Lunar 2 Review with Fan Fiction

For discussion of Lunar: Eternal Blue, the remake of Lunar 2 for Saturn/Playstation and all its translations
Lathaine
Iluk Crackpot
Posts: 30
Joined: Thu Oct 06, 2011 4:41 pm
Location: Orlando

Lunar 2 Review with Fan Fiction

Postby Lathaine » Thu Mar 27, 2014 9:54 pm

Lunar 2 Lessons Learned

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.


Sound:

*The musical score is rather nice but really needs full orchestration and the middle sections of many songs such as Ghaleon's theme and Jean's theme should be heard more regularly since they make rather simple songs into well composed arrangements.


Gameplay:

*Players should not be required to full clear dungeons to keep their levels up, a rebalancing of the dungeons where grinding monsters is made easier by completionism in earlier dungeons is desired and of course bosses should not change in difficulty by being reliant as they are in Lunar SSSC on the party’s level for their power level

*Starting with two attacks for melee attackers is genius as it makes battles feel faster and more furious even with just one character

*Having the standard choice in the battle menu be command instead of AI is genius

*Ruby actually being able to do serious damage to early monsters makes her more endearing and useful. As well as the revenge function she has should Hiro be hurt.

*I like how there are heavy hitters like Gwyn and agile attackers like Hiro in this game. It makes melee feel more diverse and requires more thought when using formation and actions.

*Having dagger type weapons have more attacks than swords but deal less damage is genius and should have been played up more with more equipment options for Hiro that can be dagger related. Honestly, why is Hiro using big swords when he seems more like the cloak and dagger type as he's much more the rogue.

*It would be nice if Ronfar should be balanced combat wise a little differently. He seems like a heavy hitter like Gwyn but lacks Gwyns higher damage numbers compared to Hiro and Ronfar is less useful in melee than Jessica in SSSC, which is the minimum that should be allowed. Also given Ronfar’s severe combat weaknesses compared to Hiro and his ridiculously short range. Ronfar should do 40-50% more damage than one of Hiro's attacks and have a crit potential through the roof seeing he is mister lucky. This means that beyond his attack magic he would be more useful in combat, which is good considering his MP is better used on healing spells.

*Lucia usually does smart tactics for herself until Zulan given her near execution. The main thing I would change would be that she only escapes if one person dies, she always guards, and she always casts a spell at bottom of initiative depending on what happened. If she was not attacked then she casts Magic Shield and if she was attacked she retributions the last monster who attacked her with Napalm Shot.

*Lucia should have been someone you could control as soon as you dealt with her issues at Zulan. Her infinite MP isn't that bad as long as she lacks healing spells and it would make it feel like she's more a part of the party. Also if Lucia does have healing spells why is between battle healing a problem at all for Ronfar if Lucia cares about her friends?

*Jean starting out as a ranged attacker is great to spice up the party composition in normal battles.

*The items that prock at the end of a turn don't prock if you kill everything in the first round, which is odd and reduces such items real effectiveness. Items should always prock at the end of combat.

*The auto upgrading of spells in this game from weaker to stronger versions shouldn't happen. Instead the more powerful spells should just be added to that character's spell list as the weaker spell versions can be tremendously useful in dungeons to save mp.

*Hiro and Jean should have 3 attacks at roughly the same time in the game with Hiro maybe having the 3rd attack during the white or blue dragon caves. Jean outdoes him in damage and utility for quite a while currently and then suddenly drops off as you get to Zophar's domain and the epilogue, Ronfar also takes way too long to get 2 attacks. That said by the time you take on Zophar Jean should be sporting 4 attacks and Ronfar 3 attacks. Leo will be outshone by Hiro once he gets Althena's sword in the epilogue and Leo should get 3 attacks early in the epilogue to compensate, possibly getting his 3rd attack before taking on Zophar.

*The power of poe sword, blue dragon palm, and flash cut damage goes down significantly in the epilogue. As the number of standard attacks increases their usefulness decreases and they should be linked in attack power to the number of attacks you have to keep them relevant.

*The initial dungeon design is quite well done in regards to the first dungeon where you learn the ropes, the blue spire, the Destiny, and the Illusion Forest. I especially like the blue spire design as it is one of the best dungeons in the game.

*The mansion is a nasty dungeon that is too difficult and gives no clues to the upcoming boss battle. The Magic Masher also has too many hit points. You need to actively conserve MP in the mansion to beat it and even then you'll use a starlight on Ronfar which is a bad idea in a dungeon where the enemies are strong against physical attacks and weak against magic ones, which means you'll think you should use magic. The best way to get rid of this problem is to either lower the Masher's hit points and make it consistent with going in half cocked on all characters or by having a restore point, possibly a Goddess Statue in the mansion for luxury's sake.

*The Mystic Ruins are well made and last just long enough with interesting battles. Although why the game in Nota says there is undead there is beyond me as this setting lacks undead and the enemies are constructs. Although I'd lower the number of dark knights in the treasure rooms since 2-3 seems a bit much with 1-2 being a better idea.

*Starting with Zulan there is no real weakness in the dungeon design. When they need a restore point for a big fight there is the ability to have one such as in Zulan or Meribia's sewers. Taben's Peak isn't too long or too short and the dragon kid parts are pretty nifty. The cave of trial is also not poorly designed given its role as a speed bump. My only beef with the dungeons is not how they are made but instead their place in the scenario design as I go into into that section. Of course this solid design ends rather nastily at the white dragon cave.

*It has become clear by Azado that the game is far, far too restrictive with giving out crests and accessories. Given there are two slots for each there should be enough for the entire party to start really customizing themselves by Meribia at the latest. Also Vane of all places should sell crests and accessories which isn't the case.

*The Water Ruins Forest is designed poorly by making you fight several fights where you have to go all out and then stopping suddenly. This just adds to the need to get rid of the dungeon aspect of the ruins altogether given its really just an annoying combat speed bump.

*The fact you have to use the Goddess Statues in Azado multiple times and then fight a boss at the end shows that that the whole dungeon is simply too long and should be truncated with fewer battles. I enjoyed the difficulty of the battles though but did not like their frequency.

*Pentagulia is well designed and well balanced. I really enjoyed that dungeon.

*The White Dragon Cave is a slap in the face after Pentagulia. It is easily the longest dungeon so far in the game even beating Pentagulia after you include the time spent fighting the boss in addition to the enemies being less lethal than just plain annoying. I mean why do the Shiro Mongrels need a paralyze effect given their speed? Their ranged attack should remain but it should poison people instead since that makes more sense for heaving up your guts at someone like they do. Also the enemies would have been much better handled and the dungeon made shorter if the party was able to use magic the whole way through. Here the problem becomes the boss. At least the boss is highlighted as a boss before battling it so there is no surprise but without a restoration point before it to get back hp and mp it boils down to using a lot of starlights expensively, or going into the fight half cocked which only works if you know about the dispel tricks Lemina can do, or just leave the dungeon to get hp and mp back and then fight back down without using magic. In any case its a bad surprise for the player and before the boss there should be a restoration point to make things easier and the dungeon should be a little shorter ~45 minutes instead of ~65 minutes before the boss. Although the boss was a very interesting battle due to his use of buffs and zone effects which made the battle all the more interesting and nice to fight.

*The one on one battles like the one with Leo and Lunn are really easy and formulaic. Use best single target attack over and over and heal occasionally with a healing nut. At least Jean has the dopple dance if you're crafty to mix things up.

*The Blue Dragon Cave is little better than the White Dragon Cave. Instead of a large dungeon with a huge amount of annoying enemies you now get a large dungeon with a huge amount of easy enemies that would be even easier if you could only use magic regularly. yet if you do so you run into the trilemma in the white dragon cave all over again. Also as with the white fiend the blue fiend is at least given away so you can prepare but without a restoration point the white fiend trilemma comes up again. Although the battle was probably too easy since the blue fiend has a very limited repertoire of actions: area attack that mutes (which is annoying if you aren't careful with formation), zone attack that creates water element (the most interesting ability), zone wind attack (why doesn't the white fiend have wind too I wonder), and healing itself (which it rarely does).

*The bombs in the Zaback mines should give you there exp even if they suicide detonate against you. Their damage is enough of a hassle.

*In the Neo Cave of Trial the Dark Lords should give much more exp due to their tremendous lethality, greater than that of anything else in the dungeon. The Scream Spheres should give more exp and be much slower so that their zone mute can be stopped more easily. Also none of these enemies in the game should ever be strong against Lucia's raw divine destruction magic as is the case with several creatures.

*The Black Dragon Cave is very well done if a bit too long. The monsters are weak against physical attacks which means you can conserve your mp for the boss and no monsters seemed overpowered, although the zombies seemed too weak but then again they are designed to be a real pain if not killed fast. The only real quibble with the dungeon is that it takes an hour to get through to the fiend which I believe is too long especially given the upcoming dungeon swarm as the game climaxes. The black fiend is a very rough battle, which is a nice change of pace but one attack is over the top. That is the one which damages the whole party and has a chance of paralyzing everyone. It should still exist but in an area of effect way instead of a zone spell. Also as with the previous fiends the black fiend is at least given away so you can prepare for it. Although this fiend at least allows for no real need for a restoration point due to the nature of the monsters even without a restoration point which avoids the white dragon fiend trilemma problem. Although since I am advocating restoration points in all those other dragon caves it only makes sense to have one in this one.

*Serak Palace finally gives good exp which is great and was challenging to boot, which most of the dungeons up till now have not been. The enemies were very powerful and the use of strategy was a definite plus to get through the dungeon. My only two problems are that it is a bit long and that there are way too many enemies given the dungeon's size. However, both of these can be fixed quite easily by just lowering the enemy count. Mauri's Id is a very interesting monster and given the nature of the story segments can be quite variable in its power for the final encounter, which I see as an interesting thing to do.

