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Lunar 2: Eternal Blue Complete - Review

Working Designs does it again

By Mikel Tidwell

Review Breakdown
   Battle System 8
   Interface 7
   Music / Sound 10
   Originality 6
   Plot 9
   Localization 10
   Replay Value 7
   Visuals 6
   Difficulty Hard
   Time to Complete 35-40 hours
Overall
9
Criteria
Lunar 2: Eternal Blue Complete

    Until Working Designs released the remake of Lunar: The Silver Star, very few RPGamers had heard of the Lunar series. Those who had managed to play the games on the Sega CD held the game in an eerie revere, while the rest of us wondered what all the excitement was about. When Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete was released in 1999, it opened a whole new realm. Suddenly everyone knew who Alex, Nall, Luna, Ramus and the rest of the gang were. The story of Lunar became as well known as one from a Final Fantasy or Dragon Warrior game.

    With new appreciation for the Lunar series already at full force, Lunar 2: Eternal Blue Complete attempts to continue the legacy that the earlier game already set in motion. Does Lunar 2 have what it takes to go against the burst of RPGs that have flooded the market this holiday season? This RPGamer thinks it does.

    The setting for Lunar 2: Eternal Blue Complete is one thousand years after the end of Lunar: Silver Star Story. The world is vastly different from before. While some of the towns and areas remain almost untouched, other areas have changed dramatically in the passing years. The mix of old and new really emphasizes how much time has passed. The former heroes are now legends; their names are spoken in awe from people across the land.

Funny old man
Dripping with wit  

    Lunar 2 begins with the protagonist, Hiro, and his companion Ruby, hunting for treasure in a forbidden place. What they don't know is that the simple jewel they snag will lead them on an adventure that will change their lives, and possibly the lives of those they encounter. Old and new enemies face the new band of rag-tag heroes and only with pure determination with a dash of luck will our heroes be victorious in their quest.

    For those who played the original, Ruby works the same as Nall, except that instead of reviving the characters once in a blue moon, she'll attack for minimal damage, making her even more useless than Nall. However, as a character, Nall was not near as funny as Ruby is, with her almost dangerous infatuation with Hiro. She even goes as far as to be rude to other females who possibly think Hiro might be cute. Some of the verbal exchanges between Ruby and the others will leave you rolling on the floor.

    The rest of the characters are just as amusing. Like before, most of them are only planning to stay a while, but seem to get tied into the whole "Save the World" plan. Like its predecessor, the party is hardly a cohesive team. Instead they may bicker amongst each other, split up for a time, or even force Hiro to find repeatedly when they wander off. While it sounds tedious, it opens the door for some heart-felt verbal exchanges.

Meribia
Unchanged after 1000 years  

    Of course, none of this carries over into the battles. Once in a battle, everyone fights to win. Since the major bosses and even some random monsters can wipe the floor with Hiro's entire party, there is no room for holding back. To win a battle, one must not be cautious or conservative. An all out assault also doesn't work too well. Careful planning and a balance of attack and heal is the only way to prevail against the countless and continuous battles Hiro and his friends have to face.

    The battle menus have been changed, adding new features to assist the player. As before, there is Fight, Run, and the typically overkill AI command. However, a Tactics command has also been added. This allows the player to set a specific set of commands for each party member to act in battle. Of course, once in battle, the situation may change, and that tactic will no longer work. In that case, choose your actions manually, and the next round, record those actions to a Tactic slot. With this new addition to the command menu, battles moved much quicker than the preceding Lunar, as each action does not have to be reselected. To further please the player, there is now an option to remove the voices from battle. While the voices never seem to bother me, it was a wide complaint from many players about the first Lunar.

    As for the other menus, most of them are intuitive. The only menu Lunar 2 seems to lack is a status menu. While the experience points are listed under the equip menu, the stats don't show up unless the character is actually in the equipment mode. Sometimes I simply wanted to compare who had the better Magic Defense, or a similar stat. The use of L1/R1 to swap characters almost makes up for the lack of a status screen, but the full size image of someone, typically found on the status screen, is always nice, especially when the character is a tiny sprite for almost the entire game.

Run for cover
Powerful spells aplenty  

    Speaking of sprites, the graphics are very old-school. Since Lunar was made in the day when sprites were what made up almost all RPGs, the remakes have never changed from this design of sprites on a brightly colored background that scrolls so the character stays in the center. The battles' only animations are those of movement, slashing, and the spell effects. While there is always the critical viewer who can't understand how one can play such a "simplistic" game, it only takes a few hours before the complaints stop and they understand why the game continues to work. Instead of flashy graphics, the game relies on the story and the characters to keep the players into the game. Lunar 2 completely succeeds in this fashion.

    Another compensation for the simpler graphics is the wonderful music. There are only so many ways one can say that the music seems to be perfect in every sense. If your PSX does not take full advantage of the full stereo possible from the hardware, then you're missing out on possibly the best game music to date. To emphasize this, Working Designs slips in a soundtrack so fans can listen to the songs over and over again.

    That's not all Working Designs packed with Lunar 2. Also included are a "Making of" CD, a few cardboard popup figurines, a hardbound manual with interviews, Lucia's pendant, and for those who pre-ordered, the Punching Puppet Ghaleon. The "Making of" CD has behind the scenes views on what takes place to make a game. Full of interviews and other information, it's a must watch for anyone who is a Lunar fan. The puppet, once you're used to the controls, is great for sparring with a friend. Lucia's pendant is surprisingly heavy, and a well-designed item. Extras are never made to replace the enjoyment of the game, but to be collector's items.

    If you wondered if it was worth the extra $10 to $20 for the goodies, my recommendation is the game itself is worth $60, let alone with the extras. Lunar 2: Eternal Blue Complete has earned a special place in my gaming library, right next to Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete in fact. The series has helped show the gaming world that graphics don't make the game; that there's still a place in many people's hearts for a story that warms the heart, and shows the best and worst humanity has to offer. Rent it, buy it, borrow it, it doesn't matter. I highly recommend that everyone play this game.




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