Lunar 1 Review with Fan Fiction

For discussion of Lunar: Silver Star Story, the remake of Lunar 1 for Saturn/Playstation/PC and all its translations
Lathaine
Iluk Crackpot
Posts: 30
Joined: Thu Oct 06, 2011 4:41 pm
Location: Orlando

Lunar 1 Review with Fan Fiction

Postby Lathaine » Thu Nov 17, 2011 7:54 pm

Art:

*For the time the graphics were decidedly retro but that fit the game quite well and helped give some continuity between the Sega CD games and this one. However, if the game was remade today the graphics are really dated and would need upgrading but I dislike how SSH did it. A serious effort to make larger sprites with plenty of detail and beautiful backgrounds with things probably zoomed in a little more would be a good idea. Camera angle would have to be played around with overhead, isometric, and over the shoulder (with rotation of the screen) being the obvious choices. All of the sprites and backgrounds would have even more detail if zoomed in, which means there should be close ups for cut scenes so that they look somewhat like the anime cut scenes probably with less detail with anime cut scenes being left for really important events. However, if the game art can be done with as much detail as the anime cut scenes zoomed in then such cut scenes are supplanted. This may require the power of a newer generation console to do so.


Sound:

*The music should be fully orchestrated, but they did fix this in SSH.

*The new Lunar 1 music is underwhelming for the most part with some obvious exceptions and the old music for TSS may have been better to use if it was upgraded and orchestrated. However, given the more playful feel of the world and the new visual style compared to TSS the old music may seem alien to their context.


Gameplay:

*Battles are fun and interesting due to the movement and attacks system, battle formation, limited area of effect spells, and the types of enemies, their attack profiles, and their formations. While a nearly perfect way to deal with all battles in 1 round before enemies get to act exists in a number of fights it will still typically take two rounds with 1 round of enemy attacks to deal with all enemies. This means that strategy is involved in what enemies to kill in the first round based on what type of attack they are planning to use and what's the best way to kill as many enemies as you can in 1 round. This is in addition to how you wish to be positioned at the start of a fight and the end of a round which gives yet another layer of strategy. Thus the standard menu based turn based traditional RPG battle mechanic is altered considerably for the better. The system itself is trying to capture the feel of pen and paper systems like D&D while being tactical like in Strategy RPGs while retaining the traditional turn based combat mechanic of traditional RPGs. Overall the system does an excellent job of this and the incorporation of a hex grid for the battle map is interesting and novel.

*Dungeons are generally well designed in that you will have run out of MP for the casters and healers by the time you get to the boss at the end of a dungeon assuming you explore the whole thing. This is some evidence that Lunar is a very closely balanced game.

*Bosses are fairly well designed in that they are just hard enough to present a challenge but not so difficult as to make the player frustrated.

*Bosses have the problem that with so few meaningful attacks against single enemies that don't cause you to run low on MP quickly your options in a boss fight are almost always the same. Buff up first round and use saint litany and then heal up in later rounds and spam best low MP single target abilities. There are very few exceptions to this rule. Really only boss battles where there is more than one enemy and boss battles that are meant to be significantly harder than normal such as the last boss.

*If a game is very closely balanced like Lunar then it can become relatively easy to lose a character or wipe due to RNG. Either by being ganged up on or being hit with a really devastating attack multiple times in a row. To rectify this how many enemies can attack a specific member of the party should be limited even if it runs on RNG. Such as no more than two enemies per round ganging up on any one character with the same applying to bosses with multiple single target attacks per round. This also means that the game should be balanced in w ay that no single character will die if they are attacked by two enemies in the one round. One of the biggest breakers of this rule are the Killer Buzzes in the Meryod Woods. The instant death attack of the Fiends in Althena's tower don't represent a real problem though as they are the hardest common enemy in the game and are in the last dungeon. Another thing to do is to not allow an enemy to use the same kind of attack twice in a row if its very powerful, this is especially important against bosses since if the RNG is against you they can get much harder than the rest of the game as the same super powerful moves are used on you over and over with nothing in between.

*Lunar 1 has far too few abilities to use for each character. Alex and Kyle really suffer for this. Alex should have had magic spells such as fire spells like he had in TSS and a spell linked with Althena's sword would have been nice. Kyle should have had more sword skills or even melee debuffs that are useful. Mia is far too limited with her tactical options in most battles for her damage spells with a wider gamut of possibilities being nice such as light, moderate, or heavy damage single target spells, area of effect spells, and entire screen spells being available with differing MP costs for both fire and ice to balance things. I would also like to see more buff spells such as an Magic Endurance boosting spell, Wisdom boosting spell, more attacks spells to cover a wider gamut of contingencies. Nash also has too few options for attack spells and should have a similar treatment to Mia for his lightning spells and his debuff spells are downright pathetic and should be buffed and made to be decent. Jessica has a debuff that isn't effective and no attack spells which seems odd since she is pretty aggressive. An upgraded version of calm litany would have been nice for more MP as well as an upgraded saint litany and an all party version of cleanse litany would be nice. You also get your effective spells far too late in the game not getting them until the red dragon cave which is past the halfway point.
-Also it clearly shows Lunar has no customization of character abilities or stats or anything of the like. How to give choice is beyond me at this point so that it fits Lunar's feel but there are a number of options available. The crests system from Lunar 2 could be brought into Lunar 1 for instance.

*The Dragon spells cost far too much MP for what they do with the sole exception of black dragon grief. The fact Alex is a lowish max MP character should have been taken into account with the spells being usable in combat for boss battles without having to spam silver lights.

*Having a grand total limit to items for Nall is a bad idea. It introduces a sense of scarcity of inventory slots that doesn't seem smart. Instead it would have been better if Nall has an unlimited inventory limited by the number of the same item you can have. Similarly having small party inventories as a mechanic is a bad idea unless most boss battles require very few items, but Lunar handles this well except for perhaps the last boss and even with a much larger Nall inventory for Lunar I'd keep the limited player inventories since it adds a level of strategy and preparedness. It should also be said that an artificially low number of items such as in Tales games is not wise if the dungeons and bosses are balanced around this fact as Tales of Vesperia was. It makes the party too item dependant. Lunar 2 has a more than adequate system if limited inventories for characters is not desired with a maximum number of items equal to 20 with a common item bag for all characters which works because you aren't forced to use almost your entire inventory of certain items per dungeon or boss battle.

*Starlights should give more MP than they give currently probably a flat 45-60 MP per starlight. They are pretty expensive and give such a low return even early in the game. This may also mean silver lights are less important in the last few boss battles since you could sub in starlights instead.

*It has to be stated Lunar's battles are dated turn based affairs by modern standards. Given the solid design of the combat system though they still represent a decent battle system overall but if the battles were to be upgraded and modernized then here I think a more tactical approach which takes advantage of the hex system the game uses may be in order. This likely means battles will last 2-4 rounds instead of 1-2 so that it doesn't feel like a turn based system masquerading as a tactical one. This also means fewer battles would be required per dungeon and enemy composition and placement could mean that repeat battles wouldn't happen hardly at all.
-To do this HP for everyone, player and enemy, would have to go up so enemies don't drop in the first round unless they are ganged up on or everyone pops AoEs. Terrain should also be added. This could be an interesting way of doing things since enemies being on screen instead of random battles and you being able to dodge some battles and ignore them is rare in tactical games.

*requiring grinding in the 1st dungeon is a bad idea. The game should be structured in a way that you can avoid some enemies in every dungeon yet get enough levels and have good enough gear to beat the dungeon and the game over time. If you full clear every dungeon to kill all the monsters and get all the equipment in chests then you should be at an advantage and the game slightly easier over being able to nominally beat the game albeit at a higher difficulty if you aren't a completionist. The dungeons I found grinding to be the better option were the White Dragon cave, Meribian Sewers, Lann Island, Crystal Spire if you don't use the dragonfly wing bug, if it were longer the Meryod Woods would count, the Blue Dragon cave might count if Alex doesn't have the flame sword, and the last three bosses of the game are tough and grinding really helps. The really bad thing about this is that the game encourages grinding in its first 1/2 for a variety of dungeons only to drop the difficulty by a fair bit for the second half except for the blue dragon shrine which shouldn't be grind happy since the narrative is supposed to be a race to the blue dragon before Ghaleon gets there. The last problem is by making the last 3 bosses so powerful it really encourages grinding all the enemies dead in Althena's fortress to do well against Royce, and grinding in the Goddess tower to beat Xenobia and Ghaleon.
-The shear importance of just a one or two levels would have to be eliminated if this were to happen since that structure encourages grinding and completionism to even beat the game. It also means grinding for 30 minutes can make you very over leveled for where you are in the game.