*The Red Dragon Cave is a bit too long and the enemies seem more like obstacles than threats considering their survivability and the lack of any really dangerous enemy types. Really this dungeon is no better than the blue dragon cave which gave a ton of easy enemies while this one gives a ton of not really lethal but very hard to kill enemies. It felt like yet another speed bump in the game's story. Also, the blood slimes should be slower in initiative and be more clumped so Lemina can take them out with area of effects especially since the only thing that seems to really hurt them is water/ice magic. This cave would probably go a lot faster if you could actually really go all out with magic regularly, especially given the annoyance that are the blood slimes that are all wiped out with one ice zone spell. However, if you do use lots of magic you run into the white fiend trilemma in the white dragon cave all over again. I will say that the steep exp rise for battles is certainly a plus. As with all the previous fiends the red fiend is at least given away on the dungeon map so you can prepare although running into it in the middle of a floor full of monsters seems a less than ideal idea since one could barge right into the thing if not careful. The fiend was really very easy, probably the easiest so far, with the most predictable repertoire of abilities: attack, buff, or use massive fire element attack. Only the latter was actually interesting since it could KO party members if not at full hp and required a zone dispel afterwards. However, it does this maybe twice in the whole battle and all in all the fight was a disappointment after the very challenging black fiend.

*The length of Althena's Fort is way too long at 90 minutes just to get to the Goddess Tower. The saving grace is the goddess tower is maybe 8 minutes after Fake Althena is beaten. Also, Althena's Fort seems intended to push your MP to its limits and force you to actually use some starlights just to get through the dungeon, which isn't bad, but then again it would be nice to know there is a restoration point waiting for you should there be a boss fight. My solution is to do this by making it a habit to have restoration points before bosses as standard dungeon design. The Fort does have a nice number of enemies per floor with maybe 1 or maybe 2 enemy groups per arena box. One change that is needed is that the plasma mirror's secondary attack is way too powerful and can one shot most people in the party. Having the attack do 125-150 damage on average instead of 225-250 would help things out a bit especially when taking on four mirrors at the same time. That said the goddess statue before the Goddess Tower is genius in a way since you can finally use your magic in the Fort, which you need to, but the problem is this game has practically beat into you to not using magic in dungeons so using magic, which is required to beat some of the enemies, will likely not be your first choice unless you know of the restoration point. Lastly, Fake Althena is either way too easy if you are level 50+ allowing you to defeat her on the fourth round before her insta kill attack hits or she is ridiculously difficult if you are not power leveled. Unfortunately most of her abilities aren't much to talk about. Her defense increase is pathetic, her throw staff is easily cured with Tranquil Litany, her poison attack is just an annoyance, her single target sphere attack is only dangerous should it hit a low Def character like Lemina or Lucia who should be in back. She only has one serious attack which is her last one, which can easily wipe several party members in one go causing the battle to become a race against time before she uses that attack again to wipe the rest of the party. The fact that if you don't want to go into hectic battle mode you MUST use white dragon protect on that round is poor design since she doesn't power up or give any cues such power is about to be unleashed save her shoulder snakes going wild that round. Really to mix it up the poison attack should probably induce paralyze instead, she could have an attack that poisons everyone, her throw staff can stay, her Def increase should be substantial given Jean and Hiro are the two main attackers and use physical attacks, and her single target attack should be an insta kill. I would remove the line insta kill attack and buff her HP so the battle is difficult. Lastly, it should be very difficult to have the level 50+ abilities, especially triple strike, when fighting her so that the battle doesn't seem extremely easy. As in the only way to be level 50+ is to intentionally power level. Now these abilities are key against Zophar the next boss but honestly I'd just reward them when the party's true power is unleashed battling Ghaleon or by making the enemies in Zophar's domain drop gobs of exp practically assuring the party will be level 50+ by the time you fight Omni Zophar.

*Ghaleon is far too easy when he goes all out but I cover this in more detail in the Story section.

*Zophar's domain’s first half has pretty solid monsters, battles, and great exp. The only change would be replacing the mecha stars with something organic since Zophar is a fan of bio horror. The snatchers are clearly great for this. The second half is too easy except the fiend gates, which are suitably powerful, given they are the rare enemy in the last dungeon. The mace mashers don't do very much damage and given Zophar's theme should have been something suitably organic. The exp also goes way down in the 2nd half for some reason and the elemental seeds are pathetic. I would make them more interesting by having them be strong against all forms of attacks, including physical, and weak against their weak element as in they get 1 shot if a spell of their weak element hits. This would have made the numerous seed battles far more interesting, but to do this would likely mean putting a restoration point at the half way or end point of the dungeon so running out of MP completely doesn't leave the party in big trouble given mp restoration items should be saved for Zophar.

*Now If Zophar is going to have two forms then the first form should at least be a real threat. I can understand that Zophar would take a diminished form so he could travel around the world and exalt in his dominion so I see no real plot hole here. However, the weakness of the form is what surprises me. Only 4 attacks that are in a pre set sequence make for a rather dull fight which seems more like a speed bump than anything else especially given the huge jump in hp from Ghaleon to Zophar. Zophar's single target laser attack can be easily healed, his zone attack is easily healable, why he even has an area arrack that does roughly the same damage is unknown given its plain weaker, his strike that mutes a character is a rather nice ability but it should have done more damage. Really Zophar in his first form just seems, well straightforward and underpowered given this is the lesser form, really Avatar, of a dark god. Some ideas to fix this would be to perhaps give Zophar more status anomaly causing attacks that can cripple the party and to randomize his attacks after the first sequence of them is gone through. One idea may be an area of effect paralyze attack that deals serious damage. Also Ronfar should always be the one muted with the mute attack Zophar does to show Zophar isn't a dunce. His single target laser should also likely kill a party member outright and his zone attack should be brutal causing slightly more damage than can be healed with tranquil litany putting in a new layer of worry in the mix over the course of the battle. The 2nd form was well done seeing Zophar is tapping Lucia's power and using her spells to play with the party now that his Avatar is destroyed. It seemed futile at first, gave time for set up for the next form, and had good bits of story. The 3rd form is an epic battle suitable for a last boss but going straight for the main body to kill it before any of the four arms and end the battle quickly should have a major penalty to it such as more vicious attacks should the head be at half hp or lower with less than 2 arms down. Another idea would be that attacking the head takes hp away from one or more of the arms until they are weaker, maybe half hp, but still alive. Thus to beat Zophar you have to beat at least half the combined hp of all his arms and the head's hp. Also the battle in its current form is way too damn hard if you don't abuse white dragon protect, which is what I did to make the battle really epic but not horrifyingly difficult. Without spamming white dragon protect the battle becomes less really epic and more just too damn hard especially with so many attacks in a round coming from Zophar. The 4th form was cool in that it gave more story and allowed the battle to end with a denouement. It was also a good idea to not have too many cut scenes after beating Zophar so you can be in Vane and save your game now that its been well over an hour of playing to beat Zophar.

*Lemina's spells become less and less useful as the game advances starting with Zophar's domain and continuing through the epilogue. The only spell of real power if the enemy does not have a major elemental weakness is Catastrophe which is MP intensive to say the least. Also major elemental weaknesses are pretty rare starting with Zophar's domain and often unless you use the Chiro crest and Goddess crest combo Lemina will act long after her spells would have been moderately useful.

*The Brave Labyrinth is absolutely unnecessary. The dungeon has stupidly powerful enemies in the living swords and lady charm that make Zophar's baddest guys look weak. Lady charm herself is a major problem since she can one shot a party if you allow her to do her standard attack. The dungeon relies on chance or a gamefaq to figure out the second puzzle involving the statues, and has an unheard of in the setting magic item boss that is more powerful than Ghaleon. It also adds nothing to the game other than the chance to do a dungeon of which there are plenty in the epilogue. Also the magic item you get is game breakingly powerful and seems designed specifically to be that way. To be frank, I do not like the idea of optional dungeons in this game. The narrative does not support such down time. In the SCD version I knew there were serious issues with having Lion's Head and Dragon's Nest available since they were best done as you were in a rush to save the world before Zophar revived which is not a good time to do miscellaneous dungeon exploration. The optional epilogue dungeons are no better since Hiro is rushing to be with the woman he loves. The fact none of the four optional epilogue dungeons adds hardly anything to the game except magic items and dungeon crawling, of which there is plenty with the three non optional dungeons, causes me to fail to see their inclusion as a good thing at all.

*The Lost Labyrinth was an annoying dungeon if you don't have a gamefaq, has enemies far more powerful than in Zophar's domain, and on top of all this only gives Alex's Ocarina which allows access to BGM. The dungeon, though not Alex’s Ocarina, isn't even hinted at in any of the towns and thus should be taken out of the game.

*Lions Head is one of the worst dungeons I have ever crawled through. The enemies are monstrously powerful really way too powerful since to actually beat them you have to go through tons of starlights, the dungeon is too long, has a boss more annoying than dangerous, and gives almost no good loot. I am convinced that the brave labyrinth, lost labyrinth, and lion's head should be taken out and without them the idea of an optional dungeon becomes a bad one and thus perhaps dragon's nest should be taken out as well. This despite the fact of all the optional dungeons I believe dragon's nest is the best. It has a dungeon design that feels like its a maze making it better than most dungeons in this game in terms of design, its suitably long but not too long, has enemies that are powerful but not too powerful with the exception of the harpie's double attack, which should be toned down, gives good exp, and gives great loot. However, the other three dungeons do not deserve to make the final cut and having an optional dungeon is thus weird, but I would like to adapt the dungeon design of Dragon's Nest to another dungeon in the game such as perhaps one of the dragon caves. Though I can see one optional dungeon or two making it into the game but the only one I believe makes the cut is Dragon’s Nest.

