Lunar 2: Eternal Blue Complete Review
by Lassarina Aoibhell
I came into this game with very high hopes, based on how much I enjoyed Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete. I was expecting the same quirky humor, the traditional battle system, the carefully structured plot and character development, and the lovable characters. In short, I was expecting to love Lunar 2 as I did Lunar. Unfortunately, I was deeply disappointed.
Lunar 2 is set in the same world as the original game a millenium later, and there are constant references back to the original. You get to meet one or two echoes of your previous companions, and those who have played the first game will find constant reminders of the humour and wonder that characterized the first game. You re-visit places you had been before, and a whole host of new areas (the only ones that have really remained the same are Meribia and Vane.) You even get to search out Bromides as you did in the first game, and some of the ones you find reference previous characters, which is pretty cool.
Where the characters in Lunar were quirky and individual, the characters in Lunar 2 are lamentably flat. I wanted to kill Ruby, Lemina, Lucia, and Hiro every time they opened their mouths. I just didn't care what happened to them. The voice-acting was well done, as in the first game, and the characters' various traits were well-displayed. However, in contrast to the first game's efforts to make every character a unique individual, not defined by their role in the party (i.e. the cleric should be a quiet example of faith, the swordsman should be noble and what-not), I felt like I'd seen all these characters before. The character aspect of the game gets a 6 from me.
Plot is another area where the sequel fell far short of the original. In the first game, the villain was very human. He was not merely a 'faceless' evil; he had reasons (and even, perhaps, total justification) for his actions. He was misguided rather than truly evil. The initial game didn't even introduce the first hints of an overarching villain for nearly a quarter of the game. By contrast, Lunar 2 throws the villain at you within the first hour: Zophar, god of darkness, who wishes nothing more than the total destruction of the world of Lunar. His counterpart is Lucia, the mysterious princess of the Blue Star, who must find the Goddess Althena to stop Zophar. After the unique course the first game took with regards to story and villain, I was deeply disappointed at the 'traditional' format of this game. Plot gets a 5.
The gameplay of the first game took a while to grow on me, but once it did, I was quite pleased with it. Lunar 2 took a good basic system and added some innovations that were good, and one that was poor. The poor innovation consisted of introducing a "run" button that only works for a short period of time. Given how slowly Hiro tends to walk in dungeons, I found it very frustrating to stumble around slowly. The "run" button is designed to let you periodically attempt to escape from enemies, and thus I can understand the logic behind not making it a constant thing. However, I found Hiro's slow pace in general to be very frustrating.
Improvements on the gameplay from the first game were manifold. In Lunar, each character's magical skills centered around a single thing. Luna and Jessica could heal, Kyle and Alex killed things, and Mia and Nash launched flaming spells of doom. While this led to each character having a distinct strength, it also made for a lack of flexibility. Lunar 2 addresses this issue on many fronts. First, each character can equip a weapon, a piece of armour, a headpiece, and an armguard, in addition to two accessories which have various effects. Each character can also equip two crests. Each crest grants a specific ability - raising a character's speed or allowing them to use thunder magic, for example. Combining crests grants combination powers - for example, allowing a character to add a magic element to her attack, or allowing water/wind combination magic. This greatly increases the flexibility of each character, allowing them to act in multiple different ways. Also, each character has multiple types of spells. Hiro, for example, can use wind-elemental spells in addition to his powerful sword-magics. Ronfar, the priest, can use healing spells and a few attack spells. It makes for a more balanced and capable party, particularly since many enemies in the game are only weak against physical or magical attacks. Overall, gameplay gets a solid 8.
Like the first game, Lunar 2 makes use of a few recurring themes arranged differently. This was a trait that annoyed me in the first game, and it has only gotten worse in the second. The basic music is not as good, and the repetition makes it worse - deserving of a 4 in my book. The mix of styles is slightly more lighthearted than many RPGs, which goes in tune with LUNAR's tradition of lightheartedness. That is one thing I did enjoy about this game: it preserved the quirky, light tone and the excellent translation. (The official strategy guide also fell in the tradition of the first one - quirky, humourous, and excellently put together.) There is just a wealth of humour and a sense that the game does not take itself too seriously.
The graphics are solid sprite work, which I have found I am more and more fond of in light of some of the more frustrating 3D games which make it difficult to see or navigate. The anime is as smooth and pretty as the previous game, and the crispness of the graphics is in most cases excellent. (The exception is when the game "zooms in" during characters' special spells, which results in jagged pixilated images.) I would give the graphics an 8 (in context with the style).
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