Lunar: Silver Star Harmony - Staff Review  

Silver Slow Harmony
by Michael "Macstorm" Cunningham

Lunar: Silver Star Harmony
20-40 Hours
+ Charming story and characters
+ Vivid and colorful visuals
+ Can save anywhere
- Sloooooooow combat
- Soundtrack lacks impact
- Nothing new here
Click here for scoring definitions 

   I've been a long time fan of the Lunar series, as I stated in my impression. Lunar: Silver Star Harmony is the fourth version of the original Lunar installment to hit North American shores. Having played the Sega CD version and its PlayStation remake, I felt the need to try out this PSP edition and see how it compared. Overall, it's fairly solid, and I'm not just saying that because I'm an NPC in the game (I was placed in the game as an ignorant, incestual redneck). Silver Star Harmony has its highs and lows, but holds up as a decent version of a classic title, though it does little new and sticks stubbornly to some old traditions that should have been ditched.

   The story of Lunar has changed little since its last decent iteration. Alex is still out to become a Dragonmaster and Luna is still the spunky little songstress. Nall, Nash, Kyle, Jessica, and Mia are still hanging around trying to help Alex save the day. What has always shined about Lunar is the personality of the cast and that still holds true in this version. The characters are alive and entertaining, even if the story remains fairly straightforward. XSEED has done a solid job with this localization, taking the best of the original Working Designs translation and patching it up where needed with more appropriate dialogue. This release offers a few extra scenes throughout the game, but none really add that much to the plot. The story is quaint and the characters are personable and easy to identify with, so even if there is nothing really new here, it still offers one of the most thorough translations this game has seen.

lots o enemies You will be surrounded by enemies all the time.

   The game's biggest failing comes from its slow and tedious combat. Not only are encounters very frequent, consisting of on-screen enemies that are often difficult to avoid, but the battles themselves drag on longer than they should. Selection actions take place fairly quickly and the game even features options to have the AI auto-attack or use preset actions. Things are slowed down by attack animations, especially spells, that take too long. Combat offers the same old formula: standard melee attacks and magic spells combined with an occasional super powered attack. Each character has set skills and abilities to learn as they level, each with their own specializations. Weapon and armor upgrades provide basic stat increases, with some even enhancing characters' strength against or toward certain elements. It's the same combat that's been seen for years, including in prior versions, and is further dulled by the game's easy level of difficulty. Put together, these combat issues drag down the game to a slow pace that hurts the overall experience.

   Thankfully, everything controls fairly well in Silver Star Harmony. Menus are straightforward and simple, and shops are clean and easy to navigate. Best of all is the option to save anywhere, a feature that makes a world of difference in a portable title. Areas in the game are all very easy to maneuver in, especially with the use of the run button (which this reviewer didn't luck upon until late in the game). Despite lacking in originality, the game is at least as functional as possible in all the needed areas.

wishing That dream no longer seems far off, eh?

   Lunar: Silver Star Harmony is presented in an impressive package. The visuals are very detailed from the lush world environments right down to the character sprites. Everything is very colorful and vivid, and the anime-style cutscenes look as good as ever. The voice acting features an all new cast devoid of any remnants of the Working Designs era. The voice acting is as servicable as the original. The only notable change is Ghaleon's new actor, whose performance is much different from that of the original voice actor. There are two new vocal arrangements for the game's songs, "Nocturne of the Wind" and "Wings." These lyrical translations are more literal in this version which works better for "Nocturne of the Wind," known by many as the "Boat Song," than for "Wings." The rest of the soundtrack is decent, but lacks the intensity of the Sega CD version and even the PlayStation remake.

   As a longtime Lunar fan, it was nice to play the game again in a portable format. Though in some ways, it was a shame that I felt like I was playing the exact same version as the PlayStation release, not a new one. I enjoyed Silver Star Harmony more than I did the Complete on the PlayStation, but neither were met with the same level of enjoyment and wonderment I felt upon first playing the Sega CD release many rose-tinted years ago. This could be due to the fact that I'm not a fan of the on-screen encounters that end up being more frequent than random ones or that combat is so slow, but it would have been nice to have something new. I'm in full support of a PSP remake of Lunar: Eternal Blue, as that game hasn't been run as hard into the ground, but even then I hope more changes are made to the gameplay to make it faster paced without sacrificing the charm GameArts has created in this series.

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