*The Dragon Ruins was a solid dungeon. Its enemies were decently powerful but not so powerful you had to use up lots of starlights. The problem with having enemies roughly as powerful as those in the last dungeon of the standard game is something that may need to be addressed but despite this the dungeon's length feels about right, it gives great loot, and allows exploration of an area seen at the very beginning of the game. I do believe there should have been a restoration point before the Phantom Sentry as I have argued in the past for most dungeons since it allows the party to use magic in wandering battles which makes them far more interesting. The Sentry himself is a fairly straightforward boss who has a healable zone attack, an attack buff which can be dispelled, a line attack which does serious damage (I would argue it should do clearly more than the zone attack), and a combo which insta kills the party. I had reservations about the combo but no other enemy does anything like this and I think its a good idea to include such an attack somewhere in the game. Now the real problem is that the Sentry in many ways is as powerful if not a little more so than Zophar's 1st form which seems like a terrible idea for the sake of internal consistency.

*The Water Ruins are a solid dungeon. The difficulty finally feels like that which you found in SSSC, the enemies are varied and powerful, the puzzle is nice, and the loot is great. I'd make the dungeon a floor shorter, likely that final hallway of monsters to the water guardian would be taken out. I do believe there should have been a restoration point before the Water Guardian as I have argued in the past for most dungeons since it allows the party to use magic in wandering battles which makes them far more interesting. The Guardian himself is very damage based but is also very easy. The zone attack which does slightly more damage than you can heal is a good idea, the area lightning attack which does huge damage I believe should have been made into a one member auto kill ability as it has the potential of killing several characters at once if not fully healed. The bubble is a great idea but only lasts one round, it should last two. Something else should have been added such as perhaps a powerful healing ability that also raises Defense. The biggest problem with this boss though is that it is very easy to kill it in 4 rounds. In fact in my play through I decided to go back and retake this boss and even with Hiro being bubbled most of the time it still took 4 rounds to kill the boss. The boss needs far more hp to count as a threat since the abilities it uses seem best for a protracted battle to be most productive for producing a challenging fight.

*The epilogue should aim for 3-4 dungeons at about 1 hour and ten minutes per dungeon after bosses considering that all the exploration, which takes hours, is prior to the dungeons for the most part and the objective should be to give the player a challenge that doesn't wear them down to the point of not wanting to play as the current 7 dungeon scheme does.

*The Star Dragon Tower, which although signifying the final closure of the game, is very long and fairly tedious as the enemies are unlikely to kill you and more likely to just be speed bumps. This is exacerbated by the fact there are so many enemies in this dungeon and the floors are fairly large. The enemies were also not terribly interesting. The mirrors acted so fast that strategies against them were impossible along with being very common and resistant against Lemina's increasingly useless magic, the bomb angels although powerful were rare, the steel sentinels died fast to magic but also died fairly quickly to physical attacks which they should have been strong against, and the creepers were perhaps the best enemy because of their paralyze ability and the fact they had decent amounts of hp. Given this is the last dungeon and that the final boss is a 1 v 1 it seems that it would be best to have a shorter but more brutal dungeon with the enemies made more powerful and more easy to strategize against. The point would be making it so that the party is forced to go all out to win the battles in the tower efficiently. Better to end with a bang than a long whimper. A restoration point before the last boss is something that isn't needed but which I would again argue as I have with past dungeons is a good idea to put in. The Star Dragon himself is an incredibly weak last boss with a bunch of very basic elemental attacks. I took him out in 5 rounds without ever having to heal or replenish MP. I'd make him more deadly and instead of doing elemental attacks I'd probably switch to more Lucia like attacks that are non elemental and therefore not able to resist by Hiro along with upping his hp and making sure his magic attacks do about 1/3 of Hiro's max hp (~150-200 hp per attack) in damage. This would mean that although the battle is fairly straightforward and requires healing items it feels like you worked hard to earn the victory.
Last edited by Lathaine on Fri Sep 25, 2015 7:16 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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

Re: Lunar 2 Extended Review

Postby Lathaine » Fri Mar 28, 2014 12:46 am

World Design:

*An abandoned desert filled with ruins is a very nice way to start the world map for archaeologists like Hiro, Ruby, and Gwyn.

*Larpa being a Las Vegas analogue is hilarious and makes perfect sense for a scoundrel like Ronfar to live in. The feel of the city is expertly given in dialogue and exploration as well as its economy of gambling and fruit exports. The things I would change are having gambling dens to enhance the atmosphere like a casino and a camel racing track. Second, I'd play the town up as a destination for tourists.

*Why is there clergy charging silver for Althena's power in Larpa when anyone can use the Goddess Statue at the entrance?

*Althena's Guard should be more ubiquitous than just Leo's crew and Pentagulia. They would likely be law enforcers for the Goddess in most major towns and their presence should be felt at every temple with Althena's Chosen to at least have the arm of the Goddess': Her Military be world wide and well known.

*Having between town dungeons that are serious threats to people who can go through the blue spire is ridiculous. This should be curbed as much as possible given that byway travel is ubiquitous in setting for all given the world is a lot more homey than in SSSC..

*Dalton should have been bigger with a more distinct feel to it and tradescrafts and shipping given it seems to be an anchor town for a major trade route that Takkar was built for. The conversation with the barkeep in the epilogue about Dalton's history should occur the first time you are in the town as well. Also noting that Leo patrols the Minea sea and has ports of call in Azado, Raculi. and Dalton would be a nice thing to drop to the players. As it stands the town just feels like a waypoint for the Destiny Arc with nothing more than that, which is sad given how more well done Larpa is despite being a boonies town. Also the trade route on land from Dalton to Azado just doesn't make much sense given the world map has Azado a day's boat ride away from Dalton. If anything Azado and Dalton should be trade anchors that feed inland.

*Takkar is nicely placed all things considered for protecting trade but there should be Mercenary Escorts of some stripe to help in the illusion woods at least like with Nanza in SSSC. Although nothing as extreme as Nanza. Although I think one more town would have been a good idea between Nota and Dalton. In addition, Takkar should have had more to do in it than just single dialogue talk to most people and get sent to the mansion. As it is it takes very little time to explore the town and its history is hard to get due to it being part of a multi part tale by the bartender. The town just feels so dull compared to previous ones. Also maybe the town should have mining or some important trade as something to contribute more than just a traveler's waypoint.

*The mansion is poorly laid out since it doesn't seem like a mansion so much as a bunch of hallways under a roof for some damn reason. The mansion should be remade into an actual mansion.

*Nota is a nicely designed city and well placed geographically. It is also big enough to give real exploration, especially when both sides of the city are taken into account. The differences and rivalry between East and West is great as is the Julia Arc.

*The Madoria planes should be larger with less forests. The game makes it seem as if they are huge but they don't turn out to be on the world map. Also having the Carnival as the only "settlement" on the plains is just odd and there should be one more town to explore in this section likely after the Mystic Ruins after Ghaleon saves your lives.

*There is so little linking the SSSC Marius and Stadius zones to this game's world map before you hit SSSC Katarina with Meribia and Vane. Really at least one town or dungeon, other than a dragon cave, per zone of SSSC should have survived.

*This segues to the fact the dragons should not all be clustered on one side of the world map. Part of meeting the dragons was that to do so you had to travel the entire planet to do so meeting everyone and going to every town. That design should have stayed even without the dragonmasters as Althena knew the dragons would be needed for Zophar and would have designed things more like a dragonmaster's quest if for nothing than to fill Lucia in on the whole world she was to save. This can be done quite easily with the White Dragon Cave staying where it is roughly and with Horam staying south of Caldor. In addition, the Blue Dragon Cave is not needed to be right next to Horam and the Black Dragon Cave is not needed to be where Neo Vane is located as Borgan would build there anyway as it is the most secluded part of all of Lunar. The Red Dragon Cave is well placed on the Minea sea. The best way to do the Blue Dragon and Black Dragon Caves is to put the Blue Dragon in Madoria with a town there near it on the planes possibly on the merchant path leaving the Mystic Ruins as an out of the way place all its own. Yet more thought will have to be put into where to put the town for the Blue Dragon Cave of course. I also believe the Black Dragon Cave should be located in Salyan with a Stadius section added maybe starting with the Star Dragon Spire or Takkar so that the zone is important to the dragons and dragonmasters, as Althena would originally design it to be. Salyan should be linked to Raculi better through Dalton since it is just a boat ride away given Salyan is new to the world map in this game. Also Lucia would have to go through Salyan anyway when leaving the blue spire which Althena would know. There is also the issue of the towns guarding these caves. What happened to Lyton and Pao? They were two of the most unique cities in SSSC, served a vital role as keys to the dragons, and probably should have survived in some way. Lyton is not poorly placed if it is the town on the Madoria planes I want to add. Also Pao should likely still be linked to the black dragon in some way and repositioned on the world map to represent this, seeing they are wanderers anyway and 1000 years is a long time given the black dragon could have relocated to someplace else that doesn't seem like a problem. However, despite wantin gto put Pao and the Black Dragon in Salyan, given the scenario design it seems best to put the Black Dragon and Pao between Taben's Peak and Vane or between Vane and Azado.

*The world map is terribly designed near Azado after Nota since a little hike through the woods gets you to your destination if it weren't for a stupid inability to go into forests. A few things need changing. First Nota and Azado should be separated by mountains, not a small forest. Second, forests should be able to be walked in given not all forests will have monsters as SSSC showed.

*The world map is screwed up in East Katarina. The locations should be far closer to how they were left in SSSC, in which case Taben's Peak still blocks Vane.

*Vane's buildings and layout should be a lot closer in floor plan to how they were in SSSC just with lots of fire damage, which is already the case, and areas caved in and collapsed such as the cave of trial if it does not remain. Really, there should at least be some empty magic classrooms in the guild mansion. Although the npc population seems right given that Vane is a shadow of its former glory.

