Thursday, December 28, 2000

Lunar 2: Eternal Blue

Genre: Role Playing Game
Platform: Playstation
Credits: 2000 Working Designs, Game Arts

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Complete Bromides Guide by Skysenshi

Skysenshi's Description:
One thousand years after that fateful adventure of the last Dragonmaster Alex (Lunar: The Silver Star Story), unsuspecting Hiro and his pink fluffy "cat" discovers a mysterious girl who seems to have come from the "blue planet". Apparently, the girl needs Hiro's help in stopping a certain destructive force from throwing the Earth into its violent doom and the only solution is to take her to Althena, the Goddess of all that encompasses Lunar.

Things soon come to a twisted road and Althena is suspected to be missing--has been missing since the last Dragonmaster Alex defeated the powerful Ghaleon generations ago. Now, the only way to find out what really happened is to traverse the path that Dragonmaster Alex had once walked in...

Silver Star Revisited... Fun Fun FunTrip Down Memory Lane! >>> by skysenshi (12.28.2000)
Lunar 2: Eternal Blue is perhaps the longest game I had to wait for in my entire life. I had loved the first Lunar so much -- it is my all-time favorite, in fact -- that I could hardly wait to get hold of Lunar 2. At last the wait was over. Now I'm seeing how it compares to its predecessor.

I have mixed feelings about the gameplay because, while I wished it were a bit different from the first Lunar, I can't help but be relieved that they didn't change much. It's still as fun as ever, with all those free healings and non-existent save points.

It would have been a perfect sequel to Lunar, except for one minor flaw. For some strange reason, I find the controls a bit too slow. I remember the first Lunar's main character walks really fast, so you don't need to run. Here, the character walks too slow. When you try to make him run, he just runs for a while, and then he's back to that ultra-slow pacing again. It kind of reminds me of Final Fantasy IX's frustratingly slow battle pace.

The story is one of the most intriguing aspects of this game. Though the characters are not as endearing as Jessica and Kyle of Lunar 1, the main character Hiro somehow has an exciting personality. He isn't as silent as most main characters are. Top that with the fact that Lunar 2 has gone beyond the stereotype of women being the weaker gender whose only sole purpose in the battle is to heal injured party members. Here, one of the most powerful characters in the game is a femme fatale / bruiser named Jean, and the healer is a handsome ex-priest called Ronfar. Ronfar, by the way, will remind you of Kyle with his mischievous antics and corny come-on lines.

The storyline itself can get a bit confusing at first. In fact, there are times you'd want to get the battles over with to get to the bottom of the whole mess. It's the same old Silver Star, with Althena as its revered Goddess. But wait! Something is quite different, and not quite right. You'll just have to find out for yourself what is wrong with the entire picture.

I found myself staying for quite a long time inside the Magic City Vane's library just so I could get a grasp as to what happened to the Silver Star in a span of more or less a thousand years. This game is so rich in history, you can't help but be amazed.

Sadly there aren't much singing involved in this game, unlike before where everyone actively sings from the beginning of the game onwards (even Kyle who is ridiculously tone-deaf). As for the graphics, well, the developers could have improved what was in Lunar 1. It seems to me that they were a bit too lazy to develop new monster templates that they just slapped the old monsters from Lunar 1, transferred them to Lunar 2, and then gave them different shades from their original colors.

Their saving grace for the graphics aspect is the fact that they have more anime scenes, with longer time span. The faces of the characters have also improved in the anime and any Lunar fan can probably say that Hiro is much more good-looking than Alex of Lunar 1 ever was. The downside here, though, is that the Rememberizer of Lunar 1 is not what it used to be. Before, you will just have to activate the Rememberizer in order to view the anime scenes you've seen. Now, you have to go back to where you activated a cut scene before your Rememberizer can play them. Such a tedious task!

This game is looong! Unlike the first Lunar, which you can probably repeat and finish again within a week, this game will take quite some time to finish, let alone repeat. I recommend making the best of this game during your first run through it. The battles can be quite a drag, especially during those times when only a certain number of party members can be brought along with you.

To buy or to rent? I still think this game is worth buying, especially if you're a collector. It comes with a lot of cool stuff that Lunar's marketing people are very fond of adding into their packages.

Overall I think this game is great, not as great as the first Lunar, but still above average. Any RPGamer should try this out if they want to experience something different from the usual CG-ridden RPGs. Besides, it can still be summed up in three words: ''Fun! Fun! Fun!''

DIFFICULTY: Moderate to Difficult
RATINGS: Gameplay 9; Battle 6; Story 9; Visuals 7; Characters 9; Sounds 7; Replay Value 5

Lunar 2: The Definition of Tedious >>> by Rowena Lim Lei (??.??.2000)
Lunar 2 has everything a good RPG should possess: an involving plot, an interesting cast of characters, great anime scenes and music, and user-friendly controls. So what's the downside to all these good elements? I'll tell you what... the freaking battle system!

Battling in an RPG has never been more torturous and frustrating. First of all, your character Hiro can't run effectively. So if you plan on evading those enemy encounters, you can just forget it. After a few seconds of running, Hiro will automatically walk. Boom! The enemy catches you and you have to fight. You can ignore the run command in the battle too. I've tried to run from battle like a dozen times and have never succeeded. I guess you're wondering by now why I want to run most of the time. For starters, enemies are pretty stingy on experience, items, and money. After a long and tiring battle, you find yourself a measly couple of hundred silver richer and gaining an equally measly amount of experience points to match. It doesn't help that weapons and armor cost a great deal of money, so if you want to get everyone in your party all the best equipment you have to battle hundreds of enemies literally. One encounter lasts pretty long, and if you want to get things over with fast, you have to use group spells. Group spells take a lot of MP. It doesn't help that MP and HP replenishing stuff are just as prohibitively expensive as the other gear for your characters. After several enemy encounters, you'll find yourself either MP-less or HP-less. Boss battles are another story. You literally have to tear them limb from limb to progress any further. The bosses seem to have ludicrous amounts of HP, which make battles stretch on and on and on.... sometimes it makes me forget I'm playing for fun.

Now for the good parts. The plot is excellent. It's so engaging that you just want to play and play till you get to the bottom of things. It's what will keep you going despite the less-than-ideal battle system. The dialogues are very amusing and never dull. The characters are all very interesting and given ample development. L2 is quite generous with anime scenes too. The anime scenes here are markedly more polished (mainly due to the use of more sophisticated CGs) compared to Lunar 1. Then there's also the return of the fun-filled quest for bromides to keep you on your toes when exploring places.

Lunar 2 is by no means a difficult game. It's actually a simple cycle - event, dungeon, boss, event, dungeon, boss. It doesn't take a lot of IQ points to figure out what you should do next. Don't get me wrong, because It's not a bad game either. L2 is actually a cut above a lot of other RPGs out there. It's just tedious.

COMPLETION TIME: 39 hours 50+ minutes
RATINGS: Gameplay 8; Battle 4; Story 9; Visuals 9; Characters 9; Sounds 8; Replay Value 5

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