*The crystal spire should not force all party members to give up weapons. This can already be gotten around by using a bug involving a dragon fly wing but the dungeon is more than difficult enough as is without having to make it harder by taking away weapons.

*You should never have cut scenes that get triggered by exploration that lead to a boss fight unless there is prior warning of the boss' presence.
-one great way to do this in a open save game is restoration points where your MP and HP get regained in a dungeon. This alerts players that something is up and they should save. Also having checkpoints at certain areas in dungeons in addition to save points anywhere is beneficial. To make sure the restoration point isn't abused the dungeon should be large enough or the path to get to it hard enough that to get to said point takes time and effort and fights and isn't easy to accomplish.
-Check points may make sense with certain areas or tiles or cut scenes triggering an autosave that can be loaded back from should the party die. This takes a hard drive though.
-Other than restoration points getting full HP and MP when gaining levels could suffice but this seems harder to balance but it may be a better way to go if dungeons allow you to get to restoration points easily.
-Something Lunar may benefit from is a recouping of some lost MP after each battle whether it is a set amount per level of experience or based on how well you do in combat. However the problem with a rating system or anything of the like is that it creates a game where you never hold back your most powerful attacks actually limiting tactical options.
-Having enemies stay dead for the duration of a dungeon is a good idea and is wonderful when you can save in a dungeon and previously killed enemies stay dead as long as the restoration points are not easy or simple to get to.
-Lunar screws up with the red dragon cave since the restoration point is well timed but the dungeon is simply too long and you have to go back to it repeatedly which is not how this mechanic should work.

*Having dungeons where you might need to leave after doing 2/3 of it for completion's sake and come back and finish the rest for completion's sake is not a bad idea at all. It gives players choice and makes dungeons harder and seem more challenging and rewarding to get through. It also gives the idea you have some freedom to explore which is evidently lacking in games like FF X, somewhat, or especially FF XIII.
-obviously this cannot be done if there is no going back from the dungeon. Also it can be dangerous to do this for all dungeons since sometimes forward momentum in the plot is what's best. This also requires dungeon design that doesn't require that you fight all or even the big majority of all enemies to get to the end.

*Many dungeons would have been better had they been more puzzle centric as in Myght's tower or Damon's spire or if they were more mazelike as many dungeons were in TSS, EB, or Talon Mine in SSSC's case. In many ways it feels dungeons are dumbed down and made to be fairly linear throughout the whole game. This is especially obnoxious in SSH. It is sad to see that the Sega CD version of Lunar 2's dungeons were not used a basis for the PSX remake ones since those dungeons were some of the best I've ever crawled through.

*Lunar lacks good boss battles for a while once you reach the Stadius zone and this feels like a bad idea since doing a number of dungeons in succession which are slog fests instead of being moderately difficult with a boss at the end is a bad idea.

*Kyle should not have shields. That should have been an Alex thing with Kyle having slightly less defense but more attack to balance him out as 2 handed swords fit Kyle best.

*All staves should boost Wisdom and have a magical attack to them. The fact the mages lose a decent auto attack in the Stadius zone onwards is kind of annoying.

*The dragon wings are the best "airship" I have ever seen with the ability to go back to previous towns but still requiring exploration and adventure forward to unexplored areas.

*The concealed chests should be eliminated since from the party's PoV they are obvious and RPGs should be about immersion while this set up is to make things harder for the player while breaking immersion. However, Lunar does avoid the problem of items hidden in objects that are mundane and not at all different form the surroundings such as tables or cupboards. In addition, Lunar doesn't have you steal items from people's homes which is a huge plus. I would add that some people might give you items for free by talking to them since you may have saved the village or are trying to save the world. Or in Burg's case because they just know you and wish you luck on your adventure.

*Damon's spire is perhaps the best dungeon in lunar 1 due to the number of enemies, the weaknesses of various enemies, the info given, and the cool cut scenes between floors due to Damon's tests.

*It is a terrible idea to have rare items only be gained by doing some extremely hard to do and totally unable to figure out minus a gamefaq event or series of events. It is poor game design. If rare items are available through events they should be alluded to in the main story or when you first visit a town by talking to NPCs and ways to find the items should be given through a string of clues at the very least.

*Talon mine was an excellent dungeon because it was a maze with a restoration point with an important plot twist in Phacia that wasn't too long and even had a boss. Ruid was also well designed due to the nature of the fights which weren't too easy or too hard for the most part if you used your brain and had a decent boss fight at the end.

*Having the Grindery and Althena's fortress both be dungeons that once you enter you cannot leave is not a good idea unless players are warned in some way. This is less a problem with the Grindery since its cut scenes before getting in are short except that the scenario here can push you into those scenes too easily and this is more of a problem with Althena's Fort. This is because its a nasty dungeon that requires real preparation for three hard boss battles and allows no backtracking which means if you screwed up back in Meribia you face reloading from a save point before much of the plot explosion.

*The Grindery dungeon design is poor in that you can't go back during the bowels section. The bowels are an annoying maze without a gamefaq that has moderately to fairly difficult enemies (tank golems) trying to deplete your MP over the course of the dungeon and be challenging by being long like the blue dragon cave. This is not what the narrative needs at that juncture and the bowels should have been shorter and more to the point. The enemy difficulty is fine but may need to be a little harder with some enemies such as the knights and with the Quarters right afterwards the pacing of the game suffers yet again due to too long dungeon crawling sessions. Also if you aren't prepared when you go to the spring of transmission you may accidentally walk into a railroad of hard fights since the grindery is so close to it. The Grindery Quarters are also just too easy. No set up to be the final dungeon has enemies that easy and it is kind of short which is good due to the length of the Bowels, which should be of equivalent length (~35-45 minutes) since the two should be seen as one long dungeon with a restoration point in the middle.

*The fortress of Althena seems about right in terms of length and its right on in difficulty once you get cursed but easy before that, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Its a long dungeon but that's not bad given its the second to last dungeon and the start of the final phase of the game. Although maybe you should get cursed at the 25% mark instead of the 50% mark to make things more challenging. The problem comes with Althena's tower which is fairly long and incredibly easy once you get past the puzzles thanks to a goddess statue in the dungeon. It also has stupidly easy puzzles which require meta knowledge in one case and feel more like speed bumps than puzzles and should probably be left out. Althena's tower could have done without the vast bulk of the puzzle floors and gone straight into the upper part of the tower with no goddess statue to make things challenging on the final leg of the game before the last boss battle. However, given you face two bosses in a row and are practically forced to go back to the statue after fighting Xenobia to prep for Ghaleon it seems best to leave the goddess statue in the dungeon and simply have more enemies respawn if you leave a floor for any reason to not have to fight through the entire dungeon again if there are two bosses at the end. Also the enemies in the goddess tower shouldn't all respawn after going into Xenobia's chamber. That is a really annoying thing to do since to fully recover before Ghaleon it is best to go back to the goddess statue anyway. Its like fighting through the dungeon, which takes around 30 minutes, twice after Althena's fort which was the longest dungeon in the game. In addition, despite being the most badass enemies in all of Lunar the ultra fiends give too little experience. They should give at least 50% - 75% more than they currently give.


