The time was the early 90s; the console — the obscure Sega CD. It was starved for quality software of any sort, let alone RPGs, which were still a niche genre outside of Japan. Along came a game called Lunar: The Silver Star, developed by Game Arts. It became a Sleeper Hit despite the Sega CD's short lifespan, and was one of the best-selling games in the console's history, paving the way for a sequel, entitled Lunar: Eternal Blue (no numeral). The series has been in a cycle of remakes and spin-offs ever since, with the Playstation remakes, Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete and Lunar 2: Eternal Blue Complete being the best known to English-speaking fans.All the entries in the series are set in a common 'verse — the eponymous world of Lunar. It is a stock swords-and-sorcery fantasy world, high in idealism, that draws a lot of attention to its neat Alien Sky dominated by an object called the Blue Star. The twist is that Lunar is a moon — one that was empty and lifeless until a goddess transformed it and moved people there from the Blue Star... according to legend. But all legends are true. The reasons (and long term effects) of this become vital plot points.While technically impressive in their Sega CD iterations, the games of the Lunar series have come to be standout classic JRPGs. All the elements of epic adventure, pulling victory from the jaws of defeat, and fantastic music are there in all the ways you expect, but they're functioning at their maximum potential. The blend of engaging characters (designed by Toshiyuki Kubooka), the earnestness and sense of fun, the savvy localization (originally by Working Designs, with the requisite injection of fourth wall-breaking humor), and the acclaimed soundtrack combine to land it a spot among the greats of RPG history.The series' release list is as follows, with remakes grouped and split release dates comparing first Japanese release date to the U.S. date:
There are variety of other Lunar-related media that never left Japan - novelizations, manga, drama CDs, even a short anime film made for Magic School Lunar!. Given the decline of the series, they will probably stay that way, leaving American fans to rely on other methods if they want to get their hands on them. The one exception is the Silver Star Story novelizations, which are available in English via Kindle.
The Lunar series and related media provide examples of:
A Boy and His X: Both of the main games have flying "cats" that are constant companions to the main character; Nall in The Silver Star and Ruby in Eternal Blue. They are Deadpan Snarkers-in-chief for their respective games and they share the same Berserk Button - don't call them cats.
Absurdly Spacious Sewer: There's one under Meribia which appears in The Silver Star and Eternal Blue both. And yes, it's filled with monsters. In Eternal Blue, Ramus turns it into a tourist attraction called the "Tunnels of Carnage."
Luna's eyes are usually brown in Lunar: The Silver Star, especially in promotional art, but have been blue since Silver Star Story.
Lucia and Jean were textbook examples of Curtains Match the Window, with the former having blue hair and blue eyes, and the latter having green hair and green eyes. In the remake they were both broken out of it, as Lucia's eyes were changed to green and Jean's were changed to brown.
Alien Sky: Inverted, played straight and Justified. The Blue Star is always visible and is always huge in the sky. This is because Lunar is actually the Blue Star's moon that's been terraformed (the Frontier and the ground that the Azure City/Fortress of Althena passes over becomes rather moon-like).
Worth noting: the Blue Star looks exactly like Earth...
Art Evolution: The art has changed a lot over the years. Toshiyuki Kubooka, the series character designer/animation director, has links to the anime production company Studio Gainax, so in the early 90s the art resembled Nadia. In the latter half of the 90s Lunar took on an Eva-like look...and has gone in other directions from there.
Assist Character: Nall and Ruby both fill this role in battles. They spend most of the time flying around in the background, but will jump in to help at the end of some turns.
Bag of Sharing: Averted (in all the games up to the Eternal Blue remake): Each character can carry a set number of items, and only those can be accessed in battle. Any extras can be left with Nall/Ruby.
Played straight in the Eternal Blue remake and every game since.
Beergasm: There is quite a bit of alcohol consumption in the series. Almost every town contains an Alcohol Hic NPC, and in Silver Star Story/Harmony many of them go out of their way to sing the praises of the local brew.
A number of player characters indulge at several points as well, most memorably Kyle, although Jessica, Ronfar, and Jean show signs of inebriation at various points as well.
