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Capsule Review - Lunar 2: Eternal Blue

Title Lunar 2: Eternal Blue
Developer Game Arts
Year 2000
Platform Saturn/PSX
Capsule Rating
Capsule Review:

With Lunar: Silver Star Story, Working Designs hit on an unexpectedly successful formula: take an old game with outdated graphics and an unremarkable story, repackage it with anime cutscenes and a new, humorous translation, and release it in a lavish box set with a soundtrack and other accessories. It worked perfectly. The new translation was funny, the cutscenes were well-made, and the story cheerfully embraced its own unoriginality. So Working Designs did what anyone would do upon finding success: they beat their successful formula into the ground, and gave exactly the same treatment to Lunar 2: Eternal Blue, the sequel to Lunar: Silver Star Story.

And actually, it still works pretty well. They fixed some of the most annoying aspects of the gameplay in Silver Star Story. Most notably, now your characters can use any of your items in battle, whereas in the first game, they could only use up to five items that you had to give them in advance. This makes battles much more straightforward. Characters now have many more skills and abilities, and there's one special character whom you can't control, but who will help you out on the battlefield. As in the first game, you're accompanied by a baby dragon, but this time she takes a more active role in the battles.

The script is once again well-written, this time as a collaboration between company president Victor Ireland and freelance video game journalist Zach Meston. But the problem is that the characters just don't talk to each other as much as in the first game. The constant bickering between Kyle and Jessica in the first game was hilarious, and really brightened up the dialogue. Nobody really does that here. Most of the jokes come from Ronfar, a preacher/gambler with a perverted sense of humour, but there's not that much conversation. Usually the exchanges devolve into Ruby, your dragon, toasting Ronfar with her fire breath.

It gets worse. The dancer/martial artist Jean is an interesting idea for a character, but her subplot is by far the dumbest part of the game. Basically, she was enslaved in her childhood by the evil Shadow Dragon Cult, which practices a martial art called the Shadow Dragon Fist, and her quest is to defeat the Cult by using a form of good karate called the Blue Dragon Fist. So there's a lot of idiotic talk about the difference between good karate and evil karate, and then you have to beat the Cult in a martial arts tournament. I kept wondering - why does the Cult need to enslave anybody? The game says that the Cult trains them to be assassins, but it never actually assassinates anybody. It's kind of strange that they'd set up such a complicated operation just to win first place in a non-lethal contest. Actually, it's not strange, it's dumb.

Your main character is agreeable enough, and his love interest is a beautiful otherworldly girl, but their romance never really develops that much. The problem is that Lucia spends most of her time yelling earnestly about how important it is to save the world. The few scenes where she tries to learn about humanity are very good, but there's just not enough of them. The great thing about the first game was that Luna had such a warm personality. But here, I have to say, for all that I respect the translators, they don't seem to be on very familiar ground with the love story, so when the big cutscene showing Hiro and Lucia alone together appears, Lucia yells "Leave me alone!" like a little girl, and runs off for no real reason. Compare that to the great cutscene in the first game showing Alex and Luna departing for Meribia, where Luna sang a quite charming song.

You get to revisit some of the places from the original game, and even meet some of the people from it as well. One of your characters turns out to be the descendant of Mia Ausa. Unlike Mia, she's money-grubbing and materialistic when you first meet her, but later on she does become much nicer. You also meet Ghaleon, who does very little throughout the game, like they only put him in to make a connection to the first game. In fact, his appearance underscores the fact that Eternal Blue has fewer interesting characters. The villain, Zophar, is an evil god who wants to rule the world. He constantly laughs in an irritatingly melodramatic fashion, but the thing is, he doesn't really do anything. Unlike, say, Kefka, who committed quite a few atrocities in his quest for power, Zophar really does nothing until the very end, and has no personality to speak of.

The graphics are exactly the same as in the first game. The music is actually pretty good, but there isn't that much of it. Many tracks are reused over and over, and usually the worst ones come up the most frequently. And the story, as I've explained, is really not that strong, and even the new translation can't quite make it look good. So, this game is of interest only to fans of the first game. Everyone else should just get Silver Star Story instead.