Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete, originally released in Japan as simply , is a console role-playing game developed by Game Arts and Japan Art Media as a remake of Lunar: The Silver Star. Initially released on the Sega Saturn in 1996, the game has gone through several variations, beginning with enhanced video support in conjunction with the Saturn's MPEG graphics add-on in 1997, and later being ported to Sony's PlayStation in 1998. In 1999, the PlayStation version was released in North America by Working Designs, who had also produced the English adaptation of the original game.
While the overall plot remains true to the original, accommodations are made to the game's story to allow for a larger, richer cast, as well as additional scenarios. Like its forerunner, the game follows the exploits of Alex, a young boy from a small, humble town who enters a life of adventure and intrigue after being chosen as the heir-apparent to the title of "Dragonmaster", guardian of the forces of the planet. With the help of his expanding band of companions, Alex must pass the trials set by ancient dragons to claim his place in history, and stop a powerful sorcerer and former hero from controlling the world.
Since its English release, Silver Star Story has garnered much attention from critics for its use of fluid full-motion animated sequences, lavish game packaging, and quality of the English script. The game was followed by a sequel, Lunar 2: Eternal Blue Complete in 1998.
Silver Star Story Complete is a traditional, top-down console role-playing game featuring two-dimensional character and background graphics. Using the Sega Saturn and PlayStation's advanced hardware, many elements of the original game's presentation have been altered, including a larger color palette, more sophisticated visual effects, and improved sound quality. Throughout gameplay, the story is interspersed with fully animated cut scenes designed to give the game a cinematic feel, and allow the player to get more involved in the game's plot. Players advance the game's narrative by completing story-based objectives and interacting with non-player characters. In the original version, players encountered enemy monsters randomly every few steps when traveling in a harsh environments, while the remake now makes enemies visible, with combat ensuing only after a character has come in contact with one.
Many of the game's new battle features were adapted from Lunar: Eternal Blue, including the auto-battle feature that allows players to set moves and actions in advance. While in combat, a player may choose to attack an enemy, move about the battlefield, use magic or items, stand their ground and defend, or flee the battle entirely. Silver Star Story Complete retains the original version's movement feature, which requires characters to be within a certain distance of an enemy before it can be attacked. Battles are won when all enemies are defeated, yielding experience points that allow characters to gain levels, making them stronger as well as allowing access to better abilities. By gaining levels, as well as finding or purchasing increasingly more powerful weapons and armor, characters can battle increasingly more powerful enemies as the game progresses. New to the remake are collectible, often risqué, photographs of the game's cast called "bromides", and candid bathing scenes which are found in specific locations at various portions throughout the game for limited periods, which were added to the game as fan service and to increase replay value.
Ghaleon, a dark magician who seeks godhood, serves as the primary antagonist, and initially appears as an ally to Alex's cause. In the new version, Ghaleon's personality is altered to make him a more sympathetic character. Motivation for his plans to rule the world were shifted from revenge to misplaced concern for humanity not having a true leader. Game Arts added new villains to the story, feeling that the game's opposition lacked enough characterization. These include Royce and Phacia, two powerful sorceresses who are sisters to Xenobia, Ghaleon's top general who appeared in the original as his sole underling.
Traveling through the Weird Woods, Luna sings a magic song to clear a patch of thick fog in their path, yet is not sure how she knew it would work. The group is surrounded by a horde of monsters, and are defended by a traveling warrior named Laike. Finding Alex's quest to become Dragonmaster humorous, Laike nonetheless wishes him and his friends luck as they leave the forest. Arriving at Saith, the group meets Nash, a magician-in-training from a prestigious magic school who needs transport back to his home, and joins the group on a boat to the eastern continent. Unlike the original Sega-CD version, Luna continues with Alex rather than stay behind to give her a bigger role in the plot. After arriving in the port town of Meribia, Ramus leaves the group to become a salesman at his own shop, while the rest of the team travels to the floating city of Vane to meet Ghaleon, a former adventurer who traveled with Dyne before his death. Ghaleon sends Alex and Luna on a quest to stop a false Dragonmaster from harassing a village where he meets Jessica, a priestess and daughter of the legendary hero "Hell" Mel. Returning to Vane, Ghaleon tells Alex he wants to see Quark to discuss his future as Dragonmaster, with Luna joining them on a return trip to Burg. After arriving at the dragon cave, Ghaleon and Quark reminisce before Ghaleon cryptically asks whether Luna is "the one from back then". Upon hearing an affirmation, Ghaleon's mood changes, and suddenly transforms into a more sinister form, The Magic Emperor, who turns Quark to energy and kidnaps Luna, remarking that he will now use her in his quest to rule the world.
