Lunar: Silver Star Harmony for PSP, English version released by XSeed
All four games tell the story of a young man named Alex who sets out on a classic hero's journey with all the trimmings. The details vary a bit from version to version, but have the same underlying structure: the protagonist, Alex, admires a famous hero named Dragonmaster Dyne who died 15 years prior. So, when a dragon offers him the call to adventure, he jumps at it, seeing it as an opportunity to follow in his idol's footsteps. His journey gets him mixed up in a conflict between the forces of good and a villain called Magic Emperor, with the fate of the world at stake. By facing this foe, Alex gains the wherewithal to make all his dreams come true. He goes on a grand adventure, prevails against the baddie when it seems like all hope is lost, gets the girl, and saves the world.The plot is traditional (and thus predictable) and the gameplay is much the same - anyone who has played an Eastern RPG will be perfectly at home with Lunar. To be as successful as it's been, other elements have to seize the player's interest. In this case, those are the writing and the music. The blend of engaging characters, the colorful writing full of shout outs and fourth wall breaking humor, and the acclaimed soundtrack (two of them, as Lunar: The Silver Star's music is distinct from the others) are what has given Lunar its staying power.The original Lunar 1 was released in North America back in 1993 - long enough ago that the plot twists actually surprised some players. In 1999 the widely-played Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete remake was released on PlayStation, and it strongly influenced the versions to follow. Lunar Legend was released in 2001, early in the life of the Game Boy Advance; opinions on it are mixed. Most recently, Lunar: Silver Star Harmony was released on PSP. It is heavily based on Working Designs' version of Silver Star Story; the new localizer XSeed even brought Jennifer Stigile (fan-favorite singer/voice actress from the Working Designs talent pool) on board to re-record English versions of the songs.
Lunar 1 provides examples of:
Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: Subverted. Just before the final confrontation, Ramus recognizes Alex as a true hero, and allows you to take any item you want from his shop for free.
Ascended Extra: In the Sega-CD game, Luna is in the party for about a fourth of the game and doesn't have a major role until she gets kidnapped and brainwashed into the evil goddess around the halfway point. In Silver Star Story, she stays with the party until the aformentioned kidnapping.
Award Bait Song: Tsubasa/Wings and Wind's Nocturne from Silver Star Story/Harmony. Both songs fit the description to a T.
Badass Normal: Despite being part of a group that also contains three magic users and guy who dreams of becoming a Dragonmaster and eventually does, Kyle is content with taking a sword and slaying monsters with brute force.
Broken Bridge: Played with. In Meryod, your party members literally break a bridge themselves.
Betting Mini-Game: The original Lunar features a blackjack mini-game with Brett in Saith. A bit of advice: do not take up his offer for a double-or-nothing game. He's a Cheating Bastard from Reza, the game's designated city of thieves. As it turns out, there is another NPC in Reza who will play the same game with you, but she proves less of a jerk by playing fair.
Boisterous Bruiser: Kyle - party resident crude, muscle-bound leader of a band of (friendly!) bandits. In the remakes he fools enemies with a considerably ugly and unconvincing Wholesome Crossdresser disguise. Another example is Master Mel - a crude, muscle-bound former leader of a band of pirates.
In the intro to Harmony, Dragonmaster Dyne acts like a schoolboy trying to work up the courage to ask Althena to the big dance. Ghaleon might have had a thing for her, too. He's either a devout believer in the Goddess, or he's crushing on her, hard. Or both.
Boring, but Practical: The Sega CD version gave the characters several more spells for all characters — including attack songs for Luna — but several of these were just multi-target variations on existing spells or were too overspecialized to be useful (curing only sleep instead of all status effects, for instance). Silver Star Story, in contrast, gives each character only up to eight spells, tops.
Brother-Sister Incest: Whoof. All versions of Silver Star are a classic example of this being played perfectly straight, to the disquiet of many. Alex and Luna not even remotely related, sure (what with Luna being an incarnated divinity and all), but the game makes explicit the fact that they've been raised together since they were infants. Apparently the writers don't think the Westermarck effect should kick in, for some reason. This is one of the few real points of contention on the game's quality these days.
Brown Note: One of the girls in Silver Star fancies herself a potential kidnapping victim, since the Magic Emperor is collecting singers, but... "tone deaf" is putting it nicely. Also, Luna/Althena's singing under the Magic Emperor's influence can cause pain and illnesses.
But Thou Must: Occasionally Lamp Shaded; one NPC that does this to you says that he can keep this up much longer than you can. Better still, it's a villain, asking you to let him go since he's learned his lesson...
You will always get the White Dragon Wings stolen from Nall, regardless of whether Nall even has them.
The Dragon: Xenobia of the Vile Tribe. In the remakes, she is joined by her sisters Royce and Phacia. The skeletal remains of the Black Dragon in The Silver Star arguably counts.
Doomed Home Town: Burg is razed by the Magic Emperor, while all its inhabitants are kidnapped and pressed into slavery (they're rescued eventually). Only in the original version, though, as this was left out of the remakes.
