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Forums > Submission Feedback > Synonymous's Lunar: Silver Star Harmony review

This thread is in response to a review for Lunar: Silver Star Harmony on the PSP. You are encouraged to view the review in a new window before reading this thread.

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Author: zigfried (Mod)
Posted: February 16, 2010 (02:56 AM)
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Wow -- I was glued to every word. This review completely "gets it" and gives all of the information a Lunar fan could want to know. I'll be passing on this game... at least for a while. I really do want to see the new art. Argh! But after reading this, the thought of a Lunar 3 frightens me.

//Zig


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Author: radicaldreamer
Posted: February 16, 2010 (05:53 PM)
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What a review. Probably the best remake review I've ever read that actually takes a remake perspective. I personally feel they should stop remaking Lunar, in the sense that they shouldn't touch an old classic. And yet, it was Silver Star Story Complete I played, which, as I've been told, was itself altered significantly from the original.

I'm just glad Eternal Blue only had one (videogame) remake.


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Author: EmP (Mod)
Posted: February 16, 2010 (07:38 PM)
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I was only wondering what happened to you the other day.

Thanks to dodgy localisation issues, I'ver never had the chance to play any of this particulat Lunar (I imported the PSX version -- twice -- but my deregionaliser seemed to annoyingly stumble over it) and I was hoping the PSP version would be faithful enough to finally be able to put that one regret to bed. Now I have an excellent idea on what to expect -- thanks for that. Great review.


For us. For them. For you.


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Author: Synonymous
Posted: February 16, 2010 (11:30 PM)
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Thank you all very much for the kind words. I don't want to seem like an inflexible old-school fan; it's just that a) the new team doesn't seem capable of standing on their own two feet enough to steward a rebirth of the franchise, and b) though there's good even in that prologue I find so problematic, the bad is pretty dire. What they need to do, really, is to replace the writers. (They won't - Harmony is timed correctly and strong enough otherwise to be a success, which the writing team will take as validation and thus continue on their merry way.) Perhaps Xseed has done a terrific localization job that negates a few of the issues, who knows, but there are some bad decisions here that can't be translated away.


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Author: radicaldreamer
Posted: February 17, 2010 (05:16 AM)
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I youtubed the prologue to see it for myself and I actually found it difficult to bear. I played Silver Star Story Complete and I love it so much the way it is that I never cared to play or even learn about any of the other versions, including the original. Does anyone know how Lunar Legend stacks up? Honestly I'm not even sure I want to see a real sequel, even if it was by the original team, out of the fear that it wouldn't live up to my expectations.

Emp, I personally recommend making Complete the version you play, though I think Zig thinks the original is the one to play.

EDIT: I also just wanted to add that I really liked some of the language you used in this review, like "residue of everyday life," "sour glean," "never eventuated," "bigger ideas and values than the normal RPG fodder," "precious affectation," and the first sentence of the second paragraph. There was a degree of sophistication here that actually enhanced clarity and even conveyed ideas that I wouldn't expect from most reviews, and it seemed natural and effortless.

I would like to give you suggestions for improvement but it takes a little more time to analyze a piece of good writing critically than to praise it. For now, I will say that the review does seem a little on the longish side, and I wonder if everything in there was truly necessary. Particularly, the entire paragraph that's a parenthetical looks like it may not be necessary, and the fact that it's a parenthetical seems to confirm this. It's good for the Lunar fan craving as much information as possible, and so far you've mostly gotten comments from Lunar fans very interested in the subject. The review obviously emphasizes comprehensiveness over singularity of focus, but I thought that part may be going a little overboard on information.


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Author: Synonymous
Posted: February 17, 2010 (03:56 PM)
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Yeah, I liked Ghaleon facepalming over Dain and Mel bonding over stupid jokes (caveat: this goodwill may not extend to Xseed's stupid jokes, which I haven't seen), and I liked the part with Althena singing in the midst of battle, since I'm a big sap, apparently. The rest can take a leap.

