Lunar Legend - Review

Back and Back and Back to the Blue Planet

By: Michael Beckett

Review Breakdown
   Battle System 5
   Interface 7
   Music/Sound 5
   Originality 3
   Plot 5
   Localization 5
   Replay Value 2
   Visuals 7
   Difficulty Very Easy
   Time to Complete

17-20 Hours


Lunar Legend

   The vogue for re-releasing old titles with improved mechanics and enhanced graphics has finally lead to this: Lunar: Silver Star Story has been released for the Game Boy Advance, under the title Lunar Legend. While the original might have been something special when first released, it has not endured well to the present day. Improved graphics and strange additions to game play do not make up for a cookie-cutter plot, sub-par localization, and a combat system that can only be described as boring.

   What makes the combat system so dull is the types of commands you are able to input and the manner and order in which they are executed. Fights are split up into rounds in which turns are executed according to AGL (agility). You can have up to five characters to a party, each character with his or her own unique set of spells and abilities. Beyond the spells available to them, characters are remarkably similar. In the end, you get two fighters, two mages, and one half-mage half-fighter. In a system so overused, originality is extremely difficult - but not impossible. It's hard to believe Game Arts even attempted anything original with this system. To its credit, the system is well thought out and executed, and gives its user a minimum of fuss about getting through commands and animations.

   One of the major things to recommend Lunar Legend, and indeed, the rest of the Lunar games, is the fact that it is extremely easy to pick up and understand. Interface with the game is easy to learn and master, and difficult to screw up. Control is responsive and menus are easily accessible at any point in the game. The only problem with the interface comes in the form of the save system. After loading a game, the HP and MP of all of your allies are restored. This makes it extremely easy to breeze through Lunar Legends - it amounts to a free full-heal whenever you want it. Not that the game wasn't excruciatingly easy to begin with.

Get used to this scene. Due to an obscenely high encounter rate, you'll be seeing it a lot.
Get used to this scene. Due to an obscenely high encounter rate, you'll be seeing it a lot.  

   Music for Lunar: Silver Star Story was done by one of my favorite composers - Mr. Noriyuki Iwadare. His themes for LSSS were fairly good, and his battle themes - as always - were the standout tracks from the OST. However, they did not transfer well to Lunar Legend. The songs still have feeling and emotion to them, but the sound quality is scratchy and muted and generally not at all good enough to do justice to Mr. Iwadare's work. Sound effects were decent, but suffered from the same problems as the music. It isn't as though good sound quality is impossible on the GBA: Golden Sun's sound quality was on par with most of the better Super NES games. With so many flaws, it's difficult to give even Mr. Iwadare's work a good score.

   As would be expected, originality suffers quite a bit in a remake which has been remade for another system already, and which has a sequel that was also remade for a new system. The designers of Lunar Legend do attempt to bring a little something new into this Lunar - the inclusion of double criticals and a strange, Limit Break-ish Arts Gage Skills. AGS are skills that can be unleashed once a bar over the character's name has been filled. While these do add a bit of spice to the otherwise thoroughly dull combat sequences, they aren't anything we've never seen before, and borrow far too heavily from other games in the genre.

   The plot, too, is nothing terribly new. It includes, just as an introduction, a series of myths of heroes who saved the world, a young boy who grew up hearing those myths, an ancient goddess in human form, and a host of other clichés. Perhaps when the story was first penned, these weren't clichés, but radically new ideas. Perhaps the moon will grow wings and fangs and attack the sun. Seriously, these are ideas that were conceived the first time someone decided they wanted to be a fantasy author, but didn't want to work that hard. On the other hand, the plot does carry some very good lessons for those willing to listen, and though the translation hurts it quite a bit, the story was obviously well written. I'll be charitable and wonder if perhaps the author was stressed for time.

The cutscenes, while not animated, are still high quality.
The cutscenes, while not animated, are still high quality.  

   Speaking of translations, Siegrist Translations, the company responsible for the localization of Lunar Legend, needs a bit of a lesson on characterization. Ghaleon, lord and master of the teeming hoards of foes that face Alex and his allies, should not say 'gonna'. Or 'bod'. Or any of the hundreds of other colloquialisms he utters. He's a tall, gothic, gray-skinned mage lord and elf, not a skater punk! There are also a fairly large number of typos, mostly in the early game. All in all, the translation needed a bit more work, and probably a lot more time to do it in. In fact, the entire game feels rushed, as though they needed more time in which to put the final polish on, and just didn't have it. As a result, the game has a somewhat rough, incomplete feel to it.

There are a small number of side quests in Lunar Legend, which adds a bit to the replay value. The card collecting side quest is especially fun. On the whole though, there's not a whole lot to keep people coming back. The game's story is almost painfully linear, and the combat system is, as stated earlier, simply dull. You want replay value? Summoner 2, PS2, go play it. Lunar Legend just doesn't have what it takes to be more than a once-through game.

Though I admit to a certain amount of visual amazement every time I turn on the GBA, Lunar Legend's visuals are certainly above par. Large sprites, subtle sprite rotation and smooth as silk animation make Lunar Legend one of the more artistically pleasing RPGs on the little-handheld-that-could. Its unfortunate there isn't more substance backing it up.

This is what happens when Magic Knight Rayearth goes bad.
This is what happens when Magic Knight Rayearth goes bad.  

As with many RPGs on the Game Boy Advance, Lunar Legend is both short and easy. Time to complete is between 17 and 20 hours, and, due to one thing and another and the save system, difficulty is Very Easy.

Perhaps in the days of the Sega Saturn, Lunar: Silver Star Story was among the best in the market. Perhaps the PlayStation remake was above average. Perhaps its sequel and the remake of *that* was worth playing. The Game Boy Advance remake is neither a particularly great nor poor game, but rather a game that was perhaps put together hastily from somewhat elderly parts. If you liked the original, or are just starting out on the RPG road, or consider yourself too 'Old Skool' for the recent crop of newfangled, complex, and tactical combat systems, Lunar Legend might be a worthwhile purchase for you. On the other hand, if you can actually tell your foe from your foot, and enjoy a bit of challenge or originality about a game, then perhaps it's best to steer clear of this one.

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