Big Fancy House: The Guildhouse in Vane, which also serves as the home of the Ausa family. By the time Eternal Blue, it's still standing despite the Guild itself (and with it, the Ausa family's money) being almost gone. But by that point, it has a large, unpatched hole in the roof...
Book Ends: Scenes at the end of Eternal Blue recall ones from the beginning. Lucia appears in the Blue Spire; Lucia returns home from the Blue Spire. Lucia awakens on the Blue Star, sensing trouble on Lunar; Lucia awakens on the Blue Star because Hiro has come to stay with her.
Also, we first meet Hiro as he's hanging upside down and being a bit of a of a lovable dork. The final non-credits scene has him hanging upside down on Lucia's hibernation crystal, smiling and waving at Lucia like the most adorable dork ever.
The Silver Star remakes add book ends. The game begins at Dyne's monument, and reprises that scene after the credits roll.
Boom Stick: Mages tend to have staves as their primary weapon, which attack through spells rather than hitting the enemy.
Calling Your Attacks: Attaching voice clips to special moves was the new hotness when the Lunar remakes were first made, but the characters don't strictly call their attacks by name - magic spells, for instance, get invocations. Everyone yells different things for different attacks; some will spout a Catch Phrase.
Capcom Sequel Stagnation: 2/3rds of the series are different versions of The Silver Star or Eternal Blue. There are three exceptions - the Gaiden GameLunar: Walking School, its remake Magic School Lunar!, and the prequelLunar: Dragon Song.
Cat Girl / Petting Zoo People: The beastpeople, who are all over the map on this one. Silver Star's catgirl is a halfcatgirl, and her features are rather elven. Leo and Mauri in Eternal Blue are more obvious beast people.
Eternal Blue Complete has many computer modeled objects, such as the building where Lucia sleeps on the Blue Star, most shots of the Dragonship Destiny, and Zophar's first form.
Continuity Nod: There's a whole series of books in Eternal Blue which details what happened to the cast after the first game, and a number of returning locales.
Several books throughout Silver Star Story foreshadow Eternal Blue. One book in Damon's Tower openly references Zophar and the plot of the sequel, though it stops short of naming him.
During SSSC's Playable Epilogue, Lemia remarks that her descendants might not be as charitable as she or Mia. Hoo boy...
Cool Big Sis: Jean plays this role to Alice in the Childhood's End manga.
Cool Sword: Everybody knows that Heroes Prefer Swords, and the Lunar series doesn't disappoint on that front. (Unless it's a Gaiden Game or Dragon Song.) The coolest sword in the setting is Althena's Sword, the weapon of the Dragonmaster.
Crystal Dragon Jesus: The people of the Lunar world worship Althena, a benevolent goddess who is reborn as a human and then returns to godhood every now and then, until she decides to embrace mortality forever. Depictions of the the Church of Althena vary from game to game, vary in quantity of Christian elements.
While The Silver Star's religion has ancient Greek trappings, Silver Star Story's Temple of the Goddess may as well be a Christian cathedral. (Silver Star Harmony dials this down.)
All iterations of Eternal Blue are blatant examples, featuring missionary churches and "the end is nigh" preachings.
Underneath the trappings of Christianity, worship of Althena parallels Buddhism and other Eastern beliefs. In particular, the Four Dragons are quite literally a Crystal Dragon version of The Four Gods, and the Four Heroes can be considered the Shitennou of Althena. One of the inspirations for Eternal Blue was the introduction of Journey into the West, in which Sun Wukong, despite all he had achieved and all the power he commanded, could not escape Buddha's palm. The writer (Word of God) considered it an insult to the 'power of humanity' that he could simply do nothing.
Dark Is Evil: The Magic Emperor is described using dark magic, Zophar is described as a dark god that is revived by the dark side of humanity.
Defend Command: One of the commands in battle. Amusingly, in Eternal Blue Complete, Lemina's defending animation has her open an umbrella and hold it in front of her like a shield.
Demi Human: The beastpeople and the Vile Tribe both qualify as this, both with varying levels of humanity.
