Lunar: Eternal Blue - Reader Retroview  

Get Blue, Stay Blue
by JuMeSyn

Present but not overmuch
25-40 hours


Rating definitions 

   Lunar 2: Eternal Blue is an odd beast indeed. How did Working Designs ever convince Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton to act in this game? How did it come to pass that Michael Crichton wrote such a silly script involving tornadoes? Why did that cow have to suffer so? And the career trajectory of Cary Elwes is interesting – to go from playing Westley in The Princess Bride to whoever he’s playing here as a villain suggests either incredible versatility or an idiotic agent. Truly, Lunar 2 is an F5, capable of smashing dozens of trailer parks to bits in gloriously destructive fashion. But for a tornado to provide the visual showcase instead of the moronic people wandering around is just shameful, games have the potential to be so much better!

   …Upon further reflection, I seem to have briefly confused Lunar 2: Eternal Blue with the movie Twister. They both came out in 1995 after all. Other than that fact, they have essentially nothing in common. Certainly not in the realm of quality, a facet Lunar 2 comprehensively destroys Twister in.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the worst fake mustache in RPG history. Ladies and Gentlemen, the worst fake mustache in RPG history.

   Lunar 2 is set 1000 years after the events depicted in Lunar: The Silver Star. This aspect makes for one of the few true sequels in the RPG world, as locations one visited in the first title are frequently extant in a rather different fashion. Characters are cognizant of the events 1000 years earlier, and distant relations of the characters in Lunar: TSS can be found here also. In addition to a few very familiar faces….

   Lunar 2 begins with Hiro and his flying feline familiar Ruby excavating a ruin. Upon exiting this ruin in an adrenaline-stimulating way, Hiro and Ruby meet Hiro’s grandfather Gwyn just as General Leo arrives via his Dragonship Destiny. Leo is one of the four protectors of Althena in this day and age, and he is seeking a supposed Destroyer that is reputed to be in Hiro’s neighborhood. Curious, and having just noticed something occurring at the nearby Blue Spire, Hiro, Gwyn and Ruby set off to the Spire and eventually reach the top, where a woman teleports in. Her name is Lucia, and she has come from the Blue Star to seek Althena before the evil god Zophar makes the return she has had a premonition regarding. It seems that Leo regards Lucia as the Destroyer, however. Hiro can’t seem to take his eyes off Lucia after her arrival, and this means he and Leo will be seeing quite a bit of each other….

   Characterization is a strong suit of Eternal Blue. Hiro isn’t terribly well-developed but he still comes across as believable. The same goes for Lucia. Later characters are given rather more comprehensive characterizations, such as Ronfar. When first met he is nothing but a deadbeat gambler; considerably more lurks under the surface. Jean the dancer has hidden depths that are immediately apparent when she is on par with Hiro’s combat aptitude, and Lemina the chief of Vane’s Magic Guild’s obsession with all things monetary has a reason beyond a one-dimensional character trait. Leo too is more than he seems, and he genuinely wants to do right if at all possible. When his orders conflict with his feelings, the discomfort is visible.

Ah, topicality!  This hasn’t dated at all!  Now to peruse old Saturday Night Live episodes and weeknight political humor from the 1960s! Ah, topicality! This hasn’t dated at all! Now to peruse old Saturday Night Live episodes and weeknight political humor from the 1960s!

   Naturally the translation by Working Designs bears culpability for the overall quality of the story. Working Designs throws in its standard off-the-wall comments by NPCs that are frequently hilarious, and the main quest has its share of humor but retains a serious core that achieves a good balance.

   Visually Lunar 2 shows off everything the Sega CD could accomplish. To an RPGamer in later years, this really does not impress overly. Spell effects are good looking for the time however, and towns to a good job of looking different depending upon location. The graphics are as good as the Sega CD can produce. Musically the game also is exemplary, with a truly superb soundtrack by Noriyuke Iwadare that surpasses the music in Lunar: The Silver Star. Full motion video is present in impressive amounts considering the system, with plenty of further voice acting outside the video segments. The voices are not perfect but do a respectable job, with more characters being completely convincing than not.

   Battles in Lunar 2 are visibly the descendants of battles in Lunar 1. Characters still have a movement range in battle which must be crossed prior to any physical attacking taking place, save for the use of a bow& arrow, which is a good weapon if the player wants to make Lemina a physical attacker. The movement range is more flexible looking than Lunar 1’s, however, in that the battlefield is not so obviously divided into combat squares. Magic is used in roughly the same fashion as an RPGamer would expect, but its acquisition is quite different. Some spells are learned in the same fashion as RPG lore has made it, with them being acquired at a certain level. Others are acquired only through equipping a certain piece of equipment. Still others are learned at a basic level but will only rise in effectiveness via the player using Magic Experience to power up the spells. Magic Experience is acquired along with standard Experience post-battles, and its presence allowed Working Designs to make a certain change from the Japanese game that infuriated quite a few players at the time.

   Saving can be done at any time in Lunar 2, save during a conversation. Working Designs sought to make players more conscious of the saving process, however, and instituted a price to be paid in the form of Magic Experience for every save. This price is directly tied to Hiro’s current level. Whether the individual player deals with this and moves on or becomes infuriated is a highly subjective reaction that cannot be predicted by me. Aside from the Magic Experience cost, menus are reasonably easy to navigate. The precise effects of new equipment are still not displayed in shops, but the characters indicate whether they will be weakened or strengthened by each piece of it. The interaction in this title has been noticeably improved from its predecessor.

   Challenge-wise, Lunar 2 is not out to destroy the player at every moment. Strategy must be used in a number of battles however, as certain bosses use area-based attacks that can be partly avoided by having the party run around separately. There are a few very nasty battles, however (Borgan…). Replay is not terribly high, save for the still-innovative feature of the Epilogue. After completing the game, the option becomes available to enter the Epilogue, which features the characters in the world after it has been saved. This Epilogue has several new challenges to navigate, offers a worthy extension of the story, and gives the opportunity of finding out what people in a Working Designs-translated story think after the great threat has been wiped out. Most appreciated, this feature is.

   As quite probably the best RPG on the Sega CD, Lunar 2 is still stuck in a very small pool of competition. Even if it were on the Super Nintendo however, Lunar 2 is good enough to stand out. A good example of this is how little the basic framework was altered by GameArts in its subsequent remakes of the Lunar games for Saturn and Playstation. Lunar 1 received extensive rewriting, while Lunar 2 is good enough to stand the test of time in its first iteration.

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