Review: Lunar: Silver Star Harmony
For those of you who don’t know, Lunar: The Silver Star was released in Japan in the early 90s and since has been remade and ported on various systems. In this game you play as a simple guy named Alex who stumbles upon the adventure of a lifetime. Living in an enchanted world that appears to be a mythological ancient civilization on the moon, your character is drawn into a deep entanglement against evil and injustice. Against all odds the average honorable man must become the great Dragon Master to protect the innocence of mankind. The PlayStation Portable has been graced with its own version of this reborn classic dubbed Lunar: Silver Star Harmony. This is a historic moment for Role Playing Games in general, because a RPG of this caliber has not seen this much retouching in a while. With an emotionally charged story that delivers a deep and exhilarating experience, Lunar: Silver Star Harmony is immersion at its finest.
When you begin Lunar: Silver Star Harmony you will be met what I will call the standard RPG intro. This usually consists of your character waking up in some room, perhaps after an exciting prologue, with the player not knowing much information yet as to who he is or where he is. In most cases, the player is subjected to what seems like unimportant dialogue at the moment. Veteran RPG gamers should know by now, nothing in the dialogue is irrelevant. Once you gain the knowledge of your character and his relationships in the world the story begins to unfold at a rapid rate.
It may surprise many that this game is 60 hours in story mode without wandering away from the main objective at hand. There still remains plenty of replay value when you beat the game, granted you have some save files from key turning points, gained by replaying the game away from main storyline objectives and grinding your character to maximum levels. Unfortunately in Lunar: Silver Star Harmony, skills and attributes are automatically assigned when you level up. In a way this helps you focus on the action, but on the other hand it would be really nice to customize more.
When comparing this game to the classic versions of Lunar: The Silver Star it is evident that the battle system and game play mechanics have been totally revamped. The controls are excellent, they are ideal for a hand-held RPG and are practical enough that you can pick the game up and play instantly. One of the keys to achieving immersion in gaming is fluid controls, and this game nailed it.
The battle system is great. Although there is not active battle, the choices you make , along with your enemies choices for that turn are executed in a seemingly random order. You will have plenty of time to make your choices, but you have no way of controlling which choices are executed and when. The main attacks consist of magic skills, melee attacks, as well as ranged attacks and new to this edition of the game, Arts Gauge special attacks. Players can save common command sets as Tactics to quickly give your previously saved set of commands to a full party as well as set individual members to be commanded manually that round or controlled by Artificial Intelligence. In addition to this, you can play your chances with the A.I. controlling some, or all of your characters in battle at any time.
The battle menus are somewhat reminiscent of classics of the genre but have made a few innovations in streamlining the way you select commands. All magic spells and advanced physical attacks are part of the Skill/Magic category, which delivers a quick and strong lineup for each character. Another great thing about Lunar: Silver Star Harmony is that this game has believable skill sets to each character. The natural progression of skills over the events that take place in the game shows symbolic links to each character’s traits.
Boss fights are great in this game, the bosses seem to have stages of increasing aggression. The tactical side to the battles is always in play, every move you make is crucial to victory. Although it may be challenging at first to overcome, veteran gamers and newcomers alike should have no problem unleashing their fury with ease after getting to know how to play the game. The key in Lunar: Silver Star Harmony battle is to know your opponent as well as know your party. Each member of your team is crucial and serves their own unique purpose. This is another immersion setting quality to the game, because the roles of each character in battle are representative of their roles in the storyline.
The main strength in this game that becomes the addiction driving you forward is the depth to which the characters express themselves. The beautiful isometric 2D graphics give you the look and feel of classic games, while the animated cut-scenes and voice acted dialogue sequences further develop your understanding of the characters and their internal/external struggles. The story is driven by mystery, suspense, and of course the strongest human emotion love. The cascade of events leading up to the start of your epic adventure are mild and cumbersome, but its that grass roots feeling that allows you to completely connect with your character. The story telling is made to allow full immersion by showing the true personality to each of the characters, leaving the player feeling as if you have known them. This game will satisfy the appetite of a gamer who wants to conquer a mysterious fantasy and feel like they have been through a life-changing experience with each character in the story.
Overall this game is certainly a classic reborn with grace. The fluid control and game play is a dream come true for fans of classic console RPGs and newcomers to the genre looking for that genuine console JRPG experience. The music tracks are hit or miss but no matter what they seem to fit the scenery and the game continues to enthrall and immerse players into a well defined world of goddesses, magic, and power. The everlasting affect of the story and the way it was told in this title will change the way I look at the RPG genre forever. While there isn’t much in the way of required experience grinds, the game will still challenge veterans and newcomers alike with the task of playing each character according to their role to reach the potential mastery of Lunar: Silver Star Harmony‘s battle system. If you ever liked any RPG from the 2D era of gaming, it would be a crime to pass on this truly gripping experience.
- Title: Lunar: Silver Star Harmony
- Platform Reviewed: PSP
- Developer: Game Arts
- Publisher: XSEED Games
- Release Date: March 2, 2010
- MSRP: $29.99
- Review Copy Info: A copy of the title was provided to DualShockers Inc by the publisher for review purposes