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PSP Review: Lunar: Silver Star Harmony

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Lunar’s story has been told many times throughout gaming history, starting from its original rendition on the Sega CD, continuing to Sony’s original PlayStation and Nintendo’s Game Boy Advance. Regardless of the platform, the story of Alex and his quest to become a dragon master has always made for an interesting tale, one with detailed graphics and cut scenes, enriching music and clever dialogue. These elements of Lunar’s story continue to be present on the latest rendition of the Lunar saga, Lunar: Silver Star Harmony for the PlayStation Portable. In using the PSP platform to tell its story, Lunar has managed to bring all of its strengths to the fore, along with a few of its notable weaknesses.

When you boot up Lunar: Silver Star Harmony on your PlayStation Portable system, two major items will be apparent. The first is a well-done animated introduction that will introduce you to the characters and setting that make up this game. This introduction comes before a quality music track that sounds as pleasant at the beginning as it does at the end.

Once the intro scenes are completed and the game begins proper, the game’s second major item becomes present.  Its existence does its best to ruin what should be a pleasing aural and visual experience.

That second item, the large elephant in the room, is the issue of load times. The loading that exists in Lunar: Silver Star Harmony takes place when you enter houses; go between scenes; and for brief moments, before battles. These load times occur to the point where you can count on being able to eat a sandwich between scene transfers. Fortunately, these loading delays do not distract from the game’s strong audio/visual package, as well as the other strengths present in the game.

One thing in the game that stands out positively is the lack of random encounters. When you enter dungeons, the monsters will be present for you to either attack or avoid. Should you choose to battle them, you will engage in a turn-based system that has become a time-tested RPG standard. A distinguishing battle feature in Lunar: Silver Star Harmony are the Arts Gauge attacks, displayed as meters under your character’s stats. These meters fill up as you do attacks, and once full, allow your characters to do Arts attacks, which are essentially super moves.

Lunar Silver Star Harmony

The dialogue in the game is also another strong point. Effectively complementing the game’s robust musical package, the dialogue is written and pronounced well, for the most part, by the characters. A strange flaw though, is that should you want to skip through the spoken sections, you will have to listen to them mumble their words rather than become silent.

The in-game graphics that the game presents are also well detailed, effectively complementing the many cut scenes that you will see, the sprite graphics are clean throughout and have a certain charm to them that is not always present in ‘modern’ role-playing games.

The quest presentation in Lunar Silver Star Harmony is also well done, with the game making sure that you quickly go from quest to quest at a decent pace. As a nice perk, you are even allowed to fully replenish your HP and MP reserves in statues when you enter a village. While the journey itself treads through familiar territory, it proves to be greater than the sum of its parts thanks to said parts holding it up well.

Lunar Silver Star Harmony

In fact, "well-done," "strong," and "solid" are all perfect words to describe Lunar: Silver Star Harmony, a game that takes well-worn concepts and manages, through creativity, to make them new again. In looking at Lunar: Silver Star Harmony as a complete package, it should prove the most worthwhile to either those who consider themselves a fan of the Lunar tale, or for those that appreciate a good "classic-style" role-playing game in the vein of the older Final Fantasy games. The load times that are present can prove irritating, but it will prove a minor inconvenience once that excellent animated scene or musical moment makes itself known.

Lunar: Silver Star Harmony is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Mild Fantasy Violence, Mild Language, Partial Nudity, Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol. The game, in this iteration, can only be found on PSP.

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About Jason Townsend-Rogers