*Azado seems a bit small for a major port city. This is yet another example of making towns too small in this game compared to SSSC's towns. Saith was a bigger town in game than Azado despite the fact Azado is much more important to trade.

*Pentagulia is a large capital style city with an imposing silhouette which is solid for its purpose. Its layout is nice as well.

*The landmass the white dragon cave is on has always seemed too desolate for my tastes. What happened to Caldor Isle? There should be at least one settlement to get gear, talk to people, and make the world on the Western edge of the world map feel less desolate. It should also be linked in some way to Caldor Isle and offer the player some tales of about Alex and Luna that few would ever hear due to the town's remoteness.

*Horam is well located across the sea form either Caldor or Katarina. Why this area on the West from Horam south is still called Katarina is beyond me. It should have its own name. The town is fairly well sized once you explore the dojos, which is nice. Honestly the bunny karate chicks need their own dojo as does the wolf karate, assassin karate, and armadillo karate. The Gale karate, drunken karate, shadow dragon karate already have dojos. The city does need a dock since it is remote and only accessed by sea. Having the city unable to be accessed isn't bad and makes sense given it is the dawn of spring so the icebergs haven't melted yet. The last thing should be that Lunn's military forces that make sure his influence is far and wide should be in the city as well even if he is absent for a long time since this city does fall under his protection.

*Zaback and Neo Vane are well placed at the most remote part of the entire Lunar world map. Borgan could really have created his little society without any interference. However, Zaback having been a well known town in the world of Lunar according to its citizens due to its diamond output is a difficult idea if the town was meant to be completely cordoned off. First, there would have been issues due to having the only real diamond mine Lunar seems to have suddenly disappear which would have caused people to investigate finding out Borgan's evil scheme of remaking society. Neo Vane's location should be a guarded secret at the stage of development Borgan is at since he is still growing his power base. Now Borgan does need lots of raw materials to build Neo Vane but I don't see how a standard ore or coal mining town wouldn't help him do this along with the massive amount of money he gets for being a leader of the Chosen and for producing the world's finest supply of none divinely made magic items. Vane having fallen far behind in the task of making magic items due to its fading glory and lack of real casters. Zaback could have been a fairly important mining town that the Chosen sequestered with little explanation, its remoteness means nothing would likely come of it. Lastly, the idea of mining dragon diamonds by the kilo just seems wrong. If Zaback exists then why isn't there a mine at the red dragon cave, the blue dragon cave, or the white dragon cave? Also why weren't the dragon caves being mined like crazy in SSSC? Why is Alex's dragon diamond so rare if you can just mine such diamonds by the kilo?

*It has become all the more important it seems to make sure the dragon caves have seals on them in some way so that not just anyone can enter. This was done in SSSC because the path of a dragonmaster was a difficult one and the trials challenged and molded the dragonmaster initiate. I do believe that having a town in Caldor watching over the white dragon cave, keeping Serak palace to watch over the red dragon cave, and having towns as mentioned earlier guarding the blue and black cave is all the more important so that not just anyone can wander into one of these caves, which is an unfortunate problem for the heroes and not the villains given it is the bad guys erecting obstacles. Which is nice to do given they would want to limit access to their source of power. However, having the caves have some form of trial to overcome to enter them or complete them seems best.

*Raculi is done quite well. The town should be small given the plague it experienced and it is on the Minea sea which means it is easy to get to by ship linking it with the rest of the world. The only two things I thought were out of place were that first, the best weapon smith in the world is setting up shop here instead of in Meribia or Vane or Neo Vane, which makes no sense and should be altered. The best way to do this is by having all weapons at this point needing to be found in dungeons instead of bought since Neo Vane was the previous city and likely has the best items short of Pentagulia, which is the only place in the world that would likely make better equipment than Neo Vane. Second, the town should be larger in spacial size but with fewer inhabited dwellings and the same number of inhabitants. This would make it seem more in line with a town recovering from a terrible plague that wiped out most people in it. Also having Serak Palace nearby is more than adequate since Mauri would have wanted her base of operations to be close to her hometown and this allows her to command the Guard and Chosen located on the Minea Sea as she seems to have wanted all along.

*Where is the mass of the Fortress of Althena being hidden? Almost the entire upper part of the Fort should be above water level, making it quite tall earlier when you find it, and possibly changing the shape of Pentagulia since the city would be built at the base of Fort's upper section. Also, the water needs to be deeper in the cut scenes to allow the lower part of the Fort to even be covered. In addition, the floor plan of the Fort and Goddess Tower should mimic as closely that of SSSC as possible with some short cuts if need be. SSSC should also foreshadow Lunar 2 by having the magical energy room as part of the dungeon of Althena's Fort but with no explanation as to what it is save that it is clearly powerful and directing energy to the Blue Star.

*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. 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. 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. What time of day it is in a town could be a good 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.

*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.


Scenario Design:

*Starting out in a desert on the edge of the world helps give the game a rugged adventurous quality to it early on.

*The pacing early on is fantastic with big story, exploration, and cinematic rewards for not too much effort. At least until you get to the Mansion which is a way too long a dungeon that kills flow.

*Having a superpowered Lucia slaughter enemies is a great way of showcasing her power and giving you some fun monster killing.

*The unwinnable fight at the Blue Spire is awesome as you can see the Destiny in action.

*I see no reason other than gaining wealth that there are any dungeons other than the Blue Spire and the first desert pass before the Destiny. The first desert pass is well placed away from major trade lanes and introduces us to combat which I would leave it in. The problem is the second desert pass and the back way to Althena's temple seem silly and pointless and they should have been left out and enough money to buy everything you need should have been provided by the Blue Spire with equipment to buy in Larpa with Dalton being the same stuff.

*The Destiny's guards are way underpowered. The privates should probably have an attack pushing 60 and enough hit points that it always takes two rounds to kill them (two poe, one anger dice). This makes them as deadly as an enemy in the Bandit’s Butte. The Captains should be minibosses with different sprites and there should be only two to match the bedrooms. Also there should be 20 soldiers total excluding Leo on the ship given the bedrooms on the Destiny.

*The Twilight Forest for the Star Dragon Tower should not be a pointless dungeon and it breaks the rule of not putting pointless yet setting defining dungeons between towns as that is silly in a travel heavy world. Either there is no point to be low-medium level in Lunar and the Destiny Crew you fight in Dalton is fairly badass by normal standards or the Destiny section is an example of Author Power at work to make things easier than they should be for gameplay purposes. Which is bad scenario writing. The Star Dragon Tower should be ruins you stop at on the way to the Illusion Forest to have story progressing dialogue not a dungeon.

*There should be some easy way through the Illusion woods for most people as having a hidden entrance to even get in makes things silly for non adventurers. Also having regular trade through that corridor, as Takkar shows, makes it necessary that there be someway for normal people to get through the woods. The best fix I can think of is having Hiro and Lucia taking a hidden, harder way through the woods filled with monsters and unknown by most people to avoid detection by Leo who will easily find them on the main path. This leaves in Ronfar's woodsman friend and the dungeon, which is kind of needed with the changes I'm suggesting earlier so that people don't forget this is a classic JRPG since with the previous changes the last true dungeon would have been the blue spire 2+ hours ago. The dungeon is also fairly short and well designed and gives just enough combat to make things interesting.

*Bandits Butte is a terrible dungeon given at the wrong time. After the Mansion and meeting Lemina there should be more progress and a sense of forward momentum after so little real exploration in Takkar. This dungeon worse than any so far breaks suspension of disbelief because the standard monsters are way more powerful than elite Guard on the Destiny. This means merchants from Dalton to Nota in Lunar are better fighters than career soldiers tasked with manning a death machine capable of wiping out two cities before it might be taken out. The mansion should just have had an end part where you climbed down the cliff or by continuing the dungeon as occurred in the Sega CD version of the game. If this latter point were the case the statue in the mansion idea would make the most sense and near the end of the cliffs going down to Madoria after the Mansion the party could camp due to it getting dark to get to know Lemina better. However, this cliff section if put in should be far easier than the section in the Sega CD version of the game and much shorter.

*The Nota to Mystic Ruins Arc is fantastic in that after a long dungeon you get a ton of good story and exploration before the next dungeon after you meet Ghaleon.

*There should be a little more down time between the Mystic Ruins and Zulan. The best way to do this is to have a town after the Ruins in the Madoria plains that is out of the way as suggested earlier which could even be Lyton as suggested earlier. I would personally bring back the town of Lyton but have it warped since SSSC’s era by having it be a place where the Chosen and Guard are powerful and where the Lyton shrine has been purposefully stopped up to stop the town's music that Zophar and his lackeys so hate. Also there could be more dialogue changes in Nota and the Carnival after the Mystic Ruins. Really there should be a reason to go back and check on Giban to see how things went all things considered since Jean would want to go back and check on him after Leo's threats. Giban should also not have gotten off lightly with him and the carnival being punished in some way by Leo.

*Zulan could be made a little bigger as to the number of dwellings (although not too many more npcs are needed).

*You should have gotten more money in the Mystic Ruins to buy all the stuff in Nota and Zulan without grinding in Zulan’s dungeon.

*Zulan's dungeon isn't too long or too short and is handled well apart from the money grinding talked of already. Lucia also gets some wonderful growth and the bit with Maria is really interesting, although Maria should have some anime artwork for her and her family to make the scene where she threatens to leave her baby and join you more impactful.

