Note: This review is based on the Japanese version of the game.
Lunar 2: Eternal Blue Remix on PlayStation is the second re-release of the original Sega CD game Lunar 2: Eternal Blue. Along with its Saturn counterpart, Lunar 2: EBR has been greatly enhanced and improved from its original form, but also suffers from several problems through this conversion. However, an incredibly touching and memorable story, as well as the added epilogue and second ending to the game, makes Lunar 2: EBR a must-play RPG.
As in the game’s predecessor, the story of Lunar 2: EBR takes place on the Silver Star, only one thousand years after the events of Alex and his companions. This installment of the series stars Hiro, an adventurous and aspiring treasure hunter, and his companion Ruby, a flying cat. After escaping from the treacherous Dragon Ruins, Hiro sets off back home, but is surprised by the appearance of a man named Leo. Introducing himself as a White Knight of Althena, he claims that a force of ultimate destruction has awakened on the Blue Star and is heading towards their world.
After such a premonition, Hiro and his grandfather Gwyn are shocked to witness a beam of light shooting up into the sky from the Blue Spire, an ancient tower in the distance. Keeping Leo’s words in mind, they decide to investigate the incident and travel to the Spire. Upon reaching its summit, Hiro and Gwyn discover Lucia, guardian of the Blue Star, who has come on a mission of urgency to meet with the
Goddess Althena about the revival of the evil force. The three exit the tower together, but Zophar, the aforementioned evil force of ultimate destruction, arrives and places a curse on Lucia, sealing her omnipotent powers.
Upon making their way down the Blue Spire and exiting, Hiro, Gwyn, and the weak Lucia encounter Leo once again. Having seen the beam of light ascending from the spire, he sees Lucia and immediately accuses her of being the demon from the Blue Star! Although she adamantly denies it, her words are not enough to sway the White Knight, who pursues the party from this meeting on.
In order to heal Lucia, Hiro and Gwyn arrive at a consensus. Hiro decides to take her to meet the High Priest Ronfar in the town of Larpa. While only the beginning of Lunar 2: EBR’s story, it sets the stage perfectly for a truly epic battle between the forces of light and dark.
This epic battle not only covers opposing external forces, but internal strife that the game’s six main characters go through. Each must overcome personal burdens throughout the course of the game; Lucia learning how to find and experience human emotion, Ronfar overcoming a sense of guilt, and Jean finding the courage and strength to confront her past are just a few examples of such. In Lunar 2, each character is thoroughly developed and the player cannot help but to become emotionally attached to them, along with the many reoccurring characters from the first Lunar game.
Gameplay in Lunar 2: EBR is quite similar to the first game in its series, while improving on previously existing flaws. One of the most noticeable aspects of this is the revamped item system. No longer must the player manage the items in the inventories of each and every character, for they are all pooled together in one large stock now, like in most RPGs. An unlimited carrying capacity also makes this system much more convenient than in Lunar 1.
Also, like in the Lunar 1 remake, battles are not in the form of random encounters; you can see your adversaries on the screen and try to avoid combat with them. However, dashing past them is hard, for Hiro can only dash a short distance for a few seconds in a dungeon before returning to normal walking speed.
This results in a good balance between avoidable battles and ones you have to fight.
While the battle system remains largely unchanged, a new element is introduced to combat that is vital to success in Lunar 2: EBR. This element is the Medallion system. Each character can equip up to two medallions at a time, each of which possess a unique effect. Using different medallions in conjunction with each other can have drastic effects on a character’s statistics, performance in battle, and even allow them to utilize magical attacks that they wouldn’t have been able to previously. This enables you to customize your characters to a certain extent, while still having them retain their individual characteristics that make them unique and valuable fighters.
While control in battle is flawless, minor issues still remain with it in other areas. I have always been annoyed by how in the Lunar series, your character is automatically turned to the left or the right upon walking forward into a wall. This bug returns, although it is an extremely minor complaint in the broad scope of this game’s excellence. The limitation of Hiro’s dash is also an irritation, but is an acceptable and understandable part of the game’s balance.
Unfortunately, one of the finest aspects of the game, Lunar 2: EBR’s music, also falls victim to several problems in this PlayStation remake. First of all, the music in this game is incredible. It is filled with emotion and inspiration, each melody suiting its respective locals perfectly, and the heart-pounding battle and boss themes driving the party continually forward in their crusade against Zophar. However, these brilliant compositions fall victim to the annoying PlayStation load times we’ve all grown to hate. The incredible battle music actually slows down to a crawl and drags quite noticeably whenever the game loads a character’s special attack and voice clip. This is quite devastating to the overall appeal of the game, but is endurable nonetheless.
Lunar 2: EBR is also very much like its predecessor in the graphics department. The game is done entirely in 2D with decent looking sprites and backgrounds, nothing spectacular though. However, the game really shines in its anime cutscenes. They are truly brilliant, combining the art of Kadokawa Shoten with amazing computer graphic animations. The incredibly popular character bromides also make a return, although there are many more available to find this time around, over twenty in all and most of which can only be acquired in the game’s epilogue.
In regards to the game’s epilogue, it is one of the true highlights of Lunar 2: EBR. After completing the initial game itself, the player is treated to the opportunity to traverse the world once again in a new quest.
This new adventure features approximately half a dozen new dungeons, bromides and anime scenes to collect, and much more, about eight to ten hours in length to do everything, followed by a breathtaking second ending to the game. The second ending really ties up all the loose ends left over from the original game itself and is a true fan service.
What can be said about this game that we all don’t know already? Lunar 2 is a true classic, one of the finest RPGs ever produced. The high quality of its character-driven storyline is matched by few games. While this remake on PlayStation provides many enhancements upon the original game itself, such as the epilogue and plethora of anime scenes, it still suffers from trademark loading and slowdown problems. Pick it up later this winter when Working Designs releases it in North America. Lunar 2: EBR receives my highest recommendation.