The Lunar games are a series of role-playing video games, developed by Game Arts in Japan and published in the United States by Working Designs, Ubisoft, and Xseed Games. The original releases of The Silver Star and Eternal Blue, were published for Mega-CD in Japan and Sega CD in North America. They were later remade for the Japanese Sega Saturn with considerable story, graphical, and musical changes. These remakes were later ported to the PlayStation in Japan and North America. The first game was also ported to the Microsoft Windows computer platform in Japan and Korea, and was later remade for the Game Boy Advance and PSP in Japan and North America. A side-story game, Lunar: Walking School for the Game Gear, was also remade for the Sega Saturn but has seen no North America release in any form. Backed by publisher Ubisoft, Game Arts created a new Lunar installment for the Nintendo DS, released in September 2005 in North America.
The Lunar series is noted for its high level of NPC interaction, well composed music, and excellent characterization of the main protagonists. Much of the flavor of the English language versions of Lunar series games (the sense of humor, bubbly character voices, etc.) is thanks to the colorful translation job done by Working Designs.
The Lunar stories take place on an inhabitable moon called Lunar, or "The Silver Star" that orbits a planet known as "The Blue Star" (later revealed to be the planet Earth itself). Thousands of years ago, the Blue Star was infected with evil by a dark god named Zophar. His evil corrupted the hearts of people, turning some into monsters to do his bidding. The survivors cried out to the patron deity of the Blue Star, a goddess named Althena, for help. She confronted Zophar in an epic battle, and was only able to stop him by using her powers of creation to seal him in another dimension, destroying nearly all life on the planet in the process.
Unable to restore the planet until several millennia had passed, Althena instead chose to transform the planet's moon into an Earthlike world, and transported the survivors there. These included not only humans but also a race of "beast-men", and another race of elf-like beings skilled in wielding magic. They would later come to be known as "The Vile Tribe" after they rejected Althena's teachings. She was forced to banish them to an area of Lunar called "The Frontier," a barren wasteland where even Althena's magical power could not reach. They became enemies of Althena and her followers for thousands of years.
To protect Lunar, Althena created four intelligent Dragons - a white one, a red one, a blue one, and a black one - that each shared a part of her divine power. There are only four Dragons at any given time, though they are replaced over time with younger ones. Strangely, during their infancy, these dragons resemble talking, winged cats, until they claim the power of their predecessor and ascend to adulthood. The Dragons spend most of their time sleeping underground until they are needed.
Althena also decreed that there would be a champion called The Dragonmaster to lead Lunar's heroes; this person would be anyone who managed to make their way to the hidden lairs of the Four Dragons, and pass their harrowing trials. There have been many Dragonmasters across the centuries, and many on Lunar have strived to achieve that title.
The people of Lunar became very devoted to Althena, though many remember Lunar's origins as only an old legend. The various Lunar games and manga cover different events in Lunar's history.
Lunar: The Silver Star
Released in Japan in June 1992 and later in North America the following year in December 1993, Lunar: The Silver Star was Game Arts' first true console RPG. Utilizing the Mega-CD's graphic capabilities, the game made use of animated cutscenes placed at specific points in the story. This would later become a trademark of the series.
This is the first game to tell the story of Alex, a boy who longs to become a Dragonmaster, servant of the Goddess Althena, and champion of justice.
Lunar: Eternal Blue
Game Arts' second game in the series was also released for the Mega-CD in Japan in December 1994 and the Sega CD in North America in September 1995. This game saw improvements in both graphics and sound, as well as being a much longer game. Taking place 1,000 years after Lunar: The Silver Star, it told the story of Hiro, an adventurer who gets caught up in a quest to save the world from an ancient evil known as Zophar.
Lunar: Walking School
This game was only released in Japan for the Sega Game Gear in March 1995. Though it deviates from the play style of the first two games (mostly due to the limitations of the Game Gear hardware), it takes place in the same world, and even though it was released after Lunar: The Silver Star, it takes places hundreds of years before it. In this game, the hero is a girl named Ellie who must solve the mystery of a magic school while stopping the resurrection of a great evil presence known only as "D".
Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete
Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete was initially released for the Sega Saturn in Japan in October 1996. An enhancement of Lunar: Silver Star Story, now entitled Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete MPEG Version was released for the Sega Saturn in Japan in July 1997. Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete was later ported to the PlayStation in both Japan (May 1998) and North America (May 1999) but lacked the high quality movies the Saturn's MPEG version had. This version benefited from having improved animated scenes over the Saturn original, but also had new music composed by Two Five. The American release was renowned for its elaborate packaging, which included two bonus disks: a "Making of Lunar" disk and the soundtrack for the game. Also included was a cloth map of the Lunar world and a hard back manual with an excerpt from the official guide book. A North American release was planned for the Saturn version, but was scrapped due to controversy between Working Designs and Sega, and the Saturn's failing support in the US market. It was later followed by a PC port in both Japan (1998) and Korea (1999).
Lunar 2: Eternal Blue Complete
Just as the original Lunar benefited from being remade on a new console, so did Lunar 2. Originally released for the Sega Saturn in July 1998 in Japan (still under the original title, Lunar: Eternal Blue), as well as a PlayStation port in Japan in the summer of 1999 and America in December 2000, Eternal Blue had its graphics, sound, and animation revamped. The American version was given gracious special packaging courtesy of Working Designs which included two bonus disks: a "Making of Lunar 2" disk and the soundtrack for the game. Also included was a hard-back manual with an excerpt from the official guide book and an Omake box containing a map of the Lunar 2 world, character mini-standees, and a full-size replica of Lucia's pendant in a cloth pouch.
Magic School Lunar!
A remake of Lunar: Walking School released solely for the Sega Saturn in Japan in October 1997. Once again, the graphics and sound were upgraded, and the battle sequences were made to resemble the rest of the series. New animated scenes were also added where there had previously been none.
A re-telling of the story of the first Lunar for the Game Boy Advance released in April 2001 in Japan and in North America the following December. It was the first game to not be published by Working Designs, and was instead handled by Ubisoft, which would explain its unique translation. Though many elements of Silver Star Story Complete are present, it adds new plot points while getting rid of others.
Known as Lunar: Dragon Song when it was released in North America, Lunar Genesis is the first original Lunar game in nearly a decade. It also has the distinction of being the very first traditional role-playing video game for the Nintendo DS. The story takes place 1,000 years before Lunar: The Silver Star, making it the earliest game in the series chronologically. It tells the story of a courier named Jian who is pulled into an adventure where he must save the people of Lunar from being overrun by the Vile Tribe, as well as helping to ease tensions between humans and beastmen.
Since the release of the enhanced remakes of Lunar: Silver Star Story and Lunar 2: Eternal Blue, rumors have come and gone concerning the development of a game known only as Lunar 3. In a 1998 interview, Victor Ireland, president of Working Designs, stated that Lunar 3 was "in development" and scheduled for release (at least in the U.S.) for PlayStation 2. However, several delays later, no such game was ever revealed by Game Arts or Entertainment Software Publishing, the Japanese publisher of the series. It has been speculated that an English version Magic School Lunar! would be called "Lunar 3", but this has been proven false as well.
Lunar: Silver Star Harmony
Lunar: Silver Star Harmony was announced in the May 15 issue of Weekly Famitsu magazine. According to 1up.com, the game is being developed by Game Arts and distributed by Gung Ho Works. The game was released in the U.S. on March 2, 2010 for the PSP. The game is another enhanced remake of Lunar: The Silver Star.
The Lunar series has spawned a variety of other works in the setting, including a manga series as well as novelizations of The Silver Star, Magic School Lunar! and Eternal Blue.
The series has generally been received very positively; the two PlayStation versions generally place well in considerations of the best games available for the PlayStation 1. The original two games, and their remakes, have reviewed very well, with the remakes averaging between 82% and 85% and with Eternal Blue generally agreed to be the highest-reviewed Sega CD title in the history of the platform. Lunar Dragon Song, however, was panned critically and is generally seen as among the worst RPGs on the DS, with an aggregate rating of 58% on GameRankings.
- Webber and Rudo. "Interviews - Victor Ireland (Interview 1)." LunarNET. May 1998. Last accessed on 17 October 2005.
- IGN (January 22, 2002). "IGN: Top 25 PS1 Games of All Time". ign.com. Retrieved 2009-05-10.
- GameRankings (May 10, 2009). "GameRankings: Review Data for Lunar Series". gamerankings.com. Retrieved 2009-05-10.
- GameRankings (May 10, 2009). "GameRankings: Review Data for Lunar Eternal Blue". gamerankings.com. Retrieved 2009-05-10.
- GameRankings (May 10, 2009). "GameRankings: Review Data for Lunar Dragon Song". gamerankings.com. Retrieved 2009-05-10.