Codex Gamicus

The Lunar Silver Star story has been told and retold a number of times. Lunar Legend carries it to handheld territory, and as should be expected, changes the game's play and story in the process. Unfortunately, most of the changes aren't for the better.

As one of the relatively long-standing RPGs today, Lunar has relied on its humorous storytelling and basic, enjoyable gameplay to prosper. Lunar Legend denigrates both of these, with little to show in recompense. Some changes are understandable in the conversion to a portable platform, but others are really a mystery.


Lunar Legend's story is at once interesting and not. In the small town of Burg, Alex, the main character, has always wished to go on adventures like his hero, the legendary Dragonmaster Dyne. When a magic apprentice from a far-off city comes to Burg looking for the White Dragon, just such an adventure begins for Alex and his friends, and through some hardships and kidnappings, they travel the world in the quest to save it (and for Alex to become a Dragonmaster). The plot has some twists in it, and the storytelling sometimes presents these well; but most of the time it lazily proclaims, in so many words, "just go to the next area."


As a two-dimensional, random-encounter, turn-based RPG, Lunar Legend holds few surprises. Your party can hold up to five characters at peak times (these characters are selected based on story progression - there's no party member switching available), and each character has pre-set abilities he or she learns at certain levels. There's a healer, an offensive magic user, a physical attacker, and so on. Each character has a bar below their stats, which gradually fills up as that character attacks; when it's full, he (or she) can execute a special ability which drains the whole bar. There are a few special actions available in battle, namely, Auto (the AI automatically chooses a physical attack for all your characters, with a random enemy target) and Tactic (similar to auto with random targets, but the actions can be pre-planned on another screen outside battle).

It's nice and basic. Unfortunately, there are some gameplay facets and features which make the game excruciatingly easy to play in all but the rarest circumstances. A magic dragon-cat-thing, Nall, follows Alex on his adventure; if someone in your party dies in battle, Nall has a random chance of reviving them at no cost. Saving the game saves your precise location, and loading it will bring you back to exactly where you were before; which wouldn't be so bad, if not used in tandem with the fact that loading a game completely restores the HP and MP of every party member. Enemies themselves are almost always a cinch (both weak and stupid), to the point where a large portion of the game can be passed with ease by simply letting Auto, as dumb as it is, do the job. Later in the game, this strategy may also involve healing occasionally. And Lunar Legend's idea of a dungeon puzzle (of which there are roughly two in the entire game) is walking over/through a few switches/doors in the proper sequence.


The graphics are nice and clean for a handheld, and some effects look pretty good. Single-frame cutscenes for specific story moments look alright, but are always presented in the same cheesy fade-to-white manner. Sound effects are mediocre. The game's music is best when muted - the quality is horrendous, comparable to (perhaps) a Game Boy Color game. An unlockable Sound Test is more of a punishment than a reward.


With gameplay easier than easy, an awful soundtrack, and some mistranslations to boot, Lunar Legend is a far cry from legendary. If you want a passable GBA RPG to whittle away your time, Lunar Legend might be worth a look - but otherwise, and especially if you want to get a glimpse of Lunar itself, stay far, far away. There are other, more successful iterations than this.