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Game Profile
Game Boy
Game Arts
GENRE: Adventure
December 10, 2002
Lunar: Dragon Song

 Written by Ilan Mejer  on September 19, 2002

First Impressions: Join Alex, Nall, Luna, and the rest of the gang as they set out on the third retelling of their classic adventure!

Some of us have been playing Lunar games for almost a decade. The original game, Lunar: The Silver Star gathered something of a cult following when it was released on the ill-fated Sega CD in the early 90s. Years later, the game was revisited on the Playstation as Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete, which featured a slew of changes to the technology, story, and presentation. It was defined as a ?retelling? of the original game, perhaps through another's eyes, hence explaining the differences. Presumably, Lunar Legends will be yet another retelling, again through another's eyes.

The story begins with young Alex dreaming of his dead hero, the Dragonmaster Dyne. Alex is going to again joined by his ?flying cat? pet, Nall, their portly friend Ramus, and the blue haired girl that Alex's parent raised since babyhood, Luna. Together they will seek to enter the White Dragon Cave and acquire a Dragon Diamond from the treasures rumored to be contained within. In all of the previous incarnations of the first Lunar story, greedy Ramus was the one to convince Alex to explore the cave. Yet in Lunar Legends, the brash mage-apprentice Nash (who isn't supposed to show up until much later in the game) arrives at Burg, Alex's quaint village, in order to recruit its curious youth to seek out the White Dragon that is rumored to live there.

Lunar Legends, being a Gameboy Advance title, will obviously not feature the hour's worth of quality anime cutscenes and voice acting that the Playstation remake offered. Nor will it feature the near-symphonic version of Mr. Iwadare's magnificent musical score. However, it will feature dramatic and cinematic interpretations of the sacrificed videos in the appropriate key moments. Additionally, the game's graphics and animations have been vastly improved and the wonderfully detailed character faces that accompany the text boxes seem to be making the transition as well. The background graphics are much more lush than even in the Playstation remake, and the character and battle sprite graphics are looking to be detailed and beautiful.

All versions of both Lunar titles (Silver Star Story and Eternal Blue) have featured a unique 2D battle system that takes the positioning of characters and monsters, and their respective movement ranges into effect, adding an extra element of tactics and strategy rarely seen in traditional RPGs. Unfortunately, this aspect of Lunar's combat is being compromised and replaced by a system that greatly resembles the classic Final Fantasy games. Lunar purists will not be pleased, particularly without the incredible anime cutscenes and with a dumbed-down rendition of the otherwise amazing soundtrack. However, in order to help justify replaying the game for a third time, Media Rings is including a few new elements into Lunar Legends.

Much like Lunar: SSSC contained new characters, features, story elements, and redesigned dungeons over Lunar: TSS, Lunar Legends will also retell the story with enough new features to make re-experiencing the story worthwhile. Additionally, the ever-popular handheld gaming element of collection has been incorporated for the first time in a Lunar title. You will be able to collect monster cards and even trade them with other gamers via link cable. Not the most original concept, perhaps, but if these cards feature artwork as professional and detailed as the rest of the game's excellent presentations, then the end may actually justify the means.

Final Thoughts
This will be Lunar on the go. For some, this will be a must-have. It remains to be seen if upgraded visuals, new characters, new story elements, collection gameplay, and redesigned dungeons will be enough to justify the downgraded story presentation, twice-rehashed plot, music compromises, and simplified combat system. Game Arts published the game in Japan and Lunar's traditional localizers here in America, Working Designs, immediately passed up on the offer of bringing Lunar Legends stateside. Ubi Soft, in a surprising decision, opted to pick up the rights to Lunar Legends instead. This excellent RPG, whose remake on the Playstation arrived too late to hold up technologically, should fit right in on the handheld market, particularly to the new audience it opens up.

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