Lunar Legend

Lunar Legend

Written by Charlie Sinhaseni on 1/14/2003 for GBA  

For the five people who were unfortunate enough to have purchased the Sega CD, they’ll remember a little game called Lunar. It was a beautiful RPG that blended traditional RPG elements with anime-style graphics to form an excellent package. Contrary to what you may believe, this isn’t a remake of that classic title but instead, is a brand new entry in this venerable series that does an admirable job of taking advantage of the Gameboy Advance’s limited hardware.

Lunar Legend tells the story of a boy named Alex and his quest to follow in the footsteps of his hero, Dyne. Like any other good Japanese protagonist, he has a hot sister, Luna, and a rodent-looking pet of some sorts, in this case it’s a flying cat named Nall. I never played the original Lunar games so I don’t have a benchmark in terms of quality but I can only hope that they’re not all this cut and dry. Not only is the story old and clichéd but it also fails to overcome the hurdles that come with the language barrier that separates English from Japanese. What does this mean? It means that the story isn’t quite as compelling as it should be, especially when nearly every major conversation contains at least a small handful of grammatical errors. There’s an awful lot of Engrish here and while it’s not exactly as bad as Fire Brade, it’s still pretty weak. Expect to see PLENTY of typos and even some graphical miscues where incorrect portraits are displayed alongside the text.

The entire game (with the exception of scripted events and combat sequences) is played from the traditional SNES 16-bit RPG overhead perspective. For this game it works extremely well as it allows the player to see a great deal of their surrounding area without sacrificing too much detail. Everything in the game looks just great, from towns to dungeons to homes; it’s all here with exquisite detail. The game world does suffer from SNES RPG-isitis though in that every home and establishment looks nearly identical.

Combat in the game is very reminiscent of your garden-variety 16-bit RPG. Select your commands via menu system and when you’re finished the turn begins. I was a bit disappointed to see my characters magically teleport to their target, attack and then teleport back. In games like Golden Sun you’ll see your character jump over and strike their target instead of magically appearing next to them. I guess it’s a nice nod to the mid and early 90s but I’d rather much see some more animations, especially because the characters themselves are so lush and detailed.
The combat itself is pretty simple and if you’ve ever played another RPG, you’ll be able to get into immediately. There are spells in addition to the regular melee attacks and the Arts Gage, a new addition that mimics the Limit Break system of the Final Fantasy series that when filled, allows you to unleash a character specific super attack. I felt that the addition of the Arts Gage makes the combat far too easily as it fills every time you perform a successful attack. You’ll probably find yourself filling it every two or three battles. I was very pleased to see the return of the five-character party though so that’s definitely a plus.

What makes this game so appealing is its accessibility, it’s very easy to pick up and play and the ability to save anywhere really makes this game great for the on the go gamer. There’s an oddity with the saving mechanism though, every time that you load up a game you’ll have full health and magic. This means that if you’re deep in a dungeon and are near death, you could just save your game and then boot it up again with full health. I’m not sure if the game was intended to be this way but it makes the game quite a bit less challenging.

This game isn’t without its faults though, for some reason entering a building will force the game to pause for a few seconds. These few seconds are excusable from a CD-based RPG but from a cartridge-based title, it’s entirely inexcusable. I also felt that far too much time was spent wandering around aimlessly, trying to figure out exactly what it is that I’m supposed to be doing.

After playing through Lunar Legend I’m disappointed at myself for not trying out the earlier entries in the series. The quality is definitely there but the game lacks a bit too much polish for my tastes. It’s a fun little RPG game but if I had a choice, I’d still go with Golden Sun; it’s simply superior in every respect.
If you already own Golden Sun and still need something to satisfy that RPG craving then Lunar Legend is your next best choice.

Rating: 7.9 Above Average

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.


About Author

Gaming has been a part of my life for as long as I could remember. I can still recall many a lost nights spent playing Gyromite with that stupid robot contraption for the old NES. While I'm not as old as the rest of the crew around these parts, I still have a solid understanding of the heritage and the history of the video gaming industry.

It's funny, when I see other people reference games like Doom as "old-school" I almost begin to cringe. I bet that half of these supposed "old-school" gamers don't even remember classic games like Rise of the Triad and Commander Keen. How about Halloween Harry? Does anyone even remember the term "shareware" anymore? If you want to know "old-school" just talk to John. He'll tell you all about his favorite Atari game, Custer's Revenge.

It's okay though, ignorance is bliss and what the kids don't know won't hurt them. I'll just simply smile and nod the next time someone tells me that the best entry in the Final Fantasy franchise was Final Fantasy VII.

When I'm not playing games I'm usually busy sleeping through classes at a boring college in Southern Oregon. My current hobbies are: writing songs for punk rock bands that never quite make it, and teasing Bart about... well just teasing Bart in general. I swear the material writes itself when you're around this guy. He gives new meaning to the term "moving punching bag."

As for games, I enjoy all types except those long-winded turn-based strategy games. I send those games to my good pal Tyler, I hear he has a thing for those games that none of us actually have the time to play.

When I'm not busy plowing through a massive pile of video games I spend all of my time trying to keep my cute little girl fed. She eats a ton but damn she's so hot. Does anyone understand the Asian girl weight principal? Like they'll clean out your fridge yet still weigh less than 110 pounds.

Currently I'm playing: THUG, True Crime, Prince of Persia, Project Gotham 2 and Beyond Good & Evil. View Profile

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