*Exploring Zulan after the monster is killed and then going off to Meribia and meeting Lunn gives plenty of solid exploration and history. Although it should have been made more clear by talking with Lunn the first go around what your mission was (to go to Taben's Peak) instead of having to talk to Lunn repeatedly. However, that aside you get a good deal of down time followed by a not too long or hard dungeon in Taben's Peak and the good story writing for the dragon kids, Nall, and the shadow dragon cult's attack. Leaving Lucia with the kids was great writing as she gets to learn about being a parent and understand humans better again by getting to know kids. I especially love that she learns to sing again.

*The Meribian sewers should not have been a long dungeon seeing that you already just did Taben's Peak with little real exploration to speak of. Meribia's sewers should have been a shorter affair maybe 3/5 its current size and to make things in line with Ramus' tunnels of terror the enemies should never respawn, with each battle having the large number of enemies present but making them a bit stronger so that they are more of a threat and less of a marathon. The marathon part fails to matter anyway seeing that the boss is right next to the entrance and the enemies are almost entirely pathetically weak the whole dungeon through already. The dungeon should have had a harder boss with the assassin leader Jean talked to as the main boss and 4 lesser assassins helping him. This alone should make the battle more of a boss fight which would be nice by this point in the game considering there hasn't been one since Zulan and this story battle is easily equal to a boss fight story wise. Whether the assassin leader and his lackeys die, which is the current assumption, or is whisked away by Lunn is up to the Story writing.

*There is way too little down time and exploration between Meribia's sewers and the Cave of Trial. Almost all the new dialogue is completely optional as is going back to talk to people at places in your past like Zulan and Nota, which should never be counted as down time due to it being so easily ignored. Ramus should have been someone you talk to after the sewers given his tunnels of terror idea helps build on his chemistry and history with Lemina as well as some necessary dialogue with Meribia's soldiers as explained in the Story section of this document for this section of the game. Going back to Taben's peak was solid but in the end took very little time and gave very little info. Then suddenly you get smacked with Vane and then quickly the lengthy Cave of Trials with no real exploration of Vane until after yet another dungeon, this one feeling like an annoying speed bump. Ideas for what to do about this will require a serious rewrite of the scenario though given the reason you use the Cave of Trials is because Borgan has occupied Vane with his Mage Soldiers and refuses to allow Lemina in to see her mother

*The Water Ruins dungeon is a terrible dungeon. First, it seriously messes with game flow to have an obligatory short dungeon at this point in the game. Second, it is a speed bump more than anything else. Third, this dungeon worse than any so far breaks suspension of disbelief because the standard monsters are insanely more powerful than elite Guard on the Destiny. You have to go all out with magic to beat the battles efficiently at level 28, which is insane. By this point the party could take down Leo. This means merchants from Meribia to Azado in Lunar are much, much better fighters than career soldiers tasked with manning a death machine capable of wiping out two cities before it might be taken out. As with my recommendation for the Twilight Forest this should not be a dungeon but instead ruins you pass by and have scenes at with no combat.

*The Azado dungeon is nicely designed and I love the floor plan for trying to actually be sections of a Statue. Given there is a Goddess Statue downstairs it’s also not too difficult, especially with Leo in the party. However, I'd say that working through Azado in flames and then the Statue combined with the number of enemies is a bit too much and I would lower the enemy count and with the revisions I propose in the story section either eliminate or greatly reduce the in town fighting.

*The cut scenes and exploration increase dramatically from leaving Azado on the Destiny after the Statue through the Pentagulia dungeon. Which is nice and marks this as an important part in the story. Really the half way point of the game. The Pentagulia dungeon is long but well done and with the Goddess Statue in the underground tunnels it calls for going all out in each tower but isn't too difficult if you get the right people in the right order: Ronfar first definitely. Upon completion of the dungeon there are huge story rewards which is satisfying.

*The pacing is nice after Pentagulia until the White Dragon Cave. I mean really unless you're like me and went back to all the old towns for conversations the game is just throwing you right back into a dungeon after a very long one in Pentagulia. As noted in the world design section I would like to add a town on the Caldor land mass and in addition to the world map reasons it would also allow some exploration and down time after a string of plot twists and big dungeons adding the story of Alex and Luna to explain the Mystic Ruins into the mix.

*The scenario after the White Dragon Cave until the Blue Dragon Cave is quite interesting and is a nice amount of story at this point of the game. I especially like that no obligatory short dungeon was required to beat Lunn. Instead the idea of a martial arts tournament was an excellent one. Also exploring Horam, then the Zen Zone, then Horam again was nice exploration. Although, it would have been great if the party was sent back to Wong Lee and the Blue Dragon Fist dojo for some more story and a chance for Jean to discuss why she continues to be a martial artist now that her former master is defeated and disgraced. Also Meribia's dialogue should have been updated for those of us that like to backtrack now that Lunn is in disgrace and the truth of his wicked ways has come out.

*Starting with the Blue Dragon Cave and moving forward towards Borgan the game really seems to stall. As mentioned in the gameplay section the Blue Dragon Cave is yet another long speed bump only to be followed by the Zaback Mines dungeon after a short but cool introduction to Neo Vane.

*Zaback mines is a poorly placed dungeon that should not have been nearly as long as it was in its current position. After the slog of the Blue Dragon Cave being hit with yet another dungeon this time 40 minutes long is not what the game's pacing needs. If included the Zaback Mines dungeon should at nmpost be a speed bump dungeon like the speed bump forest dungeons I have taken out earlier. This is only compounded by the fact that Zaback and Neo Vane seem like little more than speed bumps of exploration and town perusal before hitting the nasty slog that is an hour long Neo Cave of Trial. You finally get real story rewards when you finally face and defeat Borgan but his royal immenseness is a terribly easy fight that makes you wonder why its even a boss battle and the scenes afterwards seem to go by way too quickly and lack the emotional punch and cinematics they should elucidate. Then you get yet another exploration speed bump if you talk to everyone again, which takes barely 25 minutes for both towns. Only to slog it out some more through the Black Dragon Cave. This part of the game just feels terrible in its pacing due to all the dungeon grinding with little in the way of real story rewards except when you finally face and beat Borgan. The freeing of the black dragon just seems like another one down one to go and doesn't even seem very important to the dragons released, which is odd and detracts from the story's momentum. A significant rewrite of this section from the Blue Dragon Cave ending onto Raculi is terribly needed

*Having no dialogue changes at all after in Zaback or Neo Vane after the Black Dragon Cave seems odd, at least Miria and Borgan should have said something new. Then again in the necessary recommendations I have going the Black Dragon Cave would be located elsewhere on the world map and this would not be a problem for whatever town guards it.

*Raculi is definitely an interesting town to explore which gives a lot more lore for Ronfar and Mauri and finishes a large part of the support characterization. I would say Raculi is too small in terms of exploration but honestly given the plague it had the town should seem small and the driving force of this part of the game is the very well done story of Mauri, Leo, and Ronfar. Which provides more than enough story rewards starting with talking to Leo in Raculi to cleansing Mauri at Serak Palace to make this entire section of the game worth it.

*The scene with Nall right before the Red Dragon Cave is certainly interesting and sets up the scenes in the cave and gives gripping story getting into the cave. Also having a Goddess Statue to return to finally gives a restore point in one of these dragon caves even if it is all the way at the start, I would prefer better design than that though. However, having the Red Dragon Cave right after Serak isn't bad if the Red Dragon Cave wasn't terribly long but as it stands its marginally the longest dungeon in the game up to this point. I cannot imagine why the scenario writers decided to make the second major arc of the game that is exploration objective based into what feels like a dungeon crawl with points of light called story rewards. This objective being freeing the dragons to save Althena while the first was getting to Pentagulia; Seriously, the dungeon should be much shorter to progress the story forward now that things are getting to the climax. You were just given Serak Palace before facing Mauri and have had barely any substantive exploration in this area of the world map. Also the lack of really challenging enemies further makes this dungeon seem like an annoying speed bump like so many other dungeons after Pentagulia. At least Ruby's transformation scene was a nice bit of story which marginally alleviated the crawl through the Cave to get to that point.

*One thing that befuddled me was the lack of town dialogue changes as Zophar revives. People are still talking about stuff in earlier towns that happened a long time ago for the most part with Vane having some changes after Borgan is defeated and Azado, Dalton, Taben's Peak, and Gwyn having changes right after you get out of Pentagulia at the halfway point of the game. Other than that the dialogue is the same. as when you first left the towns. I find this to be very disappointing given the incredible lengths taken in SSSC to have the entire world change its dialogue several times after a major story event occurred such as when Alex becomes dragonmaster or right before the Grindery is invaded.

*The game really takes off once you return to Pentagulia. While Althena's Fort was a bit too long the story rewards for getting to the start, then the half way point, and then the end were great. The Goddess Tower was probably too short but the story rewards with Fake Althena and Luna's Story were spectacular and Zophar's Revival and Lucia vs. Zophar makes this section of the game spectacular. The dialogue with Ghaleon in Vane is also great as is finding out how the party is taking initial defeat. The fact that unlike in SSSC everyone is on board to go beat Zophar even if losing is a real option is also very interesting. Ghaleon's death is extremely well done if you have played SSSC as well. The only bad part is that you run smack dab into Zophar's Palace with no way back for shopping after Vane. The lack of shops even in the SCD version always felt like a bad idea and I still believe it is. There probably needs to be some way to have access to shops likely with a simple decision to return to Vane if need be and to depart to Zophar's domain if you leave Vane. The last dungeon is quite long by most JRPG standards and honestly I wonder if it was necessary to stick such a long dungeon in at this point. I know this is a JRPG but the dungeon is set up as a simple foil against just getting to Zophar and I wonder if that's the best way to go given how cinematic the story is at this point in time. Once you get to Zophar the game hits overdrive and finishes out very strong setting up the epilogue spectacularly well.

*The epilogue idea is very ingenious and I have yet to hear of a game before Tales of Graces F that implemented anything like this idea.