Traveling back to Meribia, Alex re-groups with Jessica, Mia, and Nash, helping them fend off an invasion from the Vile Tribe, Ghaleon's monster-like army. With the help of Jessica's boyfriend Kyle, Alex and his friends travel the world obtaining the power of the three remaining dragons, allowing Alex to become Dragonmaster. After destroying Ghaleon's mobile fortress, The Grindery, at the expense of the entire stock of Vane's magic, Alex leads an unsuccessful attempt at defeating Ghaleon with his new power. While the Grindery served as the final scenario in the original, Ghaleon now retreats to his new base, the long hidden Goddess Tower, to plan the next phase of his scheme. Despondent, Alex returns home to contemplate his next action. He encounters Laike, who tells him his secret: he is the famous Dragonmaster Dyne, now without his power.
The game's final scenario and the reason for Ghaleon's actions differ slightly from the original, with the Goddess Althena's instability serving as the catalyst for the events rather than a rampaging Black Dragon. In this version, Laike relates the story of how one day fifteen years ago, the Goddess Althena's powers grew beyond even her control; the excess energy she emitted threatening to engulf the entire world. As Dragonmaster Dyne, Laike served as a human conduit for Althena's energy, and had the ability to pacify her rage and transform her into her former self. However, despite Ghaleon's pleas, Dyne, with Althena's silent support, instead decided to rid her of her godhood completely to prevent the incident from ever happening again, resulting in her being reborn as a human infant in his arms. Ghaleon, believing humanity could not survive without a god watching over them, cut off all ties to his former friend and set his plan into motion to ascend to godhood himself in Althena's place; his cause set on rule rather than revenge as in the original. Believing that humanity was strong and resourceful enough to live on their own, Dyne left the young girl in the care of Alex's parent to raise her as their own daughter before he began his new life as a traveling adventurer. Now knowing the truth of Luna's origins, Alex and his friends travel to the Goddess tower to save her and stop Ghaleon from seizing control of the world. Defeating his generals, Alex confronts Ghaleon at the tower's upper pagoda, where the ritual to transfer Luna's power to him has already begun. Echoing Dyne's earlier declaration on the strength of humanity, Alex's team attacks and defeats Ghaleon as his fortress crumbles around them. With Luna still caught in a trance, Alex attempts to reason with her to leave while the others are teleported to safety. Playing his ocarina, Alex awakens Luna's memories before the two are transported to the surface as the tower collapses, re-uniting with their companions.
For the North American release, Victor Ireland had expressed interest in replacing many of the new themes with ones from the Sega-CD version, including the original opening theme "Fighting Through the Darkness". After translating the game, however, Working Designs was left with very little extra space on each game disc, and the idea was abandoned. Many of the arranged songs meant for the English release were included on a special soundtrack packaged with the collector's edition. The English version features the opening theme, "Wings", performed by Jennifer Stigile, who also performs "Wind's Nocturne", as well as a unique instrumental ending theme, "Credits Song", provided by Iwadare that replaces the Japanese version.
|Alex||Akira Ishida||Ashley Angel|
|Luna||Kyōko Hikami||Rhonda Gibson|
|Nall||Junko Hagimori||Jackie Powers|
|Ramus||Yasuhiro Takato||Nancy Davis|
|Nash||Daisuke Sakaguchi||Leif Huckman|
|Mia Ausa||Yōko Asada||Jackie Powers|
|Jessica D'Alkirk||Haruna Ikezawa||Melissa Gulden|
|Kyle||Tomokazu Seki||John Haas|
|Quark||Yūsaku Yara||Hal Delahousse|
|Laike / Dyne||Akio Ohtsuka||Blake Dorsey|
|Mel D'Alkirk||Yūsaku Yara||Keith Lack|
|Lemia Ausa||Aya Hara||Dixie Garret|
|Ghaleon||Kiyoyuki Yanada||John Truitt|
|Royce||Machiko Toyoshima||Jennifer Stigile|
|Phacia||Sakura Tange||Paula Angel|
|Xenobia||Aya Hara||Katheryn Kirk|
|Tempest||Yasunori Masutani||Chad Letts|
|Fresca||Sakura Tange||Melissa Gulden|
|Myght||Yūsaku Yara||Dean Williams|
Silver Star Story Complete features twenty voiced characters, four times the original version. The characters' voices are used in pre-designated cut scenes, animated interludes and when using special attacks in battle. The English cast was comprised of family and friends of the Working Designs staff, as well as local talent from the area. Ashley Angel, Rhonda Gibson, Jackie Powers, Hal Delahousse, and John Truitt reprise their roles as Alex, Luna, Nall, Quark, and Ghaleon respectively, and were joined by a number of new talents to fill out the game's expanded speaking roles. Working Designs had considered replacing Angel, as Victor Ireland felt he may have aged too much to convincingly play a young boy, but reconsidered after his rehearsal, commenting that "the players have all aged a bit since the original, so Alex could have aged a bit, too". While the English cast returned, the Japanese version was completely re-cast from the Sega-CD original, bringing in several established anime and game voice actors, including pop idol Sakura Tange. A four-volume sound drama album series, Lunatic Festa, was released in Japan between August and November 1996 featuring the Japanese voice actors performing skits and songs in-character, as well as arranged music tracks from the game.
