My first impressions

For discussion of Lunar: Silver Star Harmony, the PSP remake of Lunar 1
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Dragonmaster Lou
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My first impressions

Postby Dragonmaster Lou » Fri Dec 31, 2010 3:02 am

I know I'm probably pretty late on the bandwagon (a hectic life has kept me from following all the main news boards, forums, and this site), but I finally got myself a copy of SSH. It seems kind of fitting that I should get it only a few days after the anniversary of when I got Lunar:TSS, but I digress.

Anyway, since my copy of the game arrived before my PSP did, I spent the first day of the game listening to the soundtrack. In general, I loved it. It sounded much more crisp and clear than the PSX soundtrack and even better than the Saturn soundtrack. I also loved the new music for the Four Heroes scenario at the beginning. However, I should discuss what was the most probably was the most "controversial" part of the soundtrack -- the new lyrics to Luna's songs.

First, I'm very glad that Jenny (Stigile) Magallenes was able to return and reprise her role as the singer. Her singing and John Truitt's acting were the vocal high points of the games as far as I'm concerned, but more on the voice acting later. However, you can't discuss the songs without comparing them to WD's translations from SSSC.

Song translation is hard. It's hard even if you're essentially fluent in both the source and destination languages. I've experienced this first hand while trying to translate the Portuguese songs in Grandia II. Even as a semi-native speaker of Portuguese (Portuguese was the first language I spoke growing up, though over the years English became my primary language), it wasn't easy. It was made more difficult by using relatively uncommon Portuguese words that even the native Portuguese speakers (from Portugal!) in my family had trouble understanding. What more, I tried to make the lyrics singable in English -- which meant substituting words with similar meaning to the literally translated ones when possible and sometimes just ignoring the literal translation if I couldn't find an English word that fits.

For Wings, it's a really difficult comparison. WD's translation certainly was more musical -- it didn't have as many parts of the song that seemed to be stretched or compressed in order to fit within the time allotted by the music. However, I never was a huge fan of their lyrics and I didn't feel like it fit the animation all that well. This new translation, on the other hand, did fit the animation much, much better in my opinion and I preferred the lyrics overall, despite a few lines that didn't match the timing of the music (although the second verse on the CD did a better job than the first). I'll have to give the point to Xseed on this, but just barely. I still think the translated lyrics should've had another couple of reviews by someone with a musical or poetic background to tweak them a bit more so that the syllables matched up better with the music, but overall I think I liked these lyrics better.

Wind's Nocturne, on the other hand, was a different story. Not only were WD's lyrics better, IMHO, but I felt they were more moving than Xseed's. Victor Ireland did say that when he translated a song, often he would just try to create a song that has the same "feel and spirit" as the original without being a literal translation. While I don't think he pulled it off as well with Wings, I think he nailed it with Wind's Nocturne. Sure, the Xseed lyrics explicitly stated that Luna was singing about her growing feelings of love and it how confused her, but I think WD's song expressed the same feelings and her general confusion and doubts about her history better. Yeah, it wasn't a literal translation, but it definitely matched the "feel and spirit" from a metaphorical aspect in my point of view. In addition, the lyrics better matched the timing of the music than Xseed's, making this a clear win in WD's favor. Still, the new translation isn't bad... it's just not as good.

Now on to the voice acting. Essentially, I would've been 100% happy if they brought back John Truitt as Ghaleon and Jenny Stigile as the singer. I was pretty confident that Ashley Angel would not be coming back as Alex, seeing as he is now some big fancy pop singer dude (although, maybe he did have enough fun earlier that he might -- you never know). The other voices, however, I never had as strong a feeling for (EB on the other hand... but that's another game). Oh well, at least 1 out of 2 isn't that bad.