In The Silver Star, Alex, Mia, and Jessica don't let the end of the world get them down, giving Rousing Speeches (well, not so much Alex,) to raise Nash's and Kyle's morale.
The entire party of Eternal Blue. In fact, this is referred to as the "power of humanity": the ability to absolutely never give up, no matter how hopeless everything seems, so long as there is still anything left to fight for.
Disappeared Dad: There's a number of missing parents in the series, but one of particular notice is the father of Mia, the husband of Lemia Ausa... or any male in the Ausa line, for that matter. While he's simply never mentioned in the game, bonus materials turn this into a Justified Trope, explained best in Lemina's backstory novel: the heiresses of the Ausa family keep their romances and marriages a secret from the public, to separate their family life and their responsibilities to the Guild as much as possible. Suddenly, it makes sense why there's no mention of Lemia's husband, and why the series makes a point of avoiding confirmation on whether or not Mia and Nash hooked up.
Which means there's plenty of open territory for fan speculation about who Mia's father is. One popular theory is that it's Ghaleon, but the Tale of the Vane Airship manga suggests that it's more likely to be Dyne.
Do Not Pass Go: In the English translation of The Silver Star, the attendant at the teleporter will mention that after you pass the Cave of Trials, the warp will now take you directly to Vane. "You'll not pass Go. You'll not collect 200S."
Dub Name Change: Name changes are common in the two main games; generally, fans accept them as effective alterations. On the other hand, Lunar: Dragon Song averts this trope - the names of the main characters match their Japanese counterparts pretty faithfully.
The Silver Star favored prosaic name changes. Ahres (アレス; derived from the English word "earth") became Alex, Killy (キリー) became Kyle, Temzin and Pilya became Tempest and Fresca.
Eternal Blue took the opposite approach, making names more exotic. Rainus (ライナス pronounced like Linus) became Lunn and the Masked White Knight became Mystere!
Earth That Was: The humans of Lunar all came from the Blue Star, which is now a frozen wasteland.
Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: Spelled out in Eternal Blue with five elements, and color-coded crests for each: Earth (orange), Fire (red), Lightning (yellow), Ice (blue) and Wind (green).
Evil Albino: Ghaleon is one of the greatest examples you could ask for. Some close seconds would be the three women from the Vile Tribe from Silver Star Story, who all have either silver or blonde hair and red eyes.
By the end, though, Phacia turns out to be more of the heroic variety. Ghaleon would also qualify at points.
Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: The Magic Emperor Ghaleon, who could not understand why Althena and Dyne chose to relinquish their powers, and Zophar, who underestimated the power of humanity.
Fanservice: The various "bromides" (pictures) of the female cast members in the Silver Star Story remake. There's a purchasable version in the original, but you can't do anything with it, aside from equipping Nash with it (for +1 defense).
The Four Gods: It is probably not a coincidence that the color of the four dragons of Althena are White, Red, Blue and Black.
Furo Scene: The sole reason why the Althena's Spring locations exist.
Gaiden Game: Lunar: Walking School / Magic School Lunar!.
Gameplay and Story Integration: A couple of subtle instances of this, involving Lucia in Eternal Blue. First and most obvious, when you first get her, she can solo the enemy encounters with ease. Once she's cursed by Zophar, she's helpless in combat and over the course of the game gets better as the party gains levels.
Additionally, despite being a pure spellcaster she doesn't have an MP display...and then you realize, oh yeah. She's basically a Physical God. She hasinfinitemana, or at least the source of her power is so fundamentally different from the other mortal party members that the game doesn't even bother tracking it.
Finally, you'll note that she's on AI control all the time (partially to avoid having the player abuse that infinite mana pool). As the story progresses, her AI will change. At first she focuses on using her massive AoE to blast everything in her path; after she's cursed, she does nothing but run away from enemies; when "forced" to travel with Hiro & co., she focuses on buffing herself and attacking; but after she has second thoughts about abandoning the party, she starts using her buffs and heals on everyone, but with a bias toward Hiro (even over herself).
Another one is in the epilogue sequence in Silver Star (at least in Harmony). Alex's MP meter disappears since he gave up his magic to save Luna, just as Dyne did 15 years prior.
