Genre: RPG
Platform(s): Saturn, PlayStation, Windows, Game Boy Advance
Allegiance: Kadokawa Shoten/ESP, NA Working Designs (PS1), NA Ubisoft (GBA)
Vintage: 1999
Rating: N/A
Intelligence Agency Report by: Dr. Magnanimus
In the quiet village of Burg, Alex spent many a day aspiring to become a great warrior like the late local hero Dyne, the man who became the world’s last Dragonmaster. Years have passed since Dragonmaster Dyne banded the four dragons together and ascended to meet the goddess Althena, whom he was charged to defend against the malevolent intentions of the Vile Tribe. Afterwards, he mysteriously disappeared from this plane of existence. The world is now at peace, and the exploits of the Dragonmaster have passed on into mere legend. But one day, when Alex and his friends stumbled upon a cave occupied by a slumbering ancient dragon, their lives, and the world, are changed forever.

Weapons Expert Report by: Dr. Magnanimus 
Story/Premise
Gameplay
Impact
Visual
Audio
9.00
9.00
9.50
9.75
9.00
Overall 9.00
(not an average)
Version Reviewed: Playstation 1 

I’ve been dying to play a good decent J-RPG for a long time after brand new titles have been failing me one after another. Some of those letdowns ranged from bad storylines and bad or awkward attempts to reinvent turn-based gameplay (or even do away with altogether) to, worst of all, the disproportionate challenge in difficulty that comes from having to max-level all your heroes. Even the newer Final Fantasy games have been lacking that special something. I went to one of my RPG friends for advice, and LUNAR Silver Star Story is what I managed to pick up. 

This is one of those really old games dating back to the early to mid-90s; the game I played is a 1999 PS1 remake of the original Sega Saturn version. The storyline is a typical fantasy setup (at least it would seem so by today’s standards anyway): A young boy grows up in podunk central wanting to be a great Dragonmaster like his idol (killed in battle while saving the world, of course). With his reluctant girlfriend-with-secret-hidden-powers and a wise-crackin’ winged animal sidekick, they start off on an epic prophecy-driven quest. A cliched RPG beginning it may be, but trust me, it gets much better. Betrayal will be had, hearts will be broken, tears will be shed, and male-oriented (and even some female) fan service will be rendered. In that order. 

The graphics are 2-d sprites on detailed overhead backgrounds with some pretty special effects thrown in here and there. You won’t see anything particularly groundbreaking about this Playstation title, but it just goes to show that sometimes keeping things simple is the way to go, leaving players to just fill in the gaps of non-realism with our imagination (You heard right! IMAGINATION! *rainbows and sparkles*). A nice addition to be noted in the remake version I’ve been playing, however, is the inclusion of short anime FMVs throughout the game, featuring some very decent voice dubs. But even without, the game itself can still hold its own thanks to its good storytelling ability. Finally, there’s the music, and what a delicious soundtrack it is! If you’ve ever been pumped up by action music from late 80s-early 90s anime, then this game is definitely for you. The English translations of some of the main songs were very pretty, even when considering the lack of a Japanese-language option, which only more recent localizations have been able to deliver. Even when faced with the possibility that this game would not compete on the same level of success as Dragon Quest or Final Fantasy, it’s clear that the designers nonetheless poured all their energy into making a solid overall production on the sound and music, just as much as they had with the story and gameplay.

 The combat system was unique but not terribly awkward. It resembled a typical turn-based pre-FF7 backdrop, but with the twist that characters on both sides of the battle had to actually approach their intended target before attacking head-on. Magic users could also target enemies that were closely grouped together for super-effectiveness. The battles went along at a decent pace, and while traveling in dungeons you did have an opportunity to avoid unnecessary battles so long as you were out of the range of roaming monsters. The most refreshing thing about the game mechanics, however, was its power-leveling mechanism. With every boss encounter, the main baddie’s level matches the hero’s, keeping every fight interesting and challenging. Here’s a game that can keep both low-level speeders and high-level grinders satisfied. It’s quite marvelous!

There’s really not much for me to be critical about in this game. If you were a gamer who was raised on the Playstation and was somehow spoiled by its superior graphics capacity, then perhaps this game may not be the one for you. But at least for old-timer RPG gamers, LUNAR is definitely one of the best out there, and I’m glad to have had the opportunity to play it.