Dramatic Irony: In the PSP remake, if you choose to let Laike help you in the ambush, Luna will joke about Alex's skills, saying that if he doesn't improve quick enough, then there wouldn't be anyone to save her. Anyone who has played the earlier versions of the game know just how dark the meaning behind her words are.
Eternal Engine: Might's Tower, Taben's Tower, and the Grindery are all machine-themed dungeons.
Evil Costume Switch: Luna. Also, observe the progression of Ghaleon's Four Heroes costume, his Premier outfit, and the Magic Emperor armor. And his final costume exhibits Bishonen Line.
Evil Overlord: The Magic Emperor is this and Card-Carrying Villain for the most part, and pulls off the traditional Evil Overlord look with style. There is some hidden moral ambiguity in his reason to conquer the world, though.
Fake King: Xenobia replacing Lemia Ausa in Silver Star.
Fantastic Racism: Between humans and the Vile Tribe. Humans regard the Vile Tribe as Always Chaotic Evil and the Vile Tribe hates them for exiling them to a barren wasteland where they can barely eke out a miserable existence.
Subverted for beastmen: Jessica and Hell Mel's appearances are barely worthy of comment.
Fighting a Shadow: The first battle against "Ghaleon" in the remakes. It went down a little differently in The Silver Star.
Floating Continent: The magic city of Vane. The first time you go through, you have to pass through a large dungeon with enemies that are highly resistant to physical attacks. Once you make it to the end of the dungeon, you don't have to visit it again.
Follow the Leader: The prevalence of flutes and ocarinas in Zelda series may have had some influence on the decision to change Alex's instrument of choice from a harp (in The Silver Star) to an ocarina (in the remakes). Which makes it kind of ironic that Link acquired a magical harp in Oracle of Ages.
Genre Blindness: The main cast, when they initially meet him, have not the slightest hint of an idea that Ghaleon is eviler than evil, despite all the pretty silver hair and evil eyes and such. Obviously, this puts them at a disadvantage against a Dangerously Genre Savvy enemy. Amusingly, as Lunar: The Silver Star was one of the first RPGs ever to land in the West, a lot of people actually fell for it.
Let's be fair now, he's only a hero who protected the world from evil in very recent memory, and it's not like any of the other great heroes were evil.
Generation Xerox: The original and current generation of heroes. Made very explicit in the intro to Harmony.
Hell Mel and Lemia bicker like Kyle and Jess.
Dyne rescues Althena like Alex rescues Luna.
Ghaleon is devoted to Althena in a way similar to Nash's feelings for Mia, and they both sort of Face Heel Turn because of that person.
Get On The Boat: From Caldor Island to the main continent and back. In the original game, Luna stays behind and wishes Alex good luck, but in the remake, she stays with you for quite a while...just long enough to get kidnapped by Ghaleon.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: In Silver Star Story, examine the chicken in Alex's house. An irritated Nall will comment on how they wake him up in the morning and how he wants to "choke them."
Good Parents: Alex is a rare RPG protagonist who still has two living parents, and his father helps you get through the game's first dungeon. After this, however, they don't play much of a role in the plot.
WD changed the triggers for some items in Silver Star Story Complete so that they were nigh impossible for the player to find without instructions. No such changes were made in Harmony, so the secret items are easier to find.
Raise your hand if you knew right away that you were supposed to play music to Luna at the end of the game so she won't fry you with lightning. WD added this to their versions, so Lunar Legend and Silver Star Harmony are more straightforward.
Actually, the game provides a couple of hints that, upon looking back, make it quite obvious. Remember that one of the first things Alex does upon finding Luna is play his Ocarina. Alex playing his Ocarina has the power to reach Luna across far distances, allowing passage to the Blue Dragon Shrine. Likewise in the most telling scene when Alex first becomes the Dragon Master he manages to break Ghaleon's brainwashing spell by playing his Ocarina! Ghaleon even comments about how strange (and pitiful) it is that this managed to work on such strong magic right before brainwashing her again. It should also be known that even Ghaleon's dying breath sort of gives hint when he mentions that Luna is too far gone and that at least he ripped Alex's one true love away from him. By this point the player has seen so many instances of Alex playing his Ocarina and the connection it has with Luna that the only thing that makes this a Guide Dang It is that it's played so casually in the game itself that it's easy for the player to forget about it!
Heel Face Turn: Nash from Silver Star Story Complete counts. It takes a huge slap from his mistress and beatdown by the party to knock some sense into him.
Phacia from Silver Star Story Complete.
Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Zigzagged, because while the Dragonmaster outfit comes with a red helmet, Alex only wears it in his portrait; the in-game sprite goes without it.
"I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: If Alex wants to survive approaching Luna/Althena at the climax while she assails him with lightning, he has to play his harp/ocarina first to reach out to her remaining humanity and love for him.
Incest Is Relative: The town of Meryod is populated entirely by inbred hicks, who seem to delight in mentioning their squicky close interrelation with each other.
