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Lunar: Silver Star Harmony Review

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On 07/30/2010 at 11:01 PM by Nick DiMola

The Sega CD classic is back again, this time with a fresh coat of paint.

For fans of the original and old school JRPGs only.

Many gamers are deeply familiar with the Lunar series, particularly the very first title which gained quite a bit of attention on both the Sega CD and on the PlayStation, where it was originally rereleased. I myself have never had the pleasure of playing the game, though I've always heard just how great it was. Without nostalgia clouding my vision, I can say that Lunar Silver Star Harmony is a well-done game, but one that clearly shows its age in both its level and game design.

In standard JRPG fashion, players take control of a band of teenagers all looking to become famous adventurers, subsequently transitioning into adulthood and fame. Along the way the team must complete tasks, defeat enemies, and conquer the world. Without any memories of the game to draw from, most players won't be engaged in the incredibly cliche story featured in the game. Though the story is not of particular interest, the anime cutscenes featured throughout are quite impressive and are complemented by the fairly good English dialog. Furthermore, the dialog between characters is both engaging and often funny, a trait that doesn't always translate well when companies localize Japanese titles.

Though I never had the opportunity to play the original Lunar title, I have seen the game in motion, and others who have as well will be most impressed by the stunning graphical overhaul done on the game. The environments and characters are all beautifully detailed, looking only more stunning in motion. Upon first sight, I was simply blown away by the visuals. While they look amazing for a remake, had this been a brand new game, I would've been equally impressed with the graphical prowess showcased in the classic title.

With such an amazing presentation, it's slightly disappointing to see just how by-the-books Lunar Silver Star Harmony is when it comes to gameplay and design. As with most RPGs, players have teammates, all of whom have equipped accessories, armor, and weaponry all used to boost stats that are relevant only when fighting in battles.

The battle mechanics are also quite rudimentary, featuring physical, magical, defense, and fleeing abilites; the standard set of abilities for any JRPG, especially one conceived in the early '90s. There is some depth though, particularly when it comes to the battle formation and the predefined tactics.

Players can arrange the formation of their characters ahead of going into battle, allowing for a more strategic approach given the characters available in the party at a given time. Additionally, players can set up predefined movesets that will allow the computer to select who to perform the move on in a given turn. I mostly took use of one of the original tactics that simply queued all players to attack when their turn came due. This helps with some of the grinding players will encounter throughout the game.

The grind is really what wore me down as I played through the game. Though it felt redeeming to consistently level up my abilities, once I learned how to fight a given formation of enemies, the battle went from engaging to monotonous. Over long periods of time this grew extremely tiresome. Thankfully, enemy encounters are not random, making it much easier to avoid them when a fight is not desired.

Though not entirely its fault, Lunar Silver Star Harmony is mostly a victim of dated design. Over time, RPGs have progressed to include a number of new hooks to make battling and game progression less monotonous and number based. Because the game is a remake of a classic, it inevitably suffers from the same problems as the original. While this makes Lunar unpalatable for new gamers, those who do have nostalgia for the title will undoubtedly love the graphical upgrade and the faithful recreation of the Sega CD title released nearly two decades ago.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:

All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.

These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.

This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.

Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.

Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.

A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.



Lukasz Balicki Staff Alumnus

08/01/2010 at 08:47 AM

I actually really liked this game. Sure it was dull at some points primarily the grinding and I found the game to be very easy, but I found the overall package to be very good.

One thing that really irked me is that all the cutscenes are in 4:3 which looks awkward since the PSP is a natively widescreen handheld.

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