World Design:

*Having dungeons that separate well traveled places on the map is silly if travel is common, which is assumed in Lunar. The only way this makes sense is if the monsters in such dungeons are very low level encounters and thus normal people could form a small group and adventure through the dungeon. This rule does not apply to dungeons separating places on the map that few if any people get to.
-Nanza is a very good idea and pretty brilliant since if there is a well traveled area that has a dungeon with low-mid level monsters a mercenary guild, an escort service, and probably a fort would be created to help people get through the area.
-The only two dungeons that would be affected are the Meryod woods and Tamur pass. I really don't like the Meryod woods and think its should be eliminated with Jessica running into plaster Mel some other way such as having a scene activate while walking back to Reza on the overworld. Another solution is to have the Meryod woods exist but have no enemies on the path to Meryod itself and only have enemies appear when you go off the beaten path and explore the woods for items. Tamur Pass seems like a similarly bad idea with a similar solution being proffered with a roadway that has no monsters being there or there but a rockslide triggered by Xenobia has blocked the way and you must go around through the mountains on a pathway with enemies to get to the other side with Xenobia laying a trap for the party.

*Towns feel different with different sub cultures and atmosphere in Lunar to its credit. What markets are present is addressed as well as what is sold per town. However, some extra effort into making each town truly unique by covering more aspects of its culture instead of assuming everyone has a common major culture and then sub cultures abounding for towns would have been nice. Mostly Lunar uses the old farming town, port city, fishing village, wilderness town, thieves town molds to give each town some flavor. This isn't bad at all and I would have liked some more common molds and probably more towns. The exceptions to this are mainly Lyton and Pao which both feel very unique and are excellently written. However, a lot is unaddressed in most towns: where is each town's defense force? What do they produce to eat? What are their dialects if any (though Meryod covers this one well thanks to WD)? How are people segregated by age? How are children raised and what stories are they given? How are women and men differently treated? What is good versus bad behavior (Reza and Nanza does this well as some good examples)? What games, jokes, and entertainment predominate (other than taverns)? What is each town's history? How is religion handled and temples? How is law and justice handled? What body ornamentation and art is there? How is leadership handled? Architecture is also very important to culture and Lunar does very well with this aspect making each town look very different and each town has a different vibe because of this and the kind of town it is. Lunar also adds the commonality that all towns love music as entertainment and drinking with common ideas about law and order, common worship of a global religion, and all towns being bright, cheery, and clean. It would also be nice if geopolitics and intertown trade were covered more. Why does Meribia have a big army for instance? Just because of its size? If so what threat does it face to warrant an army? What are each town's exports and how does that play out with global trade and fleshing out the setting?

*Some towns should be bigger since town exploration if the dialogue is good, which it is, and the town uniquely flavored culturally is always fun. Tamur is far too small for instance and really starting with Reza the towns seem to get smaller and this is bad because the bulk of town exploration should not be in the first 1/3 of the game as it is in Lunar. Early on Lunar handled things fairly well, Vane feels big enough for its importance when the guild is included and Meribia is a little large. Really most towns should aim to be about the size of Saith.
-Another thing I'll mention is that the towns could be set up more realistically with enough beds for everyone in town and houses for everyone in the streets even if they are empty or better yet have families at home with people wandering the city or at a bar which could lead to all kinds of interesting dialogue about why some people are gone for whatever reason. People in towns should also have crafts or jobs represented so that the towns feel alive with people just wandering around or getting plastered in the early afternoon being rare. Another idea is to have each town be at a different time of the day with say Meribia being morning, Burg mid day, and Saith late afternoon. This allows for even more ability to flesh out the towns via dialogue geared around these times and what happens in the town at these times. The times could even change as the game hits major scenes meaning the dialogue has been updated for that town. A way to tell people quickly and easily re-exploration is a good idea.

*Having over world monsters only makes sense if the setting reflects this fact such as tales of Vesperia. Lunar does well with this problem and creates a very unique feel for the game world because of this.

*Holy equipment should require that the maker's be divine casters or just clerics of some sort and should not be just made by anyone just as magical equipment should require people who cast spells to make. Lyton and Tamur make these mistakes.

*Equipment should not get much better at every town you go to. Perhaps it can get better the farther from safe places you get but having gear get better just because its the next town is silly. For instance gear should be better in the frontierlike and, if you adventure, dangerous Stadius zone. But otherwise gear shouldn't get way more powerful at each new town but at places that are the heart of trade (Meribia) , politics (none), religion (Althena's Shrine) , or magic (Vane) or a global thieves bazaar (Reza bazaar) or a prestigious assassin's or mercenary's guild should have gear available that is pretty awesome if maybe unaffordable right now but becomes affordable in time.

*Some disposable items and accessories should be sold by special places instead of most places as you get further in the game. Some disposable items that should be rarely sold outside a place with serious cult of Althena presence would be holy water and angel's tears. Starlights should be sold by places with magical caster presence. Accessories should be sold by places with caster or clerical presence having been made with magic or the divine abilities of Althena's clerics.

*The economy could make more sense. For instance, the progression of power for weapons is downright bad. While it starts out good going short sword to arming sword to longsword it eventually screws up with magic items being thrown in too early and the katana being better than magical swords and the great sword being better than many magical blades and being wielded one handed. The progression of weapons power wise should be logical with costs going up with actually rare and enchanted weapons and armor. Instead of mundane pieces that are better than some magical items and cost more than them for no rational reason.

*Ghaleon's minions from the Vile Tribe are far too powerful and of enormous levels. Also they fluctuate wildly in levels. When the crystal spire is attacked they are fairly weak, when Meribia is attacked they are also fairly weak but much stronger than any of the human armies save Pao, which seems odd the human armed and trained soldiers are that weak. But once you get to the Frontier or even Tamur Pass the vile tribesman are insanely powerful and could stand toe to toe with humanity's greatest warriors and there are legions of these beings. It makes no sense. The easiest way to fix this is simply making enemies from the vile tribe after Meribia's invasion augmented by magitech in some way making them into inhuman super soldiers or being constructs instead such as the tanks or prisms. The Meribian invaders would also have to be more deadly so that they would be a threat to a trained military force, which should be more powerful than you at that point in the game, but that is doable given the fact there is a restoration point you can go to after every battle. Also it may be a good idea showing the Meribian army fighting the vile tribe in the streets and Mel's mansion and being pushed back in certain areas or winning in others. This scene could be far more interesting if it was designed with an all out war in mind instead of people cowering, the Meribian army retreating endlessly, and you being forced to take on hard enemies that you can kill at this point without too much trouble despite not being a seasoned soldier and having only adventured for a limited time. I would peg soldiers such as Meribia's army or Vane's magic corp at being able to take on Damon's spire and in numbers, with decent casualties, possibly getting through the red dragon cave's normal enemies but what makes the party so special is that as a small team of friends they can do this and they can pass the trials of the dragons and Damon, which the vast majority of people couldn't do. The vile crustacean still works though because its perfect to sic on magic wielders who can barely scratch it.

*Ramus' endgame shop is a great idea to have free items and other RPGs could learn from this and have the last shops in RPGs give away free stuff to the people who are trying to save the world form destruction or tyranny. It is nonsensical except to the morally depraved due to their greed to charge the only hope of saving the world money to get the gear they need to win. The one change I would make is having Ramus start giving away free stuff before going to the Frontier instead of right before Althena's Fort since in his eyes that would be the end of the adventure for Alex. Ramus gets duped twice just like the player in this case.


Scenario Design:

*The scenario from the start of the game to the Marius zone is pretty straightforward, very exploration based, and quite well done. The first 1/3 of the game shows it has been concentrated on. Apart form gameplay issues and story issues I have with it this section needs no real scenario tweaking from my perspective with one exception I will mention next.

*Fetch quests such as the hag's forest, the Iluk fields, or the Lyton shrine should not take terribly long. The Hag's forest is a little too long and so is the Iluk fields, especially if you don't know which bug gives the item or want to explore the whole thing for items. Both dungeons could stand to be shorter and in the Iluk field's case altered. The Lyton shrine just seems like a bad idea. and should be eliminated. It breaks game progress, is rather long, has some serious fights and gives very little forward momentum for all your work after an episode where forward momentum crawled in the Marius zone's end.

*The Lyton to Tamur section is handled poorly since it takes hours of dungeon crawling through three dungeons to advance the plot significantly. This brings up the very real problem of many RPGs, including Lunar, in that the farther you get in the less story and characterization rewards you get for dungeon crawling comparing minute of dungeon to minute of cut scene or town exploration. In games where this problem occurs early it seems to really turn people off to the game since it is going for dungeon crawl over story advancement. My best example is Grandia. Lunar thankfully ratchets up the narrative in the last 33% of the game making this less of a problem than other games.