Informed Ability: Luna's singing is supposedly the most beautiful in the world. Unfortunately, the voice actress they hired for the part didn't measure up and has a habit of being off-key. It's even worse with the bar maids, who are said to have lovely singing voices... but they're Hollywood Tone Deaf. It's notably averted in Meryod, however, whose songstress is just as bad as she's said to be, but her singing isn't much worse than the other bar maids.
No Loves Intersect: The main party can be broken down into three perfect Official Couples; the question is not who's going to hook up with who, but how. Possibly not the case for the previous generation, though.
Not Blood Siblings: Luna is Alex's adopted sister. Thankfully, this fact is not brought up much, and they are presented more as childhood friends than as brother and sister.
Not Herself: Lemia. She throws Alex and company into the dungeon upon their first meeting at the Vane magic guild. It is later revealed that this Lemia was actually Xenobia, and the real Lemia was thrown in the dungeon and slapped with a crown that robbed her of most of her memory.
Meanwhile, the five English actors who did The Silver Star (Ashley Angel, Rhonda Gibson, Jackie Powers, Hal Delahousse, and John Truitt) returned for Silver Star Story along with a slew of new actors for the other characters. The English roster changed completely when Silver Star Harmony was released.
Our Angels Are Different: In The Silver Star, Alex must journey to Althena's Tower as the final step to become a Dragonmaster. Two winged, humanoid dragons (the Dragon Angels) challenge him to a two-on-one Duel Boss for the right to wield Althena's Sword. All of the remakes cut them out entirely.
Pretty in Mink: Fur trim is all over the place, and justified in that the main characters come from a snowy village in the north, and having the heroes deliberately wear modest, fur-covered winter clothing (to enforce the "northern feel", or cold setting) is a notable case of the dev team deliberately averting the Stripperiffic trope (at least for the heroes...). The fact that they were shooting for this was what makes it stick out.
Psychic Dreams for Everyone: Right before his return voyage to Caldor\Honmel Island, Alex has a dream that Luna gets taken away from him. Guess what happens when he actually goes back?
Razor Wind: Kyle's "Sonic Riser" attack, which is lampshaded with a kamaitachi reference in the description: "release weasel."
Red Eyes, Take Warning: Most evil or possessed characters get red eyes in Silver Star Story. Most notably, Luna's eyes turn red after she is both revealed as the Goddess Althena and brainwashed by the Big Bad.
Reference Overdosed: The English translation goes nuts with this. Characters will talk about anything from Courtney Love to Wheaties.
Solid Gold Poop: What dragon diamonds are made of. This isn't a translation gag, either. It's in the Japanese version as well.
Quark: Don't they know that they're my sh-
So Long, and Thanks for All the Gear: Played straight in the original versions. Ghaleon and Laike join your party for a single mission each, and you can take all their equipment and sell it. They're both ridiculously powerful, and can usually beat whatever comes to them bare-handed.
Unfortunately, this is averted in the remakes - the equipment menus for temporary characters are locked down.
Sure, Why Not?: For many years there was nary a hint about Ghaleon's background. Coupled with the fact that his appearance doesn't fit any of Lunar's races, this sparked substantial fan speculation. The spin-off manga Lunar: Vheen Airship Story proposed that Ghaleon is the last of a long-lived Vile Tribe subspecies that once ruled the magic city of Vane. One of these details was imported into Silver Star Harmony to become the only canon bit of Ghaleon background - the member of a long-lived race part.
A Taste of Power: In Harmony, the prologue sequence involves controlling the Four Heroes in their prime. They're all based on what the main cast would eventually become (though missing a member - Ghaleon doubles for both Jessica and Nash).
Vanilla Edition: Silver Star Story got the Feelie-free Fanart Edition three years after its original U.S. release, and Silver Star Harmony released regular and limited editions simultaneously.
Vendor Trash: The Sega CD version contained so much Vendor Trash that the remakes feel downright devoid of items by comparison.
The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: In Lunar: Silver Star Story, there is The Fortress of Althena/Azure City of Althena which is a huge floating city with the Goddess Tower located in the center, and sucks out the life energy of the land, essentially turning the surface of the world into something like our moon. Not to mention that as soon as it appears, the entire sky turns dark. Everyone is afraid of it and once it has been risen, everyone seems to lose hope in life.
Villains Out Shopping: Though he's never shown tending to it, the Magic Emperor keeps a garden. A garden full of pixies, to boot. Could count as a Pet the Dog moment, since most of the pixies think he's genuinely nice, if out of touch with reality. The first time the party meets him as Ghaleon, he's also shown to be good with a lute.
Weapon Tombstone: In the remakes, Dyne's Monument has his sword stuck in it. Eventually, Alex pulls it out and uses it to become the Dragonmaster.
Welcome to the Big City: All the party members are thrilled to arrive in the bustling Merchant City of Meribia early in the game. Being that the story is high in idealism, just about everyone in Meribia is as friendly and well-meaning as can be. That doesn't keep the party from getting robbed by a crooked jeweler, though.
Well Done Son Guy: Ramus' dad, the mayor of Burg, won't accept his son's insistence on leaving the continent for any reason.