Lunar Legend - Review

Alright...Take 147...ACTION!
By: Tony Green

Review Breakdown
   Battle System 5
   Interface 4
   Music & Sound 4
   Originality 5
   Story & Plot 7
   Localization 4
   Replay Value 2
   Visuals 7
   Difficulty Easy
   Completion Time 20-30 Hours  

A giant dragon in battle
A giant dragon in battle
Lunar Legends

   Lunar is quickly becoming the video game equivalent of Count Dracula in Castlevania. No matter how many times it seems to be put to rest, it always manages to show up again in a few years. It's not that Lunar is a BAD game per say, but within the last 5 years we've had no less then 3 releases of it over 2 different systems, and that isn't counting the Japanese only releases and the original Sega CD version either! So, with Lunar Legends as Ubi Soft's take on this classic story, one has to wonder just how many ways it can be told.

   Surprisingly, the move to GBA actually was a boon to Lunar. Although the games hallmark of richly animated Anime cutscenes had to be removed, it gained a large number of much needed sprite animations. Because much of Lunar happened using the in game graphics anyway, this adds a lot of life to the previously static characters and enhances the story perhaps even more then the Anime cutscenes could have. This is complemented by the shifting camera angles the game uses. You'll zoom in on the statue of Althena to hear Nash proclaim his greatness and watch from afar as the Blue Dragon Shrine rises from its watery grave. This is perhaps one of the few cases where a move to a less technical system has enhanced rather then detracted from a game.

   The Anime cutscenes weren't the only thing axed- Lunar's beautiful musical score was next on the chopping block. Sadly, this is a crushing blow to many Lunar fans. The beautiful vocals are nowhere to be found now, and even the few remaining tunes are muted and mangled beyond recognition. Part of this can be attributed to the Game Boy Advances' subpar sound system, but given the care that was given in the graphics, it's odd that the music seems horribly neglected.

Something's fishy...
Something's fishy...

   Despite the graphical and musical changes, Lunar still has one of the most endearing Love Stories you'll ever find. The simple tale of Alex's quest to become a Dragon Master and Luna to find her place in the world still evokes tears even after hearing it for the 10th time. You can't help but get engrossed in the characters and you'll find yourself rooting for them time and time again.

   The story is probably the best thing Lunar has going for it, but the translation is certainly working against it. Many RPGamers raised outcry over Working Designs translation efforts, but they haven't seen anything until they've seen Ubi Soft's attempt. Technical wise, it's flawless, but some of the word choices and dialogue will just rub people the wrong way.

   Finally, we come to the battle system. Reworked from the bottom up to resemble more traditional side view RPG's, Lunar is decidedly average in this category. Battles flow faster and more smoothly, but the addition of Limit Break like super attacks and the general weakness of enemies have reduced any difficulty the game had to pitiful levels. Battles are simply a hurdle to overcome before the next part of the story is revealed.

   In the end, Lunar is a purchase that you won't regret. The game is relatively fast paced, but even the myriad of hidden and collectable cards available in the game won't be enough to make you want to play through it again. If you can find it cheap then it is a wise purchase, but for those paying full price they might want to look elsewhere.

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