*The game from the start of the Marius zone till the end of the Black Dragon fortress has no real going back for any good reason, which makes sense in the Marius zone after getting there which is helped by the theft of the dragon wings since it gives the player the idea of forward momentum but its pacing gets bogged down. This is because of an annoying Meryod Woods, due to the power of the monsters, and the second and more severe problem of having the Iluk fields right before the red dragon cave, which is really long. So its a double whammy of dungeons which doesn't feel justified if forward momentum is so important to the zone. In addition, things really get bogged down from Lyton until Pao possibly going all the way back to Iluk. That whole section feels more like an obstacle to be overcome for some cut scene rewards and to get on with the plot eventually more than anything I would actually want to play for fun. Iluk and the red dragon cave are somewhat forgivable because it comes after great forward progress at the end of a continent. However starting with Lyton I really only slogged through it because I knew awesome stuff was in the works once I became dragon master. Otherwise instead of being a story driven game it really becomes a dungeon crawler with short cut scene rewards after serious dungeon after serious dungeon until the end of the black dragon fortress.

*The Iluk fields aren't too big but the number of puffy bugs should be greatly decreased to maybe just a handful in the entire dungeon with one giving the necessary bug as is already the case or after fighting enough puffy bugs you get the bug you need automatically. The red dragon cave may also be a little too long. The party should be able to clear the 2nd half of the dungeon up to the boss with the HP and MP they have after the restoration point. However, the boss will need to have the party go back to the restoration point to be healed up for the fight or the party can be healed up again after making it through the hall of fire just in time for the boss battle. Also the restoration point should be usable only once or twice after the first time if it can be gone back to with the option of taking the red dragons healing and using up a charge so to speak after the initial healing. I like the blue dragon cave design but it is a bit too long mainly because of the seriously powerful enemies and should have a boss possibly summoned by Phacia reluctantly after she deals with the blue dragon. Or if Phacia is to remain the good sister throughout then it could be Xenobia as she never deals with a dragon in game. The Blue Dragon could also heal you up as a restoration point after getting to him to prep for the boss. The boss would be water based to get the most out of the fire element stuff you have at that point.

*It is a race to find the dragons before Ghaleon once you get to the red dragon and this is another reason the Lyton shrine should be eliminated. It is hard enough explaining how getting to the red dragon wasn't a race but the Marius zone exists and nothing short of a major rewrite will fix the plodding nature of getting to the red dragon cave after Ghaleon enslaves Quark. The Black Dragon can wait though since Tamur pass is meant to be Xenobia delaying you if not killing you and once you reach Tamur you can discover that Pao needs medicine for some condition which means Ghaleon is already using Luna to enslave the black dragon. Thus going to Myght, going through the Illusion forest, and winding up in Pao just to go through the black dragon fortress are really Ghaleon screwing with the people of Pao and possibly waiting to screw with Alex and company.

*Tamur being larger and more worthy of exploration would make the section of the game once you get there easier to get through. It is also at this point that you could afford the really awesome gear found in Vane or Althena's shrine if items don't just get better because you went to the next town as recommended earlier. Having gear to pick up gives a reason to go back to re-explore and a reason should be given to do this at this point in the narrative especially since no one knows where the black dragon cave really is. Also having Laike be the only person who goes with Alex to Myght's tower seems like a bad idea unless that dungeon is not as puzzling as its set up to be, which would be sad since it is a good dungeon design. Really the whole party should come along and this should be a standard dungeon that has a good design to it already. I do not know how to handle Laike but his character makes little sense as written anyway. The best solution may be one or two people, like Nash, staying behind in Tamur for some reason and Laike joining up. This could be the two women going with Alex and Laike since among other things Myght's a womanizer and it helps with their exp compared to the boys as they get to do the black dragon fortress with no help from the girls which puts them behind the boys level wise. This way everyone has similar exp except Alex. Another solution would be Laike taking a fast way up to Myght he allows for people he knows but the party having to take the long way the first time to meet Myght. The Illusion Forest is also well done with the way forward being easy to do unless you want to explore everything and get all the items but the dungeon is designed well enough that the entire thing can be explored before running out of MP. Once you get to Pao the story starts to pick up and from the conclusion of the Black Dragon fortress is pretty solid with some problems along the way as mentioned elsewhere. You should also meet up with Tempest near the start of the dragon fortress or the enemies on the 1st floor should be set up to be taken out with just 3 people without too much trouble. Because of the amount of dungeons you face after Tamur with little in the way of story rewards each dungeon should at most take 40 minutes if fully explored with the exception of the top of the Black Dragon Fortress so that the narrative has forward momentum to it.

*As mentioned before a real reason to go back before going to the Frontier would have been a good idea especially to talk to Alex's dad. That said in many ways the scenario in the last 1/3 of the game is excellently done with some serious flaws that will be mentioned. Now what helps Lunar once you get to the Frontier is that Talon mine is an excellent dungeon properly balanced to not be too hard which gives vital story as does Cadin. Ruid isn't terribly long or terribly difficult for the most part and sets up some really awesome cut scenes with Nash, Ghaleon, and Vane vs the Grindery. The fact you can explore the world after this is also a big bonus and this fact should be highlighted probably by you being forced to go to a nearby town like Meribia using the dragon wings, say to meet with survivors from Vane. This would also help give the idea that some towns will give you cool stuff like Lann or Reza since the dialogue has changed in most towns. The fact you can explore the world again helps take the edge off the plot rail if you know about it. The Grindery is also too long hurting pacing and the easiness of the enemies in the Quarters made things feel odd since no final dungeon should be that easy. The Magic Emperor was also way too easy to be a serious last boss contender. Not to mention it was pretty obvious there was a lot unsaid so far in the narrative so it couldn't be the ending. As before Lunar telegraphed its plot point with the false ending especially with the cheery "its done" music despite the fact the fortress of Althena and evil Luna are on the jewel case of the game! What keeps the story going up to Althena's fort and to Ghaleon is that at the end of Grindery there is the plot explosion that happens. The bevy of good cut scenes and the shear amount of plot and characterization make the narrative so strong it doesn't seem to matter we just got a false ending and now have to finish the job for real. Also some exploration is allowed in Meribia which helps take the edge off the plot rail you're on.
Last edited by Lathaine on Fri Sep 25, 2015 7:17 pm, edited 5 times in total.

Lathaine
Iluk Crackpot
Posts: 30
Joined: Thu Oct 06, 2011 4:41 pm
Location: Orlando

Re: Lunar 1 Extended Review

Postby Lathaine » Thu Nov 17, 2011 7:54 pm

Story:

*The dialogue is superb with each character feeling like a person and towns being genuinely interesting to explore for laughs (the jokes about contemporary life aren't really bad as long as they don't dominate) and for party character interaction with townspeople that helps develop them and flesh out their personality through dialogue. It is also usually a good idea to talk with townspeople twice since they give more info than is normal in an RPG which is great.

*The cut scenes for Lunar are actually written quite well and really help flesh out the characters and deliver important plot points. The two exceptions seem to be first, Jessica getting over her dad being turned to stone far too easily but this is handled better later by plaster Mel. Maybe it could have been foreshadowed that plaster Mel was coming given her earlier emotions and words even if only to herself. The second exception is when Laike reveals he's Dyne and what happened to Althena. The problem I have with this scene is its a plot explosion which greatly changes the characters but it comes so close to the end of the game that the evolution of the character's thinking seems forced. Alex for one is like a different man once you get to Althena's fortress. Lunar also does not do superfluous cut scenes which accomplish nothing which is much appreciated.

*Foreshadowing is best if it is fairly subtle or mysterious but Lunar 1 tends to telegraph its secrets such as Luna being Althena (except early on such as the removing the fog for the weird woods), Laike being Dyne, Ghaleon being evil, Nash possibly betraying the party at some point, and Ramus leaving the party (which is a give away early on because he gains almost nothing with level ups compared to Alex and Luna).

*Having Luna be a party member for the first 1/3 of the game and having dialogue that really develops her personality and mannerisms making her feel like a person is great since there is more of a reason to devote yourself on a quest to save her. It is probably the best change from TSS to SSSC.