In late 1995, California-based software company Working Designs, who had previously provided the translation for the original Silver Star, signed on to produce the English-language version. The company originally expressed interest in localizing the Saturn version under the name Lunar: Silver Star Story Director's Cut to be released in Fall 1996. The initial project was dropped due to internal conflicts between Working Designs and Sega of America, and work began on the PlayStation version in 1998. Silver Star Story Complete was headed by company president Victor Ireland, who also served as head translator and localizer. Like the original game, the English version features a lighthearted, non-literal interpretation of the original Japanese script while retaining the same basic story, which now includes American pop culture references, breaking the fourth wall, and slapstick humor. Working Designs kept in close contact with the original Japanese team, adding several new features to the North American version including DualShock controller support, the ability to switch between memory card slots on the save screen, and the ability to create up to fifteen save files instead of three. Programming and production difficulties stifled progress, resulting in numerous delays and changing release dates until the game's eventual release in May 1999. A stand-alone demo version of the game was distributed to several game stores across the United States which preceded the final version, as well as a Ghaleon punching puppet available with pre-order.
Silver Star Story Complete was initially released in North America as a limited collector's edition which included two game discs, a hardbound instruction manual, a soundtrack CD, a "Making of Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete" special disc, and a cloth map of the Lunar world. The package retailed for US$60.00 to cover the cost of the elaborate extras. Working Designs would also publish their own strategy guide for the game, also billed as a collector's item. Ireland's team would add an easter egg to the "Making of" video disc in the form of a minigame based on Atari's arcade game Warlords called Lords of Lunar accessed by using a code found in-game. In February 2002, a special "Fan-Art Edition" of the game was released featuring disc artwork by contributors to the Working Designs website, which lacked the extras of the collector's edition. A Windows-based PC version of Silver Star Story was released in Japan in December 1999 by DigiCube featuring higher resolution graphics and video playback. Working Designs had expressed interest in bringing this version to North America in 2002, but claimed that the English version was too buggy and unstable to be released.
The Saturn version of Silver Star Story was well received in Japan, with Weekly Sega Saturn Magazine recognizing it as one of the most memorable gaming experiences of 1997. The PlayStation version received a 7 out of 10 score from Hyper PlayStation magazine, remarking that although it contained lower quality visual effects and movie playback than the previous Saturn releases, it still remained a solid role-playing game. It sold enough to qualify for Sony's "PlayStation the Best" distinction, and was subsequently re-released in Japan in April 1999 at a budget price.
Silver Star Story Complete sold over 223,000 units within its first year in North America, including the entire production run of the four-disc collector's edition. The game became the highest-selling Working Designs title to date, and the second highest-selling role-playing game of 1999 behind Final Fantasy VIII. A heavy media push in magazines and websites brought recognition to the game, and alerted customers that Working Designs planned to cease production of the title starting December 31, 1999. English reviews of the game were typically favorable, with critics such as Electronic Gaming Monthly remarking that Lunars "plot, writing and voice acting are about the best you'll find", awarding the game a 9 out of 10 and an editor's choice gold award. The game's translation was equally applauded by PlayStation: The Official Magazine, calling it "spotless", and remarking that Working Designs' unique humor was applied to every bit of text in the game, including weapon descriptions. Official PlayStation Magazine remarked that "what little [Lunar] lacks in visual punch, it more than makes up for in style, story and wholly engrossing gameplay" calling attention to the game's programming and extra packaging.
The game's two-dimensional graphics were among its most panned feature, with GamePro commenting that the "flat battle areas, wimpy spells, and itty-bitty enemies will assault your eyes", citing the in-game animated cut scenes as the only saving grace. Game Informer conversely declared that the animated interludes were grainy and often would not display in true fullscreen, but remarked that it was "really a small gripe because Lunar has an entertaining story filled with enjoyable quips". Gamers' Republic recognized the inferiority of Lunars graphics to current role-playing games, but nonetheless found them "charming". GameSpot simply described the graphics as "truly dated", adding that many of Lunars aesthetic qualities could be re-created on a Super Nintendo. Technology magazine Silicon Mag called the game a "masterpiece", awarding it a 95% rating and declared it an asset to the game industry, calling it "a game that will sell systems, with gamers actually buying PlayStations just to play it". In 2000, Silver Star Story Complete ranked 22nd in IGN's "Top 25 PlayStation Games of All Time" list, while in 2001 Electronic Gaming Monthly ranked it 75th on its list of the top 100 games of all time.