I picked Lunar: Silver Star Harmony up back when I was visiting the states last year due to the lack of release over here and I can't believe what a great game I would have missed if I hadn't.
Plot: You begin the game as Alex, his friend Luna and Alex's random pet cat thing called Nall. Alex has always dreamed of following in his towns heroes footsteps to become a dragonmaster and due to a visit to a cave one day, a series of events are set in motion.
You meet many people along the way. Some join you, some help you and some hinder you but the way the story is wrote, everything flows well especially considering it's a Japanese role-playing game (JRPG). It's not a complex plot by all means but there's certainly a lot that happens in it and you're always moving on the story one way or another.
Graphics: The detailed cut scenes are in a typical Japanese manga style while the shorter cut scenes and battles/map movement play out like a detailed PS2 game. Typical JRPG graphics really is the best way to sum it up and very beautiful to see play out no matter what you're watching.
Sound: The music that accompanies the game changes throughout matching the different areas that you visit. I find a lot of JRPGs can have quite repetitive music but I can't say the same goes for Lunar. Although it's not really the best way to describe sound but all I can say is that it's very pretty music.
In the manga cut scenes, I did find the characters voices a tad annoying. I hate the childish high pitched voices they have. Just doesn't seem to match the bravery portrayed in the rest of the game.
Game play: Lunar: Silver Star Harmony as I've mentioned is a JRPG and plays out no different to the majority of them. You have a map to go from place to place and then when entering an area, you have random enemies dotted around trying to enter battle with you. They can be avoided but you will never level up to where you need to be if you do this too much.
If you happen to either be caught or walk into an enemy, you enter into battle and these are played out like your typical turn based RPG. You choose all your moves at the beginning from the menus and then once you've chosen for all your characters, they use their moves and the enemy uses theirs on an invisible grid. Well I say grid but really it isn't one at all. You can move anywhere in the battle but you are limited by range as to how far you can go in one turn. For example, your warriors have a large range to move in and have great defense but are limited to swords where as your casters can't move around all that much and are easily hurt but have access to a huge list of spells to choose from that cause quite a bit of damage.
The skill is to know when to use the right move for the job and to know the weaknesses of the enemies presented to you. After defeating them, you then return to the previous area and carry on but this time with one less enemy drifting around on the screen.
Lifespan: Lunar: Silver Star Harmony took me around the 27 hour mark so quite a lengthy game and all of it is the main quests as there are no side quests to complete. However, I did find every chest and buy every item available to me so you could knock a couple of hours off of that time if you're not quite the completionist I am.
Overall: If you don't like JRPGs then this game isn't going to change your mind but if you do then you're in for a treat. I wasn't quite sure to expect when I bought this as I thought there must have been a reason if never made it over to the U.K but I can quite happily admit to being wrong. I think it has to be my favourite RPG of all time and I should think it stays that way for quite a while too.
Since its release for the Mega-CD in the early nineties, Game Arts' cult RPG Lunar: The Silver Star has enjoyed an unusually storied existence, resurfacing in various guises on the SEGA Saturn, PlayStation and GameBoy Advance, before landing most recently on the PSP in 2010.
Despite a defined shift in its visual style, Silver Star Harmony is more of a "remake" rather than a "reimagining" of the aforementioned role-player, with locations and plot developments that will prove familiar to those who've sampled earlier versions. It does however make a concerted attempt at expanding the storyline, whilst also aiming for greater characterisation. A gentle modernisation of the gameplay creates as many stumbling blocks as it does positive new elements, but essentially what was a quality RPG to begin with is still a decent experience now, and this new interpretation should prove just enough of an incentive for fans to justify reliving the adventure.
Whilst the story of Alex - a teenager who embarks on a journey to defeat an evil Magic Emperor and rescue his love, the songstress Luna - rarely strays from the comfort of long-upheld genre conventions, in terms of story articulation Silver Star Harmony remains a superior role-playing game. Tinkering with the formula proves something of a mixed blessing however. On the one hand, memorably zany dialogue that saw the villain mocked for his (alleged) love of Abba and berated over his strict "no ice-cream" policy for prisoners is sadly no longer present. SSH offers what is perhaps a more professional, sanitised translation, though that's not to say it doesn't retain a certain oddball charm. The chief upshot of the new script however is that secondary party members and their inter-personal relationships are given greater attention, and as a result, they're more strongly defined as individuals.
A majority of gamers likely won't have sampled Lunar: The Silver Star, but those who have will notice a few key differences. Most obviously, the graphics have taken on a more cartoon-like style of animation, with the action playing out from an isometric viewpoint. They're unlikely to win any technical awards; character animation is fairly minimal and the oft-garish locations aren't as attractive as in the PSOne remake. Nevertheless, there's been a conscious attempt to distance it from the low-fi, sludgy look of the original game. An absolute abundance of bright, primary colours result in a game world that brims with vitality, positively popping from the PSP's screen.
Whilst the distinctive turn-based battle-system remains largely unchanged aside from a few more bells and whistles in the magic department, the manner in which combat is instigated marks a significant departure. The world-map and random battles approach has been ditched in favour of more modern conventions for the PSP version, with the option to move between locations via a cursor and monsters appearing in the field of play being two instances of Lunar following Game Arts' (slightly) more recent RPG opus Grandia. Coming into contact with monsters triggers combat - a good idea in principal - though is something of a mixed blessing, as many of Silver Star Harmony's forests and caves are too narrow to avoid confrontation, meaning it can be a trek to get from room to room, and is especially noticeable when you're back-tracking.
You'll experience various other ups and downs throughout the course of the adventure. Towns are pretty with detailed interiors, though the game suffers from overly-long fades between rooms, limiting the pace of exploration at times, a problem exacerbated by pointless lobby sections in houses, appearing to serve little purpose save for adding an extra loading period between the front door and the living space itself. Still, the ability to save everywhere is a real plus, and particularly practical given that it encourages shorter sessions on the handheld without sacrificing depth of playing experience.
Fortunately for Silver Star Harmony, it uses a very distinctive RPG as its blueprint, and even if some of the locations don't quite capture the imagination in the way they once did, there are several highlights and even a couple of instances where areas have undergone a rethink for the better. The flying city of Vane is still a lot of fun to explore, while your party's attempts to gain initiation into the Thieves Guild remains an amusing passage of play thanks to the nutty figures you'll encounter their. Damon's Spire is the standout location as it prompts the player to call on various party members as to who is best suited to solving Damon's teasers on each floor.
The soundtrack delivers a host of solid, sprightly reinterpretations as well as intermittent pockets of solid dialogue, without ever really threatening to emulate the rousing highs of the brilliant Mega-CD soundtrack. To a large degree, this is a nagging trouble that persists with the game as a whole; this remake is well made, shows craft in its presentation and endeavour in its scripting, but whilst the sum of its parts results amounts to a good game, the number of facelifts Lunar has undergone means its largely-cosmetic alterations struggle to distinguish themselves.
It isn't especially long as RPGs go, though the 25 or so hours the adventure lasts is still time well spent. Whilst there are plenty of locations to visit, there's precious little in the way of side quests or secrets, and with no post-completion incentives or different endings to strive for, there's little incentive to return. Still, there's no need to be too downbeat; fans will find it an interesting diversion and a pleasant trip down memory lane, and RPG gamers unfamiliar with this illusive title will discover an enjoyable and engaging adventure. If you are lucky enough to get the chance to play it though, the original is better.