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Lunar 2: Eternal Blue Complete - Retroview

Too much of the same thing

By: Phillipe Richer


Review Breakdown
   Battle System 3
   Interface 9
   Music/Sound 8
   Originality 2
   Plot 5
   Localization 9
   Replay Value 3
   Visuals 6
   Difficulty Hard
   Time to Complete

35-45 hours

 
Overall
6
Criteria

Lunar 2: Eternal Blue Complete
 

   After I let Lunar:SSSC sit on my table and fade away from my mind for a year or so, I decided to give Game Arts a second chance by buying Lunar 2: Eternal Blue Complete (which will be refered to as Lunar 2:EB from now on). Perhaps I really wanted to understand what made the Lunar series so cherished by many RPG fans, or maybe I just had to much money in hand. Whatever the reason, playing Lunar 2:EB was nothing more than the same old, "been here, done that" Game Arts kind of thrill, with slight improvements here and there over the original.

   Taking place a nicely rounded 1000 years after the original "saga" (to highlight my sarcasm), Lunar 2:EB depicts the adventure of the hero Hiro, a young adventurous youth (what else), and his flying buddy Ruby, who pretends to be the offspring of a dragon. Regardless of his grandfather's warnings, Hiro goes on to explore the mystical Blue Spire tower. The fact that the tower had been acting up recently wasn't a mere coincidence, as Hiro encounters an advent of the Goddess Althena named Lucia at the top of the building. Lucia tells Hiro about the world's impending doom, and the two of them, along with Ruby, set off on a huge adventure into the magical world of Lunar.

   The battle system in Lunar 2:EB is an exact replica of its successor's. I would be tempted to merely refer you to my Lunar:SSSC review, as nothing more can be added upon what I previously stated. To sum things up, your party of four, aided by the CPU-controlled Lucia and, will be placed on a rectangular battlefield against several enemies. Lunar 2:EB follows the exact standard of every other RPG in terms of commands, and HP and MP are used to determine your characters' stamina. You can arrange your battle formation outside of battles, and spells are simply gained at set levels. No customizations to choose from, no decisions to make, no fun to be had.


Nothing's more pleasant than battling piles of mud with a butter knife.
Nothing's more pleasant than battling piles of mud with a butter knife.  

   Like I already stated in my Lunar:SSSC review, the only thing that makes those thousands of battles bearable is the nifty character A.I. Select your attacks in order to annihilate each group of foes using a minimum of MP and pound on bosses with your best attacks while the healers do their job. Repetitive, pointless, infuriating to death. You can always zip past enemies pressing the O button for a short dash, but doing so too often will get you stuck on a boss very quickly, bosses who are pretty hard.

   Again, the interface is a model of simplicity. It's now possible to equip your new gear before purchasing it to see the item's true value. It's a nice, simple, and very appreciated feature which should be implemented in every RPG. Spells and items are very well organized and simple to locate within the menu, going as far as providing a little quirky comment for each of them. There are many more spells to be learned this time around, and a useful "power indicator" which shows enemies as red, yellow, or green clearly indicates the potency of the chosen spell. What this does is make it easier for you to find the right A.I. combinations to get out of those abominable dungeons faster, dungeons that are unfortunately omnipresent.

   The soundtrack featured in Lunar 2:EB is good one. Packed with many character themes, uplifting town music, nice piano solos and a few vocal songs, the soundtrack is successful and engaging throughout. While the dungeons' background music and the recurrent battle composition aren't very impressive, most of the game's story events are accompanied with competent tracks.

   Lunar 2:EB came out with the biggest assortment of goodies ever seen in America, including character standees, a "Making of Lunar 2" CD, and a paper map of the overworld. The biggest gift of all, however, is the excellent music CD included. All the tracks have been re-mastered for better sound quality and more harmonious arrangements. The two vocal tracks are acceptable, but they are very uninspired and unoriginal.


If it weren't for the characters I couldn't have told if this was Lunar 1 or Lunar 2.
If it weren't for the characters I couldn't have told if this was Lunar 1 or Lunar 2.  

   The game boasts some solid voice-acting too. Almost every character has been well cast, with the exception of Lucia and Ruby who sound much too sleepy and much too irritating, respectively. It's a worthy job throughout, and I especially enjoyed listening to Ronfar bragging and tormenting the party. Just like the original, sound effects are sub-par. Dating back to the Sega CD, not much could be expected, but it still lowers the general quality of the production.

After wearing off the first game's excessively joyful and cheesy plot, my hopes for Lunar 2:EB's weren't very high. I felt a little more involved, but not enough to warrant a second playthrough or to brag about how touching it was. It wasn't touching; it was again disturbingly cheesy (love that word). I must have heard "Lucia" and "Hiro" shouted in that shoddy lovey-dovey kind of way about a hundred times. A woman who wants to learn the meaning of love, from a guy dressed in ragged clothes with no thighs to boot? It's not what I'd like to see.

Again, the characters themselves save the plot from mediocre status, bringing a lot of personality to the table. The party's chemistry is a little different this time around. Instead of having three couples bickering all game long, you get contrasting personalities who all have their share of problems. On that aspect, things changed for the better, albeit not by much.


If she would've done that all game long, my experience would've been far less painful.
If she would've done that all game long, my experience would've been far less painful.  

I felt more purpose in the party's actions this time. Instead of going off in hope of adventures, at least your party has a legitimate purpose for traveling across the globe. A few characters from the original will make a return, some in cameos and some more involved in the plot, but it doesn't help the game's story to go beyond Game Arts' self-imposed limitations. Mix in an evil power, a cheesy love story, some brainwashed high powers and you get Game Arts' usual scheme for plots. Honestly, I don't remember much about the important events at all, and if a story doesn't surpass the challenge of time it's usually not a good sign. Once you complete the game you may play through the epilogue in order to acquire most bromides (which are just artworks with music) and to get the "real" ending. The bromides are worthwhile, but even the "real" ending doesn't do much to wrap up the game's un-memorable storyline.

Working Designs worked hard yet again on the dialogues. The interaction between characters, and even the NPC's involvement with the events surrounding them is very well translated. No typos, no weird sentences, and no unintelligible wording. A couple laughs are thrown here and there, and talking to the various locals will always prove to be worth your time. Regardless, just like its predecessor, Lunar 2:EB doesn't try very hard to include mysteries, dilemmas, or mind-bending declarations in its script. Too much conservatism all the way.

Replay value is close to none. If you've completed the epilogue the first time around, there are no incentives whatsoever to go through those traitorous dungeons a second time. The only thing that would ever make be go back to Lunar 2:EB is the 50 minutes of stunning anime sequences. That, or if all my other games ever get stolen.

Time has not been kind to Lunar:SSSC nor Lunar 2:EB. The same graphic engine was obviously reused for Lunar 2:EB, and the improvements made to the graphics are very hard to tell. The surroundings are a little more colorful, and characters do same somewhat bigger than their counter-parts. However, the anime cut-scenes are a little grainy compared to the first ones. Character portraits are as amazing as ever, and spell animations are as blend as could be.

My Lunar 2:EB excursion was a little less infuriating than I would've thought, but it's nothing to warrant my 103$ CAN dollars. I should've held on to that cash as it would've been better spent elsewhere. As all other Game Arts games, Lunar 2:EB provides a very authentic, though much to conservative and unoriginal experience. It's really Lunar:SSSC all over again.





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