Lunar: Silver Star Harmony
I'm writing a review of this game because I've been playing it recently and I need to vent a little bit, as well as have a bit of a fan-gasm. So read on if it interests you.
Let's start with the good:
The in-game graphics are much improved. The game moved from a top down 8-bit RPG style layout in the PSX remake with tiny sprites to a 3/4 isometric view with beautiful painted backgrounds and a large assortment of big, high resolution (for the PSP) animated sprites which look a LOT more like the characters than they did in the PSX version.
The music has been redone, and it shows.
There are added cutscenes and dialog which add depth to the story, give more motivation and personality to the characters although, if you haven't played any of the previous games a few of the big plot twists are essentially given away (see: all of them) right from the get-go.
The voice acting and re-working of the script are both a step up, and there is more voice-acting for regular dialog scenes which is a nice touch.
And then there's the bad:
While less obnoxious than in the Final Fantasy Tactics remake where the slow-down was murderous, the limitations of the PSP show pretty clearly. Maps are much smaller than in the originals (though they do maintain the same geographical integrity if you will - item/shop/building locations relative to one another are for the most part similar if not the same) and the loading in between screens really bogs down gameplay. The music cuts in and out in between every screen that has to load, it has to sloowwwly fade to black and back in, and the fact that maps are smaller means that you'll be loading screens much more frequently. There are a few instances where you'll find yourself in this situation:
- walk into a house (load)
- walk through the foyer into the main house (load)
- enter an empty kitchen with stairs. Go upstairs (load)
- enter an empty bedroom with no one and nothing in it, turn around to leave (load)
- walk back through empty kitchen into foyer (load)
- walk back out of foyer into town (load)
That's six times you have to interrupt your game just to walk in and out of an empty house which serves no purpose. Not even a single line of the game's trademark witty dialog from an NPC to reward you for your obnoxiously over-lengthened trek.
Battles. They're much prettier than the original games in every way. The sprites are well done, the animations are higher quality, there are special limit break type moves now that are cool and helpful. But battles have some SERIOUS flaws. Even if you take advantage of the Tactics feature (and I have been abusing this to it's full potential) to save yourself the time of individually selecting attacks for each character during random encounters, lowering the button press count to 2 presses per round if you do it right, each round of combat takes about 30 seconds or more and most random battles are 2 - 3 rounds unless you are ridiculously overpowered or wasting MP like a mofo.
Every special attack has a charge up animation whether it's a spell or a special ability or whatever. If it isn't a normal physical attack, it has a charge up animation. Even random enemies have charge up animations for all their attacks, and even melee-centric enemies have special attacks which they will use ALL. THE TIME. If you're fighting 6 enemies and you don't kill them all on that first round before they move (and you won't), you'll be stuck sitting there watching them charge up for two seconds each, then execute their attack for another 2 seconds each. That doesn't sound like a lot but it adds up. The smaller maps mean that enemies are often clustered together forcing you to fight many similar battles in a row without making much physical progress through the dungeon and it gets frustrating when it takes a half hour to cross a single room because you have to fight 6 battles. Allied characters also have charge ups for all their specials, and it just makes me wish that there were a Pokemon-like Battle Animations Off option to speed things up until you get to a boss.
This one is a bit nit-picky I admit, but the animated cut-scenes are all ripped directly from the PSX version which was obviously done for a 4:3 aspect ratio which ... the PSP isn't. And instead of redoing them or adding to them or anything all the cutscenes are now simply black boxed into the center of the screen. Also the voice acting for Dyne sucks and I hate him. =u= He sounds so bland and lame lol.
I know it seems like a lot more bad than good, but I'm still going to finish the game and I'm still having a lot of fun with it despite my grievances. I would recommend that people play the PSX version first, rather than using this version as their introduction to the series just because the plot twists are still intact in the previous version, and this one I feel is more like a tribute to the series designed to flesh out some of the finer plot points and make it prettier because they know their audience mostly knows the story already so they feel free to just let it all be revealed early on.
If you want to discuss anything I said about the game or the series or anything in general I will do my best to answer any comments left on this journal - I'm pretty good about answering comments so feel free.