Playing Through the Saturn Version for the First Time

For discussion of Lunar: Silver Star Story, the remake of Lunar 1 for Saturn/Playstation/PC and all its translations
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Playing Through the Saturn Version for the First Time

Post by AkagisWhiteComet »

There are a multitude of threads and posts on the differences between the various LUNAR titles and I wanted to share some of my experiences with the Saturn version of Silver Star Story. As people are probably aware, the Saturn version of the remakes was actually the original games for 32 bit consoles; the PS1 games are ports. Working Designs brought over the PS1 ports after a particular well-documented falling out with Sega, moving all their production over to Sony (sans Rayearth, which went on to become the last US Saturn title).

I recently bought Silver Star, Eternal Blue, and Magic School on the Saturn. I collect most all Japanese imports but I'm particularly fond of the Saturn. I don't have a goal or concrete reasoning in mind, but rather I feel it's a very misguided console particularly with the US market. There were a myriad of genres and properties that never left Japan, and that's what I like to focus on with my collection. At the moment I've amassed just under a hundred titles and find myself buying them periodically. My hope is when I can get back over to Japan at some point I can buy more in person, as games in the various gaming areas like Akihabara are a lot cheaper there than trying to buy them online or through re-sellers.

My other logic is I really much rather enjoy playing games physically. I understand that ROMs exist and are easy to obtain (plus, as is shown with some of the recent translation efforts, have merits in increasing accessibility), but emulation still is not a 100% science. Many emulated consoles and games have minor quirks that don't function the same as playing on an actual console.

What is also nice for this is that I now own the Saturn game and have all the English releases, I can play the Saturn and PS1 game simultaneously on the same television simply switching back and forth between inputs. This is what I'm actually doing with this play thru of the Saturn game; playing the PS1 game at the same time to hopefully be better able to gauge minutiae between the two. I am playing the original release of the game, as many probably know this game received a re-release 'MPEG' version.

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Some of the things I'm noticing immediately are:

--- The difficulty in the Working Designs PS1 port was clearly bumped up some and is apparent very early on. Enemies have less health but they inflict more damage in their attacks and produce lesser silver drops. What this has the affect of for the player in the PS1 port is they will likely need to grind quite a bit in the White Dragon Cave to not only increase levels but obtain more silver to purchase better equipment (or, if they follow the WD guide, sell off starting items to immediately obtain silver). Another occurrence I noticed is that in the PS1 port I found myself losing a character very early on - would swap back and forth between Alex and Luna - necessitating a revival. The Saturn original on the other hand is much easier to progress. Grinding early on in the White Dragon Cave increases enough level and silver to easily buff up the party before entering the woods. I haven't had a character die in battle yet in the Saturn game.

The need to level up in the WD PS1 port is really apparent as ideally you want Alex to reach Level 10 to obtain Alex's Explosion Sword spell for the goblin battle where you can refuse Dyne's help. Putting the enemies to sleep with Luna and attacking with Alex's magic attack make the battle much easier. In the Saturn original this battle is easier to handle, as you can very easily get everyone to Level 10 with little work.

--- There is a clear difference in some of the music pieces, and I've found myself enjoying the Saturn's music more. I'm no audiophile - I have some hearing difficulty out of one of my ears - however I can SWEAR that a good handful of the music pieces in the Saturn game are much more dynamic than on the PS1. The very first one I realized was different was in the woods going to the Old Hag's hut. The music piece used there sounds like it has three channels on the Saturn, but on the PS1 its more of just two channel - that's probably not the proper way to describe it, but that is what I'm hearing.

One thing I never noticed re: sound is that Luna's singing was left alone in the WD PS1 port, and the only pieces dubbed was her spoken dialogue and the boat song. I had previously assumed that her "la la'ing" was also dubbed but was incorrect. I suppose thinking about it now that would actually make sense, as the scene early in Burg where Alex catches up to play has the beginning notes of his ocarina imposed over the very last bit of Luna's signing.