Now I've only just completed the White Dragon Trial, so I'm still very early in the game and can't judge all the voices. However, overall I'd have to say the voices I've heard were pretty good. Dyne's actor sounded like he was phoning it in during the Four Heroes scenario -- though I wonder how much of that was a result of not having any long flowing dialog like in a cut scene but instead having to speak in shorter phrases due to how the text was broken up at that point. Still, he needed a bit more emotion in his statements. Althena's actress also needed some more emotion, I felt, but she didn't speak all that much. Mel and Lemia sounded just fine to me, and Ghaleon was surprisingly good, despite not being John Truitt. We'll see how he sounds later on when we get to scenes I've already seen Truitt perform, but I feel like the actor is trying to channel Mr. Truitt in his portrayal and doing a pretty good job of it. Alex sounded like your standard heroic anime kid, which is what you'd want in this case, and it sounded fine. Luna sounded like she had a bit more sass in her than she did in WD's version, which seems to work well for her. Ramus sounded the way a kid like Ramus should.

Nall was apparently a hot topic of debate, with some folks loving the new Nall (ignoring how you feel about his voice actor -- I'm only judging the performance here) and some folks hating him. As for me, I think I'm going on the side of liking the new Nall a bit more than the old -- if only because WD's pitch shifting of Nall's old voice actor just sounded too unnatural and electronic. The new actor, at least so far, does seem to have Nall's personality down pat in how he speaks his lines.

The translation also seems to be very good -- which would make sense as rumor has it they kept most of WD's scripts for it. Some things here and there have been changed, but none of it felt "strange" -- it still felt like Lunar, and that's what counts. According to the manual, the translation was done by John Sears, the same man who is translating the Amazon Kindle releases of the Lunar novels. He is also a true Lunar fan (going back to the Sega CD days, like me), and I think it shows in the translation (hey, he's living the dream -- he got to meet and work with the creators of one of his favorite games of all time -- if only we could all be so lucky). One difference is that I feel he comes from a more literary background, and I think that shows in some of the language he uses in the game. However, I have yet to run into anything that seemed significantly strange or different from WD's translations so far. Maybe later on I'll be seeing some more "stilted" or "literary" prose (like he used in the novel translation) as opposed to the very casual and conversational style WD usually used, but I haven't seen it yet.

Wrapping things up, the graphics are gorgeous. I'm glad that Game Arts finally got rid of the super-deformed sprites that were used in all the previous games. While they had their time back in the 16-bit era of limited animation, it became more jarring as they added more animations to the characters -- especially in battle. I also love the new battle animations -- Alex looks truly badass while swinging his sword (especially once he gets 2 attacks per round) and Ramus looks like the reluctant fighter we all know he is.

In short, I'm very satisfied with SSH and quite happy with how it came out so far. Is it different than WD's? Yeah, but it's not *that* different -- it's still Lunar and it still feels like Lunar, and that's what's most important to me. However, I do hope that should any future Lunar games come out, Victor Ireland and Xseed can resolve their differences and find a way to compromise and collaborate on the future games -- while Xseed has done a commendable job of it on their own, I think that bringing in many of the old Lunar folks from the WD era can only make it even better.
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Alunissage
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Re: My first impressions

Postby Alunissage » Fri Dec 31, 2010 9:06 am

Well, you're still ahead of me -- I played through the Japanese game (stopping right after the final battle) but have only played a bit of the English one and haven't listened to the soundtrack. So I haven't heard Wind's Nocturne yet. However, there was a bit of discussion of the Wings lyrics, including Victor Ireland's one and only post on LNet, in this thread:
viewtopic.php?f=33&t=4402

(N.b., my own rewrite of the first half of that song, prompted by that thread, is at the top of page 8.)

Sorry I can't reply to more of your post at the moment than this short and somewhat self-serving note, but I'll try to get to more of the game soon so you can talk with someone else seeing/hearing the Xseed version just now. :)

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Re: My first impressions

Postby Dragonmaster Lou » Fri Dec 31, 2010 3:51 pm

Alunissage wrote:Well, you're still ahead of me -- I played through the Japanese game (stopping right after the final battle) but have only played a bit of the English one and haven't listened to the soundtrack. So I haven't heard Wind's Nocturne yet. However, there was a bit of discussion of the Wings lyrics, including Victor Ireland's one and only post on LNet, in this thread:
viewtopic.php?f=33&t=4402

(N.b., my own rewrite of the first half of that song, prompted by that thread, is at the top of page 8.)

