Finally beat it.

For discussion of Lunar: Dragon Song (Lunar: Genesis), the only Lunar game on the DS
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Finally beat it.

Postby LunarRaptor » Sun May 10, 2015 5:04 am

I knew how it bad it was from its reputation, but I decided a while back that I wanted to have completed every game bearing the Lunar logo, so I pushed through (more like slammed my head against a brick wall until one or the other gave way) and eventually attained a very hollow victory.

I have one question (which will likely become many, but for now, it is just one), and one only: what exactly went wrong (other than everything)? Okay, we've all seen bad sequel before, but this... This... This, wow... This really takes the cake. How does a 2000-something era game manage to be more primitive in its design than a series that largely stuck close to its early-90s roots? George Lucas only wishes he could make a prequel this bad. The story comes from nowhere and manages to stay there. The characters are so hollow that they nearly cease to be. Ignatius is what happens when you try to rip-off Ghaleon but only ever saw Lunar TV Tropes page. Jian is... um... Lucia exists to cash in on both Luna and original flavor Lucia. I don't even remember the other characters that show up on your party and I just got done playing. Does anyone know exactly what went wrong behind the scenes?
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Re: Finally beat it.

Postby Leo » Sun May 10, 2015 8:32 am

Extreme halfassing is my guess. Just pretend it doesn't exist. Maybe find a way to get the soundtrack so we can see if anything in it stands up next to the rest of Iwadare's work.

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Re: Finally beat it.

Postby Alunissage » Sun May 10, 2015 8:46 am

It doesn't explain everything, of course, but it was definitely rushed to be the first DS RPG (thus including the gimmick of microphone use for running, which was a major issue for me), and the localization was rushed alongside it, with the NA release only a month after the JP release. I don't know enough to say whether the NA characterization is comparable to the original.

We do know that there were a number of design elements in early plans that never made it into the full game. I think the Ausas were supposed to be in it, for example.

The main thing I wonder about it is if they had anyone at all that had experience with battle mechanic design. Dungeon design was pretty OK and the two battle modes could've worked, but I can't imagine how the two modes AND the random targeting (the biggest WTF I have ever seen in a game) AND flying enemies being unreachable by nearly all attacks AND the equipment breaking or being stolen AND the totally unbalanced party AND the running due to microphone input AND the losing HP permanently when running AND very little magic with a fixed number of MP recovery items in the game could possibly have been overlooked as a poor combination. The card usage mitigates some of these issues, so my only guess is that they figured everyone would be using the cards all the time. But then you spend several dungeons in a row away from the mainland where a lot of the useful cards are dropped. I just dunno.

I will say this, though: all this makes it the Lunar game I'd most like to see remade, because I do see things that could be made fun. There's a lot of scope for funny dialogue in the missions. The missions themselves could be made interesting instead of random assortments. Etc. That's outside the scope of your post, of course.

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Re: Finally beat it.

Postby Alunissage » Sun May 10, 2015 8:52 am

There's one music piece in the game that I do think compares very well with other Lunar music -- not the best of the best, but quite good. Unfortunately, I don't remember the name. It's in one (probably more) of the dungeon areas, I think a deserty place in the south of the first continent? Seems to me there were other adequate pieces as well, but rather a large proportion of the tracks were ambient sounds that probably didn't need to be that individualized. Several were clearly based on other Lunar songs from SSSC and EB, which were OK.

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Re: Finally beat it.

Postby JonOU812 » Sun May 10, 2015 3:18 pm

LunarRaptor wrote:
I have one question (which will likely become many, but for now, it is just one), and one only: what exactly went wrong (other than everything)? Okay, we've all seen bad sequel before, but this... This... This, wow... This really takes the cake. How does a 2000-something era game manage to be more primitive in its design than a series that largely stuck close to its early-90s roots?


*Cough* Ubisoft *Cough*
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Re: Finally beat it.

Postby Alunissage » Sun May 10, 2015 10:24 pm

Uh? All Ubisoft did was localize it. And actually they put two improvements into the game. The faults of writing and inconsistent names are at least partially theirs, but the design is not.

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Re: Finally beat it.

Postby Leo » Sun May 10, 2015 11:55 pm

Alunissage wrote:Uh? All Ubisoft did was localize it. And actually they put two improvements into the game. The faults of writing and inconsistent names are at least partially theirs, but the design is not.


Yeah but aren't they ALSO responsible for the localization of Grandia?

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Re: Finally beat it.

Postby Sonic# » Mon May 11, 2015 2:48 am

^ That doesn't make them more responsible for the design of Dragon Song. :) (As an aside, I found the Grandia localizations at least on-par to other games in its time. I'll admit it's been a while since I played the first one though.)

A lot of the things in the game have worked well in other games. Other games have equipment that needs repairing over time. Other games have mission systems that provide side-quests. I liked the job system and could've liked the other features. Personally, I think the combat-related issues come down to balancing, which ties back to what Alunissage is saying about time. With balancing, equipment wouldn't break seemingly as arbitrarily, we would be able to still target enemies, and the party wouldn't be so disproportionate.
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Re: Finally beat it.

