For this week's CIBSunday, we're going back to one of the 16-bit (and 32-bit) era's most beloved JRPGs. Lunar: The Silver Star is one of those games that, for the longest time, people seemed to admire from afar. First released on the Sega / Mega CD in 1992, it became something of a poster child for that particular add-on, with stills from its lavish anime-style cutscenes appearing in practically every video game magazine on the planet at the time. The relative failure of the Sega CD meant that few actually got to play it – despite a North American localisation of both the first game and its 1994 sequel, Lunar: Eternal Blue.
Lunar would become one of those legendary JRPGs that fans discussed in animated terms, but mainstream players – most of whom passed on the Sega CD – missed out on it. Until, of course, it was remastered for both the PlayStation and Saturn, with the former getting a North American localisation thanks to Working Designs (the same company that brought the Sega CD original over) in 1999.
Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete was, for this author, at least, a first taste of the series. While it still looks a little primitive compared to what PlayStation owners were used to at the time of release in 1998, it's a wonderful JRPG that mixes deep mechanics with gorgeous 2D artwork and music. What made the North American version so special was the fact that Working Designs really went to town on the packaging.
Not only do you get the game, but you also get the soundtrack on CD and a whole disc devoted to the making of it (as well as its western localisation – this disc famously features a hidden game based on Atari's Warlords). There's also a hardback art book and strategy guide, and a cloth map which shows the game's world – all presented in a tasteful cardboard slip-case. The western localisation is notable for showcasing the vocal talents of former O-Town member Ashley Parker Angel; he not only voiced protagonist Alex in the Sega CD version but returned to the character for the PlayStation remake.
Lunar's stature in the world of JRPGs means that the North American version is now quite collectable, and you can expect to pay well over its original retail price to pick up a copy on the secondary market these days. Even so, it's well worth owning – especially if you're a fan of the genre and, like us, have fond memories of playing through this epic back in the day.