Alex, oh, Alex, where are yoooou?
The first game in the Lunar series is right up there with the best Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest titles as one of the all-time RPG favorites among players. It's also quite possibly the most remade game in history, getting more than three different versions in an 000short span of time. Lunar Silver Star started out as a Sega CD game, got an improved port on Sega Saturn and Sony Playstation a few years later, and is now hitting the PSP in Silver Star Harmony.
[image1]In its numerous remakes, Lunar had its soundtrack reworked, voice acting added in, and even animated cutscenes. Xseed not only reworked everything that was remade before, but also completely revamped the graphics. It gives the game a hand-drawn visual style, making Harmony the ultimate version of Silver Star by far.
Lunar tells the story of Alex and Luna, two kids destined to relive the story of their childhood heroes and save the world from being taken over by an evil tribe that was shunned by the local goddess Althena centuries ago. And as always, a merry band of companions join the group along the way, in typical RPG fashion.
There are numerous additions to the game that pad the story, giving a little more background to events only mentioned in past versions. Instead of the fan favorite "Alex, oh Alex?" initial scene, Silver Star Harmony starts off many years prior, at the final battle between the four heroes of Althena and the bad guy at that point in time, before shifting over to the game's present setting. There are also numerous added scenes during the game that work just like the new introduction, adding interesting bits to the character's backstories. These changes are bound to please series veterans who know all the ins and outs of the game and invisibly help newcomers get acquainted.
Silver Star Harmony is still an old-school traditional RPG through and through. Monsters populate the twisty, curvy dungeons, and grinding is a reality you have to live with in order to reach the game's conclusion. Battles aren't really random in the literal sense of the word, since you can actually see enemies patrol around. Most of the times, though, bumping into them is unavoidable.
[image2]The game's battle system has up to five characters fighting at once in turn-based fashion. Battles can get stale since turns take relatively long to getthrough, and like most turn-based RPGs, enemies can be cheap, focusing their attacks on one of your characters with no chance of defense. Even so, hardly any of the fights prove to be much of a challenge, even the ones in the final portions of the game, thanks to special 'Arts' attacks that each of your characters can use after a short build-up period. These Arts can deal tons of damage, and for one particular character, protects your party from attacks for a few rounds.
As mentioned before, the new presentation is just beautiful. Not only are there animated cut-scenes from the Saturn and Playstation remakes, but the entire game has been redrawn, making it one of the best-looking 2D games on the PSP. Voice work has also been re-recorded and sounds less annoying than previous versions of the game. Sound effects, however, are simply awful and sometimes distracting.
Harmony is probably one of the first games in my mind to make use of its demo's saved data. If you happened to grab the demo that was released before the game came out and finished it, the saved data gives you some added rewards on your playthrough of the actual game. This is an added incentive that is totally accessible to just about anyone, unlike pre-order bonuses or paid DLC.
Lunar: Silver Star Harmony is one of the best RPGs available on the PSP. The added content and reworked presentation are more than enough to warrant a playthrough or two for even the most dedicated fans. Considering how rare and expensive previous versions of the game are these days, this is a gorgeous remake well worth experiencing.