*Having the story be segmented into parts with the first 1/3 being the birth of an adventurer, the second 1/3 being the birth of a hero, and the last 1/3 being the epic struggles the hero and his friends must go through is a great set up. With the mostly excellent cut scenes it is actually a fairly good story to go through.

*Ghaleon is at least alluded to early in the game and met in the first half where he even becomes a party member and then backstabs you which is quite interesting and well done before the halfway point, which is the latest you should reveal the final boss in almost any good story.

*The anime cut scenes are good and quite memorable when they happen which is good. The problem is there really should have been more such scenes with the game maybe being 3 discs long since the none anime cut scenes tend to carry less weight since there is no vocalization and almost no room for cinematics with their being several scenes that deserved quality treatment. For instance the scene where Mel gets turned to stone would have been so much better as an anime cut scene. Lunar would have benefited greatly had it had much more spoken dialogue especially at important cut scenes of any stripe. Some scenes that might have been good for anime cut scenes would be Mel being turned to stone, the top of the crystal spire, when the dark songstress starts singing while you're in Pao, at the top of the Black Dragon fortress, when Nash betrays the party, and when he is in the magic masher and gets slapped straight. Problem with this is that the Marius and Stadius zones are pretty barren of anime cut scenes still even if this approach is taken. So the anime is going to be clumped into the first and last 1/3 of the game.

*The prologue in SSH is a bad idea. It should not have been included unless Luna and Althena's voices are different, their songs different, and the scenario less spoiler laden once you start getting to the games "secrets" which are already telegraphed.

*An explanation of why the other singers are abducted is needed if Ghaleon knows Luna is the one he seeks since the White Dragon cave. His actions at that point don't seem to make sense unless he's just being paranoid.

*Ghaleon and the witches having teleport at will anywhere makes no sense or little sense given the story doesn't incorporate this useful battle tactic terribly well for the most part and it takes an artifact to have a lesser form of teleport for the players.

*The afterlife isn't explored much which is odd in a world so united by its common faith.

*After Alex becomes dragonmaster you have to seek out going back to talk to people and get their reactions from Burg to Vane to Lann. If you follow the scenario as written you lose out on a lot of cool dialogue in a great many towns and a lot of foreshadowing of Nash betraying the party by going straight to Myght after the black dragon fortress. A reason to go back and maybe bolster the world against the Vile Tribe might have been a good idea or the hint your parents have something to say since Alex's dad lets it be known Laike is the one who brought Luna and Nall to them at this point in the game and no other.

*Ghaleon loses because he's cocky and has bad help, which I'm on the fence about. Royce had no courage to face the party herself until it was too late, same with Xenobia. Ghaleon is too cocky and overconfident when Alex becomes dragonmaster letting him live when he could kill him easily, also when Ghaleon tries to kill Alex at the Grindery he leaves them to die instead of being thorough. I don't know if I like this since Royce is presented as a cowardly person but Xenobia isn't and Ghaleon is really cocky but two major screw ups seem to be beyond the pale unless he is so dismissive of Alex and company that he doesn't care how many times he has to fight them and never views them as a threat. Ghaleon just isn't being genre savvy which seems off for a character presented as such a learned and knowledgeable person.

*Lunar does a good job avoiding scenes that develop the setting, plot, or characters that are incredibly hard to find without aid of a gamefaq. It is a serious problem in many more recent games that Lunar thankfully avoids for the most part. The one main exception I can think of are some scenes by talking to townsfolk the world over for the characters to interact and get some more fleshing out that occur once Alex becomes dragonmaster but before he goes to the Frontier. Lunar also assumes you talk to everyone in a town you visit or in which a major event has just occurred to get character developing conversations which isn't a bad idea and helps encourage exploration.

*The abduction of Burg in the Sega CD Lunar was actually fairly cool since you get to save your home town from slave labor, which never happens in any other RPG I can think of, and I think should have been left in game in some way. Xenobia could have used Alex's mom and dad as pawns that would be killed if he didn't surrender for instance in addition to Jessica and Mia in Talon Mine since that scene was too good to pass up with Kyle's acting skills. It could also be where Alex finds out about the connection between Nall, Laike, and Luna. There could have even been subterfuge as to how the vile tribespeople were learning that humans aren't nameless, faceless monsters but a lot like them and even caring in their own way by working with them in the mine.

*the times the Pao tribe saves the party at the Grindery and Tamur pass seems kind of ridiculous and cheesy, the party by that point could fight through three times that many monsters before breaking a sweat and instead of a moment of the party being bad ass magical arrows just wipe out entire battle formations and in the case of the grindery one shot insanely powerful enemies. It seems like bad writing meant to make the Pao tribe really important because the author says so.

*Normally it would be a problem to put so much of the plot at the end of the game right before the last dungeon like Lunar does. But in this case it works kind of because of the false ending and a half you've gone through. The game leaves just enough narrative and cool cut scenes to get you through each dungeon starting with the end of the Black Dragon fortress and each let down (Ruid and the false ending). Messing with the delicate balance written in here would be dangerous except for some minor changes to make things go faster in a place or two and something to give the idea that this is not the plot bullet train of only cut scenes and dungeons by drawing attention to possible exploration options already available to go back and talk to townspeople in various places before going to the Frontier and after Vane is shot out of the sky but before the Grindery.

*Having Alex be mostly silent the entire game does not work out well. He has on average about one to two lines per hour of the game played and says almost nothing in explorative dialogue, much less than anyone else. If this was meant for the player to identify with Alex then the game fails at that because Alex does come across as a distinct person just a poorly developed one. Alex is obsessed with Luna and loves her and most of Alex's lines have to do with wanting Luna to be free and being willing to do anything, including giving his life, for her safety and freedom. Other than that all Alex ever says amounts to him wanting to be an adventurer and dragonmaster like Dyne, his idol, with much of this coming when Alex is in Burg before the Weird Woods. Alex seems like a character before leaving Burg but after this the writers don't make him a strong one. For instance as he nears that goal of becoming dragonmaster with each step of the quest and reaches his goal he says precious little. The exception is when Alex gets to Althena's fortress and when facing Royce, Ghaleon, and Xenobia he seems suddenly to have become someone who fits the role of dragonmaster and he readily accepts what Dyne told him about Althena and says things indicative of someone who really has faith in the power of love, friendship, and the human spirit. But what I dislike about this is how sudden the change is. We never get to see how Alex grows into being a dragonmaster in terms of his thoughts and dialogue only the after effect of him becoming someone like Dyne suddenly. In the end when looked at from beginning to end Alex's character is almost always throughout no more than a fairly simple person with fairly basic although grandiose desires until Althena's fortress when he suddenly becomes the hero of humanity against a terrible god and his lackeys who is willing to give up all he has fought and strived for to save Luna and go back to Burg a humble farmer instead of a dragonmaster. He also becomes someone who is willing to speak up and really express himself a lot more than usual in the epilogue in Meribia. However, if Alex is to be the adventurer in all of us who wants to have a cool adventure, explore the world, become a hero, save the world, and get the girl (or boy if you're a woman) then he could do with less characterization and the game could possibly use more non optional dialogue about how he is achieving his goals and what others think of him for it (mainly good things) that help sell the idea he really is the player in disguise on an adventure to allow the player to insert themselves into his shoes as was the case in the Sega CD Lunar. However, if Alex is a genuine character who is distinct from the player as the PSX remake tries to do then he needs to be much more thoroughly developed over the course of the game.

*There is one plot hole with Althena giving up her power to be a human which is why does she not periodically, even regularly, incarnate like in the Sega CD Lunar? This would be a good way of telling people in Althena's world they need to rely on themselves since maybe half the time Althena isn't able to help since she's a girl somewhere that doesn't know she's Althena. This also leaves open Althena still being there for her world if it gets into trouble until Althena has a moment to realize, as the author wants in game, that her creations can take care of themselves and can defeat Zophar without her full intervention. In the Sega CD Lunar this reason for realization is the whole adventure of Alex and company saving the world and stopping Ghaleon after he had hijacked Althena and her power. This makes sense but in the PSX remake what really got to Althena and gave her this realization isn't shown although it is kind of shown in SSH's prologue but even there the situation carries less power since the actors are not people the player knows and their heroism and the situation lack a certain punch to it.

