Mullenkamp's Lunar 2 Review
Email the author: Mullenkamp
The Lunar series has earned itself a large amount of fans. After playing Lunar 2: Eternal Blue, I became one of those fans.
Lunar 2: Eternal Blue doesn't have much going for it at first glance. The main character is a young archeologist/adventurer named Hiro who winds up being tossed into a plot that threatens the world. Hiro meets companions along the way who accompany him to meet the one person who can help explain the situation. I'm going to be truthful with you kind readers; besides that, there's very little to expect from the actual story. There are a number of twists, but some of them aren't going to hit the same chord if you didn't play Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete or Lunar Legend for the GBA. Those games serve as Lunar 2's predecessors and prequel but neither is needed to enjoy Lunar 2. I've never played Lunar: SSSC before or Lunar Legend, (I already knew their plots anyway, actually) but it's not really a requirement. I'd still recommend it though, since Lunar Legend shouldn't be hard to pick up.
If you ask someone about the strength of the Lunar games, I'm not sure the plot will be their first response. Indeed, this game is not meant for people who want large, ambitious stories and fables being painted on a canvas or weaved in a massive tapestry. The Lunar games aren't about that. The graphics aren't prehistoric, but in a few years, seeing as how quickly the game industry is evolving, I can see some people looking at them and shaking their head, at least in their mind. Lunar fits into the same anime-centric mold of graphical style that Grandia was made in as well as a number of 2-D games made during the Playstation's reign. If, dear readers, you haven't played such a game starring that kind of style, you don't need to worry. The graphics are only a part of the focal point of Lunar 2's praise and allure to its fans anyway. The music, while having some memorable pieces and to me, relatively well-sung songs, can be rather forgettable. In that case, what makes this game so different from Grandia or any other RPG out on the Playstation?
It's charm. Working Design has some people writing and translating machines over there. Lunar 2 is an enjoyable game because of it. I remember each of the characters with more fondness than I do the entire cast of Final Fantasy X even. That's not to say Lunar 2 is a game that achieves anything that puts it on par with Final Fantasy X. I'm saying that the game benefited from WD not worrying about making Lunar 2 anymore than what it was: a mediocre RPG. That's all Lunar 2 really is, from its campy battle system to its now rather aged graphics. They didn't try to reach for anything higher than what they wanted. There's no card-battle system or gimmicks to lead you in. Except, perhaps, for the beautiful anime cut scenes that are placed rather evenly into the game. The game is just so well executed, and that it's hard not to enjoy it. By focusing on the one thing that could really change Lunar 2 into a memorable game, the characters, and the sometimes hilarious script, Working Designs has created something that has almost become a classic, but remains overshadowed by the changing times and the raging tide bringing in new, better games.
The game spans three discs, and frankly, I enjoyed myself the whole time I was playing it, but it's clearly not for everyone. The game is a charmer, and while it survives on it's charm and how well-executed it is, it becomes apparent how formulaic it still is. Innovation is not to be found here, but I'll be darned if I cared. There are few RPG's that actually make me want to talk to every person walking around town to hear what they say, but eventually it gets old. I've heard one person say that Warioware is an ideal rental game, but buying it wouldn't be the best thing to do. Lunar 2, like Warioware, may start to lose it's magic after the first few times you beat it because you can only be amazed by a snake charmer or the same old belly dancer doing the same routine over and over again so many times. At first, that belly dancer was beautiful, but a decade later, when those wrinkles now etched in her face make her look like a crudely done carving, try as you might you'll eventually have to stand up and say like B.B. King once dared to sing, "Now, the thrill is gone."
It's easy to see why some people view Lunar 2: Eternal Blue as nothing more than a campy RPG that doesn't deserve all this praise. Lunar 2: Eternal Blue could easily be bundled up with all the other RPG's, such as Grandia and Suikoden, that came out on the Playstation. I think so many people are attracted to it because of how accessible and well executed it is. There are so many games that pride themselves on their unique setting, such as Shadow Hearts, or their enjoyable battle systems, like Star Ocean 3: 'Till the End of Time does, and by doing so lose focus on more important parts of the game. Star Ocean 3 suffers from degenerating into a game that has at times lousy execution of it's plot devices that become even less forgivable when you can find the answers to some of the most important plot twists from the in-game dictionary a dozen hours before the game reveals them. Shadow Hearts has a translation that at times doesn't makes sense and isn't afraid to let more than a couple errors pop in here and there, amongst many other faults.
Plus, Lunar 2 comes in one of the most captivating and wonderful box sets to come with a game. That's just another way of showing Working Designs skill at bringing in and then fulfilling fans. It's refreshing to find a game that, by most accounts, tells you what it is, and delivers, instead of relying on one part of itself to fix problems that are at times easy to spot and take care of. The only problems with Lunar 2 are things I can forgive, because they’re the same problems that any mediocre RPG of the Playstation era usually dealt with. It's an easy game. It doesn't bear anything incredibly innovative on it's back. It has aged graphics that are only getting older by the day. It's been awhile though, since I've played a game that's only fault can be seen by the genre it's placed in and the era it was made. Faults that I was aware right as the game started on its way. There's a certain integrity and admiration I have for this game, because it stands and delivers. You can get it for thirty dollars, with the box and it's contents on Ebay. I'd say the game is worth at least that.