Lunar: Eternal Blue - Re-Retroview  

Eternal Blues
by Jeremy, the Duke of Otterland

20-40 Hours


Rating definitions 

   In 1992, Game Arts’ Lunar: The Silver Star saw its release in both Japan and America, among the company’s very first titles, and one of the bestselling games on the Sega CD. In 1994, they developed its first sequel, Lunar: Eternal Blue, which saw its release in both countries just in time for Christmas that year. Sequels, of course, can give room for improvement when the originals have their share of flaws, and The Silver Star, despite being one of the Sega CD’s strongest titles, was clearly imperfect. Regrettably, serialization can go horribly wrong, and Game Arts, rather than improving upon its predecessor, instead weakened key gameplay and control elements, resulting in a moderately abhorrent sequel.

   The second Lunar marks the return of turn-based battles involving movement around the field by characters and monsters during each turn, with the options of A.I., Attack, Defend, Magic, Item, and Run. You input your commands and let your party and the enemy beat the crap out of one another in a round, with unpredictable turn order as usual. Typical, of course, but what worsens things is that battles are significantly slower than in the original Lunar, which makes even the most trivial battles seem to take forever, especially late into the game. As an added insult, the Run option doesn’t always work against normal enemies like it did in The Silver Star. Upon winning a battle, you receive money, experience, and magic points, which players can use to build various character skills up to thirty levels. Unfortunately, Magic Points serve another purpose, as well…

   Five words: the save system from hell. Scared yet? If not, let me spell it out for you: while you can save your game anywhere like in the original Lunar, doing so now requires magic points, with the number of required points based on Hiro’s level multiplied by fifteen. Other parts of the interface received slight improvement, though, such as increased inventory space thanks to Ruby and the ability to see item/equipment effects and how the latter affects your stats before buying it, but the choice between playing conservatively with frequent saves and having weak skills or playing riskily and having powerful skills was needlessly irritating, with the potential for much lost progress if you take the latter path and loads of frustration if you take the former path. Overall, a horrid save system pretty much wrecks what would’ve otherwise been decent, or even excellent, interaction.

This can refer to those that bought this game. Not even a sense of humor...

   Despite these flaws, Eternal Blue is by no means a complete rehash of its predecessor. The magic point system was definitely unique in its time, and the sequel has plenty of new faces and places in addition to a few old ones. That said, the battle system returns, and the whole world in which the game takes place is the same, at that, although the second Lunar is moderately inventive in the end.

   One high point, though, is the plot. Taking place around a millennium after the events in The Silver Star, the sequel stars a hero named—Hiro. No, the villain isn’t named Vilon, but Zophar, who rendered the Blue Star uninhabitable eons before the game’s time. Anyway, Hiro, along with the baby red dragon Ruby, explores ruins one day, retrieving a crystal dragon eye that unlocks the Blue Spire, where he meets a mysterious visitor from the Blue Star, Lucia, who has the mission of meeting with Althena to warn of the imminent return of Zophar to power. However, many think Lucia is the fabled Destroyer, and naturally, complex events plague Hiro and company’s quest to bring her to meet Althena. The plot pretty much stays focused and interesting throughout the game, though certain characters, such as Lucia and Hiro, could’ve used more background. Otherwise, the story is one of the game’s few bright spots.

This game probably wasn't popular among the Democratic community. ...can save this game.

   Another is Noriyuki Iwadare’s soundtrack, undoubtedly one of his greatest, well surpassing those he has composed for most other RPGs he worked on, the original Lunar included, with the boss battle theme, for one, being one of the best I’ve ever heard. Unfortunately, the voice acting is hardly of equal quality, being incredibly irritating at times, as is typical with most anime dubs. Many sound effects are redundant, at that. Overall, the music is excellent, despite weak voices and sounds.

   The graphics, going on, are hardly abhorrent, yet still could’ve used more polish. The anime cutscenes are excellent, and while the other visuals easily look better than those in the original Lunar, sprite art and colors are both a bit on the ugly side of sloppy, making the game look far from perfect, and even slightly inferior to many other 16-bit RPGs, non-CD ones included. Generally, the graphics are only slightly above average.

   Finally, the second Lunar is a bit on the evil side of difficult, especially with the annoying save system and the occasional tough boss, and can take from twenty to forty hours to complete, with a challenging epilogue making for discretionary playtime.

   In the end, the sequel that could’ve been just wasn’t. Game Arts’ valiant attempt to serialize Lunar failed, with the final product being worse than mediocre, what with needlessly sluggish battles and a lousy save system, though a remake several years later on the Sony Playstation would serve for partial redemption. If you really wish to experience for yourself the story of Hiro, Ruby, Lucia, and company, I strongly suggest you pick up the Playstation remake instead. Otherwise, don’t touch this version with a ten-foot-long pole; trust me, the pole will thank you later.

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