*Having very nebulous clues about how to finish the epilogue given in exploration discussions across the world map does not seem the way to go. It makes things in the epilogue difficult to figure out and being so cryptic with what you do get is annoying. I am not against the idea of full exploration of the whole world again but there should be more straightforward info about what to do to get to the Blue Star out of these travels by piecing together bits of info or acting bravenly on small clues. Although, I am not particularly happy that to understand what's going on requires 3-4 hours of conversation that begins your new journey only to be followed by strings of dungeons with little in the way of down time.

*The party members are easy to find except for Leo who you'll only find if you talk to everyone in every town most likely since only one guy in Nota tells you he went to the Mystic Ruins and then you have to climb to the top to confirm this. Also Althena's sword can be easily overlooked if it doesn't occur to you to talk to Nall, which can happen unless you talk to everyone, as the game seems to expect, or simply because there is nothing but him being the white dragon pointing you towards talking to Nall in the epilogue. Not a single sentence anywhere in the epilogue is said to get you to visit the white dragon or for that matter any of the others to speak with them. I would fix this with Ruby saying it might be good to check in with Nall at the start of the epilogue as her characterization must be fleshed out befor the epilogue ends as should everyones really. Also when you pick up Jean it may be a good idea to mention that Leo was in the area of Nota and Takkar because he visited the Carnival recently to visit Jean to, I believe, fully apologize for his crimes against the Carnival before the Mystic Ruins as it would make finding him easier.

*The epilogue certainly provides closure to the world you just saved and shows how things have continued on afterwards. It really is a pretty solid idea for a quality Denouement in an RPG although the way it is currently implemented it seems like less than a brilliant idea. The dungeon crawling you do in places where Zophar’s Palace and Ghaleon would be kind of weak with bosses that are harder than Zophar's 1st form makes me wonder about whether it cheapens the game's climax. Also, it really seems that the optional dungeons just keeps things going on artificially.
Last edited by Lathaine on Tue Mar 24, 2015 8:44 am, edited 1 time in total.

Lathaine
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Re: Lunar 2 Extended Review

Postby Lathaine » Fri Mar 28, 2014 8:30 pm

Story:

*Althena is said to come back every few hundred years to make the world a wonderful place with her presence which is not even alluded to in Lunar 1.

*The game reveals Althena is hidden through Zophar early on and Lucia cannot mind link with her. This should honestly lead lucia to grave suspicion of Althena being active in Pentagulia instead of the mad dash there that is the first half of the game. This is a serious plot hole in the story as written and needs to be addressed.

*Having the idea that Lucia could be the Destroyer early on is great tension as is the period where you think that a great monster is coming to Lunar. This should be played up with Lucia showing terrible ferocity and deadliness but in such a beautiful and seemingly innocent shell. Lucia reveals herself as a Savior at Gwyn's but the tension shouldn't stop there. It should stay in the undercurrent of the narrative until Lucia really is revealed as the Savior who is the Destroyer once Althena is revealed as dead or perhaps in a rewrite inactive for this battle and this should be played up.

*Lucia should be set up as a goddess in her own right more forthrightly than what is given despite the obvious hints to avoid confusion. The best place for this to be given is when Lucia is at Gwyn's but Lucia would be too weak to explain leaving an air of mystery that can be partially explained when you save her in Dalton.

*There is an immediate problem with Althena's chosen in Larpa. They charge money for healing while Ronfar doesn't and they are portrayed so negatively by being Taliban like in banning alcohol, gambling, singing, and dancing that they are obviously an evil and corrupt church that Althena happens to lead. This severely hurts Leo's credibility as a well intentioned extremist and lacks any real subtle foreshadowing that something is terribly wrong with Althena and her Chosen. Hell even the name Chosen is going too far, it should be Althena's clergy. Also they are so stereotypically evil. They are a judgmental, greedy bunch that represents the very worst religious authority has to offer with no redeeming characters still a part of the infrastructure which makes things one dimensional. Dalton puts a nicer touch on the Chosen showing them as misguided people doing what they think will make the world a better place with people questioning killing Lucia and drinking booze in the tavern. However, the vandalism of the Althena statue makes all of this very bitter sweet. Yes Zophar would ban fun if he were in charge, which he is trying to do with his puppet Althena, but being so blatant with the Chosen is going way too far way too early on.
-Also I can't help but wonder if this is a terrible way of attacking the Church in the real world. If so this game is doing something very evil. The problem is the lack of a good Church in the setting, which in all honesty can't exist in the settings as written because Althena is dead with no good plan for Zophar is around because of, honestly, bad writing by Studio Alex. Thus an evil church may have been a terrible idea to begin with unless true followers of Althena exist to show her goodness to others.

*Having the Caravan harassed by the Chosen makes sense and with practically every city having Althena's Guard or Chosen in them that makes things dicey for being a Carnival. Which would give reason for them to set up shop in Madoria for a while to be there for the constant travelers in the setting and also get away from the cities.

*Making Althena’s Chosen less evil probably means the teetotaling of Althena's clergy should stay in and it should be mentioned numerous times that "Isn't Althena a goddess of beauty, song, and love?" However, a teetotaling clergy and Guard makes this seem like something is really up, which the group and Lucia should discuss at some point before Pentagulia. The best thing would be likely making them a more decent church by removing the hyper greediness and super judgmentalism but the self righteousness and pride has to stay. They could then be doing good works because they want to and by doing so they get the money they need to operate a temple suitable to the size of the town's faithful but not nearly as baroque as what there is unless the setting or city gives the mentality that the Goddess deserves the very best for her worship is given and even then severe destitute poverty would likely be handled first by the clergy. Meaning Larpa probably has a small temple with few people unless they used a Ponzi Scheme which is likely it is Larpa after all. The point here is to make the temples feel authentic and neutral because Zophar could not be dumb enough given his Lucia Xanatos Gambit to practically megaphone that he really controls Althena's Chosen and Guard to a large extent as the game telegraphs whenever you talk to the Chosen in their temples.

*Lemina is introduced and joins quite awkwardly. She doesn't know about Lucia or Leo or anything when she joins up and no one tells her. The whole thing just feels too forced as if a new party member had to join or else. Lemina is pushy but its doubtful Hiro would have let someone sign their own death warrant at the hands of the Guard just because she's pushy. I know the game is trying to keep the guild's status secret but Lemina needs a solid reason to risk life and limb.

*Lucia's love and adoration of Althena is poorly covered. It gets first hinted at in Takkar but Lucia's relationship to Althena, the depth of her love and devotion to her, and more should be covered in non optional cut scenes. This helps to explain why Lucia goes hopeless and postal after discovering Althena is dead or hopefully in a rewrite distant from the world for now.

*Leo blockading Nota, followed by the Carnival, followed by Leo screwing up the magic arrow’s aim only to lead into Ghaleon's introduction is spectacular as is the top room of the Mystic Ruins with its playback. This is the best part of the game so far after you've left the blue spire. As always Ghaleon is shone to be not a psycho maniac due to the fairies and his garden. The ability of Ghaleon to be resurrected at all and have magic equaling a goddess is also quite question raising and gives some much needed mystery to the plot.

*Ghaleon frying Leo is great and has two dimensions when you get later in the game that should probably be given to the player at some point. First, it serves Zophar's Xanatos gambit to become the single deity of the setting since Lucia cannot be allowed to be killed. Second, Ghaleon needs people who can stand up to Zophar and he may be seeing the kind of attitude Dyne or Alex had in Hiro and company, which he knows is enough to defeat a setting deity.

*Lemina really needed to talk to the party after the confrontation with the Destiny because she almost got vaporized despite having surrendered. Why she would stick with these people is beyond me given she is so selfish and self centered. It makes little sense that she would just tag along with a group of people she knows will get her killed at the hands of merciless foes.

*Ramus and Lemina being a couple one day is fairly uninteresting and sadly a match made in money grubber's heaven but none of the dialogue explaining this matchup is required and is purely optional. As usual important character development should be required by the main story. Lemina could have made a fuss about going to Ramus' shop upon entering Meribia which could be done after seeing Lunn.

*Lunn seems far too unimportant for someone of his stature. The game does a great job of telling us in town conversations how important Lunn is to securing the Katarina trade route and to making sure law and order prevail in all his territorial holdings but it doesn't show this. Where is the Althena's Guard under Lunn making sure things are going smoothly in each town? Lunn's army is likely in the form of an independent monk like fighting force that only answers to Lunn given his dojo unlike the Guard which answers to Leo. Lunn’s Monks could also be a way to hide his assassins in broad daylight giving them an air of legitimacy cloaking their real purpose. Why isn't Lunn talked about as the lord of a variety of towns with mayors serving as servants of him? Really Takkar to Azado could and likely is all under Lunn's protection and ultimate control but the game fails to show this and simply tells it to be so with no back up in optional dialogues. Here Lunar could do something interesting by having someone who controls more territory than just one city state for the series but it totally fails at that. In this small change Leo would then likely be tasked with being the protector of the Minea sea towns such as Azado, Dalton, and Raculi. However, knowing Leo he would likely not govern these towns as much as protect them. Something interesting may be having his sister Mauri trying to gain the power to rule these cities with her of course getting her wish once Leo leaves the Guard after Pentagulia and which the game talks about when you get to Raculi.

*Why Nall would barricade the way to Azado and not Meribia where he knows the shadow dragon cult comes from is problematic and downright stupid. There either needs to be a better explanation for blocking the way, taking out this bit and having another way to limit exploration, or a redesign of how the way is blocked. Really why would someone of Lunn's power not just Dragon Punch the barricade to pieces unless he is making a very well hidden in game ploy for power in Katarina against Nall?

*Jean's former martial arts teacher she talks to at Taben's Peak should have been more fleshed out and made into a sub villain you deal with promptly and the real boss of the sewers.