Even more prominent in Eternal Blue: Ghaleon is back, somehow, and is acting in an even more obvious, villainous way. He resumes mocking the heroes and laughing evilly like nothing ever happened. However, the whole point this time around is that it's all a show; Ghaleon is trying to con his "boss" into thinking he's evil by playing the role of The Dragon, when he is in fact engaging in a Batman Gambit to destroy Zophar forever by getting all the pieces exactly in place.
Subverted in the Sega CD version of Eternal Blue. The Phantom Sentry is a one time boss that appears out of nowhere, makes some cryptic statements, and disappears just as quickly, never to be seen again until the Playable Epilogue, in which he becomes very important.
Heroic Mime: Alex comes pretty close to being one of these in Silver Star, but averts it with a few lines of dialogue here and there. Hiro in Eternal Blue averts it quite thoroughly.
Hilarious Outtakes: Working Designs always included some after the credits, even Lunar: The Silver Star, had one. Xseed produced some outtakes for Silver Star Harmony as well.
Hub City: Meribia, the largest city in the setting, is the commercial capital. The flying city of Vane is the magical/academic capital; its citizens call it the center of the world. Both of the cities are cool enough to get their own introductory cutscenes in The Silver Star, and they're important locations in Eternal Blue as well.
Hyperactive Sprite: The player characters constantly walk in place in most games in the series. The exceptions are Magic School, Dragon Song, and Silver Star Harmony.
In the Childhood's End manga, Alternate Phacia was involved in one, to the horror of humans and the Vile Tribe alike.
In the Hood: In Silver Star Story, Royce the Fortune Teller plays this straight, wearing one to give her a dark and mysterious appearance. On the other hand, Jessica averts it, wearing a hooded cape for the sake of a White Mage look. In Eternal Blue, Lemina initially wears a hood, to both hide her identity and play the part of a mysterious fortune teller... and the rest of the characters call her weird for it.
Large Ham: The head writer and president of Working Designs has been accused of not being able to distinguish between drama and melodrama, leading to an abundance of Grade A ham. Conversely, however, a large portion of the English fanbase cites this as no small part of the charm of the Working Designs versions.
Leitmotif: Lunar: The Silver Star is not big on recurring musical themes, but Eternal Blue and the remakes sure are. Themes keep popping up in BGM throughout the games (and the general consensus is they're pretty darn good ones, too). Most notably, each game has a main theme which will show up in the introduction, the credits, and plenty of times in between. The Silver Star Story theme is Wings, and the Eternal Blue theme is Rondo of Light and Shadow. Many of the characters will get their own themes as well, which are listed on the Characters Page.
Left Hanging: Fairly deliberately done to a few of the wider "mythos" plot points, especially in Eternal Blue. For example, they never completely explain the relationship between Althena and Lucia - it looks like they could be related, and Lucia herself says "Althena led the people to Lunar, while I..." and then just leaves it there as stuff happens. Also, since it is pretty obvious that the Blue Star is Earth, the exact origins of Althena, Lucia and Zophar are never explained. It seems like they all know the answers, but player is never privy to them. And exactly what is the origin of the Vile Tribe and their relationship to Zophar? He seems to have some control over them, Ghaleon especially (what with the resurrection thing and all) but this is not elaborated on at all. Some of these may be deliberate Sequel Hooks, but since Lunar 3 has been in Development Hell since 1996...
The Althena/Lucia relationship in particular is popular target of fan speculation. Lucia and Althena know each other's purposes, and are similar enough that Lucia can assume Althena's powers. Lucia seems deeply hurt that Luna-Althena chose to become mortal (read: Lucia will never see her again). Luna-Althena, for her part, was clearly concerned about how Lucia would take it, to the point that she recorded a message explaining the situation, her reasoning, and some words of encouragement for Lucia. So what the hell is their relationship? Sisters? Mother-daughter? They're obviously very similar physically, and at the start of the game Althena is the only person Lucia actually cares about... so what are they? More than fifteen years fans have been waiting and we still don't have any payoff on this, not even in the extra material.
