Today’s game was requested by Grant, one of my patrons.
There was a point in my life, a more innocent time, when I fancied myself a bit of a game collector. This was, of course, before the real world hit me in the face with a torrent of mean, yet not entirely unfair questions like “when are you going to have time to play all of these?” and “do you really need two 3DOs?” I admit that maybe I lacked a bit of foresight, but the pursuit of collecting rare items that I could then interact with, that actually served a purpose, was unbearably attractive to me. Maybe I’d be the only person in my social circle that ever played Koudelka or could say that I had a near-mint copy of Suikoden II. Neither of these things were going help me with my career pursuits or love life, but dammit, I needed a full collection of Playstation RPGs and import Saturn shooters.
As it turned out, I didn’t actually need two 3DOs. (Many would argue I didn’t need one.) As for finding time to invest in all of those RPGs? Yeah, that didn’t pan out either, which was doubly unfortunate because that was a golden era for the genre, when seemingly hundreds of role playing games were finding their way over from Japan, all unique and weird in their own way and usually with some sort of overblown special edition. Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete was no different, coming with four discs, a hardcover booklet, and even a cloth map, swag that would no doubt be offered to pre-order customers these days. Of course, if Lunar was to be released again (and it’s been released a lot), it would likely be a limited run on the Vita or something. The market for the traditional Japanese RPG just isn’t what it used to be.
This is why I’ve always been a bit weary to go back to them. I’ve long since sold a lot of that collection, realizing that living paycheck to paycheck wasn’t really a lifestyle that could justify thrift store runs for old sports games, but I did hold on to Lunar, probably because that cloth map is really really sweet, but also because a part of me hoped that I’d once again find the time in my life for some old school adventuring. I don’t think I’ll ever revert back into the mindset of thinking that grinding for XP is fun, and Lunar certainly requires a lot of it in the beginning, but eventually, things even out. I’d forgotten that the bosses in the game actually level with you and that there was a bit of strategy to the battle system that I hadn’t quite caught on to.
Once I got the hang of things, Lunar was actually much much easier than I remembered, possibly due to some tweaking by Working Designs on the Playstation version. The consensus seems to be that their version, out of the five times Silver Star has been remade, is the definitive one. I’d say it’s mostly due to the well-told, albeit basic, story and the inclusion of still timely pop culture references that WD loved to include in all of their localizations. Something about fantasy worlds having awareness of Courtney Love and Weezer that I always enjoyed.
Does it all hold up? For the most part, though I definitely stopped playing 50 hour RPGs for a reason. The fact that the main love story revolves around a dude and his sister and that said (underage) sister then goes through a transformation into a thong-wearing witch come off as more than a little squicky in these modern times. Long passed are the days where I can just shrug my shoulders and go “well, it’s Japanese”, but I can, at least, try to contextualize it in the time it was made.
It was the 90s. I did a lot of stupid things in the 90s.