I understand what you're saying about the parenthetical paragraph; I myself debated whether to leave it in. I thought I'd be remiss not to mention the "new" gameplay element, though perhaps I didn't need a paragraph to do so. Maybe I just found the nerfing of the hero's Mary Sue spells too hilarious.


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Author: radicaldreamer
Posted: February 17, 2010 (06:49 PM)
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I remember needing the black dragon spell to get to the girls' bath in SSSC. It wasn't really worth it though.


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Author: shotgunnova
Posted: February 18, 2010 (04:56 AM)
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Good review.


Dogpile on Gwinnett!


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Author: joseph_valencia
Posted: February 19, 2010 (12:28 AM)
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Does anyone know how Lunar Legend stacks up?

Awful. Some lowlights:

- It doesn't even have the series' characteristic combat system.

- The localization is "straight," which is code for bland.

- The music is on par with low-end fan MIDIs.

Seeing Lunar in that incarnation is simply depressing. Just look up a YouTube video and wheep for the poor thing.


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Author: aschultz
Posted: February 24, 2010 (07:44 PM)
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As a non-Lunar player I think this is an interesting review if a bit on the long side. I'm always conflicted about pointing out technical stuff but when a review spans 15k it's that much more important it nail things down.

Stuff like "in brief" containing 5 points left me realizing I'd need a break in this review. That's not bad on its own, but combined with other stuff, I tended to get bogged down. A paragraph of parentheses is a sign you may just want to drop something to say, and it bugged me a bit.

I'd be more interested in a paragraph that hit me with "The original creative team left, but unfortunately the script was recycled..." or something that hit the main points. The comparison to Casablanca is clever, but it takes a long time to get going, and whittling that down will help people keep their attention spans.

And the stuff you want to emphasize you like--well, emphasis belongs at the top, or not where it tidies up your complaints. And the graphics describing people in the plot, I think, belongs after the story description. For me, it swerved too much.

From other people's comments, it appears if you know the Lunar series, as many people do, then this hits the spot. Unfortunately, from my perspective, I think I am missing a lot, and hopefully my questions will help you if you want to take another hack at the review. It has points of humor with Athena's encephalitis and so forth. That sort of thing is tough to pull out.


My principal said, 'Emo, Emo, Emo.'
I said 'I'm the one in the middle, you lousy drunk!'
-- Emo Phillips


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Author: Synonymous
Posted: February 24, 2010 (08:41 PM)
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if you want to take another hack at the review

No, I'm happy with it and think it makes its points best as is.


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Author: aschultz
Posted: February 25, 2010 (12:01 AM)
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I think it can stand too. I said "another hack" and really meant more about tweaking stuff.


My principal said, 'Emo, Emo, Emo.'
I said 'I'm the one in the middle, you lousy drunk!'
-- Emo Phillips


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Author: Greco12
Posted: March 14, 2016 (05:01 AM)
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"The female leads are continually subverted into weak and fainting damsels so their knights can come dashing to the rescue, an idea that was growing weary in 1992 and is all the more frustrating today due to these characters' vibrance otherwise."

Thank you!

You have no idea how frustrating it is to see people heap praise upon the game without bothering to bring this detail up. It's really irritating considering how the writers never could decide whether they wanted Jessica and Mia to be capable female characters or helpless love interests who require saving just to make their significantly more flawed boyfriends look like "nice guys after all." It leads to so many clumsy and befuddling story-telling decisions like the whole Pao/Black Dragon Fortress arc.

As a whole, Lunar: The Silver Star (and all of its incarnations) does NOT hold up. It's too dated from both a story-telling and gameplay standpoint, and the lack of imagination/creativity on the part of the writers has only hammered the nail on the coffin of Lunar.


