Lunar: Now without the confusion!
| Replay Value
| Time to Complete
When I was younger, my friends and I used to argue
back and forth over which video game system was better. Each of us stubbornly
clung to whatever system we happened to have, regardless of its actual
quality(which may in at least some measure excuse my stubborn clinging
to NES over Genesis for a couple of years. I was too young to have been
on crack, so I'll chalk it up to someone slipping mildly addictive Ritalin
in my soup or something). At any rate, this particular argument eventually
extended to RPGs and we were more or less forced to drop it, since at
that point, most RPGs that did happen to surface were of reasonable quality.
This was the case with Lunar. My friend owned a Sega CD(sad, really) and
so eventually he managed to talk me into a trade. Unfortunately, this
just so happened to last a couple of months, so while I was left stewing
minus all my beloved Squaresoft games, I had to put up with Lunar. This
may in part explain why I have a somewhat... middling... attitude towards
the game. While there were some aspects I definitely enjoyed, other parts
left me wishing the prospect of Sonic, Sonic II, Sonic III, Sonic and
Knuckles, and Sonic Pinball hadn't been so darned enticing at the time.
Looking back, I now see they were all the same game, so having successfully
edited that portion of my memory into oblivion, I'm left with just my
screwy jaw- which inexplicably ceased to open all the way forever thereafter
without making a clicking sound(I think the Genesis games somehow managed
to encourage wisdom tooth growth)- and this review of Lunar, one of two
decent games I received in this ill-fated trade.
"A-a-a-a-alex! Oh, A-a-a-a-lex!" This is how the
game starts off, and having played it through twice and near to completion
at least five or six times, this inane soundbit is forever lodged in my
memory, along with the subsequent speech Nall, your flying cat/comic relief
gives. Nall isn't particularly handy at all, except when he occasionally
resurrects your fallen party members in battle. He usually just sticks
to giving you useless advice before battle, such as the classic "Easy
pickin's!". Usually the advice is largely irrelevant to your situation,
but that's okay. The battles are acceptable, so you don't notice your
flying cat too much. The emphasis is definitely on mobility, and either
physical or magic attacks, depending on the strength of your character.
In this respect, the game stays true to the archetypal RPG- your white
mage Jessica generally hangs back and lends support in the back row, while
your knights-in-shining armour, such as Alex and Kyle, run amok up front.
This movement is literal; you actually have to take the steps to reach
the monsters in order to fight them. The system tends to be rather time-consuming,
which is the main problem I find with it. It is well orchestrated- things
move fluidly; but on the whole, it just takes too long to finish up a
fight. Additionally, the interface is somewhat clunky, as pictures are
used to depict some possible actions. While this works for some games,
I just don't like it here. Still, aside from monotony, the fighting is
|See my hat, 'twas my
Picture-based clunkiness is my chief complaint with
the battle system, and it's my main bone of contention with the interface
as well. Everything save for the status screen is pictures, and manouvering
about the pixellated beauty can sometimes be a bit of a pain. Item storage
is a real irritant because you can store very limited numbers of items
with your characters, and are forced to keep the bulk with... Nall. That's
right. A little white cat has hundreds of times the storage capacity of
people many times his size. Logical inconsistency aside, this inconvenient
arrangement plagues the flow of the game. Some might argue that having
limited numbers of items for characters to carry adds an element of strategy;
I just argue that it's tedious and time-consuming. And another thing...
Everything's just so cutesy! All right, then, moving along...
The music in Lunar varies from memorable to repetitive.
On the whole, it is enjoyable; the composer has remarkable variety in
the scope and breadth of the pieces in the game. The sound effects here
are run-of-the-mill, and the voice acting, as in any game, is horrible.
I guess I just hate voice acting, so any game that uses it automatically
loses a couple of points in my books. That might be slightly unfair, but
I think it's a valid complaint, since no 'cool' white cat would really
alternate between raucous jokes and spouting off drivel about 'fantastic
adventures'. Did I mention I hate Nall?
|Nall gets the fate he
so richly deserves.
Lunar was fairly original at the time of its release, and even today
it is fairly novel in the concepts it is based around. Though some standard
elements were used in its construction, there is enough about it that
sets it apart and makes it a truly distinct gaming experience. Specifically,
the great attention paid to characterization gives it a flavour not present
in other RPGs. It generates a feel to the story that is distinct and not
easily duplicated. The plot is another element that sets the game apart;
the storyline is, quite simply, one of the best I've ever encountered.
The character development, as stated, is stellar, and the relationships
between the characters seem realistic and are built upon masterfully as
the story progresses. This is what makes this game worth playing, in short.
Part and parcel with the characterization comes the excellent translation,
a hallmark of any Working Designs game. The localization of this game
is absolutely top-notch, as is to be expected from a company that frequently
delays its games months in order to get these sorts of details done properly.
Then again, localization is pretty much the extent of the company's involvement
in the original Lunar, so they'd better have done a good job of it.
The actual replay value of Lunar is somewhat low, given the linear
nature of the plot. While experiencing the story again and again might
thrill some, I can only sit through it so many times, twice, in this case.
It's an engaging love story, to be sure, but I'm just not sentimental
enough for that sort of thing.
The graphics in Lunar, for their time, were actually fairly decent, if
not great. The inclusion of cutscenes was a definite advantage over many
of its contemporaries, although admittedly, most of these cutscenes were
rudimentary by today's standards. Still, it was a reasonable effort, if
|Nash: because it's the
first picture I clicked on.
The difficulty of this game is actually quite considerable. While this
usually does not extend to dungeon crawling- either there's a single,
easily located path, or all ways lead the right way in the majority of
dungeons- the strict limitations on MP and item carriage can cause some
difficulty in battle. Your characters are often revived if they die in
battle, but it doesn't do you much good to be wandering around with five
characters, each with 1 HP remaining. Still, this resurrection feature
does make the game somewhat easier, and sufficiently moderates the difficulty
to a more agreeable level. Generally, in terms of completion time, 25-30
hours should be enough to go through the game. If you want to be very
thorough, build your characters up to obscene levels, and such, then I
suppose it might take a bit longer, but really, 25-30 hours is sufficient.
Lunar, then, is and was much what I expected it to be- a game that was
adequate, but mostly overhyped by my friend(who was so fanatical about
it he waited anxiously 2 months for it to arrive at our local gaming store.)
Certainly, there are worse games, but equally as certain is the existence
of better games. Nonetheless, I did enjoy it, and that's about all that
counts in the end.