Sorry I can't reply to more of your post at the moment than this short and somewhat self-serving note, but I'll try to get to more of the game soon so you can talk with someone else seeing/hearing the Xseed version just now. :)


I have to admit, I like your translation too. At first glance, it does seem to fit better with the musical timing of the song than Xseed's -- without the compressed or expanded syllables of Xseed's version. As I said earlier, singable song translation is hard. :)
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Re: My first impressions

Postby Lunar Eclipse » Mon Jan 03, 2011 8:57 pm

I have many of the same opinions as you, and I do think (and hope) you'll continue to like the new Ghaleon. In my opinion, he gets better and better as the game progresses. Some of his more infamous scenes are just spectacular in this version, and the dialogue cleanup during the anime cutscene of the return to the White Dragon Cave later in the game works much better, I think. As far as cutscene dialogue changes go, only one bothered me slightly (Mia's "This can't be for real!" rather than simply "This can't be real!"), and that's just a passing irritation probably born purely of having grown accustomed to the original. Hope you keep on liking it!

Oh, and on a completely unrelated side note, the issues with the Portuguese lyrics in Grandia are compounded by the Japanese accent and the fact that a lot of it just ... doesn't make sense. ^.^; A ton of it is just phrase sequencing (i.e. nascer do sol, palavras, milagre, agua pura) that runs on forever with little direction.
Let those who war with life forfeit their own! -- Mareg, Grandia II

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Re: My first impressions

Postby Shiva Indis » Tue Jan 04, 2011 1:32 am

^ Thumbs up to the new Ghaleon voice. Sometimes I miss the audio flourishes WD added to the cutscenes (extra sound effects, TSS music,) but White Dragon Cave part 2 benefited from having the dialog streamlined.
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Dragonmaster Lou
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Re: My first impressions

Postby Dragonmaster Lou » Tue Jan 04, 2011 4:06 pm

Lunar Eclipse wrote:Oh, and on a completely unrelated side note, the issues with the Portuguese lyrics in Grandia are compounded by the Japanese accent and the fact that a lot of it just ... doesn't make sense. ^.^; A ton of it is just phrase sequencing (i.e. nascer do sol, palavras, milagre, agua pura) that runs on forever with little direction.


Yeah, agreed. When doing the translation, a lot of it just didn't sound like any Portuguese I've heard used on TV or by my family or whatever... It was just weird... No wonder my Portuguese relatives also had trouble with it!
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Re: My first impressions

Postby Arlia » Sat Jan 15, 2011 10:02 pm

Hey, excellent review. =) It makes me wish I had the game and a PSP. Very nice.

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Re: My first impressions

Postby Silver Phoenix » Fri Jan 21, 2011 8:20 am

Well Arlia, you better get a PSP and a copy of the game. You can get the regular version or the premium edition super cheap now. ;)

I have to admit as I've been an original Lunar fan since the dawn of time, or 1993, that I still haven't completed the PSP version. I've been cheating on Lunar with other games, and since Lunar only comes once a decade I'm taking my sweet old time. I'm about to enter the Grindery if I recall that's where I last left off.

Lou, didn't you think the return to the White Dragon Cave was so much better in this version? I was just happy the scene hadn't been raped by horrible vocal distortion and some truly stupid lines.

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Re: My first impressions

Postby Dragonmaster Lou » Fri Jan 21, 2011 1:57 pm

Silver Phoenix wrote:Well Arlia, you better get a PSP and a copy of the game. You can get the regular version or the premium edition super cheap now. ;)

I have to admit as I've been an original Lunar fan since the dawn of time, or 1993, that I still haven't completed the PSP version. I've been cheating on Lunar with other games, and since Lunar only comes once a decade I'm taking my sweet old time. I'm about to enter the Grindery if I recall that's where I last left off.

Lou, didn't you think the return to the White Dragon Cave was so much better in this version? I was just happy the scene hadn't been raped by horrible vocal distortion and some truly stupid lines.