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Author: joseph_valencia
Posted: March 15, 2016 (04:53 AM)
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The original "Lunar: The Silver Star" is a classic. I can see someone calling the gameplay dated compared to the refinements made in Lunar II, but how is the story dated? Romance and heroism not in fashion anymore? And what lack of imagination? Few RPGs are as imaginative as Lunar. The steampunk nightmare tank blowing a floating city out of the sky remains one of the coolest images I've ever seen in a video game. The sequence where you need to play your harp to snap the Dark Goddess out of her brainwashing is also touching and enduring.


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Author: Greco12
Posted: March 18, 2016 (03:48 AM)
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The writing is really hackneyed. Characters give dreadful speeches about the power of the human heart. Every character has at most two dimensions to them, many of them being 90's anime tropes. And most of the character growth simply happens because the plot demands it (what made Mia decide she would become more determined to help the others fight Ghaleon just before Nash betrayed the party? there was no buildup at all).

For some reason, the writers thought Luna being kidnapped wasn't enough, so they had Jessica and Mia get sick and removed from your party temporarily despite having built them both up as being every bit as capable and steadfast as their male counterparts. Reducing your female characters to damsels really undermines their merits, makes them prizes for their male counterparts, and is just lazy story-telling.

Considering how Lunar 2 avoided reducing Lemina and Jean to damsels, why didn't the remakes of Lunar 1 correct that problem by not putting Mia and Jessica in that role? Taking away their agency in a game already centered around saving an important female character in distress is a huge misstep that throws the idea of them being able to stand on their own as capable female characters (a rarity in JRPGs) out the window in one fell swoop. Isn't Jessica supposed to be a tough-as-nails healer, and Mia a strong-willed-but-incredibly-powerful mage? I guess even that's not enough to keep them from falling victim to bad writing and outdated story-telling conventions (girl party members are squishy mages who must be decommissioned at some point because *beep* you that's why).


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Author: joseph_valencia
Posted: March 18, 2016 (04:50 AM)
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Mia's determination to stop Ghaleon stems from her being a member of the Magic Guild and being the daughter of one of Ghaleon's former friends and allies. Ghaleon not only brutally betrayed the Guild (and Mia's mother) by disgracing his title of Premier with his evil conduct, but he also adopted the Magic Emperor moniker and started using magic to try to subjugate Lunar. Since she's likely the next-in-line for Guild Premier, Ghaleon's betrayal and misuse of magic are something Mia has a professional stake in. This is all implicit in the story, which is why there seems to be no build up as you say.

Your complaint about Mia and Jessica getting an illness is absurd. Getting sick has nothing to do with being "weak" or a "damsel", and the point of that detour wasn't to make those characters "prizes". That scene not only helps build the relationships between Kyle and Jessica and Nash and Mia, but also between the whole party. Alex is forced to decide between letting his friends die or letting Ghaleon beat him to the Black Dragon. It says a lot about Alex that he would put the lives of his friends above his dream (and duty) of becoming the Dragonmaster. I should also add that Mia and Jessica later return the favor when they snap Kyle and Nash out of their self pity later in the game.

Also, I don't recall any version of Lunar depicting Ghaleon as sympathetic. In the original, he was pretty much a straight monster with only the slightest hint that he might not be all bad. In the remakes, they make him more of a misguided cynic, but there's no sympathy for his cause. Personally, I prefer the original characterization of Ghaleon, which makes for better drama.


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Author: zigfried (Mod)
Posted: March 20, 2016 (06:35 PM)
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Greco12, none of the supporting characters in Lunar ever had any agency to lose. The supporting cast is wonderfully characterized, but Lunar was always an interactive storybook that revolved around Alex from the very beginning. That's not a flaw. The game never pretended to be anything else.

I'm sorry that you think getting sick throws everything that is awesome about Mia and Jessica about the window. I see the point that "illness" can be an overused way to tease out character relationships in various media, but it doesn't turn Mia and Jessica into "prizes" or diminish everything else they did in the game. Good characters of either gender will show occasional vulnerability in some form.


