Lunar: Silver Star Harmony
Lunar was originally released on the Sega CD way back in 1993, and earned a fan following thanks to its classic hero-coming-of-age story
- Excellent redrawn visuals, distinct and memorable charm
- Load times, overall slow pacing, weak voice acting
This revamp of GameArts' classic JRPG may boast gorgeous updated graphics, but at its core, its still very much the same Lunar: Silver Star Story that's been released and re-released multiple times on the Sega CD, Sega Saturn, Playstation, and GBA. That's good news for longtime fans, but it's also disappointing because with just a few tweaks, this version could have, and should have, been the definitive version of a much beloved classic.
Over the course of writing this challenging review, I've come to realize just how much Lunar has in common with Final Fantasy IV. That might seem odd to say, but hear me out, folks -- both games were originally released at a time when RPGs were still a niche genre, both have endearing stories full of melodrama and memorable characters, and both have been remade numerous times over the years. The latter point is particularly important in this case; fellow reviewer Jeremy Parish of 1UP lamented in his Final Fantasy IV DS review that there is no one "definitive" version of the game that can be recommended above all others. As I played Silver Star Harmony, I had the same feeling -- the game outdoes previous editions in many areas, but also has numerous faults that keep it from being the Lunar to play.
Lunar was originally released on the Sega CD way back in 1993, and earned a fan following thanks to its classic hero-coming-of-age story, colourful cast of characters, and pervasive humour. Alex's quest to become a Dragonmaster has since become one of the most remade RPGs, seeing releases on the Saturn, Playstation, and GBA. There's been fan dispute over which of these is best, with many still arguing that the Sega CD original has an innate charm that the tweaked remakes simply lack. Silver Star Harmony aims to go above and beyond all previous revamp efforts; it features story and gameplay elements selected from each version of the game, along with completely redrawn 2D graphics, new music, new voice acting, and several new story sequences (including a brand-new playable prologue).
And make no mistake about it: Silver Star Harmony looks great. The 2D sprites are large, lavishly drawn and animated beautifully, and the backdrops are equally impressive. The music is also excellent, though the all-new voiceovers are inconsistent, ranging from "good" to "ow my ears." But with these perks comes an addition nobody wants: excessive load times. Each setting transition takes five seconds, accompanied by a slooooow fade-out/fade-in effect. That doesn't sound like much, but there are transitions everywhere in Lunar; just wandering around town adds minutes of loading onto playtime.
What might also turn off some newcomers is the overall flow of the game. Lunar's pacing in terms of story development, exploration, and combat could be best described as "leisurely." Dungeons take a while to probe, dialogue exchanges are amusing but lengthy, battles are numerous and timely even if you auto-battle your way through most of them (due to the elaborate character animations and movement), and the story doesn't deliver any sense of threat or tension until you're a good ways into it. This factor has more or less been a constant throughout the numerous remakes, and it's one of the elements of Lunar that doesn't hold up as well against more contemporary entries in the Japanese RPG genre. Add the aforementioned load times onto this and you have a game that occasionally feels stuck in mud.
Those complaints might sound pretty damning, but the fact is that the core game is still excellent. Lunar is undeniably one of the best JRPGs of its day, filled with vivacity and liveliness to its setting, character, and dialogue that stood in sharp contrast to many of the stilted, dull settings and conventions that typified the genre at the time. There's a genuine heart to the characters and narrative that shines through despite some of its now-clichéd plot elements and archetypes. There's also actual challenge to the game -- you can use auto-battle to plough through low-level enemy grunts, but tougher foes will require more strategy than "buff a lot and keep casting spells to hit enemy weakness." The only real problem with that is... I just described almost every other version of Lunar. Why would you pick this one, then? The graphics, maybe, but with them come the aggravating load times and the hit-or-miss voiceovers. One could also argue the merits of XSEED's new English script against Working Designs' old efforts, but that's another huge can of worms best left unopened.
In the end, I just felt really conflicted about Lunar: Silver Star Harmony. The core game is a classic, time-tested RPG, and the visual overhaul is excellent, but technical caveats and arguable matters of personal preference prevent me from saying that Silver Star Harmony is now the definitive edition of Lunar to play. Even with its downfalls, Lunar: Silver Star Harmony still has one advantage over other editions: It won't cost you an arm and a leg on eBay.
Join the PC World newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Google Pixel XL full, in-depth smartphone review: Phones just got smarter
- 2 Sony X9300D and X8500D UHD 4K TV review
- 3 Hisense Series 7 ULED 4K UHD TV review
- 4 Moto X Force review: Leading features from a mid-range phone
- 5 Oppo F1s review: 2016 has another King of the Best Value phones
Latest News Articles
- The Nintendo Switch is a radical mash-up of consoles and gaming handhelds
- Halo Wars 2 hands-on preview: Blitz mode's thrilling twists could trigger an RTS revival
- The Xbox One's first email app is here, and it's not Outlook
- This week in games: Tyranny snags a release date, polygonal Lara Croft returns
- Steam's adding support for Sony's DualShock 4 PlayStation controller
GGG Evaluation Team
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.
The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.
My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.
- Google Pixel XL full, in-depth smartphone review: The new best Android phone
- Japan Robot, gadget and car expo slideshow
- Panasonic DX900U UHD 4K smart TV review: Best all-round TV ever?
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?
- FTIntegration SpecialistSA
- CCTechnical Business Analyst - Wealth/Super backgroundNSW
- CCJava Developers - Federal Government experienceNSW
- FTSolutions ArchitectNSW
- CCApplications Support Technical OfficerACT
- CCContract Junior Programmer (J2EE/Oracle/XML) 161018/JP/922Asia
- CCHead of Digital (Technology Manager - Digital Transformations)NSW
- CCSAP FIORIACT
- FTIntegration Solutions ArchitectNSW
- CCSnr Business AnalystVIC
- FTProject ManagerSA
- CCContract IT Assistant (UNIX/Windows) 161028/ITA/003Asia
- CCCommunications ManagerVIC
- CCIT Senior Systems Administrator- Server Patching RemediationNSW
- CCContract Junior Programmer (J2EE/SQL) 161019/JP/552Asia
- FTScrum MasterNSW
- CCICT Business AnalystACT
- FTData Governance Project Manager | 6 month ContractNSW
- FTLevel 2 Service Desk AnalystVIC
- FTLinux Systems AdministratorNZ
- CCSenior Business AnalystVIC
- CCWebpage Designer - Canberra RoleNSW
- CCSenior Business Analyst - experience in IDAM a MUSTNSW
- FTSenior programmer / ProgrammerAsia
- FTTest ManagerNSW