In Defense of EsquE's Lunar Rating

I noticed that our reviewer (and my friend) EsquE took a bit of flak regarding his final rating of Working Design's Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete, particularly at our message boards. Which is funny, considering that his review of the game is, BY FAR, the most competent one I've read. His review isn't mired by nostalgia, as I'm pretty sure he never played the Sega CD original, making it fair and objective. Just because it's your favorite game and you've been waiting to play it four years doesn't make it impervious to criticism. It's a widely-held belief that devout "Squareheads" are the ultimate in annoying (and lack of spelling or grammar skill), and for the most part, with a few exceptions, that's a deserved reputation. But in my opinion, "Lunartics" are FAR worse. Unless you write a thousand page dissertation on why it's the greatest RPG series in the history of man, you're automatically some kind of no-taste imbecile that can't see what they can. Make no mistake, I LOVE Lunar, but like Esque, I'm not blind to the fact that the game has some serious shortcomings. And if you wish to flame me to holy hell, go ahead. I'm so tired of the state of the industry and the fans that follow it, I could care less.

1.) FACT: The game's graphics look like they're 4 years old. That's because they ARE. The original (superior) version of SSS was released for the Sega Saturn at the beginning of 1996. They're extremely colorful and in high resolution, sure, but they're also tile-based, blocky, and very basic-looking. The characters are microscopic and are devoid of animation. For its time, it was pretty impressive, but in 1999, it's not nearly as awe-inspiring. If you halved the resolution, this would be an amazing SNES game (and for all those gasping at such "sacrilege", play Romancing SaGa 3 or Star Ocean). The character portraits and bromides are indeed very nice, and the anime scenes have yet to be surpassed, but just like an insecure Lunar fan would tell you about games like FFVII, "the FMV ain't everything".

2.) FACT: The sound programming mires an otherwise superb soundtrack. This was a problem with the original Saturn version as well. But for some reason, the PSX doesn't even come close to emulating even THAT version. The battle music is so subdued that you hardly notice it's even there, AND IT'S THE SONG YOU HEAR THE MOST. The town themes are rather catchy, and I do think that WD did a good job with localizing the vocal tracks, but Iwadare deserves much better than what's heard here. People that praise this and bitch about FFVII's "bad music" should be ashamed of themselves.

3.) EXTREMELY STRONG OPINION (heh heh): The writing is fantastic, and the characters are endearing. I love these characters. More specifically, I love Jessica. But I'm not going to get into that. I usually detest WD translations. If I want to read and hear jokes about breasts, farts, and vomit, I'll watch South Park. However, I found Lunar to be well done overall in this department. Nothing really irked me to the point of wanting to turn it off in sheer disgust, and that's a mark in their favor. My one problem with Lunar's story (and EsquE has already pointed this out) is that at its heart, it's very generic and cliched. Its characters are what saves it from the pit of mediocrity.

4.) ANOTHER EXTREMELY STRONG OPINION: The voice acting BLOWS. Do any of you remember Cosmic Fantasy 2 or Popful Mail? That was WD at its absolute best. *sigh* how far they've fallen. And the few actors they used that showed some actual talent were reading the lamest repartee this side of a Marvel comic. "Send in the clowns"? I hope that was intended as a joke, because I laughed my ass off at how stupid that sounded. In the name of all that is good, why were all of Mr. Truitt's lines so corny? And why did his delivery sound so slow and unnatural?

5.) FACT: It's insanely short. It took me 17 hours to beat Lunar: SSSC, and that included finding all the bromides and constantly revisiting different towns to see what wacky new things the villagers had to say (I will say that I usually don't do this unless it's a Lunar game). It's been a long time since I played The Silver Star, but I know it took about the same amount of time (and possibly a little more) to beat, and back then it was chastised like crazy for that (see also "Panzer Dragoon Saga").

I don't know about you, but suddenly that 87% is looking pretty realistic. Would I recommend Lunar to you? Absolutely. You people need to remember that an 87% is an excellent score, particularly on EsquE's scale. But would I recommend it over games like Xenogears, Grandia, Persona, Star Ocean: TSS, Ys, or Final Fantasy VII/VIII? Never in a million years. Hell, were it not for the quality presentation, I'd recommend the Saturn import over the Playstation domestic. Speaking of which, I WILL say that the packaging and extras are fantastic. Not even the Japanese get such cool freebies (I think I've played Warlords more than Lunar itself). Now if WD can provide this kind of promotion and quality with Eternal Blue (which fixes a few of the above problems), we'll really be talkin'. Let's pray they can get it out when they say they can, when it's still relatively fresh. Here's to optimism.

P.S. - If you want to see a REAL misguided review of Lunar, check out the one at Gamepro's website. Good grief.

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