Preview: Lunar: Silver Star Harmony (PSP)January 27th, 2010 | Written by Chris Selogy | Topic: Previews, Sony PSP
Following quite a few other remakes of PS1 RPGs, XSeed Games has taken on the task of bringing Lunar: Silver Star Story to the PSP with redone voice acting, music, and visuals. Lunar: Silver Star Harmony attempts to combat the intense nostalgia that many players had for the original version while also offering a chance for new players to experience one of the more popular RPGs from the PlayStation generation. We got our hands on the recent demo to see if Lunar: Silver Star Harmony is an RPG that PSP owners should keep an eye on when it is released in a few weeks.
Lunar: Silver Star Harmony starts with a young boy named Alex hanging out by a memorial for the legendary Dragonmaster Dyne. His friend Ramus comes running up to him with word of a Dragon Diamond that is supposed to be located in the nearby Dragon’s Cave and that they should get over there quickly to reap the financial benefits of finding such a gem. They run into Luna in the preparation for the trip, who insists on coming with them since she has to make sure they stay safe for the upcoming festival. They come upon a dragon named Quark who senses some potential in Alex to become a Dragonmaster like his hero and gives them a quest to complete before he gives them the Dragon Diamond they seek. It doesn’t seem like this will go far beyond the cliché story that you’d expect from a Japanese RPG, but that doesn’t mean the story still can’t be entertaining once it gets going.
Not having played the original Lunar, we don’t have the nostalgia to really offer that kind of perspective on the demo. The game itself is very much a straight, turn-based RPG with no real frills to the action that really seems like a sign of the era it came from. You just give the characters an order (attack, spell, or use an item) and they will move around the battlefield as much as they can. Alex’s flying pal, Nall, flies above the fight and is supposed to come into play when one of your party members is knocked out, but that wasn’t an issue in the demo since we leveled up often enough that there was no fear for any party member losing their life.
Going through the dungeon, there were a few weird issues that popped up that could make Silver Star Harmony tedious later on. Enemies walk around the dungeon floor so you can pick your battles and attempt to avoid fights if it’s possible. When we did get into a fight, there were a few different groups of enemies that were recycled throughout the dungeon, so if you ran into an Ice Sasquatch, you definitely saw one or two formations that you fought through with the same basic strategy over and over again with little variety. The limited amount of enemies in the dungeon may be the bigger factor here, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see that continue throughout the game.
Another issue we had with the Lunar demo was that the tactic of luring a Sasquatch to path-blocking crystals so they break the crystals, which didn’t become clear until after we cleared a full room of them. We had to leave the area and come back, fight a few more fights, and then use the last Sasquatch to break the crystals so we could be done with the demo. While it’s an interesting solution, it would’ve saved us time if we could just break the crystals ourselves. It’s not really a game-breaking issue, but just something that’s been done better in the decade since this game was originally released.
With this remake, Lunar features a great visual upgrade with new character models and backgrounds that looks good on the PSP. In first area where Alex is at the memorial you see a tree with the leaves waving in the breeze and a beautiful backdrop behind it. The character models are detailed enough that they look like the close-up shots that appear during dialog and cutscenes. The weird part of the visuals is the constantly changing aspect ratio, as it ranges from 4:3 fullscreen for the animated cutscenes that return from the PS1 version to the full widescreen for the rest of the game, though any time you talk to people, a little bit of the right and left edges of the screen are cut off. It’s not a big deal, but it’s just odd to see even a little sliver of the screen being cut off in a situation that doesn’t seem like it should cause that kind of effect.
There is an all-new voice cast for Silver Star Harmony, though the demo doesn’t offer much of a glimpse besides a few characters. You will hear a bit of them talking in dialog outside of cutscenes, though it doesn’t seem to be clear when you should expect that through the course of the game. Each of the five characters in the demo sounded just fine, but that is something that can’t really be judged until there’s a full game to play through. The intro has a new song that seems a bit odd for what it is; though it’s not exactly something we’ll watch much more beyond the first time we see it.
Other than a few small issues, the demo made us quite eager to see how the rest of Lunar: Silver Star Harmony turns out. Not having the nostalgia to judge if the changes are for the better or not, you’ll have to check out the demo on PSN and see for yourself. There is a bonus for completing the demo and saving the game, as you’ll unlock a good weapon that you can use for a good portion of the game. A release date doesn’t seem to have been confirmed just yet, but it’s looking like March 2, 2010 according to a few retailers for the moment. There are two versions being released, a regular edition for $29.99 and a Limited Edition for $39.99 with a CD soundtrack and collectible cards.