I thought it was very well done, but it had been so long since I played SSS that I don't remember exactly what its return to the White Dragon Cave was like.
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Re: My first impressions

Postby Lunar Eclipse » Fri Jan 21, 2011 10:15 pm

This versus that.
Let those who war with life forfeit their own! -- Mareg, Grandia II

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Re: My first impressions

Postby AlexofBurg » Tue May 24, 2011 11:06 pm

I just got the game, I'm 3 hours in, just beat the first boss. And I can say that so far, I don't really like it.

The voices, so far, are okay. I like Luna's voice quite a bit, maybe not better than the PSX version but it's different and not necessarily in a negative way. Alex is iffy; he's got the same youthfulness as Angel but none of the determination in his voice to make it credible. And Nall sucks; different but in a very negative way. Ramus is okay, and the four heroes are all alright. I don't love Ghaleon but I went in knowing fully that this guy was never gonna top Truitt.

UPDATE: Royce is absolutely terrible. Xenobia and Phacia are both pretty bland, and I don't like Jessica at all. Mia is pretty good though; so far Luna and Mia are the only two VAs that I like anywhere near as much.

The graphics, while better than the PS version on a technical level, completely destroy the feel of the game. The music is quite a bit better however, and the reworked tracks all sound great, with the exception of the two sung songs. The vocals and arrangements are as good as ever, but the lyrics just simply aren't as good in either case. The timing is horrible in the intro song, and while the boat song flows much more naturally in this version, the lyrics are far worse than SSSC's.

And this game feels hollow. It feels like a fan-made remake, especially the "Alex convincing Luna to jump on the boat" scene. The timing in that scene is botched so badly. It really robs all the great tension that the scene had in the PSX version.

I'm not gonna say it's a bad game because I haven't finished it yet, but so far it has failed to live up to the Playstation version (I feel that the "Completes" are by far the best versions of Lunar games, both for SS and it's sequel).
Last edited by AlexofBurg on Sat Jun 04, 2011 2:37 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: My first impressions

Postby Shiva Indis » Thu May 26, 2011 10:02 pm

AlexofBurg wrote: It feels like a fan-made remake, especially the "Alex convincing Luna to jump on the boat" scene. The timing in that scene is botched so badly. It really robs all the great tension that the scene had in the PSX version.

I wasn't very happy with this particular scene either. If only this game could have all the strength of the old plus the benefits of improved technology...

But that's more of an unreachable ideal than actual possibility. :wink:
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Re: My first impressions

Postby AlexofBurg » Fri May 27, 2011 12:15 am

Shiva Indis wrote:
AlexofBurg wrote: It feels like a fan-made remake, especially the "Alex convincing Luna to jump on the boat" scene. The timing in that scene is botched so badly. It really robs all the great tension that the scene had in the PSX version.

I wasn't very happy with this particular scene either. If only this game could have all the strength of the old plus the benefits of improved technology...

But that's more of an unreachable ideal than actual possibility. :wink:


True :lol:

I think it's because they give you the option to skip the text boxes with the dialogue, rather than letting it time itself out. It really hurts the flow of the ingame talking scenes.

And I think I've changed my mind about Mel's voice actor. After the Meribia scene, he's way too stereotypical pirate.

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Re: My first impressions

Postby AlexofBurg » Sat Jun 04, 2011 2:36 am

Also that freaking Magic Emperor scene. Way to destroy it, guys.

UPDATE: I'm gonna finish this game, but I really hate it. I can safely say that there are two factors at work: my crazy bias for the PS version, and the fact that this is a bad remake. I mean I even like Lunar Legend for crying out loud; at least it took some liberties and did some different things.

Thing to take away if you don't feel like reading my whole ramblings: This game is exactly like that shot-for-shot remake of Psycho made in the 90s with Vince Vaughn as Norman Bates. I actually rather like Vince Vaughn and thought he and William H Macy are the best things about that movie but I'm getting sidetracked. The point is, this didn't need a thousandth remake, and certainly not one that robs the PS version of all its charms (retro graphics, well-done scenes, great voice acting) and all that is left is a lifeless, hollow rework of a Hitchcock/WD classic.

Thanks AlexofBurg, but no one cares about your opinion.


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