Hey folks, Valkor here. Back in 1993 I popped the top of my Sega CD and placed within its confines, probably one of the best RPG's of all time; I'm talkin "Lunar: Silver Star Story". The game featured great graphics, an awesome soundtrack, voice acting, and animation that was kinda framey and out of sync with the voice, but it worked. Simply put, the features this game presented, was unheard of at the time unless of course you lived in Japan. I've played through that game, I don't know how many times and each time it was still an experience that I never grew tired of. In 1999 my Playstation One was blessed with "Lunar Silver Star Story Complete" which is an updated version of the game that featured improved graphics, full-motion video, an updated soundtrack and a host of new characters and scenarios. An awesome game to say the least and I enjoyed it more so than I did the Sega CD version, with one exception: Lunar gets on the boat (you'll read more in the review).
Fast-forward to March 2nd, 2010. The folks of XSeed have dropped a huge golden PSP nugget on the front steps of the Val-Cave in the form of Lunar: Silver Star Harmony, which updates everything from the original Sega version and even one ups the Original PS version, all the while retaining its greatness as being one of the best there is.
LSSH follows the exploits of Alex, a young lad from the farming village of Burg, who hopes to one day follow in the footsteps of his idol, the great Dragonmaster Dyne. It's been said that Dyne had died soon after saving Althena from the clutches of Eiphel (A new villain created for the Four Heroes scenario). Alex's adventures begin when his boyhood pal Ramus decides he wants to be rich and seek out a Dragon Diamond from the nearby Ice caves. Alex, along with his pet/pal Nall, Ramus and gal pal Lunar head for the cave, seeks out the Dragon, performs the dragon task and receives the Dragon Ring along with the diamond. Not only that but the White Dragon sees great things in Alex… and something else in Lunar and it is this adventure that sets Alex and co on course to more adventures, leading towards his goal of becoming Dragonmaster. Along his journey Alex will make new friends, lose some current friends, seek out the remaining three dragons, ultimately saving his kingdom and becoming the new Dragonmaster.
The game features a new top-down isometric view similar to the Sega CD and PS 1, with new hand-drawn graphics that gives the game a more rounded out appearance. What's more is that spell effects are spruced up nicely; they're shinier, and more eye-popping, utilizing the PSP's graphic capabilities. Also the menu systems in the fighting, shopping, or when you wanna check your stats, equipment, etc have been given some serious polish, using graphics instead of using big words. Finally you have full-motion animated cut-scenes, which uses anime-style artwork. It's not full-screen, but it's there.
Gameplay wise, you can control your character with either the D-pad or analog nub and only make use of the four face buttons, so you can chill on the shoulder buttons. Oh and all the battle action is turned base (classic!), following along the lines of the original Sega CD version, where you start out being able to take so many steps and swipes at the enemies, which increases as you level up. You also have the option of setting the formation of where the characters stand (keep your magic users in the back, warriors in the front) and the tactics of how they perform when using the single AI (single AI is when the computer does all the work, as opposed to you giving the command which works against easy enemies).
Finally let's talk music and voices, which has been done redone from the opening song and all in-game music has been revamped. Plus there are elements of the original Sega CD music version strewn about. The voices have been redone as well, giving vocals even to Alex, who has never been heard from till now. So what can I ultimately say about this new rendition of Lunar?
Dear Snapple-god in Snapple heaven, where do I begin? First and foremost I am lovin the new graphics, which look wonderful on the PSP; we're talkin sharp, crisp, clean hand-drawn art with no jaggies or pixilation (as far as I can see), plus I love, love, love the flare effects of the spells and super abilities. When Alex does his Zephyr's rage (or even utilizes his Dragonmaster powers), my eyes water with delight. The story basically follows the original with some changes (one I will address in the bad section), but the heart of the tale stays true. Kudos for including the final battle of the Four Chosen: Dyne, Lemia, Ghaleon, and Mel, in the beginning of the game. Gameplay is pretty basic and it's also easy to jump right into without reading any instructions. Plus it's classic turn-based battles, no active battles or real time controlling four characters to do whatever; here you can take your time, plot your course of action, and unleash proper fury. The animation is beautiful, though not as colorful as the in-game graphics; ultimately they're very fluid and really helps round out the story better than the original's choppy cut-scenes (which I still love in a cheesy sorta way). Finally the new translations, songs, and certain voices round out this great PSP title. Plus points for letting Alex speak this round, though when the game gets going he doesn't say much.
This might be considered nitpicking, but I've never been fond of the fact that Lunar gets on the boat. In the Sega CD original, when Alex, Ramus, and Nall board the Orca and head off to Meribia, Lunar stays behind to be with her adopted parents. In the PS and PSP version, she gets on at the last minute. Now I don't know if this was the creator's true intentions, but I feel it actually lessens the impact of the story. While it's great we get to learn more about Lunar, play with her new powers, and watch her develop, I still say the game would have been much better had she played her role from the Sega CD version. Think of it this way; what if Aeris had lived? Though it would make a lot of fans happy, the impact of the story just wouldn't be there. Also some of the voice-work needs work such as Nall (loved the original Sega CD version) and Dragonmaster Dyne in the beginning of the game. I also think the opening song from the original Sega CD version should have stayed intact, revamped even.
Look at what they get in Japan!!!
Overall Lunar Silver Star Harmony is a must own for any PSP owner, who enjoys great RPGs. Seriously, you should not pass this up! The new Lunar is revamped to near perfection, greatly improving upon the originals and standing on its own as an instant classic. I was hotly anticipating this game when it was announced last year at XSeed's press event and I wasn't let down one bit as I played through it (except for the Lunar on the boat issue, but that goes waaaay back to the PS one days). So out of TOV 5 stars, I'm giving Lunar Silver Star Harmony 4.5 stars. And it's been Valkor tested and TOV approved.