In Defense of EsquE's Lunar Rating - Counter

There seem to be two schools of thought on Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete. One, is that of the diehard Lunar fans that patiently waited years and years for this special re-release of one of their most loved games, and other one, is of the people who meet it with varying enthusiasm based on more current standards. What I find interesting about this is that much of the sentiment going around about Lunar:SSSC is very reactionary, even for the so-called "objective" reviews. Many reviewers seem to be reacting strongly to what they apparently see as a rising tide of "Lunartics" who need a dose of reality, and Lunar fans also appear be striding forward into the fray to "tell off these party-poopers who don't understand RPGs are about more than graphics".

As for myself, I can't say I fall into either category. I had never even heard of Lunar until about a few months ago (except for some vague memories of some Sega CD ads), and I never even played it until a week ago. And what did I find?

Let us forget for a moment all the hubbub surrounding this game, and just look at it for what it is. What is Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete? It is an old-style, retro console RPG with a fantastically told story and A+ dialogue, all wrapped in a loving and affectionate treatment courtesy of people who truly love the game. To me, Lunar, in content as well as presentation, has one thing going for it: heart. Regardless of whatever problems it might have, this game made me feel good through and through, which is more than I can say for many of the "serious masterpieces" people like to tout so highly.

So, let us take for a moment E-Chan's point one by one, which, I suppose makes me reactionary, too. But, oh well.

1. On graphics. On one hand I think the people who think that Lunar's graphics are "great" are out of their mind. As E-Chan pointed out--and I have to agree--they are extremely dated. However, I honestly don't see what this has to do with the game at all. They are crisp, attractive, and get the job done, and while they certainly don't deserve praise for being all that interesting, they most absolutely DO NOT deserve to be criticized in any way. Do people criticize old movies for being in black&white? I personally just don't believe it is something worth pointing out as a "flaw". The graphics were obviously made this way intentionally and contribute to the retro-feel of the game. It isn't that they are better or worse than other graphic; it's that these *are* Lunar's graphics. They are what the designers choose to represent their world to me as a player, and I can only say they did their job clearly and adequately.

2. Here I would just like to respond to something in E-Chan's editorial, his comment about "People that praise [Lunar's music] and bitch about FFVII's "bad music" should be ashamed of themselves." All I have to say to this is, well, what if I don't bitch about either? I have long been a strong defender of Final Fantasy VII's excellent score, and I'll just as soon rise to the last of defending Lunar's. Now, granted, I personally do not think the music in Lunar is up there with Final Fantasy and Y's; however, that is not to say that regardless the music in Lunar slowly gains a hold on you, and has a modest and endearing quality that becomes part of your affection for the total experience by the end. By most accounts (even diehard Lunar fans) the music for the original Sega CD version is better, but this knowing this did not dampen my experience of the game. The relatively sedate but brilliantly composed music of Lunar contributed to a very pleasant feeling for the game, and, in a way, I felt accommodated the "dated" graphical look appropriately.

3. Another one of E-Chan's statements that caught me, and one that I very strongly disagree with, was "At its heart, [Lunar's story is] very generic and cliched." This is a criticism I hear a lot in regards to Lunar, and, honestly, I can't say I'm surprised. Lunar is a predictable story. It is as old and the mountains for RPG stories, and it proceeds to its climax with very little surprised and a general plot design that goes little beyond Dragon Quest 1 for complexity... and that is why I loved it. There is a notion alive today in gaming that I don't agree with at all. It is that there is something wrong with simple stories. For many, the epitome of RPG plotlines is Xenogears with it's epic 10,000 year plot of meta-physical romance; however, after playing games like Xenogears (or Final Fantasy VII or Final Fantasy Tactic) I was so utterly delighted by the plot of Lunar I began to wonder why Square feels the need to be so overly ambitious. My problem with Square is that after Final Fantasy VI they have been so interested in the philosophical and intellectual underpinning of their massive "let's see how many plot twists we can cram into one game" plots, that they have forgotten how to structure emotional pay-offs effectively. Final Fantasy VII had a problem with this, Xenogears had an even bigger problem with this, and Final Fantasy Tactics has the biggest of all. Lunar, on the other hand, takes a simple and predictable story as old as the heavens and tells it SO WELL that it is utterly delightful and compelling from beginning to end, and to me the biggest testament to Lunar's quality in the story-telling department is that it was able to accomplish in 25 hours what Xenogears took 80 to work its way around to.

4. Okay, now this is my biggest reactionary reaction to E-Chan's reactionary reactions. The voice-acting hardly "blows" as he so eloquently put it. In my opinion, the best voice acting I have ever heard in a game is in the original Legacy of Kain by Silicon Knights. That game is a 10 on a scale of 1-10. A distant second I'd have to say would be (and I can already hear a million people saying "WHAT!!!???") Mega Man Legends. I'd give that an 8.5 Third is Metal Gear Solid (97% percent good, but one or two bad lines) which I'd give an 8. Just for perspective, I'd give games like Silent Hill a 5, Castlevania: SotN a 6, and Resident Evil a 1 (or a 10, depending on how you want to look at it). Lunar for me, I'd but put at a solid 8 or 8.5. Yes, I do admit I kinda see E-Chan's point about Truitt's portrayal of Ghaleon. He was kinda nasal at times, and his annunciation occasionally felt forced (think the "A Goddess Is Reborn" cinema) However, I still love the guy's voice, and otherwise, I felt the voice acting was absolutely top-notch. Are you going to tell me that Ashley Angel wasn't utterly convincing as Alex? I don't know about you guy's but I believed every word that came out of the guy's mouth. Also, the person who did Luna's voice (I am forgetting her name here.) was wonderful. Why? Because she was able to deliver such cornball, melodramatic dialogue *convincingly* and in a way that made me totally forget how goofy it was a believe it. Now, if that isn't great acting, I don't know what is. To me it only makes sense. The story is melodramatic tripe, and so is the dialogue, and it is all perfectly appropriate and works.

5. On Length. To me, Lunar is just right. In today's gaming environment there is this belief--a dogma, more like--that RPG's must be long. Why? I play a game for the quality of the experience, and if I can get the same enjoyment out of a 20 hour game than a 60 hour game, I'd prefer the 20 hour one. It's just getting more for less. I remember after playing Xenogears I felt frustrated and drained, like the game had taken FOREVER to build up to a conclusion that it could have reached 30 hours ago. Lunar, on the other hand, was simple, fun, and as smooth as silk.

So, what would I rate Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete? I dunno. I'm not into rating game on a linear scale. I just like to sum up my thoughts of that the overall experience was like afterwards. Was it enjoyable? Was it memorable? Would I do it again? For me the answer to all three of these questions is 'yes', and, for me, that is all there really is to know.

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