*The game telegraphs Lunn is the masked man. The only way out of the sewers is through Lunn's mansion, he just happens to disappear, he fails to solve the enormous problem of Nall killing trade and threatening the prosperity of Katarina, and if you talk to people in the dojo you learn that this Blue Dragon Karate is more like Ka Ma Grah than anything Shaolin related which shows its a style of blood shed and not a way of attaining enlightenment or inner peace, which would be much more major for Eastern players but unfortunately isn't easily translatable to Western understanding. Although an attempt should be given.

*After finishing with the masked man there should have been a scene explaining to the Meribian commander of arms under Lunn that there is no threat and that you'll talk to Nall about getting the roadway clear. The return to the dragon kids with Lucia was good as was what Nall had to say to Ruby about responsibilities as a red dragon. Although, honestly Hiro and Lucia, especially, should have been much more interested in what Nall knew and how he knew it. Unfortunately given the story this likely means Nall will just say "you'll find out" and maybe giving some hint to his upcoming role in Pentagulia and the Goddess Tower to set this up.

*You have the option to get a lot of first game history in Meribia but none of it is required. This is only bad in light of the fact so much of this game hinges on what happened in the past and it even has Ghaleon in it as a big bad. The minstrel in the bar in Meribia should not have been optional. He, or a scholar like him, should have been someone you go to for more information about what you saw in the Mystic Ruins to grasp what was going on back then with Alex and Luna. The information should be incomplete and slightly cryptic but that would still be something. A something that could be added to later to flesh out the whole story.

*Borgan's intro makes him out to be a serious bad guy very quickly. We go from never meeting the guy to having him occupy Vane with an army of mages and then kidnap the Premier of Vane, Lemina's mother. Given Borgan just looks evil from the start and wears the obligatory black "bad guy" uniform this is likely on purpose, but it seems a childish thing to write in a character who is just megalomaniacal evil in a game that tries to either hide its villains or in some none Author Power way convert them to your side.

*Miria's abduction has almost no emotional pull as it happens, which is a case of bad story telling. We don't even know Lemina's mom's name until we get to Vane, Lemina never talks about her mom on the adventure, and unless you happen to talk to townsfolk before the abduction, which is odd given the urgency of things, then you know precious little of Miria's kindness and strong leadership to the people of Vane. Miria must be given much better characterization before you get to Vane, there should be an opportunity to talk to people in Vane about her leadership and kindness before she gets the abduction scene or there is any urgency to get to the guild mansion, and Miria should be more than someone who spouts some lines to the party and then gets kidnapped when you meet her. Also Lemina's grief should take more than a short conversation before the "happy music" happens. Her mother was just kidnapped for whatever horrible thing Borgan has planned. Given Lemina's character flaws, especially her way of isolating and glossing over important but uncomfortable things, it seems that it should take more than a poor pep talk and some kindness from her friends to get to the point where "happy music" occurs and you adventure forward. Vane could have been a place where Lemina actually becomes a more 3 dimensional character but the current story fails to do that in a meaningful way. Honestly, the Vane section may just need a major rewrite since in both the Sega CD version and the PSX version the story in this part of the game is done a disservice based on how things are written.

*The Water Ruins scene with Lucia is nicely done and does offer good contrast to the Hot Springs scene in the Illusion Forest.

From this point in the game on the story is less about fleshing out the new setting for Lunar and more about the plot starting in Azado. Thus, I am in serious thought as to whether to post any more Lunar 2 story review or simply make it into points for my Lunar 2 Recommendations.
Last edited by Lathaine on Tue Mar 24, 2015 8:45 am, edited 2 times in total.

Lathaine
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Re: Lunar 2 Extended Review

Postby Lathaine » Tue Apr 01, 2014 10:06 am

I had to include these parts of my story critique as they fit this Review and is good to include before major story Recommendations.

*Major Story Arcs:
Quest 1: To the Holy City of Pentagulia
Quest 2: To Become a Dragonmaster (It really does feel this way from a setting perspective for both Lucia and Hiro)
Quest 3: The War with Zophar and Epilogue

It must be pointed out that the main thrust of the plot is two fold and is very reminiscent of Martian Successor Nadesico: Zany humor and fun scenes that rotate with the dark fantasy plot arcs and overall Story Arc with Zophar.

*I really think there are too many people in Pentagulia. It has the population of Meribia it seems, which makes no sense considering it is only for the highest ranking Chosen and Guard to be there. Why have so many people living there at all? Why so few Guard compared to Chosen? It does not seem like all or even most of them are in on the true purpose of the Chosen to revive Zophar so having them around is counter productive since the secret might slip to people who can't be trusted to keep quiet.

*The section where you expose the fake Althena and get defeated by Ghaleon only to be saved by Mystere in comical fashion is great and probably the best section of scenes and story telling since the Mystic Ruins arc. It only gets better as you get Ronfar and he explains that Mauri's soul is cursed. The only thing I would add is that it should be revealed at this point that a terrible monster much like a demon resides in her and is controlling her to explain her odd actions a bit more straightforwardly. Nothing need be said about Raculi or Serak or the nature of Mauri's Id though. Jean's explanation that Lunn is the Shadow Dragon Master is nice and should not come as a shock at all with the blatant telegraphing done in Meribia. With my proposed changes to Meribia this should come off as more of a plot twist though. Lemina’s story is convoluted but I’ll address that elsewhere. Leo's aid and role as the "Fang of Justice" is also hilarious and seeing and hearing the truth from fake Althena and Ghaleon is as it should be. However the fact Pentagulia is being used to summon Zophar should be highlighted a bit more with comments on the cultists trying to summon Zophar and probably with them having something a bit more impressive than a small pentagram. Hell the whole city may be a summoning device with everyone in the Chosen in the city in on everything, which would be a lot more spectacular. The section where Lucia finds the Goddess Tower and it is explained Althena is sealed away inside using the power of the Four Dragons is very well done. I especially love how Ghaleon takes his time, thus buying time for the party to escape which is likely his real goal. The section where Zophar speaks is awesome and foreshadows the Xanatos gambit he has going and how the Four Heroes are really just his pawns to use and cast aside. Something that should be mentioned later when he revives. It also has great ambience since there is actual kneeling involved in this scene.

*The enemies in the towers of Pentagulia should be different honestly. This is because the types of enemies fought make little sense narratively. Why are mercenaries in Lunn's tower almost as good as crack assassins and where did they come from given this setting has no international wars? Why are the assassins Lunn trained so weak compared to Meribia? Why are people that in this game world identified as Vile Tribesman in Mauri's tower? The only enemies that make sense are having some of Borgan's mage corp in his tower to defend it. Other than that there should be assassins in Lunn's tower but they need to be as strong if not stronger than the ones in Meribia. Fire elementals or just plain demonic entities that don't look like Vile Tribesmen make sense for Mauri's tower. Leo's tower and the city as a whole when not in the towers should have elite Althena's Guard in there dedicated to the fake Althena more than Leo and in on the whole Zophar revival scheme. This could be explained early after you are freed in a way by having Guard just attack Leo blatantly in his own tower instead of letting him pass.

*The escape with the white dragon wings is evocative of the same thing happening in SSSC. Nall's and Ruby's reveals as dragons is nice but really Lucia should have had more time to talk to Nall and reveal her knowledge of this back when you first came to Taben's Peak even if the player isn't brought up to speed until this point in the game. Lucia, seeking Althena and what has happened, would have been very straightforward with the Nall, the white dragon, even back Taben’s Peak. Also the new quest to free the dragons has a lot of impact since Nall is one of them, Ruby is one, and there is a party member involved very personally with confronting each of the Four Heroes and getting their dragon essence. Although, the part where Nall has his aura stolen by Ghaleon should have been a lot more dramatically written as it just seems like a short, simple, stupid seeming and straightforward scene as currently written.

*Ronfar's age is given at one point in Nota as 45, which is way too old it should be 35. To do otherwise raises questions of fairness for the two lovebirds.

*Having Mauri take control of Azado is an interesting call and is in line with my earlier thought that the world should be parceled out to the Four Heroes in some way as a form of global government and oversight. She should likely gain control of Dalton and given her desire for dominance at this point in the game I would not doubt she would try to gain control of Larpa as well. Of course this works better if the world had been more clearly ruled by the Four Heroes as suggested earlier.

*OK I’m sorry but I love this Recommendation so much it had to be posted:
*Leo should really do something after leaving the Destiny in Hiro's hands. For a while he'll probably just mope around but by the time you get to Horam I would figure he would be trying to reform the Chosen and recruit Guard to help him oppose the fake Althena since Leo is a man of action and moping about so does not make sense for him. Also, there should be an explanation for how he gets from level 35 to level 50 while you are saving the day by freeing the dragons and Althena. This idea of course would work better if there were more Guard in the world for Leo to command as I suggested earlier. However, Leo could recruit the Guard from the Destiny who are likely on leave in Meribia or Vane, since he told his soldiers to leave by Taben's Peak, pretty fast when he wanted to. It would create tension in the rest of the world to have Leo pursue reforms in the Chosen and try to gain power over the Guard, which could be something people who like going back to earlier towns after major scenes could enjoy. It also means when you go back to Pentagulia Leo is there to meet you with an army at his back having united the Chosen and Guard against the false Althena. If nothing this story development would show that the members of the Guard and Chosen are not all psychos but most are really just well intentioned extremists that when confronted with the truth from someone they trust they decide to change. It really better fits the whole idea of redeeming people seen as villains in Lunar instead of just painting the majority of the Chosen and Guard as just plain evil. It also shows that Lunar can have a good church in it that seeks to better the world but got misled by someone claiming to be their deity who was really an agent of the dark god. Of course how this is done would require some real thought. Lunn controls vast swaths of territory with his forces who would convert to Leo's side once Lunn repents at Horam providing in essence an instant army. What Leo does to start would be take a ship to Dalton and work from there since the Minea Sea is where his rep is the highest. At this point all Leo would have would be the Guard from the Destiny and he would likely be loathe to directly challenge Lunn's holdings or his sister's holdings and Borgan is very isolated. Dalton would be the logical first choice and Larpa the next choice since it is so remote. Obviously Takkar would be next but by this point word would have spread of Lunn's defeat and his decision to reform his holdings which would give Leo momentum to gather forces from Takkar all the way to Azado to take a ship to Raculi once he hears Borgan is defeated since he knows the party is going to confront Mauri.

