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Lunar Legend

Review By:  Jared Black

Developer:  Game Arts/Media Rings
Publisher:  Ubi Soft
# of Players:  1
Genre:  RPG
ESRB:  Everyone
Accessories:  Link Cable (trade cards)
Date Posted:  3-5-03

Once relegated to relative obscurity on the Sega CD, the Lunar series has seen a surge in popularity thanks largely to the efforts of Working Designs on the PSone and the blossoming RPG genre in general. Once place this genre has particularly blossomed has been in the handheld arena, where the GBA has emerged as one of the strongest RPG systems ever. Thus it's no surprise that a port of a Lunar game has finally found it's way to the system in the form of Lunar Legend.

Based on the original Lunar: The Silver Star Story, Lunar Legend features a light-hearted storyline (although it does have its darker moments) that's perfectly suited for the GBA's generally younger audience. Alex has always dreamed of being a Dragonmaster just like his hero Dragonmaster Dyne, when one day his sleepy village of Burg is greeted with the arrival of the wizard Nash. Nash hails from Vane, and asks the local yokels to guide him to the White Dragon Shrine so that he may take the White Dragon's trial in hopes of becoming a Dragonmaster himself. Of course Alex wants to go with him, so the two set out along with his Alex's girl Luna, his winged creature companion Nall, and good buddy Ramus.

Lunar veterans have probably already realized that the storyline is different from previous versions. In the original Alex sets out on his own, while Nash doesn't join up with him until later in the quest. While it's the same general quest, Ubi Soft has revamped the original storyline by streamlining several major plot points (either due to cart space or for simplification) and adding several new sidequests to the mix. For veteran Lunar fans (like myself) it makes the game somewhat easier to play through again to see what they've changed, and for newbies to the series it won't hurt enjoyment of the game any.

Another change is in the translation, where they opted to create a new translation instead of using an existing one from the Sega CD or PSX version. The dialogue here isn't nearly as good as WD's Lunar, but then again very few translations can ever match the work WD does. It is competent though, and there are still a few funny lines to add atmosphere to the game (like when Quark comments to himself about where the dragon diamond originates…). Each character also retains his/her old personality, and still basically says what you'd expect them to say (if you've played previous Lunars) in a given situation.

Perhaps due to the younger audience on the GBA, battles have become much easier. New to this edition is the Arts Gage Skill, which can only be used once after the gage bar is full. This bar is filled by direct normal attacks, with each attack adding a little more to it. If you've seen the Force in action in Wild Arms, you know exactly what to expect here. Once the bar is full, that character can unleash a super magic skill that requires no MP. Luna's skill is to restore all MP and HP for all characters, and this unfortunately makes the game a bit too easy whenever she's in the party. The bar fills up fast enough that other characters need not worry about wasting MP as long as Luna keeps attacking, which in turn makes the party nearly unbeatable.

Since the original was on a 16-bit system, Lunar Legend has no problem looking nearly as good as its PSX and Sega CD counterparts. Towns are colorful and vibrant, character sprites are animated well, and there's plenty of detail to be found everywhere. Spell effects are a little subdued compared to some other GBA titles like Golden Sun, but they still look good enough and get the job done. Replacing the FMV cutscenes of the past are full-color still shots, which is a necessary evil since this game is on cart. Even these look really good though.

Sound takes a similar hit. While the music sounds nearly identical, it's obvious that it is lower in quality. Sound effects are pretty basic, with typical attack sounds and virtually no ambient sounds.

There really isn't much in the way of extras.  Other than the main game, Ubi Soft did throw in a couple of extras such as a Gallery mode (where you can view full color pictures of previous encounters) and a number of cards to collect featuring every character and enemy in the game.  The "cards" are really just a sprite enclosed in a box on a bland background, but the ability to collect all of them might appeal to hardcore fans of Pokémon and the like. 

Highs:

  • A classic story reborn in portable form and it's just as good as ever.
  • Different twists on the original storyline give Lunar veterans a reason to replay it on the GBA.
  • A vibrant game with colorful graphics, unique and fun characters, and interesting game worlds.
  • Battery backup allows for near-instant saves anywhere in the game world outside of battle.

Lows:

  • Battles are now too easy to win in most situations.

Final Verdict:

While not as good as the system's big RPGs (Golden Sun, Tactics Ogre, etc.), Lunar Legend still shines. It's simple (yet interesting) storyline, unique characters, light-heartedness, and ability to save instantly anywhere make it the perfect RPG to take on the road. Recommended for Lunar veterans and those new to the series alike.

Overall Score: 8.3

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