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Author: JoeTheDestroyer (Mod)
Posted: March 20, 2016 (08:11 PM)
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Honestly, I can't think of many console RPGs released at the time that had truly complex stories. Hell, even nowadays, although modern ones a bit more chatty. As Zigfried indicated, it's not as though they were trying to match deeper works of fantasy. In gaming and film, I'm honestly okay with easygoing, breezy or uncomplicated plots. Of course, I do enjoy deep ones that are properly executed, too. What matters is how a company handles these stories, and I think Game Arts did well with Lunar.


The only thing my milkshake brings to the yard is a subpoena.


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Author: Zump1
Posted: March 24, 2016 (02:28 AM)
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My thoughts on the Pao sickness: yes, it's an example of sexism as the male characters have to explore a dungeon by themselves and then the female characters don't get to do anything to help out (the boys make it back to the village right when the girls about to go out looking for them, and Fresca's awkward talk of child-bearing doesn't help matters). Does it do anything to diminish Jessica and Mia as characters or dispel the idea that they are examples of positive female characters in a video game? No. Lunar 1 may have sexist elements or tidbits, but I'd be hesitant to write it off as "incredibly sexist by modern standards" (that's an assessment I would reserve for a game that treats its women as objects or rewards, like Ride to Hell Retribution... a game made in 2013).

They got sick due to an evil magic song, something beyond their control. It wasn't due to competence or weakness. Also, it's sparingly brief, and Jessica and Mia go back to being their capable selves immediately once it's done. Mia actually starts her growth into a capable leader of the Magic Guild afterwards. You could definitely argue that it's contrived or weak writing, maybe done just to make the Black Dragon Fortress harder without Jessica's healing and Mia's more versatile magic (powerful spells and helpful buffs, the latter which Nash lacks). And Alex and the other guys weren't just fighting to save Mia and Jessica, but also an entire village full of both male and female plague victims. They just had the misfortune of getting caught up in the crisis. I think if the developers had made Fresca a fifth party member, it would have helped to remedy the gendered implications.

If Mia and Jessica had been kidnapped and then made no attempt to free themselves and simply waited for the guys to save them, then I could see an argument about them being "damsel'd" or "chickified" to use a TV Tropes term more valid. But as it is, they were in no condition to help themselves or anyone. In fact, the one time the villains (namely Xenobia) do snare the two girls in a trap, Jessica uses her powers to break herself and Mia out of it and get away.

I do have issues with the scene for reasons previously mentioned, and I do have to wonder why they preserved the Pao sickness plot-line for all the remakes when Lunar 2: Eternal Blue and its PS1 remake never did anything of the sort to Lemina and Jean.

Overall, I would say the girls are treated as equals to their male counterparts, although I would say Lunar 2 did it better. Even Luna got very good development and characterization, which is more than I can say for most damsels in damsel-in-distress stories. On a side note, Jessica is actually my favorite character in the whole game, due to her spunky, steadfast, and optimistic personality. And I like that they made her a tough secondary damage-dealer and proficient in the operation of flying machines and ships

"Good characters of either gender will show occasional vulnerability in some form."

I definitely think Nash found himself in a vulnerable position when the Magic Masher armor began acting out of control and his friends had to save him. And I do like how Lunar 1's male characters show emotion, as opposed to being stone-faced badasses. If there's one detail I do appreciate about the Pao arc, it's that Kyle and Nash do show genuine concern when Jessica and Mia fall ill. What other examples of male characters showing a vulnerable side in Lunar 1 can you think of?

"I should also add that Mia and Jessica later return the favor when they snap Kyle and Nash out of their self pity later in the game."

There's also the fact that Jessica had been working tirelessly to heal the other party members since they made it back to Mel's mansion in Meribia, following their defeat at the hands of Ghaleon. Nall even mentions that they owe her their lives.


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