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Lunar: The Silver Star (Sega CD) artwork

Lunar: The Silver Star (Sega CD) review


"Fly me to the moon..."


The Lunar series had been an epic chapter on RPG gaming history, awing and impressing gamers the very instance it was ported into the SEGA CD and later in the likes of the PSX. While the series did not spawn as many titles as Final Fantasy and such, the ones that were available were pretty wondrous and enigmatic to the point that it seemed that having countless sequels just would not be that much important, or so it seems.

The story takes place not on Earth but on its lonesome moon which became sanctuary for humanity after their planet was ravaged by war and transformed into a barren frozen wasteland. The benign goddess Althena transported what survivors were left and looked for them on their new world as time passed. By the game's timeline it is known that forces of evil seek Althena's power to conquer it all and as an act of defiance a new hero must rise to the occasion to save the day. Young Alex aspires to become the next Dragonmaster and is willing to undergo the quest to become one. While he sets out on his adventure along with his friend and his dragon partner Nall, his childhood sweetheart Luna gets kidnapped by the nefarious Master Emperor who wishes to use her as means to conquer the world they live on. As it turns out, Luna is the reincarnation of the goddess Althena who once overlooked the people of their world and would be used to accomplish his selfish goals. Alex and his companions go on completing his quest to become Dragonmaster before venturing into rescuing Luna to stop his evil schemes.

While the story is pretty average, Lunar offers outstanding graphical design and a soundtrack that inspires the player while fending off monsters and the like. The voice dubbing is quite outstanding as well and it blends wonderfully with each character's personality. The full motion anime video cutscenes are quite enjoyable and it simply feels like you are watching an animated series rather than playing a game, which is something I loved as I played through. The humor only adds to the overall experience on this title, something that is quite refreshing in comparison to other RPGs of its time even. Lunar feels a lot like a sci-fi fantasy story given the events taking place and its unique lore.
Gameplay is also unique among traditional RPGs of that era.

Instead of having characters fixed on each side of the screen, sprites interact within an area during a battle; having those close to each other interact while those who are far away can either use a long range weapon or a spell, without being able to physically act with the enemy. At times Nall, the cute little dragon will randomly attack enemies. While the play mechanics are unique, it at times becomes a deadly trap when enemies surround a character, inflicting damage with multiple attacks. This becomes even more troublesome if you got one character left in the party on which escaping could become your only choice. It is also worth to note than while said battles can become engaging, the sprites are a bit too small to appreciate them.

The game also feels awfully short. Before you know it, you are already at the final moments of the entire thing, wondering if there was something you missed along the way. This can also be argued over the fact that there aren't many side/optional quests to keep you enjoying the adventure more than you would and the fact that there are many healing points within the overworld, which while it is greatly appreciated, it makes the whole thing a bit easier than it should. Some of the game's dungeons are pretty straightforward and at times feel monotonous more than challenging. Still, many of its locations and towns are quite enjoyable to explore through and interact.

Characters themselves have their own personality which makes them quite third dimensional. I never met a character that felt annoying or boring, even with the antagonists. It was quite exciting to see them exchange dialogue whenever the story called for it. Their design is also one of the best things about this game, drawn by notable Manga artist Toshiyuki Kubooka who was also the animation director and which gives a look similar to the popular Anime Neon Genesis Evangelion. It is enough to make you wish there were an animated series based on the game.

Lunar the Silver Star was popular enough to receive a sequel and left a mark on the RPG genre which is one that it is highly memorable. Quite simply one of the best SEGA CD games you would experience, a great collectible despite its (very) few shortcomings.

4.5/5

CptRetroBlue's avatar
Community review by CptRetroBlue (March 14, 2019)

Cpt. Retro likes old school gaming the most and grew up playing Arcade games in Mexico. He also loves talking about retrogaming.

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hastypixels posted March 15, 2019:

I've given this one a shot, and I suppose I'd have to get over the characters being to weak to handle even the lowliest of enemies and the timesink of getting the characters up to speed. Not one of my favorite aspects of JRPG game design choices.

Like you, though, I agree there a many reasons to do so.
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CptRetroBlue posted March 15, 2019:

Oh yeah, grinding is a tedious task on games like these I agree. Something I had forgotten to add on this review.
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Masters posted March 18, 2019:

Good review, and cool tagline.
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CptRetroBlue posted March 18, 2019:

Joseph: Excuse me?
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honestgamer posted March 18, 2019:

Joseph, I've removed your post because it essentially amounted to "git gud." Let's try as a community to avoid developing bad habits when leaving feedback. A pattern of genuinely constructive criticism is one of the things that makes this site unique, and I would love to see that continue indefinitely.

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