3. What's the connection between Althena and Lucia? When Althena was on the Blue Star, where was Lucia?
Althena, Lucia, and Zophar are all probably the same type of entity. We call them gods, and while that's a possibility, the truth seems to be a little different. So, then, what are they? Well...we don't really know. C'mon, this isn't sci-fi; gimme a break if I can't be clear on everything <g>.
Magical Incantation: In the Childhood's End and Vheen Airship Story mangas, it's stated that humans need to use either incantations or prayers to use magic. When someone can cast magic without this, it's a dead giveaway that they're actually a member of the Vile Tribe.
Magitek: This trope pops up from time to time, and is most pronounced in the original Silver Star.
The Grindery, the Big Bad's giant Base on Wheels in The Silver Star, is depicted as an unholy union of magic and machinery.
There's nothing unholy about the Dragonship Destiny in Eternal Blue. It's such a Cool Boat that NPCs everywhere admire it.
Melancholy Moon: With the Blue Star in the place of the moon, making it more like Melancholy Earth. The acclaimed Boat Scene in the Silver Star remakes is what this trope is all about, though.
Metal Slime: Cute, fuzzy creatures called Chiros, known in older translations as Ice Mongrels. They (along with their Palette Swaps, called Shiros/Ice Pups) yield above average experience in the Silver Star remakes, but in Eternal Blue and Eternal Blue Complete they are hard to encounter, hard to kill, and the XP is insanely good.
In Silver Star, the Magic Emperor's goal is control Althena's human incarnation. He succeeds, and takes over the world for about twenty minutes before the heroes come and kill him.
In the remakes his goal is to have there be a god, which he succeeds in until Alex convinces Luna that she can become human again.
Both versions of Eternal Blue, Zophar, despite being sealed away, pretty much rules the world. The Four Dragons are sealed away and his minions have pretty much created a Crap Sack World. Once he gets released, Zophar successfully hijacks Althena's power, but the heroes stop him before he can create his "age of darkness".
Non-Human Sidekick: Nall, Alex's pet friend, who provides most of the game's jokes when interacting with townsfolk. Ruby in the second game, who does pretty much the same, but also breathes fire and has a crush on Hiro.
Oddball in the Series: Dragon Song attempted to update the series gameplay, but its plotting and characterization are rather sparse. This seems an odd path to take with a series that's known for old-school gameplay and well developed stories and characters.
Obfuscating Stupidity: Kyle claims to do this in Silver Star Story, but Ronfar in Eternal Blue is a better example. He uses this to try and duck out of helping Hiro, pretending to be a useless, Handsome Lech of a Gambler and not responding to the name 'Ronfar', up until he notices how serious Lucia's condition is.
Official Couple: Alex and Luna in the first game. Hiro and Lucia in the second.
With Beta Couples of Kyle and Jessica, Nash and Mia in the first as well (sort of). Ronfar and Mauri in the second.
One-Winged Angel: A veritable auto-include, but some games in the series play with this trope.
The Silver Star played it straight and gave the final boss a second, monstrous form, complete with epic Large Ham transformation.
"Cower...in fear...as I demonstrate my TRUE...POWER!"
The Silver Star remakes...avert this. No monster form. No multiple stages. Just one incredibly hard-hitting Well-Intentioned Extremist.
The confrontation with the Big Bad in Eternal Blue is an ideal example of the trope, with three (or four?) stages, including Clipped Wing Angel.
The Other Darrin: As a long-standing video game series, this happens in many directions.
The Japanese cast of Silver Star Story includes five or six other Marties, as none of the cast of The Silver Star returned. Meanwhile, all of the old English cast did!
Hiro was recast between North American versions of Eternal Blue.
Overrated And Underleveled: Subverted to hell. When you get Ghaleon briefly, he's maxed out, can dish out more damage with his bare hands than Alex can with his current equipment, and Ghaleon is a magic user, so I need not explain more. Laike who turns to be Dyne, is also maxed out, and his equipment, for the point of the game you briefly get him at, is even weaker than Ghaleon's, and he still hits harder than Alex until Alex does some level grinding. But wait, there's more, Laike can also attack FOUR times in one turn, and move four times in one turn (Alex can only either twice), and packs some abilities that can inflict a ton of damage, or raise his attack power up even MORE.