--- There are some minor graphical variances but where I particularly see differences is in the dynamic sprites (as in anything that moves in scale). One of the absolute oddest memories I have of playing the PS1 port originally is the TV I played on back then produced some odd sprite scaling effects. The one that always stood out was Mia. Her battle sprite on the PS1 would make one of her eyes look like it was bulging. While none of that is present on the current TV I'm using I notice that the Saturn port handles these sort of sprites better.

--- I'm still not 100% with my Japanese, but am already noticing some differences in the text. Quark and Dyne in particular do not perform the extremely obvious foreshadowing of Luna early on. Luna still has her dreams and doubting of why her voice is magical. I could probably play through Silver Star Story with my eyes closed so I don't have to be completely privy to what's being said to get through.

--- I do like that the game is on one disc. The packaging in the Saturn title is direct and to the point. The WD extras are nice but I sometimes feel the company was their own worse enemy in this respect. I can't tell you the last time I referenced the cloth map.
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I don't know how much I'll update this. I used to perform a play thru of Silver Star Story if not yearly every other year, however it's been quite some time since I last played the game. Easily over six to seven years. Having a kid limits time and my backlog still remains massive. I do know when I complete this game I'll probably move on to Magic School before Eternal Blue. I've actually never played Magic School before, even though ROMs, so I'm excited to perform a play thru of that title. I am happy to now have LUNAR on every console it was released on sans the PC port of Silver Star Story. I did not originally have plans to buy the Saturn games, but go to a point where I wanted to and decided to jump on them.

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Re: Playing Through the Saturn Version for the First Time

Post by ShugoHanasaki »

I loved my first play through too death; and i continue to love it every time I play it. It's my favorite port and the game is filled with a magical atmosphere that is tough to beat. I wasn't aware the enemies were harder than the other versions. That kind of makes me laugh now, lol because of how much i destroy that game in the best of ways
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Re: Playing Through the Saturn Version for the First Time

Post by AkagisWhiteComet »

Where you immediately notice the difficulty difference early is with Luna. Her sling is somewhat supplementary in attacks to Alex and Ramus early on in the WD PS1 port. You're also likely keeping her towards the back to avoid her taking direct damage as with the attack increases she's very easy to have killed off. However on the Saturn she gains levels quickly enough that her sling actually becomes pretty devastating. You can have her attack far back enemies that have lower movement near entirely across the battle area, and those enemies often never actually hit the party between rounds. Additionally as she moves faster than Ramus she most always gets her attacks in after Alex, allowing for some attack strategies with Alex's 'magic' attacks.

The other obvious change however will come in the boss fights. The bosses level up with Alex, but in the WD PS1 port most all of the bosses were made to have higher attack values. While they'll have higher HP on the Saturn game, they'll have lower attacks meaning you're less likely to heal. So far with the few bosses I've encountered I've noticed that I find myself needing to heal less or worry about remaining HP.

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Re: Playing Through the Saturn Version for the First Time

Post by Alunissage »

The regular enemy stat changes are basically:
SSSC HP is 90% of SSS's HP
SSSC ATK is 144% of SSS's ATK
SSSC EXP is 86.3% of SSS's EXP
SSSC Silver is 90% of SSS's Silver.

Lunar Legend and SSH regular enemies have basically the same stats as SSS, although I don't remember if I've checked every single one.

I haven't finished comparing the bosses (and LL has some different bosses anyway). The guides for LL and SSH list boss stats for one level rather than as multipliers, and I don't actually remember whether both those versions of Lunar 1 scale the stats to Alex's level. Nor do I seem to have recorded similar numbers for SSS, just the base numbers that are added to the multiple of Alex's level, but most likely it's the same as SSH's, so that allows me to compute SSH's multipliers. Interestingly, the adjustments WD made to the multipliers are not consistent; sometimes HP and/or ATK multipliers were higher in SSSC, sometimes lower -- more often lower, actually, at least compared to the SSH bosses. I'll have to dig around and find if I have better boss data for SSS somewhere, and maybe recheck some of the other numbers I transcribed from guides. At least one seems like it might be either my typo or the guide's.