*Laike is a dead giveaway he is someone epic like Dyne and the fact he is Dyne gets blatantly obvious by the time of the Frontier. Having him around so much in game seems bad since he could solo most of the dungeons and kill most bosses if he had healing help so why isn't he a party member if he's a good guy helping the party to the save the world? Especially if the fate of the world is on the line and his best friend is now evil and trying to take it over? Why Dyne chose to take a back seat in all this, not confront his friend at any point in the story, and give the party only minimal aid save getting the airship from Myght should be addressed. A way to do this is through a confrontation between Dyne and Ghaleon, one Dyne loses and is forced to retreat from. Otherwise and in addition he could give a good explanation early on for why he refuses to do hardly any fighting to stop Ghaleon, once he becomes magic emperor. Once it is revealed Laike is Dyne another solid explanation for not going to Althena's Fort to help the party is in order. Hell even Obi Wan went with Luke to the death star to fight Darth Vader. Why Dyne isn't acting in a similar way should be explained. Really this is all compounded by another problem: If the power of the dragonmaster was needed to help Althena rebirth then why is anyone able to reclaim that power later? If giving up the power was a one time thing then why couldn't Dyne have simply reclaimed his power later especially when he found out about Ghaleon and knew Nall was a white dragon so he could complete that trial eventually even though Quark was imprisoned. Laike is just a character that makes little sense in the narrative. He is far too laid back about the destruction of the world when Althena told him specifically that people needed to band together and rely on themselves for salvation. That combined with the story of him saving a drowning puppy when it seemed like a non-advantageous time makes him completely out of character when the whole world he and Althena saved is about to be destroyed by his best friend. Why give up his power for the woman he love's wish to come true and then see Ghaleon become a god and destroy all he and Althena had worked for? He is thus out of character the entire game once he finds out about Ghaleon.
-Problem is it would take a significant scenario rewrite to make what happened make any sense and I have no idea how to rewrite the scenario properly.

*The three witches were not a good idea. Splitting Xenobia from the Sega CD Lunar into three women simply doesn't work out well. Xenobia gets way too little screen time and because of this she is an incredibly shallow character who only really hurts the party by turning Mel into stone. Otherwise she is an annoyance who's greatest threat against the party was in Talon mine and when she forces the party to face their inner fears. In addition, her romance element with Ghaleon doesn't play out well at all with it getting a little bit of screen time right before you fight her and a mention after she's dead. Royce is also a terrible character as she is an annoyance at best before you fight her in the end in which case she's deadly and surprisingly so given her fear of the party as early as plaster Mel. However, there's nothing Royce does that Xenobia couldn't do instead with one exception: working with Nash to find singers but a simple rewrite for that is that he reports directly to Ghaleon or even Lemia when Xenobia is impersonating her. Meaning the scenes giving away Nash is up to something would come in Vane the first time you get there instead of beginning with one interaction at black rose street and the scene with Royce muttering about Luna being the one in the Meribian sewers could have been held off with perhaps Nash telling Lemia or Ghaleon about Luna himself and being found out by the party. Her character is also incredibly shallow and very poorly developed into anything but a cruel, fortune telling, annoyance to the party. I would recommend that Xenobia not be split up into multiple characters but Phacia is an excellent character who gets decent development especially once you hit the Frontier. She actually has a role to play in the story and in many ways helps temper Xenobia's evil and cruelty. The best way to handle this would be to make Phacia still a character but roll all of Royce and what she does into Xenobia in some way to make Xenobia a better character. Xenobia could curse the party in Althena's fortress and be the boss of that dungeon with Ghaleon being the only boss in the goddess tower as one change if Royce is taken out. Also the romance element between Ghaleon and Xenobia should be played up and given screen time before the last dungeon of the game if it is to be included in any meaningful way.

*Ghaleon's motivations don't seem as compelling as they should be since one of his major motivations for doing what he's doing isn't given directly in game in a non optional scene: his jealousy of Dyne and Althena. Ghaleon's jealousy of Althena and Dyne's love for each other is not covered well and really what Dyne and Althena had is only really alluded to several times in the main story, it isn't shown with flashbacks or said outright except perhaps the way Althena looks at Dyne before she becomes Luna. Also why Ghaleon turns psychotically and villainously evil when you get to Quark's lair and in all his appearances before the long scene before the final fight when he's suddenly a well intentioned extremist is not covered well except the assumption that power corrupts and Ghaleon was being corrupted by all the power he wielded. The final scene before fighting Ghaleon is also kind of meta since Ghaleon assumes the party knows about Althena and Dyne for some reason. Ghaleon's misguided extremism also kind of falls flat since his comments lead you to believe the last 15 years have been horrible for the world of Lunar and that all humans are bastards but by this point you have explored the entire world and found out things are going on pretty well except for fears of the magic emperor and a militant Vile Tribe. Also a number of people, even common townsfolk, have been decent throughout the adventurer showing this can't be a setting where all humans are bastards. This makes him into an extremist whose position is not very rational from the perspective of the player but given the Lunar universe, especially what happened on the Blue Star, the reasons why the dragonmasters had to exist throughout history again and again to save the world, and why the four heroes had to save the world, Ghaleon would seem to have one hell of a point for his extremism if another catastrophe came along. Also if Zophar was even alluded to in this game it would instantly give Ghaleon's quest a sense of legitimacy since maybe humanity does need a god to protect them from the dark god(s). Lucia herself who is a good deity would agree with that logic at this point. Also Ghaleon thinks that it is cruelty to allow Althena's creations to try and make it on their own but the game never presents Althena as a terribly near deity to her world anyway in the sense that she fixes all the problems. The fact there are dragons and dragonmasters is testament to this. Althena allows people to claim some of her power to save the world but almost never seems to actively save it herself. At Ghaleon's time dragons and dragonmasters still existed and people could wield some of Althena's power in the form of spells, litanies, goddess statues and such so it makes no sense that Ghaleon would assume the world needed an Althena that was intimately involved in her creation, who never seemed to exist in the first place. Given the way the setting is fleshed out Ghaleon would have tried to strive to become a dragonmaster trying to influence the people to see the world his way rather than steal Luna's power since Althena never seemed to be intimately involved to begin with so why does a deity like that need to exist now? Ghaleon's character is also made deeper by optional dialogue with Mia at the game's end and with the fairies in my secret garden. Dialogue that makes the main antagonist deeper in a real way should not be optional and should be written into the main plot somehow. Ghaleon also gets way too little screen time after becoming magic emperor until you get to the top of the Black Dragon fortress. Even then he gets very little screen time until after the illusory magic emperor is defeated in which case he gets two long scenes one before he wipes out the party after the illusory magic emperor is defeated and one right before and after you fight him at the end of the game. The problem with having more screen time before Luna is revealed as Althena is that Ghaleon is only going to play the part of a psychotically evil person with bad reasons for doing what he's doing anyway. More of that could be fun but isn't necessary. The real issue is Ghaleon gets very little screen time when its finally revealed why he's doing what he's doing and his dialogue at that point does not reflect the world he lives in and makes him into a caricatured "Hobbes was right!" style ruler.

*The epilogue in Meribia is a wonderful idea that really ties up almost all the loose ends and finishes out the story quite well. Phacia and the vile tribe get treatment, Tempest and Fresca, Kyle and Jessica along with Mel, Laike, Mia and Nash along with Lemia and the talking with townspeople is still humorous and even insightful about Ghaleon, Althena, and where things may go.
Last edited by Lathaine on Tue Mar 24, 2015 8:49 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Alunissage
Goddess
Posts: 6998
Joined: Thu Dec 26, 2002 10:31 am
Contact:

Re: Analysis for Lunar SSSC (spoilers)

Postby Alunissage » Fri Nov 18, 2011 1:19 am

I had to skim a lot of this because this much text gives me a headache. But here's a quick analysis of your analysis:

1) You say you don't see this sort of thing on the web. Have you ever read a game review, or a messageboard?

