levels. The "Artificial Intelligence" option in battle is often not quite so intelligent: magic points will be drained in the blink of an eye. Additionally, differing from the original, monsters are completely visible within the dungeons, and often avoidable. Unconventionally, random overworld encounters have also been removed in the PlayStation remake -- a welcome change for many.

   Gameplay graphics, while remaining virtually unchanged from the two-year-old-plus Saturn visuals, still remain as the best use of 2D in any PlayStation RPG to date. The overworld map is brightly colorful, towns are highly detailed, and each character has a range of dialog profile expressions to further enhance character development. Still, it would have been nice to see Lunar take more advantage of the PlayStation's transparency and scaling effects -- features used extensively in Lunar's upcoming sequel, Lunar 2: Eternal Blue. Spell effects are particularly dismal, easily bested by many titles available during the Super NES' life.

Victor Ireland makes a cameo

   While the game itself may not contribute countless innovations to the RPG genre, Lunar's packaging undoubtably sets a new standard. Hands down, the extras included with Lunar are the most extensive in the American market to date. The hardbound artbook / instruction manual is fantastically well done, and the cloth map is a useful companion. The "Making Of" CD offers an interesting look at Lunar's development, though the movie tends to focus more on the localization of the game than its creation, as the "Making of Lunar" title would suggest. Finally, the CD soundtrack is eminently listenable, though the large amount of Sega CD-only tracks won't quite carry the same nostalgic value for new Lunar fans.

   Overall, the long-awaited Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete is a worthy addition to the mainstream RPG market. Innovations may be light, but Lunar excels in crafting stylish storytelling and delightfully solid gameplay. Fans of the original will undoubtably rush out to purchase the remake -- newcomers to the Lunar series should do the same.

Review by Brian Glick, GIA.
Lunar : Silver Star Story Complete
Developer Game Arts / Kadokawa Shoten
Publisher Working Designs
Genre Traditional RPG
Medium CD (2)
Platform PlayStation
Release Date

Lunar: Silver Star Story coming to GameBoy Advance
36 final screen shots / 3 movies
12 bromides
Fan Edition disc art