Anyway, it's interesting that you're finding that the bosses' attack power is higher and HP is lower. But then, I've only looked at the boss stats up through the Bronze Dogs.

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Re: Playing Through the Saturn Version for the First Time

Post by AkagisWhiteComet »

I'm past the *big reveal* point on the return to Caldor Isle and have moved onto Marius Zone. I don't know why I would try to hide it as I'm fairly certain everyone knows what happens.

I thought that I could really hold out on this "having-no-character-die" -thing, but the first to bite it was Nash in Nanza pass on the West side heading to Lann. Oddly enough I feared where someone was going to get killed off was the later battles in the sewers of Meribia. I got to the final few battles where you have to cross a bridge, and got caught up in a mess where Ramus was taken down to 1 HP. After the boss battle I left, remembered to remove everything he has to sell it off, and Ramus forever tends his shop for his much much much much much later decedent to pester Lemina Ausa a thousand years later.

It's crazy how much more money I have in the Saturn version. the drops are plentiful, and once you buff everyone up after leaving Vane for the first time you are still rolling in cash. I had near enough to buy one each of the the two expensive accessories in the Vane item shop. By this point in the PS1 version - I'm actually lagging behind and having to stop my Saturn play to catch up - I have nowhere near enough money as if I'm not spending on equipment I'm also buying extra healing provisions.

I never noticed it before but Alex's battle victory sprite is a bit... derpy. He does a :V face with his mouth visible in the far bottom corner.

Maybe Alex has a derpy face 'cause he is a real monster in the Saturn game. If you buff him with both his own buff and Luna's buff his Sword Dance becomes vicious. Like I mentioned the boss fights are much easier to handle, and in particular the bosses in the Vane Trial and Lann Island were near no-contest with upwards of right under 300 hit points a strike. Equipped with the healing ring found in the Trial Cave makes Alex near impervious to any serious damage afterwards with (then) high level equipment as he'll regain near any amount of damage he takes on a turn, relegating any healing to mostly everyone else.

I forget how near useless Nash seems to be early on. His physical attacks are basically non-existent, but his magics do enough damage to weaken large congregations, with everyone else playing clean up. He's more useful in the spire battles in Vane, but I was pleased to find that the Dragon Wing trick to bypass the magic barrier works on the Saturn game also, so no need to remove weapons.

Now that I'm hearing more of the familiar music pieces, most are indeed well above the PS1's quality. All the sounds are real pleasing.

I'm now to the point where the main cast is gathering up to seek out the Dragons, so heading South from Nanza to the Marius Zone and onto Reza.

By far the most annoying issue I'm running into at the moment is handling my saves. I'm playing on a US market Saturn with a very old Action Replay cart that's from the later 1990s. The issue with the Action Replay is it's not read by games as a standard memory cart, so saves are always relegated to internal memory only. You can save games to the cart just fine, but you have to perform saves by copying them from the console's memory to the cart via the memory manager on start-up. With a battery installed in the console there's only room for... one save with Silver Star Story - in slot one. In hindsight I should have purchased a Japanese market Saturn years ago, but just took my current setup for granted. This also means I won't have any strategic saves with the play through.

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Re: Playing Through the Saturn Version for the First Time

Post by AkagisWhiteComet »

I held off on posting this yesterday as I needed to get the pics off my phone, but when I was in the Crystal Spire I came across a corruption.

When I got to the top prior to the fight with the Ultragoyles I had something strange happen. When Ghaleon spoke his picture sprite was corrupted into what appeared to be a mess of garbage pixels. I thought that was odd, but then when I started the fight, Luna's menu sprite was changed to Alex with Alex's normal picture left alone. In all the times I have played LSSS I have NEVER had a menu picture corruption occur. I don't know what I specifically did and with me having used an Action Replay cart it's difficult to make any sort of assumptions. However all I can assume is that the pointer for the menu pictures was inadvertently moved somehow creating these issues. For Ghaleon it pointed to garbage memory, and for Luna it pointed to Alex.

