If you pay any attention to recent game releases, you will notice that the newest thing is the “Box Set.” You know what I’m talking about. The special treasure chest size box. The audio CD. The special toy dragon (I’m calling you out Skyrim). And of course: the cloth map. What does a gamer do with this random useless crap? We collect it of course. And that is exactly what I did with my special box set release of Lunar Silver Star Story Complete that came with a special art book and a cloth map, which I bought while still in high school and hanging with my main man Jimmy in 1999.
I was shocked to find, as I was digging through my old stash of retro-rpg fare, piled high in dust in the drawer of a black desk in my Dad’s house, my original copy of Lunar SSSC. It has a special velcro open cover, a glossy embossed image of Alex in his Dragonmaster helm, and all kinds of goodies inside. I still had the artbook sitting neatly inside, as well as the completely useless, but still somehow intriguing cloth map tucked away and in great condition.
I pulled out the plastic case containing the games and extra content disc’s only to discover that I was an absolute tool when it came to handling my precious disc’s. Apparently when not in the box, all three disc’s of the game itself were used for tournaments of frisbee or “ninja star throwing” (yes, me and my brothers actually did this with our old game and music CD’s, as well as actually use them as coasters). The bottom of the three disc’s were totally scratched up. I shuddered, and popped disc 1 into my ps2 to see what would happen…unbelievably, the game fired up without a hitch!
The first thing I noticed about Lunar was the music. I had completely forgotten that it is completely voiced. I absolutely had to include a video of the intro. If this doesn’t sell you on this game, I just don’t know what will…
Thankfully if you own the incredible box set, you will also have the complimentary music CD, complete with all your favorite tracks. I remember waking up from a road trip only to hear some crazy song from the audio track that my roommate had pulled from my CD case. Needless to say he never looked at me the same way.
But actually it’s those wonderful and cheesy details that make Lunar so much fun to play. For the psx, fully voiced cutscenes were pretty impressive, and really helped in fully fleshing out each character. Nash is annoying, Mia is a goodie goodie, Kyle is a drunk, and Jessica is a tomboy. She is also my personal favorite character as she can heal as well as smack stuff with a variety of maces. I really enjoyed this take on a healing class. And of course I liked Alex too. I mean the game basically is all about his dragon fetish. And of dragons, there are a plenty.
The plot basically revolves around Alex needing to become the next Dragonmaster, which is to say he needs to meet all the different dragons and receive from each one a dragon spell and a piece of neato equipment. Finally at about the halfway point Alex dons his new style and like superman transforms from everyday Alex the farmhand, to Alex the incredibly cool Dragonmaster. Sweet.
Lunar is one of the few retro rpg’s that I can confidently say is an absolute classic. It plays on the usual gaming stereotypes in such a way that doesn’t mar the experience, but rather enhances it. Cliched characters and obvious plot twists make this game actually better because the flow of the game is so smooth. You just kind of cruise through the game, enjoying the sense of humor and fun characters that suck you in. And next thing you know, you’re yelling “Sword Dance!” at your cat when he jumps on the counter.
While Lunar is not a total cakewalk, you will probably never find yourself needing to grind as bosses level with you, meaning that in some cases fighting them at lower levels makes them easier, not harder. So the game actually rewards you for playing it for the story and not rushing your focus into the odd turn based battle system (odd because it also features a movement mechanic that serves virtually no purpose). Late game bosses can be tough though, so be prepared to see your characters get knocked out on occasion and make sure to come prepared with the best equipment and healing items possible. Otherwise you can expect the difficulty curve to kick your dragon hunting tail.
At its initial release, Lunar Silver Star Story Complete received rave reviews for its fantastic translation (thanks to Working Designs hard work) and amusing rpg story. If I remember correctly, it was game of the month in several gaming mags and websites. But how does it fare today, thirteen years later?
I think I actually enjoyed my replay MORE than the first playthrough! Maybe it’s just the nostalgia, but this game has heart. The fun factor is deeply embedded into every leg of the journey, and the obnoxious and amusing characters will certainly entertain. If you love rpgs and you haven’t spent any time in the world of Lunar, you really need to check it out. Otherwise Dyne will call you a loser and slap you with his beard.
Ok, here is the final rundown:
Should I play this game? Yes. Why else would I write this whole freaking thing?
How difficult is Lunar SSSC? That depends. Do you cry when you play Demon Souls you big wuss? Its easy enough to beat without a sweat, but will challenge enough to keep your attention.
Do I need an FAQ for this game? Not really. The only sidequest’s involve finding some scattered magic treasure chests that are opened with a special key, and hunting for the bromides, which are some cheesy fan service pics of the girls that you can live without.
What version of Lunar should I play? While the hardcore fans always say the saturn version was best, I’m actually going to recommend the PSP release because the graphics are completely overhauled, and the battles in particular look really nice. But the SSSC version on playstation is loads of fun as well (and more retro which I am all about).
What about the sequel Lunar 2 Eternal Blue? I own this game but have not yet completed it. Saving it for a future day when my blood is just screaming for some retro gaming. But the Eternal Blue review is imminent.
I leave you with one more video to sell you on one of my favorite retro rpgs. Enjoy!