Back in 1993, a game was released on the Sega CD system that was the rage of all RPGers everywhere. It was hailed for its characters, story and gameplay. Unfortunately for myself, Nintendo had successfully indoctrinated me to despise all things Sega and I never got to play the game known as Lunar: The Silver Star. Now, thanks to the wonder that is PlayStation, I can see what was behind the hype oh so many years ago.
The first thing you’ll notice about the game is obvious when you buy it. The packaging is the biggest I’ve ever seen. Four discs, two for the game, one for the soundtrack, and one that chronicles the making of the game, bombard you. Plus you get what is undoubtedly the greatest instruction manual ever produced — a leather hardbound 120 page treatise, complete with art and interviews, that looks like it is a children’s book rather than a bland instruction manual.
Well, enough with the prelims, let’s get to the game itself. The premise of the story is not very original. A young idealistic hero named Alex (aka: Luke Skywalker) must journey from his small town of Burg (aka: Tatooine) to fulfill his destiny of becoming a Dragonmaster (aka: a Jedi Knight) to cleanse the world of the evil that is the Magic Emperor (aka: Darth Vader.) Normally this would be a major complaint, however, even six years later, Lunar: SSSC makes it work. Admit it, if you remember your favorite RPG of all time, you could probably just fill in the blanks and tell the same story too.
The story stands up because more than possibly any other RPG, this one makes you care about the characters. Your will get to know the mysterious, lovable girlfriend (kind of girlfriend anyway) Luna; the brash, cocky magician Nash; the rough and rugged (not to mention drunk) Kyle; the meek and sweet Mia; the spunky and sassy Jessica; and your trusted companion cat thing Nall. You want them all to have champagne wishes and caviar dreams. Although, I found Alex to be a little bland, the supporting cast, the villains and some of the more surprising twists to the story, more than make up for that.
The graphics are a bit dated. Walking from town to town during your quest will remind you of the days of your Super Nintendo. However, going from one extreme to the other, the full motion video cut screens are amazing to behold. They are pure anime of the highest quality. You’ll feel like you’re watching Pokemon On Kids WB during Saturday morning.
(Not that I watch Pokemon…so what if I know when it’s on, that doesn’t mean I watch it. I know when the Lifetime Channel runs reruns of the Golden Girls, but I don’t watch those either. Oh never mind!)
Anyway, the scenes, which show either a character introduction or a major event are breathtaking. There’s about an hour’s worth of full motion video in the game and it is one of the game’s two major highlights.
What’s the other highlight? Well, that’s easy — the dialogue in the game is rip-roaring funny. While it is not necessary to talk to everyone in every town every time something happens, I implore you to do so, because some of the things that these people say will cause you to fall to the floor and convulse with laughter. There’s a surprising amount of sexual banter going on, and many jokes complete with snappy comebacks. Most of it is juvenile humor, but it works.
As far as the gameplay goes, it is fairly simplistic. The pattern towards the end of the game against the harder bosses becomes pretty obvious and there is not a whole lot of strategy to be used. There are also not really any puzzles to speak of. While this might be disappointing to some, nothing stops my enjoyment of a good RPG more than having to break out a calculator, a protractor and Einstein’s theory of relativity to see what happens next and at the end. It took me about 40 hours to finally see the end and it was worth every minute. The one tip I leave is to use the bromides as soon as you get them — you won’t regret it.
Overall, I give this game four out of five GiN Gems. To be blunt, it delivers. While we’ve seen the premise behind the game a thousand times, Lunar: SSSC uses it to its advantage. While the more sophisticated gamer will whine about the lack of brainpower needed, the kid in you will marvel at the quest you’re on and can’t wait to see how everything turns out. The one word I would use to describe this game is bright. The characters are bright, the world is bright and I personally advocate that people who believe that video games cause kids to go over the edge and commit violent acts play this game. It represents the best of a genre and transports you to a world that you know doesn’t really exist, but you can’t help but care about anyway.
And isn’t that the measure of any great RPG?