My only thoughts is it may have to do with Luna. For the battle against the Ultragoyles Luna's weapon is removed from her inventory completely (an expected occurrence, as she would be held captive) and she retains any other equipment/items placed in her inventory. I don't know what point the game assumes that she re-enters the party, but based off what occurred my guess is the memory is loaded the moment you ascend the final stairs up to the room. This could also have been caused because I was near fully buffed for the fight and had a lot of items and equipment, but I find it strange it would happen here at this point as opposed to later points in the game with a full party and even more equipment/items on hand and characters move in and out of the party.

I saved prior, everything appeared okay after the battle, but decided to reload the battle (it's an easy battle on the Saturn) and of course everything was okay.
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Re: Playing Through the Saturn Version for the First Time

Post by ShugoHanasaki »

O.O this is interesting...I wonder what caused it?
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Re: Playing Through the Saturn Version for the First Time

Post by Alunissage »

Interesting. I don't know enough about the programming to speculate. But that second photo, of the dialogue...that's not Ghaleon's line, it's Luna's, when she says that they've been forcing her to sing. It's supposed to be her sad face (her previous line is her upset/shouting face). The portraits are loaded when the party enters the Crystal Tower from the Guild. Luna is added back to the party just after the party enters the Star Chamber, though this isn't reflected visually, of course. However, the scripting I'm looking at doesn't indicate anything about her state when she's returned to the party (as contrasted to a couple of times when Jessica or Nash rejoin Alex and their levels are set to Alex's). The flag disabling weapons isn't reset until after the party is back in the Hall, but I don't have any information about how it's actually used, so I have no idea whether bypassing the check with the Wing could affect anything else. I do kinda suspect that the ability to bypass the check was originally unintended, like a byproduct of where in the dungeon the party ends up after using the wing.

I'll try to look a bit more when I'm more awake. I'm not expecting to find anything enlightening, though.

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Re: Playing Through the Saturn Version for the First Time

Post by AkagisWhiteComet »

Yeah I should have clarified in my initial post but both Ghaleon's and Luna's portraits in the spire dialogue scene corrupted. I just happened to take a quick pic with what was up (and honestly - thinking about it - I probably should have taken video). Ghaleon's stood out as when he does the fake 'how DARE you!' to the sisters it was a garbage pile speaking to them.

I'm keeping an eye out to see if there are any other points this could occur. I saved right before the bridge collapse in Meryod knowing the entire party "leaves", and retrieved characters in different order thinking that may could trigger it. After four tries nothing was out of the ordinary so I proceeded with the game. I think I'm just going to have to chalk it all up to something with the Action Replay cart causing issues.

This shows how long I haven't played the remakes however; I could have SWORN that you had to solicit Nash's help in assisting you in Lann. I seem to remember in the original Silver Star Nash's assistance was optional, in that if you speak with him twice in Vane following Ghaleon sending Alex out he then asks if you need assistance (and not taking it means you only have Alex and Jessica in Lann). It makes sense that he wouldn't ask however, as considering his true nature he would want to be around Alex's party as much as possible to get info. I guess I have forgotten more about SSS that I thought I remembered.

I also stopped playing alongside the PS1 SSSC. Have gotten a bit tired of switching back and forth between the two and I've seen enough at this point that I'm no longer making comparisons.

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Re: Playing Through the Saturn Version for the First Time

Post by Alunissage »

I don't think there's anything particularly unusual about the Meryod bridge collapse and the order you get characters in. I spent some time mapping out the dialogue in all the different orders you could get them (and some of the lines don't quite flow in English because the check whether someone else is in the party isn't quite where the dialogue assumes it is).

