Developer: Game Arts / Publisher: Xseed Games / ESRB: Teen (Mild Fantasy Violence, Mild Language, Partial Nudity, Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol) / Played on: PSP / Price: $29.99
The Lunar series has found a spot in the hearts of gamers throughout the decades with its memorable characters, storytelling, and classic RPG gameplay. Lunar: Silver Star Harmony is a remake of the first game in the series, and hopes to continue the tradition of excellence the series has become known for. Finding its home on Sony’s handheld and featuring completely reworked visuals and remixed musical tracks, Silver Star Harmony offers a great deal of new content to make the adventure feel fresh to those that already experienced the adventure years ago, and it still holds up well to today’s standard of what a solid role-playing game should be.
The original game came out for the Sega CD in the early 1990’s, but the reworked graphics in this version are a welcome addition to the game. Backgrounds are vibrantly colored with gardens blooming into life, fountains and statues adorning cities, and cities appearing active with the hustle and bustle of life. Gorgeous scenery accompanies much of the game world, with a great attention to detail put in each location. Sparkling crystals in caves, murky mud in the swamps, and blazing fires in the mountains are just a few locales you’ll have to journey through. Main characters and NPCs that play important roles in the game also have beautifully hand-drawn anime-inspired portraits that go along with their in-game sprites and add a lot of personality to the characters themselves. During battles characters and enemies will act out all of their actions, swinging blades and chanting spells. Spells in particular look very well done, with certain spells later in the game taking up the entire screen in a blaze of effects. Capping off the great visuals are a multitude of elegantly drawn cut scenes that appear at integral points throughout the game. Graphically, Silver Star Harmony looks fantastic and is as fun to look at as it is to play.
Silver Star Harmony tells the story of Alex, a young and ambitious man with aspirations of becoming the next Dragonmaster, a protector of the land of Lunar. After deciding with his friends to go on an adventure, Alex and crew quickly get drawn into a bigger ordeal than they could have possibly imagined.
The gameplay in Silver Star Harmony doesn’t stray far from what you’d expect from any other RPG, but that doesn’t mean the game isn’t fun to play. Your battle party can range anywhere from one person all the way to five and the battles themselves are always fun to fight. Each character has a basic melee attack using their equipped weapon, as well as a variety of magical attacks with different elemental properties assigned to each. An extra attack meter fills up as you progress through battle and can be used to unleash a devastating attack against enemies, which can become vital in later encounters. Battles start out on the easy side but get tough quickly as certain enemies end up being weak only to magic or a certain type of elemental attack. It all results in battles that are constantly engaging and fresh, something that all RPGs strive to achieve.
While the game can feel linear at times it never gets dull or tedious. The story’s pacing is just right, making you want to keep playing just a bit more to see what else happens. You’ll have to do a fair deal of backtracking but the areas you return too are never quite the same as something will be different, or characters in your party will have their own agenda to deal with. One of the only things holding the gameplay back is the load times between zones, which can be almost unbearable at times. Seeing as the game is on a portable system, the ability to save at anytime is a fantastic addition that rounds out a simply outstanding experience.
For as good as Silver Star Harmony looks and plays, it sounds just as wonderful. The remixed music fits the scene, with calm and serene melodies playing in towns and cities and more dramatic pieces sounding off in dungeons. A rather catchy battle tune and a number hummed by characters throughout the game will stay in your head even after turning off the system. The voice acting is both well-done and very believable, helping to add a lot to the character’s personality. Enhancing the atmosphere of the game are the sounds heard outside of dialogue. Slashes from swords, roaring thunder, and the vile cries from monsters all echo during battle, with the sounds of nature (like flowing water and chirping birds) ringing outside of combat. Silver Star Harmony is simply one of the best sounding games on the PSP and features some truly memorable music that is both fitting and enhancing the overall game.
Silver Star Harmony controls just like any other RPG. You’ll move around from map to map, engaging in battles and choosing your commands from menus. There aren’t any special inputs to deal extra damage or cast special spells but rather basic controls to get things done. The game runs off the motto “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it,” and it all handles very well.
Lunar: Silver Star Harmony is an example of how a remake should be. Featuring enhanced and reworked graphics, beautifully remixed music, and a story that still holds up with the best of them, this is an RPG experience that shouldn’t be missed by fans of the genre. If you’ve never played any games in the Lunar series, Silver Star Harmony is a great place to dive in, and a big welcome back to fans of the original.