*The next issue, is that the party gets separated due to "lack of magic ability." This is very lame since both Jean and Ronfar have magic. Jean has gypsy magic as she yells so often when you use her dances and Ronfar has luck magic and healing magic. Then the failures get put into the Neo cave of trial for whatever reason instead of being sent back to Zaback to work in the mines like everyone else you talked to who failed the test before this point in the story. In all honesty the best way to do this section in a way that is consistent and still has some punch is to have a large group of people take the trial all at once, probably the people preparing for the trial you can talk to in Zaback, and have the party pass along with some others and have a number of others fail and see how they get treated and are in essence forced into slavery for the rest of their lives as they are sent back to Zaback as failures.

*The revival of Zophar section was well done. I especially liked the scene between Fake Althena, Ghaleon, and Zophar. Ghaleon's "attack" on the Destiny is a great scene because it puts Lucia back into goddess of battle mode and is the final piece of the puzzle needed to understand Zophar's Xanatos gambit. Now that Ghaleon has proven Lucia will choose the tactically inferior thing to protect her friends instead of go for the kill Zophar can rest assured that he will win against her and his plan to get Althena's power will succeed. The Xanatos Gambit is what leads to this as Lucia is allowed to live at the Blue Spire and be cured so she can adventure around the world, kill all 6 flunkies of Zophar, where Lucia fails to feel her torment at the loss of her world and its paradise instead turning hateful and emotionally spiteful foolishly. All of this in order to finally go against Zophar in a battle in which she is predictable to Zophar and where he tries to kill Hiro and crew and this attack is stopped by a Lucia who fails at her mission because she refuses to share the power she has with the “pathetic humans” including her lover, Hiro. She fails to heed Althena’s advice to rely on others in addition to herself in rebellion against her love for both Hiro and her Goddess as she is overcome with hate and selfishness. This scene is wonderful foreshadowing of the epic battle to come and why it will goes the way it does.

*Also the attack on Pentagulia is very cool to watch and is great foreshadowing of things to come in the Lucia vs Zophar battle. The shock on the faces of the party as they look on the destruction is so well set against Lucia's shear emotionless determination to destroy anything that gets in the way of her mission. The dragons also serve as a kind of horrid display of carrion birds above a city of many people which has just been blown to pieces further adding to the fridge horror of the scene. I would have liked it had the fridge horror been replaced with the more immediate horror of actually seeing people in the city get killed off by the dragon's attack. A little gruesome violence and horror now would have better prepared for the upcoming death of the blue star animation. Here in the assault Lucia truly shows what Leo originally feared and why she was hunted and what Hiro and crew suspected all along in their travels with her and which Ghaleon predicted well, but who they all now think is on their side, the Annihilator of All.

*The cut scene when you get to the resurrection machine is horrifying and leaps and bounds darker than anything the game throws at you before it. If this is meant to prepare the player for the existential darkness to come then it does so in a way that ratchets things up to 11 very suddenly. Honestly, the game after this point doesn't seem as dark as it should be given this cut scene. For an entity as powerful and evil as the one in that cut scene Zophar is weak and overconfident and just waits in his castle of doom being all darkly triumphant waiting it seems for someone to attack him. This is of course instead of immediately embarking on his plan to remake creation now that he has Althena's power. For a deity that is as smart and powerful as this one seems to be, he acts like an idiot after the Zophar vs Lucia animation, which seems silly.

*I do like that Althena's Fort is introduced, that it is explained that it was used to bring humans from the Blue Star, and the room where Lucia explains why the Blue star died is especially gripping. However, it seems very odd that there is no mention that the Fort is obviously damaged from some sort of battle Lucia is likely only minimally aware of. There is also no explanation of that battle at all. The projection of Luna later on could have at least explained more about what happened in SSSC to tie loose ends such as the scene in the top of the Mystic Ruins. Also having Althena's Fort channel magical energy to the Blue Star inserts two plot holes. One, how is magic able to be sucked out of Lunar and sent to the Blue Star seeing that when Ghaleon used the Fort to gather energy from Lunar for his purposes it started to destroy the planet? Is the magic in Lunar finite or ever growing and thus more of a battery than a refuge? This one is at least easy to solve by explaining that Ghaleon sucked up magic too fast and that Lunar is a battery that generates magic. Second, why didn't Lucia awaken when the device to resurrect the Blue Star was being threatened so severely by Ghaleon and was almost destroyed in Alex and Luna's time? This plot hole is much more serious and I'll have to really think about the solution.

*The Fake Althena scenes are great. Finally someone in a JRPG villain afraid to die because they've seen what the party can do. However, Zophar shows his true cruelty in the end in an ironic way, which is pretty solid.

*Nall's scenes before the projection are solid and helps develop him and Ruby

*The Xanatos Gambit was awesome and sets up Zophar as one of the most dangerous and intelligent villains yet encountered in JRPGs, His power in the cut scenes is immense and horrifying. Unfortunately he's maybe 1/1000 that powerful in actual combat later on. Something that really needs to be addressed because it is the second largest plot hole for the whole game. Also, the genius of the Xanatos gambit should be explained somewhere, as is it only makes sense fully when you replay the game. The best place to do so is either going to be when talking to Ghaleon or when you meet Zophar before you fight him.

*Exploring Vane, talking to the party, and Ghaleon's scenes at the top of the Guild, especially, are certainly well acted and interesting. I have a few problems though. First, how is Ghaleon being shown as someone holding back? His attacks can kill party members before you get your magic back and afterwards he is still trying to wipe the party. There should be a way, likely using game mechanics, to show Ghaleon is holding back. A better idea might be to have Ghaleon wipe the floor with all party members in the first fight, KOing them and then sparing their lives uncharacteristically to gloat and egg them on letting them seek their inner strength. Also Ghaleon is a chump when going all out when your powers come back and is an easy boss despite being strong enough to defeat all four dragons and destroy the Destiny with one powered up spell as well as supposedly being stronger than in SSSC. Second, the scene where the party gets their powers back is just weird. I mean you just have faith in yourself and through sheer determination you'll spontaneously gain magical powers capable of defeating a dark god. What the hell is that? It doesn't really make much sense. This goes back to my previous issue with how to defeat Zophar being, in essence, pluck. Much like in the anime Gurren Lagann. While certainly interesting from a literary perspective it does seem weird when played absolutely straight as this story does in Lunar 2 and Gurren Lagann. I had the same problem with SSSC but less so since the idea that pluckiness is unstoppable was written into the core of the story fairly early on and only became more and more blatant with time. Perhaps some rewriting needs to be done to make all the things that are capable of defeating Zophar be put more on display and then have them called attention to as the party heads to defeat the bastard. Just thinking about it Mauri and Ronfar show the power of true love, Jean shows the power of believing in yourself and having a pure heart, and Lemina shows the power of friendship.Third, I still think that there should have been hinting that Lunar was in grave peril should Zophar revive. That Althena may have at her disposal options that could harm Lunar as much as stop Zophar. It doesn't all have to be given away at the end. The first trip to Pentagulia makes much more sense if some powerful warning or foreshadowing was used to let the players and party know something bad could happen even with Althena's help. Hell one idea might be talking about the death of the blue star at Pentagulia so that the full horror that might be unleashed is given much sooner and seems less out of left field in Althena's Fort where an exposition of Dragonmaster Louis, who is a normal guy in a good world that’s destroyed, occurs. This plus some added scenes where Lucia reveals there is are no good options should Zophar revive and that Althena may have at her disposal only options that could harm Lunar as much as stop Zophar. Which doesn't give away the whole plot twist but gives a lot of red meat before the end and lets the player know a lot more about what is going on as it allows the players and Hiro to peer into Lucia's confused heart more. It also makes sense of her inner turmoil on the Destiny when heading to Pentagulia, which should be done sooner in some way than ~15 hours after Pentagulia.

*Zophar should have never assumed a diminished form like he does in the 3rd form last boss battle. In the cut scenes his native form is at least 100 times more powerful than what the party faces. First, its a plot hole that Zophar would take a weaker form to begin with for the fight of his life. Second, the victory would have been all the more awesome had Zophar been taken down at full power likely because of Lucia intervening with Althena's power to protect the party and empower them. Also the fact that the battle in a major way rests on Althena's power being used by Lucia to bless and enhance the humans is not really gone over enough. Luna doesn't talk about how her power should be used, which is odd. Ghaleon does mention that Althena's power is needed to win the fight and that the party should kill Lucia for it. Thus you should fight Zophar in his true super powered form you see in the cutscenes with a second form which is hideous.

*The Julia and Kyle arc was fantastic and a wonderful way to continue the narrative of the game and reinforce the aesop of romantic love triumphs at the end of the day.

*The true ending is spectacular with Hiro rising to the occasion to fight a dragon 1 on 1 for Lucia. That combined with the goodbye animation which is very nice, the dialogue with the party being well done, and lastly the emotionally satisfying ending animation makes this a very memorable JRPG ending. Honestly, when the 1st ending and this one are brought together this is perhaps one of the best endings I've ever seen in a JRPG. Few endings seem to rival this one such as perhaps the ending to Xenogears.


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