I feel pretty certain Nash didn't know what Ghaleon was up to at the time of getting to Lann though. He probably knew Ghaleon was planning something big, but not that it was, for lack of a better word, treasonous. Remember, he and Ghaleon are both happy to have him stay with Mia while Ghaleon goes to see Quark, which I don't think would be the case if he were more involved in the plot. The dialogue just after Alex returns from meeting Myght strongly suggests that it was at that time that he took action to betray them, because one of the others notes that he'd been pretty glum, then disappeared for a while, then was cheerful again. (The line that he'd been working for Ghaleon "from the beginning" is a mistranslation.)

I'm trying to think if there were other places I know of that might be interesting to compare versions on, but the things I have in my notes to check are all much earlier in the game -- whether the captain is available to talk to while everyone else on the boat is asleep, whether there are chests in the Sewers, whether it's possible to use the White Dragon Wings in the sewers (meaning, are they accessible, since they're greyed out in SSST).

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Re: Playing Through the Saturn Version for the First Time

Post by Mr_conan »

It looks like the game in ram got corrupted somehow. The portrait displayed for spells is looked up using an index number, and gets drawn to the vdp buffer, somehow that number was altered if alex is showing up.

With the dialog, theres a similar thing. Pictures are indexed by a number and there should be a corresponding one in ram. I had the same issue when i ported over the WD script to saturn, and WD changed one of the portraits to an unloaded slot. So probably so weird memory corruption again.

There are two known different version numbers of SSS on the saturn. The scripts are identical, but the main binary is different, so its possible there were bug fixes in the newer version. I havent looked into that yet.

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Re: Playing Through the Saturn Version for the First Time

Post by Alunissage »

Two versions? How do I check which I have? I haven't had any new Lunar games to collect for a while. =)

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Re: Playing Through the Saturn Version for the First Time

Post by Mr_conan »

The version information is stored in the first sector, but you can run this tool (SRP 3.0) to figure out which version you have: https://madroms.satakore.com/

We know there is a version 1.05 (1996-09-30) and a version 2.00 (1996-11-06)

It seems as far as packaging goes theres no way to tell, so you just need to find someone with it or get lucky on ebay. 1.05 seems to be the most common, thats the one i have and the one i used for the english translation. We didnt find out about 2.00 until someone had an issue patching.

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Re: Playing Through the Saturn Version for the First Time

Post by AkagisWhiteComet »

Interesting.

I would make assumptions as to why WD would make such a change but I wonder if it's because a script point differed at some point drastically in localization compared to the original? I don't know SSS's script inside out, but I'd guess Alunissage would probably be aware of any glaring points in WD's localization where a portrait swap would be utilized. I believe Rayearth on the Saturn had some instances of WD swapping portraits around.

Speaking of Rayearth, that's actually been the lack of updates; I'm also playing through Rayearth. I have the English physical release but it's been nearly twenty years since I've last played through it. I recently bought the Japanese version and have played through it. That game is so quick to burn through it's unreal. The worst problems I've been having with that game is some freezing during boss transitions and I managed to soft lock the game by using Fuu's healing wind during a boss death.

Back to SSS, I'm at the point where Alex is now Dragonmaster. I have yet to come across any other portrait corruptions or weird issues. Probably should have the game wrapped up fairly soon when time allows.

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Re: Playing Through the Saturn Version for the First Time

Post by Alunissage »

By "such a change" you mean Nash being an informant the whole time as opposed to just at the end? I'm confused since you then mentioned a portrait swap. There are certainly lots of places where WD changed the portraits but they generally aren't major scenes, just a face more appropriate for whatever the party member is saying (which sometimes matches the Japanese script but often doesn't). There are also some places where lines are given to other characters entirely, but again they're not that major -- Alex is given a few words to say now and again rather than Nall doing all the talking for him, and there was some instance of Nash's line being given to Kyle or the other way around because it fit the character better.

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