Thursday, June 10, 2010

Games I Like - Lunar : Silver Star Story

I don't need to tell you this is a great game. If any of your friends are RPG nerds, I'm sure they've tried to cram it down your throat already. Lunar is just one of those games that is great for so many reasons. I first played it on the Sega CD, but never got very far in it.

As with many people, my real experience is with the PS1 version. We all know the PS1 had a metric fuck-ton of great RPGs, but this has got to be my absolute favorite, for a few good reasons.

First of all, the presentation is incredible. This is something I miss sorely about Working Designs. It had a hardcover manual, soundtrack, bonus CD, cloth map and probably a few other things. It was so freaking cool. Games today are all about the limited edition and preorder shit, but this was all stuff that added to the overall package and was great to own.

Next were the graphics. The in-game graphics were very simplistic and stylized, they had a ton of old-school charm to them. Despite being tiny, the characters had personality. And of course let's not forget the cutscenes! Those blew me the fuck away at that time. Beautiful animated cutscenes. Don't give me any of this pre-rendered or in-game engine crap. Hand-drawn all the way! It worked really well, and got you a lot more involved in the story. You'd want to keep playing just to see the next one.

The voice acting in-game and in the cutscenes was pretty bad. Jesus Christ, Nall's voice makes you want to stick a pen in your ear. But despite that, it's still endearing in a goofy sort of way. They were trying so hard!

But perhaps what many people (myself included) enjoy most of all is the story. At it's core it is pretty cliche. Boy wants to become a dragon master, girl is kidnapped, evil sorcerer, yadda yadda. It's ok though, these concepts work. The last thing we need are more games like the later FF games that get so far up their own ass they are finding coal nuggets. The characters in Lunar are all funny and well written. I attribute most of this to the fact that they didn't just translate the script word for word from the Japanese version.

Maybe that's a rant for another day, but Working Designs did some fantastic localization. Sticking to the spirit of the story while adding in some humor and references that appeal to your target audience is very tough to do right. But somehow they pulled it off.

It all comes together to produce an RPG with a very distinct old-school Swords n' Sorcery feel that I love, while managing to have enough personality to stand on it's own. They also released the sequel on PS1, but I didn't really enjoy it as much.

The original has received a remake on PSP with entirely redone graphics, including re-recorded dialog and some gorgeous background art. It sticks closer to the original script though, and maybe for that reason it just lacks that spark that made the original so endearing.

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