2) Rather than "analysis", it would be more realistic to call this "How I think this game should be remade to accommodate my personal playing style and preferences." Seriously, you think the dungeons run the party out of MP? A lot of us don't use magic in regular battles. Rare accessories and items are terrible game design and require faqs? The only one I missed was one that depended on a question with two plausible answers; the rare items and bromides reward you for talking to all NPCs after all events rather than bulling through the story. Needing to use the dragonfly wing "bug"? It's not a bug, it's perfectly possible to play through the Crystal Tower without it (as I did), and it even makes story sense. The Hag's Forest is too long? Wha?

In short, you're being extremely subjective and limited by your own experiences. This is exactly the sort of thing people used to send WD thinking that they developed the game, by the way.

Lathaine
Iluk Crackpot
Posts: 30
Joined: Thu Oct 06, 2011 4:41 pm
Location: Orlando

Re: Analysis regarding Lunar SSSC (spoilers)

Postby Lathaine » Fri Nov 18, 2011 5:20 am

Alunissage wrote:
I had to skim a lot of this because this much text gives me a headache. But here's a quick analysis of your analysis:


Sorry, I never imagined that the paper would get this long. When I started I figured it'd be 1/3 or at most half this length. Its also something I imagined some Lunar nerds would enjoy which is why I posted it here but this is mainly meant to be something for me to learn how to design a stellar RPG by seeing what I think Lunar did so well and areas where it could be improved. I plan on training to be a producer in the video game industry after I get my current Masters (or two I'm thinking) to give me stuff to fall back on should I burn out periodically which is common in the video game industry which averages 5 year stretches between burn out. My goal would be to work on RPGs eventually after I work on some games, sadly likely with EA, to give me credentials. The goal is to work on RPGs developed by western companies as a producer, possibly game designer but I haven't chosen what specialty of producer I'll be yet, which are increasingly taking ideas from JRPGs but still allow branching paths for the plot, which is something I personally enjoy.

Alunissage wrote:
1) You say you don't see this sort of thing on the web. Have you ever read a game review, or a messageboard?


Oh yes I know and tried to find something like this and I looked around the internet for something like this but found nothing that is still posted if anyone ever went to this much trouble to break apart the game. Reviews tend to be high vantage point summaries unlike this which is spolier laden and gets into the nitty gritty points. In addition, normally the rest of the comments on the game I've seen have been about one or two things that someone thought were in error or could be improved or were done spectacularly well (this latter being much harder to find).

Alunissage wrote:
2) Rather than "analysis", it would be more realistic to call this "How I think this game should be remade to accommodate my personal playing style and preferences."

In short, you're being extremely subjective and limited by your own experiences. This is exactly the sort of thing people used to send WD thinking that they developed the game, by the way.


Here you're right and I have changed the name of the thread because of your comments. I didn't foresee how subjective video game analysis is from a design standpoint. Also I never intended this to actually get to any game developer, much less a localization company which could do hardly anything anyway.

I know plenty about game mechanics design since I've been working on such in the pen and paper and table top venue for two years now and I've learned one great way to test a video game combat engine is to test it on table top. Its why I'm very opinionated about how gameplay should be handled since after doing it for a while I've come to see that area as the most objective you can design in a game. At the end of the day its math and algorithms that play out in certain ways for players which is fairly objective as far as I'm concerned. As for art and sound they are very subjective and my subjective opinion as stated is that I rather like Lunar's art style as it is aiming to be retro which isn't bad and is becoming quite common with some RPGs lately. I also just have to admit I liked TSS' music better than SSSC and find it more memorable than the vast majority of the soundtrack we are given in the remake except for the music starting with the Grindery on where SSSC wins the day. However, I should have stated it as such: opinion. As for world design that's something I am very opinionated about since to me the point of an RPG is immersion into a set of characters and a plot and what I tried to do was bring up anything that seemed remotely immersion breaking or which could have led to more immersion. Something I love about good western RPGs lately is that they are creating settings which feel alive and consistent and allow you to get immersed quite easily. Scenario Design is something I know a little about having been an on again off again writer for 7 years and again it is opinion just as all literary analysis can be called opinion cloaked in academic language. Although having designed some games with friends and written much of their scenarios IMO the middle 1/3 of Lunar is not nearly as well done as the last and first 1/3 which is what my comments amount to with ways to rectify this except for some stuff dealing with how to plausibly create a false ending and keep the pace going in the last few dungeons without it seeming like an all out 8-10 hour railroad you notice is a railroad, which happened for me until I noticed I could still explore at most of those game points and it helped take the edge off the railroad as exploration does in almost any game or story. Lastly, I simply pointed out good and bad things I thought about the story using my limited experience as a writer. However, not being a published one, yet I'm working on it, I generally left it at the point of me saying what is done well and done poorly and what could be done but I don't get into specifics since I do not understand how to write a novel that gets published and would feel out of my depth trying to say what specifically has to be done except for the 3 witches since the solution to that problem I have seems pretty obvious even to me.

Alunissage wrote:
Seriously, you think the dungeons run the party out of MP? A lot of us don't use magic in regular battles. Rare accessories and items are terrible game design and require faqs? The only one I missed was one that depended on a question with two plausible answers; the rare items and bromides reward you for talking to all NPCs after all events rather than bulling through the story. Needing to use the dragonfly wing "bug"? It's not a bug, it's perfectly possible to play through the Crystal Tower without it (as I did), and it even makes story sense. The Hag's Forest is too long? Wha?


OK I see a number of issues with the game that I have in what you just said. First off, if the best tactic is almost always to just use the attack function for all characters (cane attacks for Mia and Nash) then I have a really hard time seeing the combat system as innovative or terribly fun even for the year 1998. That may have worked in 1992 since lets face it Lunar came out around the time FF 4 came out meaning the set up it has was pretty genius for the time. However, I found using magic in almost every combat starting with Lyton Shrine to be a great idea and one that the game tries to get you to do since canes stop giving an auto attack at that point. Also with the restoration point in the red dragon cave why wouldn't you go all out in almost every battle? I would have liked it had the game had a bevy of in standard combat spells to use and was structured to allow you to do so since the positioning of the enemies for being victims of area of effect attacks and their elemental weaknesses and strengths made that option still feel very strategic and was more fun than simply having Mia and Nash use their canes to attack.

Also I don't know about you but without a gamefaq I would have had a difficult time getting the Gale ring (although Ghaleon's tear is pretty easy to get) and in reference to the Hell ring and most of the bromides I would have almost no chance of getting them. I mean come on to get one of Jessica's bromides you have to go to Kyle's bed and examine it right after he battles the vile tribe in Nanza but before you talk to him, when he's standing almost next to you waiting for a conversation. Another one of her bromides requires you go back form Lann island before beating Zoc and talk to a villager who has new dialogue. Also after playing numerous games nowadays which require massive pointless backtracking for some nice cut scenes I have grown weary of that mechanic and almost always use a gamefaq between dungeons nowadays to help me find cool optional scenes I could easily miss. I find that poor design. Really I blame Star Ocean and Tales of Phantasia for starting this trend and the Tales and Star Ocean series have really run with it. And as a note, I'm the kind of person who does go back regularly to talk with npcs to see if their dialogue has changed. The fact npc dialogue does not change in almost any city throughout the game after the Marius zone is started except after major events that happen in a given city you're in until Ghaleon becomes magic emperor, Alex becomes dragomaster, or the Grindery shoots down Vane really limits the desire to talk to all the npcs again for dialogue I have already gotten looking for that handful of changes. I see that as poor design, much worse in many contemporary games but I would like it not to be in one of my favorite games of all time and one of my key points was pointing out that going back and talking to people after those major events to re-explore was awesome but not even alluded to in the non optional scenes which is sad given how much cool dialogue you get for going against the written scenario and going off to explore. Which is something I detest having seen it so much.

Also yes the crystal spire could be done without the bug but I found it to be just right in terms of difficulty with the bug and so hard that I avoided most combats and did not explore the whole dungeon without it especially since you lack a healer and shouldn't allow enemies to get attacks off on you because of this. Also the hag's forest is very short if all you want to do is get to the hag and back to Saith but if you want to explore the whole dungeon, which is a good idea to level up for the Saline Slimer, then I found it to be an almost 40-45 minute fetch quest dungeon.

