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Platform: GameBoy Advance Publisher: Ubi Soft
Genre: Turn-Based RPG Developer: Game Arts/Media Rings
Format: Cartridge Expected Release: November 2002

Preview First-Look
John McCarroll
John McCarroll

In 1992, Game Arts created Lunar: The Silver Star, an anime-styled role playing game for Sega’s MEGA-CD. This timeless adventure would become a legend among RPG fans. In 1993, Working Designs localized the game for the Sega CD to much fanfare. The game was met with critical acclaim and garnered a strong fanbase. Several years after that release, Game Arts recreated the game for the Sega Saturn with an updated story, improved graphics and FMV anime cinemas. The game entered another period of success in the Japanese market, earning a port to Sony’s console. In 1999, Working Designs localized and published that edition, called Lunar: The Silver Star Story. Even in a market filled with next-generation RPG’s, the game was a hit. New RPG fans that were indoctrinated in the age of Final Fantasy VII came to love The Silver Star Story for its narrative and cinemas. Now, almost three years later, Lunar is hitting the road. No, the game’s not quite out of production, but Ubi Soft has recently announced their plans to publish the GameBoy Advance version, known as Lunar: Legend, here in the US.

Lunar: Legend uses the same bright, anime-style graphics of the Sega CD and PlayStation versions. The colors are used well, even if very little is seen on the GBA’s small screen. Fans hoping for full FMV will be disappointed though, as GBA cartridges don’t have enough memory for video. Instead, the cinemas will be static illustrations with several still frames from the anime cutscenes featured in the PlayStation edition. When walking in many of the towns and across the world map, the game is viewed in the ¾ overhead view that is common in most 2D RPGs. Developer Media Rings, however, has changed several locations to a side-scrolling horizontal view to better accommodate the portable system. In combat, the perspective will remain in the traditional isometric side view of the series. The character sprites and battle animation are excellent, being on par with that of the PlayStation version.

Lunar: Legend begins as Lunar always did, with the boy Alex standing at a grave of his hero, Dragonmaster Dyne. Young Alex would never suspect that his dream of becoming a hero would soon become a reality. Though his tale remains the same, the journey has been changed dramatically. For example, players will meet Nash at the beginning of the adventure instead of several hours into the quest. The arrogant young mage is found in Alex’s hometown of Burg instead of loitering around Saith. Oddly enough, the white dragon Quark is now called Fidy. This may be due to the fact that Working Designs may still hold certain copyrights to the Lunar license, though all of the other main characters’ names remain unchanged. Needless to say, Alex is still adventuring with his friends to become the next Dragonmaster and defender of the goddess Althena. The characters of Lunar have always been well developed, maturing as they progress through their adventures. Their portrayal in Lunar: Legend should be equally impressive.

Lunar: Legend adds a slew of new features and side-quests to the classic game. Aside from the graphical changes and plot additions, a completely new combat system has been added. Players now charge an “Arts” gauge during a fight, which, when filled, grants a character access to new battle commands similar to Final Fantasy VII’s Limit Breaks. New items have been included in the game, as well as a function to trade items between two GBAs. A new dungeon has also been added but whether this will have a great affect on the plot has yet to be seen. Lunar: Legend will even have in-game trading cards to collect, though it is unknown if the Bromides from the PlayStation version will be included. Although the game is simple compared to many modern RPGs, Lunar: Legend isn’t about innovative combat or some huge fetch quest, it’s about a dreamer’s quest to save the girl he loves.

Those expecting the same excellent voice acting in the previous editions will be sorely disappointed with Legend as the cartridges don't have much room for large amounts of digitized speech. However, the music and sound effects are top-notch for game on a portable console. Noriyuke Iwadare’s score is expected to be faithfully reproduced for the GameBoy Advance.

Lunar has always been an excellent series held in high esteem by many gamers for its grand story and wonderful characters. If Media Rings is up to the task, Lunar: Legend has the potential to be one of the greatest portable RPGs ever released. Though, without Game Arts at the helm, gamers may have reason to be concerned about this portable rendition. Lunar: Legend is slated for a November 2002 release by Ubi Soft.


© 1992-2002 Game Arts
© 2002 Ubi Soft
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That's one mean dragon!

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The new world map is easy to navigate.

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The combat remains the same.

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Drop... Dead... Gorgeous...

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