Players: 1 to 2 Player Game | Release Date: 12/15/00 | Genre: RPG
Well, after waiting (and waiting and waiting) for the sequel to the astoundingly popular Lunar: Silver Story Complete, Working Designs has finally unleashed it's epic RPG Lunar 2: Eternal Blue. Was it worth the long delay? Well, if you enjoy the old school flavor of 2D graphics, and if you miss the days of games like Final Fantasy IV and VI, then Lunar 2 is well worth your hard earned cash.
As the game begins, you'll meet Hiro, a young adventurer who searches abandoned ruins for treasure with his sidekick Ruby, who claims to be the offspring of a red dragon, but looks more like a little pink cat. All is well for our two heroes until they meet Lucia, a beautiful, mysterious girl who is the link between the forces of good and evil, and who propels them into a world of magic, adventure, and a cosmic struggle that, if lost, will swallow the world in darkness and monsters. It is up to Hiro to solve the mysteries of the Blue Spire and ensure peace and harmony throughout the world.
Lunar 2's gameplay hasn't changed much since Silver Star Story; the controls are fluid and easy to pick up, even if you aren't familiar with the first game. Battles are sometimes tedious, but commands are straight forward and not confusing at all. You can attack, use items, magic, and defend allies, plus you get a cool tactics menu which lets you place your party at optimum points on the field. The only gripe maybe your character's range of attack; basically, if the target is too far, your character will move but not strike. A pain? Sometimes, but if you consider the reality factor it's easy to overlook. Also worthy of mention are the in-battle voices. Carrying on the trademark Lunar humor, they are enjoyable, if somewhat corny, and you are sure to be repeating them throughout the day.
The graphics are fantastic--simple, colorful, and full of quirky animations that may just remind you of a time when gameplay was more important than how a game looked. The enemies you'll fight are impressive, without being overdone, and the dungeons and towns are great places to explore. There are also cool anime cut scenes (like Lunar 1) which move the story along quite well, although some loading times are on the long side.
Like any solid RPG, Lunar 2 would be nothing without great music. The soundtrack falls somewhere between your typical fantasy fare, and the insane nodding of a man who has watched too many bad 80's movies. While it isn't as defining or as bold as such RPG's as Final Fantasy, you won't get burnt out on it after hours of gameplay.
Lunar 2 also has some of the most beautiful packaging I have ever seen. It's a FIVE disc set that comes with a hardcover manual, a soundtrack CD (which is excellent) and an OMAKE BOX, full of goodies like cardboard character standees, a pendant, and a map, which, sadly, isn't cloth this time around. There is also talk of a hardcover game guide, which is sure to be impressive, even if guides aren't your thing.
All in all, Lunar 2 is an experience that seasoned RPG fans and newbies can both appreciate and enjoy. While certainly not as deep as a Final Fantasy installment, or as ground breaking, it seems that Working Designs succeeds with this game without ever having to compete blatantly with Squaresoft. What they have given us is a solid, fun game that will no doubt push the Lunar series to legendary status and scoop up more fans along the way.