With all that said, now that I've ripped apart the game to see what I like and what I think could be improved I feel more confident in looking at this analysis to see what general game design rules I might be able to extract from this project in relation to games I would want to work on.
Last edited by Lathaine on Tue Mar 24, 2015 8:51 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Alunissage
Goddess
Posts: 6998
Joined: Thu Dec 26, 2002 10:31 am
Contact:

Re: Subjective analysis regarding Lunar SSSC (spoilers)

Postby Alunissage » Fri Nov 18, 2011 11:20 am

OK, that gives a bit more context to what you're thinking of. I still generally disagree with you, but at least I know where you're coming from now.

Regarding battles, I forget whether you mentioned the range aspect of them. This really is key, far more than whether or not you use magic! I was absolutely shocked when I first saw FF7 and FF8 and saw the characters jump forward, attack, and jump back -- where's the strategy in that? And it seems to still be pretty common outside of SRPGs. It slightly made up for SSSC's remarkably boring magic, the most limited of all of the Lunar games except Dragon Song. Honestly, how often did you really want to hear "Check this out!"?

You know that the nutty trigger for Jess's Bromide 2 is a bug, right? The flag got set on the wrong line of dialogue from the boatman; it was supposed to be triggered by talking to him at a different point in the game. As for Jess's Bromide 4 being really obscure, that's not a surprise -- it was one of the three that was added to the Saturn MPEG version (which was then ported to PlayStation), so a number of the players would already be familiar with the original Saturn release and finding the other bromides would not be a challenge. I'm pretty sure those were the only two bromides I missed.

I still think you're missing the point with the triggered rare items. They're not so hard to get that you can't get them without a guide, since they all require simply talking to NPCs long enough to get all their dialogue, then checking in with them before taking a pretty obvious major step in the story. Contrast that to Lunar Legend -- there's a red chest in Ramus's shop which, if I recall correctly, has item A if you open it before event X, item B if you open it after events X and Y, and both A and B if you open it between X and Y. X and Y happen very close together. That one really does require a guide.

Regarding game balance, you may wish to compare SSSC and SSH (assuming you only have the NA releases). You presumably know that WD tweaked the monster stats in SSSC, so SSH, which kept the same stats from the original, seemed much easier, even before considering that the Arts moves from Legend were added AND the HP/MP refill on level-up. I can look up the specifics of WD's changes, but it was along the lines of decreasing experience and silver awarded by 10%, decreasing enemy HP by a greater amount, and increasing enemy attack. So battles became shorter and more painful, and you needed to do more of them.

Lathaine
Iluk Crackpot
Posts: 30
Joined: Thu Oct 06, 2011 4:41 pm
Location: Orlando

Re: Subjective analysis regarding Lunar SSSC (spoilers)

Postby Lathaine » Fri Nov 18, 2011 4:58 pm

Alunissage wrote:
OK, that gives a bit more context to what you're thinking of. I still generally disagree with you, but at least I know where you're coming from now.


Sorry I didn't put in the context. Although this has taught me that from now on whenever I do a critique of a game in any way I'll include my stand point and biases since people really do need those to understand why my subjective opinion is as it is. Hmmm really a lot of game reviewers could stand to do that, just surprised I didn't see it sooner. I'm also intrigued by what you in general disagree with me on since I would like to know other view points considering you're part of the audience I'd try to be designing game for to begin with. Hmmm maybe that's a great non Lunar general thread to start: what are things you like to see in RPGs and things you don't like to see? Where would you like the genre to go? What are your 5 favorite RPGs and why?

Alunissage wrote:
Regarding battles, I forget whether you mentioned the range aspect of them. This really is key, far more than whether or not you use magic! I was absolutely shocked when I first saw FF7 and FF8 and saw the characters jump forward, attack, and jump back -- where's the strategy in that? And it seems to still be pretty common outside of SRPGs. It slightly made up for SSSC's remarkably boring magic, the most limited of all of the Lunar games except Dragon Song. Honestly, how often did you really want to hear "Check this out!"?


LOL...yeah I got really tired of "check this out!" by the three hundredth time :roll: . Great comment by the way and yes I don't specifically mention positioning hardly at all, which is an oversight on my part I'll rectify. It is one of the things that makes combats so much better for the melee in the game and really sets Lunar apart from games of equivalent quality with their turn based battle systems like Chrono Trigger or FF6.

Alunissage wrote:
You know that the nutty trigger for Jess's Bromide 2 is a bug, right? The flag got set on the wrong line of dialogue from the boatman; it was supposed to be triggered by talking to him at a different point in the game. As for Jess's Bromide 4 being really obscure, that's not a surprise -- it was one of the three that was added to the Saturn MPEG version (which was then ported to PlayStation), so a number of the players would already be familiar with the original Saturn release and finding the other bromides would not be a challenge. I'm pretty sure those were the only two bromides I missed.


Thanks for the info. Didn't know Jess bromide 2 was a bug and that more bromides were added to the Saturn MPEG version. Situations like that where a game gets redone almost always mean that the extras will be harder to get (as in have a guide) and if its an optional boss will be almost impossible to kill, which I am so glad Lunar avoids.

Alunissage wrote:
I still think you're missing the point with the triggered rare items. They're not so hard to get that you can't get them without a guide, since they all require simply talking to NPCs long enough to get all their dialogue, then checking in with them before taking a pretty obvious major step in the story. Contrast that to Lunar Legend -- there's a red chest in Ramus's shop which, if I recall correctly, has item A if you open it before event X, item B if you open it after events X and Y, and both A and B if you open it between X and Y. X and Y happen very close together. That one really does require a guide.


Yeah maybe that's true and you're right but I'm not admitting it entirely quite yet. Lunar does at least have a logical way of getting its rare items as you've said. Figuring out to go talk to Damon just before the Grindery is a bit unlikely but then again the Hell ring is probably the best accessory in the game. Lunar at least does things in a way which is not trying to hide the item from you seemingly purposefully like so many more RPGs since then which require guides to find the rare items. The exceptions are the few really hard to find bromides but you covered those and the purposefully hidden chests which I think is stupid since from party PoV they are blatantly obvious to see and its kind of an immersion breaker since you know you're playing a game with cheesy level designers when that happens. Apart form that though Lunar does a pretty good job and is much better than most RPGs in this context. Although I would have liked some reasons in the scenario or just hints alluded to or stated in the course of the non optional dialogue that suggest you go back and re-explore after the two major events which change global dialogue: becoming dragonmaster and after Vane is blown out of the sky.

Alunissage wrote:
Regarding game balance, you may wish to compare SSSC and SSH (assuming you only have the NA releases). You presumably know that WD tweaked the monster stats in SSSC, so SSH, which kept the same stats from the original, seemed much easier, even before considering that the Arts moves from Legend were added AND the HP/MP refill on level-up. I can look up the specifics of WD's changes, but it was along the lines of decreasing experience and silver awarded by 10%, decreasing enemy HP by a greater amount, and increasing enemy attack. So battles became shorter and more painful, and you needed to do more of them.


Wow I didn't know WD messed with the difficulty so much, I know they tweaked things but sounds like they created a completely different dynamic. Then again I am fairly unimpressed with what I saw in SSH, I don't own the game though since I dislike handhelds. That's because it looks to be so much easier than the American version of SSSC, which wasn't terribly difficult with its battles to begin with. I've watched battles in the white dragon cave for SSH and am thinking of watching all the boss battles on youtube. Though from the battles and bosses on youtube I've seen SSH looks much easier than SSSC although I would like to have crawled through a dungeon in SSH but the redone dungeon designs really bug me and that alone could turn me off. I did mention that the Lunar: EB dungeons seemed to be the best in the series and I find it regrettable that their style of design wasn't used for SSSC. Healing up on level up I thought was an adequate fix to people conserving their MP too much, but I would have liked something a little bit more elegant but then again its something that works so I should at least be thankful for that.

Thanks Alunissage you are proving to be fairly um...sagelike when it comes to Lunar :)


Return to “Lunar: Silver Star Story (Complete)”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests