The Lunar franchise, although not quite as popular as Square-Enix's Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest titles, has garnered a sizeable fan base over the years. However, RPGamer's haven't been presented with a true continuation of the saga since the release of Lunar 2: Eternal Blue back in 1995. This will all change when Lunar: Dragon Song is published next month. Today, RPGamer brings you new information from both Nintendo Power and Famitsu.
Lunar: Dragon Song, as was previously disclosed, is a prequel to Lunar: The Silver Star. The title takes place during a period of history when beastmen are the planet's sovereign race, residing in a massive city at the center of the world. On the opposite end of the spectrum are humans, who enjoy a peaceful and humble existence in the countryside. With the goddess Althena, who is originally bringing life to the planet, as their guardian, the two races have coexisted in harmony for ages.
This harmony is disrupted when Althena's powers mysteriously begin to fail. A tribe of black-magic wielders arises in the Frontier, the barren wasteland at the edge of civilization, and rumors begin circulating that they have kidnapped the goddess and are responsible for disturbing the balance of the world. The absence of the Dragonmaster -- the warrior entrusted with Althena's protection -- convinces a human boy named Jian to venture into the Frontier and rescue the goddess. What he uncovers in his journeys will trigger an unanticipated cataclysm that will alter Lunar's history forever.
This latest installment in the series will sport a considerable number of visual deviations from the styles of the previous games, which isn't too surprising considering the ten year gap between games. When exploring towns, dungeons, and other such areas, players will notice that the old-school, top-down perspective has been dropped in favor of an isometric view. Battles, instead adopting a side view, will now be witnessed from behind the party. Those who didn't appreciate the previous games' "superdeformed" characters will be pleased to know that a higher level of detail will now be placed into character models, which are once again the brainchildren of series veteran Toshiyuki Kubooka. Additionally, the series' trademark anime cutscenes will return in all their artistic grandeur, and will appear with even greater frequency than in past titles.
Beyond these graphical differences, several adjustments have been made to the battle scheme as well. Yes, battles are still turn-based, and players will still attack with weapons and items they've gathered throughout their travels. However, there will be no random encounters; all enemies will appear onscreen, as in the Lunar remakes. A new "Battle Card" system has been introduced, which will allow players to equip their characters with a number of ability-augmenting cards. Word of a "Light and Dark" system has surfaced as well, which requires the transformation of dark creatures into entities of light. How this will be accomplished has yet to be revealed. Also, the dual screens will allow for players to engage either ground based or aerial enemies. Aerial enemies, not surprisingly, can only be damaged with magic or long ranged attacks. If neither of these are available for immediate use, however, players need not fear. Once all the land based enemies are defeated, the aerial enemies will descend onto the lower screen and become targets. Of course, players who simply want to relax and let the battle take care of itself can turn on AT mode, in which all fights are run automatically.
With the North American release of July 26 less than a month away, ideas are already being considered for a sequel, which will most likely star the original Four Heroes of Lunar lore. RPGamer will continue to post any more information that may arise concerning Lunar: Dragon Song.