This classic GameCola article was originally posted in August, 2008.
“All things are real, unless you dream they’re not…” — Luna
If you’re wondering why the quality of my reviews has gone down—well, first, let me apologize. See, when you become an adult, you need to start making sacrifices to get things done. I’ve been unusually busy and uncomedic since late April, with an album in the works, trying to get a manuscript out, become a professional piano player, rebuild my gameroom, get this broke-ass heroin addict into rehab, prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus was a rainbow-colored tyrannosaur (case closed, BTW), and play as many of the games I’ve been putting off as I can, on top of a full-time job. I’ve just plain run out of hours in the days, and jokes are scarce. I’m a man of goals. I want to accomplish as much as I can as soon as I can, because sooner or later one of my “enemies” will fuck up and actually kill me, and I want to die a happy man…mostly so I can reincarnate as his son and raise whole new existential emo-philosophical levels of hell.
I can do that, right?
And, while many of these goals were insane to begin with—products of a disorder I picked up when I found myself cleaning a sink from sunrise to sundown and enjoying every minute of it—one goal was surprisingly successful: I finally got to play through Lunar: Silver Story Complete without interruption.
Bought the game in 2000. Game was badass and it really made the summer of 2000 for us, but I got stuck on the last boss, and then the discs were lost for eternity. Then they were gained back from eternity. Didn’t play it again until last month.
Last month was awesome.
One of my major concerns lately with playing new RPGs (or replaying ones that I haven’t played in 10 years) is the factor of time, and I really did not want to spend an additional 10 hours getting lost (Xenosaga); or sitting down to actually THINK puzzles through (Xenosaga II—DO NOT JUDGE ME); or screwing around with minigames, or side quests, or endless dungeons, or raising monsters I JUST WANT TO PLAY THE FUCKING GAME. Lunar, for better or worse, was the perfect game for this. It’s a streamlined, no-nonsense, efficient role-playing game that I finished in an unusually fulfilling 18 hours.
I gotta say, looking back on it, Lunar: Silver Story Complete had the most pretentious US launch I’ve ever seen. It came in a special box, with its own OST, special MAKING OF THE GAME disc, cloth map, and hardbound manual. Why? Unless it’s called “CHRONO TRIGGER 2: A PROPER SEQUEL,” no game needs that much, and Lunar, for all the expectation this $60 built for it, certainly did not deserve it. Yes, it was a brand new remake of a rare anime game in a time when anime games were still fairly uncommon, and yes, it was probably the first time there was an actual localization department in employment, but c’mon—absolutely nothing about this game is worthwhile enough to need a cloth map, especially when the overworld you’re in has no random battles or anything to explore. Makes you wonder why they bothered having an overworld at all.
But, unnecessary packaging is all the fat this game would have had to trim. Everything else is straight and to the point, which I LOVE. Very little filler. When you combine that with a solid performance in every other major category, you get a game that simply cannot lose. It can’t win, either, but it will solidly tie in every major competition. The graphics aren’t worth throwing a ticker tape parade for, but the animation’s pretty good. The music has seen a complete overhaul, and while it’s a good thing they threw the (incomplete) OST in with you to save you from wasting $39.99 on a disc you will ultimately forget, the music is typical RPG fare+. All the shit you come to expect but pleasing to listen to as its on. The overworld musics in particular.
This seems like a good time to bring this up: Does anyone else get the feeling that this game could’ve easily been called “Lufia“? The story, simplicity, streamlinity, and basic design all seem to come from the same gene pool of JRPG stereotypes that 1990s Japan had greasing the wheels. [What wheels? – ed.] Go fuck a pumpkin, Paul. [Sure, bend over. – ed.]
If I have any real complaints, it’s part of the battle system. Fighting is very efficient and quick, but a lot of the enemies seem to be a lot stronger than they really should be, and straightforward fighting gets old and painful after a while. You have to pretty much abuse the same abilities over and over again until you run out of spell points. The boss battles, which employ the only real “system” in the game in that their stats go up with yours, become 20-minute-long exercises in repetition. Combine this with an ill-designed item system, and this becomes the only real drag in an otherwise fun game.
If there is one thing that is neither solid nor suck, it’s the localization. For the first time since the Phoenicians started scripting videogames, there are lines of text you can understand! And talking to townspeople is something you actually want to do so you can see the characters’ reactions. It does get way too sarcastic and one of the NPCs is Austin Powers (go 1998!), but man, they knew who they were making this game for. Gone are slow-walking treks through random battle-encrusted dungeons. Gone is dialogue I don’t care about. Gone are ridiculous scenes where I have to track someone down when they could just be in the same fucking room I’m in.
Now, I get to actually progress through the game. With all that efficiency, I got through a 35-hour plot in 18. I played through it in a week. I saved a lot of time that I can use to scrub that infernal sink. Last night, I paid a hobo to take a dump in the bowl and swim in it—so I could have the never-ending pleasure of scrubbing the BOTH of them.
Sinks are proof that God loves us.
I’ve never liked systems where enemies level alongside the player. It usually leads to the player feeling like they’re not really getting any stronger. Though in some cases it’s hilariously exploitable in the hands of the player (like in Final Fantasy VIII.)