Postby LunarRaptor » Mon May 11, 2015 9:23 am

So we can sum up Lunar: DS, as "They Just Didn't Care".
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Re: Finally beat it.

Postby Sonic# » Mon May 11, 2015 1:36 pm

No. A poor-quality product does not tell us that they didn't care. It tells us, maybe, that they cared about the wrong things - a quick release date as opposed to further balancing. Did they not care? Did they care but fail to pull it together? It could be either.
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"Than seyde Merlion, "Whethir lyke ye bettir the swerde othir the scawberde?" "I lyke bettir the swerde," seyde Arthure. "Ye ar the more unwyse, for the scawberde ys worth ten of the swerde; for whyles ye have the scawberde uppon you, ye shall lose no blood, be ye never so sore wounded. Therefore kepe well the scawberde allweyes with you." --- Le Morte Darthur, Sir Thomas Malory

"Just as you touch the energy of every life form you meet, so, too, will will their energy strengthen you. Fail to live up to your potential, and you will never win. " --- The Old Man at the End of Time

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Re: Finally beat it.

Postby Alunissage » Mon May 11, 2015 6:14 pm

My recollection is that Grandia was translated by Sony, but it's going back pretty far. And the games shelf is all the way over there.

Ubisoft did localize Lunar Legend, and it definitely shows signs of being rushed. But individual lines are adequate to good; it was more that the whole thing needed another edit round by a single person to smooth things out. (And a bit more debugging...)

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Re: Finally beat it.

Postby Leo » Mon May 11, 2015 9:46 pm

Alunissage wrote:My recollection is that Grandia was translated by Sony, but it's going back pretty far. And the games shelf is all the way over there.

Ubisoft did localize Lunar Legend, and it definitely shows signs of being rushed. But individual lines are adequate to good; it was more that the whole thing needed another edit round by a single person to smooth things out. (And a bit more debugging...)


I Googled and it says Sony translated Grandia in America and Ubisoft translated it in Europe. So the PAL version isn't the same?

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Re: Finally beat it.

Postby Alunissage » Mon May 11, 2015 10:11 pm

I wouldn't know; I only have NA and JP (Saturn) versions. But it could be that Ubi translated it only into other European languages. PAL games frequently are released with 4-5 language options. Though come to think of it the EU release of Lunar Genesis (Dragon Song) is English-only; besides the splash screen of the EU publisher being added it's identical to the NA version as far as I know. (I've played all of the JP game and nearly all of the EU game, but not much of the NA game.) I think all of the other EU games we have are multilanguage, but would need to check Ico and Shenmue 2.

I seem to recall that the EU version of Alundra was translated from the WD localization into other Euro languages rather than directly from Japanese. That's something I heard a good 13+ years ago though.

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Re: Finally beat it.

Postby LunarRaptor » Mon May 11, 2015 10:14 pm

I have difficulty believing that a product made by a professional company that hired professional programmers could have turned out this bad if they gave a hoot.
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Re: Finally beat it.

Postby Alunissage » Tue May 12, 2015 6:24 am

"They" are not a monolith. Companies these days are made up of more than one person.

You're doing that thing again where you state a strong unnuanced negative opinion and continue to state it louder and louder whenever discussion shows up. Engage with what other people are saying or don't bother to post.

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Re: Finally beat it.

Postby LunarRaptor » Wed May 13, 2015 6:57 am

I have done no such thing. If you want me to believe that anyone on this project cared beyond getting that next paycheck, please provide some evidence. The ending alone is such a rush job that it leaves one under the impression that the developers were in as much of a hurry to get this over with as I was. Give me something positive to think. If you know something that I don't, feel free share it.

Here is my more in-depth verdict of the game:
It stinks of laziness and ineptitude. It is unpleasant from the very first screen to the "Special Thanks" at the end of the credits.
Yes, some of the game's problems can be excused by limited budget and rushed development. However, some of the worst design decisions (running costs HP, being unable to target enemies, and not being able to acquire items AND experience at the same time) shouldn't have made it out of the design phase let alone into the finished product. Amateurs would know better. I can't even begin to imagine how much of a mess development must have been to allow such bad ideas to get through. They had to know that these design choices don't work. They ALSO had to know this wasn't going to satisfy longtime fans of Lunar or newcomers. Alas, they still slapped the logo on it and sent it go out the door as was.
Tell me, Alunissage, what am I supposed to think of that? What great respect for the property and its fans am I supposed to be seeing between the lines here? You claim my opinions lack nuance. Well, if you saw shades of love and devotation nestled anywhere among the pixelated fail, please explain.
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Re: Finally beat it.

Postby Sonic# » Wed May 13, 2015 11:35 am

Since you mention evidence, do you have evidence that a professional group could not make this game? Or that they didn't care?

