If there is one thing that you can say about the PlayStation, it’s that the console had a plethora of role-playing games on it. I mean, there were tonnes of them! With everything from Square’s behemoth Final Fantasy franchise to small, one-off titles, the PSX had everything you could want from the RPG genre. As such, it was very possible for smaller developers to have their games lost in a see of other RPGs.
In the midst of all of this turbulence, a little remaster of a Sega MegaCD game was brought out into the world. That game was Lunar: The Silver Star, now remade in higher pixel resolutions with new animated cutscenes and music. Thus, it was renamed to Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete. When I was an early teenager, I finally managed to get my hands on the game, as it was never released over here in the UK. I instantly fell in love with it, so much so that I still have the original copy of it sitting next to me as I write this.
However, looking back now, part of me wondered whether or not that love was because I had waited so long to get my hands on it… Was the game actually as good as I thought? Let’s find out!
Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete opens with a rather generic start to a J-RPG, being honest. You play as Alex, a young boy who dreams of being an adventurer. As such, you and your friends Luna, Ramus and Nall (a flying cat-like creature) set out to go and find a dragon stone from a nearby cave. From here, you learn that you are destined to be the next Dragonmaster. The group sets off to travel the world in the hopes of being able to protect it from a dangerous yet currently unknown enemy.
So as I said, it starts off rather generic. However, don’t let that fool you! The game quickly turns into something so much more. Dealing with sacrifice, lost love and even religion, Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete manages to mix common J-RPG tropes with dark story elements hidden behind a bright and colourful world.
It may not be the most unique and original storyline (at least for the first half of the game) but it is thoroughly enjoyable and will drag you into the world. The characters are probably one of the best parts of the story, as well. Each one feels like their own person, with deep personalities and great dialogue. You’ll end up falling in love with the characters, both protagonist and antagonist, which is a true feat of game development!
When it comes to gameplay, there were a few significant changes when compared to the original version of Lunar. For starters, whilst the Sega MegaCD version utilised random encounters (like Final Fantasy games), the PlayStation (and Sega Saturn) remake had the enemies appear on the maps. This was because of the increased processing power of the newer consoles, which allowed the game to be built in a much more interesting way.
After you make contact with one of the enemies (or they come to you), you’ll be taken into a battle scene that initially looks very similar to any other J-RPG. However, you’ll quickly notice that the battle system is very different. As you select an enemy to attack, your characters will move around the battlefield, trying to get to that specific enemy. If they can’t move far enough, then they will stop part way. This is also true for the enemies. Because of this, and the fact that it is a turn-based RPG, you need to think tactically. For example, if your characters only run so far but don’t get to kill any enemies, then you leave yourself wide open for their turn.
This adds a huge sense of planning and strategy to the J-RPG. However, it also means that Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete is incredibly unforgiving. In fact, take a look at this episode of my Weekly Retro video series to see what I mean.
As you can see, the game will not let you get away with stupid mistakes. This can be off-putting for many people, but I think it makes the game far better. Besides, if you want to make the game easier, you can just grind experience points and level up your characters as much as you want.
Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete retains the pixel art graphics of the original version, but increases the number of pixels used. This creates a beautiful 16-bit feel whilst making great use of the 32-bit console that is the PSX. On top of this, the cutscenes have been replaced by amazingly animated and directed anime videos. This helps to create a sense of immersion as you get a great view of the world and characters.
When in combat, the animation of the characters and enemies are done very well, with a nice range of different enemies designs as well. Even the incredibly minimalistic UI works well, with the various special attacks having specific icons that allow you to memorise which are which, without having to look at the names. On top of this, when in dialogue, you get to see the emotions that each character is feeling through their character art, which can help when you’re just reading the text.
All in all, the graphics may not be the most innovative on the PlayStation, but Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete is a brilliant remake of the original MegaCD game that manages to keep the original’s charm. This is something that so many developers seem incapable of doing, so that’s a huge bonus!
And That’s All Folks
Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete is one of the more obscure J-RPGs on the original PlayStation. The developers’ decision to stick with the pixel art whilst improving every aspect of the game really helps to solidify this as one of the best RPGs on the console. These days, it is really hard to find Lunar out in the wild, but if you do manage to find it and can afford it, I would definitely recommend getting it.
But at the very least, I would recommend getting Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete on an emulator so that you can experience this amazing RPG!
Have you played Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete? Would you be interested in it or a new sequel? Let me know in the comments below.