Paper-Thin Disguise: Played (ahem) straight by Kyle in the first remake, but subverted by Leo in the second remake.
Leo? Surely you mean Mystere! He knows not the "Leo" of whom you speak.
Mystere has his own Leitmotif for crying out loud. If the soundtrack was wrong, This Troper doesn't want to be right!
Two, actually, if you count White Mask Funk. Which is Leo's theme, Justice, redone in swing jazz style.
Playboy Bunny: There are bunny girl NPCs in both Silver Star Story and Eternal Blue. In the latter, there's even a martial arts dojo full of these, training in the art of Bunny Fist.
Portal Pool: The Springs of Transmission used used to enter Vane in The Silver Star and Eternal Blue. The entrance to the Goddess Tower in Eternal Blue. The Silver Star had another one as the entrance to the Frontier.
XSEED's translation of Silver Star Harmony has a Shout-Out to Castlevania II Simons Quest in the form of Nall having a dream about getting a silk bag from a graveyard duck during the camping scene in the Lost Woods:
Xseed brought back Jennifer Stigile to perform the songs in Silver Star Harmony. 'Nuff said.
Smurfette Principle: Averted throughout the series. Which is fairly impressive, in light of the fact that the games were first released in the early 90s.
Silver Star had a respectable four-to-three ratio of lead characters, and that's only if you count Nall. This gets a tad diluted, though, considering one ends up as a damsel-in-distress for the majority of the game, and most of the Guest Star Party Members are male.
In Eternal Blue, on the other hand? If you count Ruby, there are actually more female lead characters than male. In fact, you spend the majority of the game with a party of four women and only two men!
That's No Moon: Inverted: yes it is! According to the Creation Myth of the setting, the Goddess Althena made Lunar habitable and populated it with people from the Blue Star, Lunar's omnipresent Weird Moon. All myths being true, the Blue Star isn't a moon, (the fact that it's called a star has to do with "star" being an acceptable equivalent for "planet" in Japanese,) but Lunar actually is.
Trauma Inn: Lunar was ahead of the curve on averting this trope. Every game has an alternative means of regaining health between missions - either NPC healers (The Silver Star, Magic School) or goddess statues (Eternal Blue, all the remakes) located in towns.
Unusual Ears: Name a beastperson, any beastperson. Both of the main types are seen in their species.
Unreliable Narrator: A meta example. The changes between the Sega CD, PSX, GBA and PSP versions of the first game have many glaring differences in the storyline. There's no official word on which one is canon.
Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete is a major overhaul of Lunar: The Silver Star.
Lunar 2: Eternal Blue Complete refines the scenarios of the original Lunar: Eternal Blue and shifts cutscene placement around.
Magic School Lunar on Sega Saturn is a major expansion of Lunar: Walking School on Game Gear, with more characters, more magic, more chapters... more of pretty much everything. Japan only, though.
Lunar Legend for Game Boy Advance, also built on The Silver Star, swaps in some plot points from the Japan-only novels and adds a collectible card element.
Lunar: Silver Star Harmony for the PSP builds on Silver Star Story a bit, including more Mythology Gags and inverted Continuity Nods. (For example, one person will mention that Ramus' shop will stay in business for centuries. It lasts for a millennium, as seen in Eternal Blue.)
Villainous Breakdown: Subverted with the Magic Emperor Ghaleon in SSSC since despite his final defeat, he still succeeded in awakening the goddess within Luna. Played straight with Zophar in the second game who, after getting defeated by Hiro and co. for the second time, completely loses it and declares he will destroy everything.
The first town in Lunar 2, Larpa, embodies the trope more fully. It is cheerfully given over to drunken carousing, petty theft, and racketeering. (That last one is mostly courtesy of the crooked mayor.)
You Gotta Have Blue Hair: The series is pretty staid by Japanese standards, with blue as the major departure, but adds green and pink in later games.