Sometimes professional developers make terrible games. You keep talking about the programmers - there's no evidence that the programming itself was bad. It's the composition of elements and mechanics together that isn't working, indicating an issue of directing. Alunissage has speculated that publishers were the ones delivering pressure. Perhaps the lead staff of the game weren't able to put something together in a tight time frame. Personally, I also think it possible that the staff misfired, that they had potential elements lined together but didn't pull it together.
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"Than seyde Merlion, "Whethir lyke ye bettir the swerde othir the scawberde?" "I lyke bettir the swerde," seyde Arthure. "Ye ar the more unwyse, for the scawberde ys worth ten of the swerde; for whyles ye have the scawberde uppon you, ye shall lose no blood, be ye never so sore wounded. Therefore kepe well the scawberde allweyes with you." --- Le Morte Darthur, Sir Thomas Malory

"Just as you touch the energy of every life form you meet, so, too, will will their energy strengthen you. Fail to live up to your potential, and you will never win. " --- The Old Man at the End of Time

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Re: Finally beat it.

Postby Leo » Wed May 13, 2015 8:04 pm

LunarRaptor wrote:I have done no such thing. If you want me to believe that anyone on this project cared beyond getting that next paycheck, please provide some evidence. The ending alone is such a rush job that it leaves one under the impression that the developers were in as much of a hurry to get this over with as I was. Give me something positive to think. If you know something that I don't, feel free share it.

Here is my more in-depth verdict of the game:
It stinks of laziness and ineptitude. It is unpleasant from the very first screen to the "Special Thanks" at the end of the credits.
Yes, some of the game's problems can be excused by limited budget and rushed development. However, some of the worst design decisions (running costs HP, being unable to target enemies, and not being able to acquire items AND experience at the same time) shouldn't have made it out of the design phase let alone into the finished product. Amateurs would know better. I can't even begin to imagine how much of a mess development must have been to allow such bad ideas to get through. They had to know that these design choices don't work. They ALSO had to know this wasn't going to satisfy longtime fans of Lunar or newcomers. Alas, they still slapped the logo on it and sent it go out the door as was.
Tell me, Alunissage, what am I supposed to think of that? What great respect for the property and its fans am I supposed to be seeing between the lines here? You claim my opinions lack nuance. Well, if you saw shades of love and devotation nestled anywhere among the pixelated fail, please explain.


"Thanks for being 'special' enough to play this game in its entirety!" :lol:

It's hilarious yet depressing that we're all so hard up for another Lunar that many of us actually FINISHED Dragon Song. I don't really give a damn how it turned out badly just that it did. They could've had all the best intentions but the final product is what speaks.

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Re: Finally beat it.

Postby Alunissage » Wed May 13, 2015 10:27 pm

You're setting up a false dichotomy between "didn't care" and "great respect". I know it's very satisfying to elide the middle in the name of sarcasm, but it's not very reasonable.

If you haven't picked up that there are things I know that I can't share in the years you've been posting here, well, I don't know what to say.

Sonic's already noted the things that make me say that you lack nuance. Reread:

Sonic wrote:No. A poor-quality product does not tell us that they didn't care. It tells us, maybe, that they cared about the wrong things - a quick release date as opposed to further balancing. Did they not care? Did they care but fail to pull it together? It could be either.

Sonic wrote:Sometimes professional developers make terrible games. You keep talking about the programmers - there's no evidence that the programming itself was bad. It's the composition of elements and mechanics together that isn't working, indicating an issue of directing. Alunissage has speculated that publishers were the ones delivering pressure. Perhaps the lead staff of the game weren't able to put something together in a tight time frame. Personally, I also think it possible that the staff misfired, that they had potential elements lined together but didn't pull it together.

As the kids say, this. I have commented many times that there are a lot of elements that could be interesting on their own that interacted badly. Also, both the Japanese and European box copy say words to the effect of "The first true RPG for the Nintendo DS!" That's an incentive to rush right there.

Again, not caring is not at all the same as not finishing or doing badly. Working Designs were famous for delays to get things as right as they could ("Delays are temporary, mediocrity is forever") but most companies are going to be unwilling or unable to make that choice, and the bigger they are the more likely they'll just want to get the thing out the door and get their people working on the next project. I'm sure any programmer you talk to who has been in a job that pushes out releases of anything will tell you that many or even most times they have to stop work on it long before they think it's ready and just get it out. My husband told me about various times when the marketers would blithely promise features and timing to clients and then the coders were told to just make it happen. They weren't consulted first on the feasibility of either.

So, again. Companies are not a monolith. There may have been members of the dev team who cared very much about the game but weren't allowed to hold back the rest of the game to fix and polish. Assuming that they "just didn't give a hoot" is both unfounded and insulting.

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Re: Finally beat it.

Postby LunarRaptor » Thu May 14, 2015 1:44 am

@ all: in any case, unless any of you can prove that they cared, my stance is unchanged. I don't care if the assumption that they "didn't give a hoot" is insulting. They deserve to be thought of in that light for this slap in the face of a game. I'm not budging until you can prove they did throw their hearts and souls into this. So out with the proof, or roll over.

Also, Alunissage, you may try to put on a polite front, but I can tell that you think I'm just a complete idiot. The attitude permeates your every response to me. Not the best way to change my mind. You speak of nuance, but I see right through you. I lack nothing and I will not be told that I do by you.
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