Lunar: Dragon Song
by Polly

Normally, I'd play a game all the way through till completion before writing up a review about it. That's just how things work. Lunar: Dragon Song for the DS is a special case. A special case because I don't think there's a human being alive that could stomach playing through this gigantic pile of shit before blowing their brains out before the ten hour mark. I stopped just shy of 8 hours and I honestly can not stand anymore. I've tried so hard to force myself to continue, but it's just not possible. Everything I hoped this game could and SHOULD have been just isn't there, and if it is it's executed so horribly that it should have just been left out anyway.

To the uninitiated, the LUNAR series has roots on the Sega CD. It's one of the more "underground"-ish RPG series and has captured quite a cult following. The LUNAR games' specialty was brilliance in simplicity. Even when the series made the jump to the Saturn and PSX, it retained its 16-bit look and didn't stray far from its roots in terms of gameplay. There hasn't been a true new entry into the LUNAR series since 1995 and after having played Dragon Song I'm wish it'd have stayed that way.

LUNAR: Dragon Song takes place 1,000 years before the events in the first LUNAR game. I, for one, am really fucking sick of prequels. Does no one know how to just keep a story going anymore? It's not like Lunar: Silver Star Story and Eternal Blue didn't go over the world's origins and roots enough. Did this series REALLY need a prequel? Anyway, you play the role of Jian, a dumb as a sack of rocks delivery boy, and his friend, the equally dumb as a sack of rocks only with a set of tits and pink hair Lucia. The game starts as Jian wakes up late for work (because main heroes seriously can NEVER fucking wake up on time) and has to rush to the town square to find his shit-brick companion Lucia so they can go deliver a package to a town that's conveniently just a walk through a long ass boring forest away. As the two enter the forest their package is stolen by a group of sasquatches. That's right. You read that last sentence correctly. A group of sasquatches. So it's off to the next town anyway so you can go get your stupid pointless package back from the evil group of thieving sasquatches. I think you can get a pretty good idea of how this game plays out now. And so far the story has gone absolutely fucking nowhere.

The dialoge is absolutely horrible. UBISoft should have at least just left THIS part of the game to Working Designs. As characters have verbal exchanges you'll find yourself bored to tears with the characters as they drone on and on wtihout saying much of anything at all. Kinda like me. NPC dialogue can be equally boring and none of them offer up nothing of use at all. At many points in the game you'll have to talk to NPCs to try and find out where to go next (or more accurately, the NPC that you have to talk to that makes the pile of bricks in the middle of the road disappear). They have nothing useful to say at all and it can be quite maddening running around towns trying to find the right order in which you have to talk to some people to actually get an event to occur.

Graphically LUNAR: Dragon Song is exactly what you'd want in a LUNAR game. It sports a new isometric view for the series, but the visuals are some pretty damn nice looking 2D. Sprite animations are pretty smooth and they're all nice and vibrantly colored to help them stand out a bit giving that much needed sense of individuality (horribly lacking in the storyline parts). In battle, however, the visuals just fall apart completely. The enemy and character sprites are so horribly pixellated and grainy I could feel my eyes watering from how deeply their edges cut into them. Enemy sprites are just fucking ugly and oftentimes you'll fight an enemy that won't even fit correctly on the bottom screen so his head will appear on the top screen. I'm sorry but that's just fucking sloppy. The game features some really nice anime-ish stills which try to capture the essence of the original LUNAR games' lavishly animated cutscenes, but they're few and far between.

The audio department is somewhat better. The soundtrack is what I'd consider above average RPG fare. It features some nice and relaxing melodies for towns and forest areas and some very tense and upbeat themes for dungeons and battle. It's not a wonderful soundtrack, but RPG Japanophile fucks will probably eat it up. Sound effects are there and they're adequate. I didn't have much of a problem with those at all.

And then the whole thing just turns into a giant turd right in your hands melting and squishing down your palms and dripping off your fingertips staining the ground below..or your lap. whatever...

The designers of this game thought that they'd be a little creative with the RPG formula and try to switch things up a bit, but all they managed to do was completely wreck what could have still been a decent RPG. So many things that they've done to this game and none of it makes one fucking lick of sense. For instance:

The game discourages the player from running in towns and dungeons. What? Yep, that's right. If you want to actually get anywhere fast in this game it's going to cost you HP. For every 2-3 seconds you hold down the run button, the game takes 1 HP from EVERY member of the party. The designers said they did this to add a bit of "realism." Well guess what you fucks? I DON'T WANT REALISM IN A FUCKING FANTASY RPG! This wouldn't have been so bad had they replenished the HP you lost when you stopped moving or running. This is one "feature" I literally can't wrap my head around. How the fuck did they come up with this? Why did they think it'd be fun? It's not! The character's walking speed is just ridiculous so of course you're going to want to run and have to spend valuable silver on Health Herbs to replenish it. Fucking stupid.

Speaking of Silver, the only way to make any real coin in the game is taking "jobs" from your employer which are nothing more than glorified fetch quests. The only way you can get these items is by fighting enemies for items, and there's not even a 100% chance that the enemies will even drop the item or that another won't just steal it. Most of the missions require you to find 3-4 different types of items and about 5-10 of EACH item. It's fucking ridiculous that this is the only way to earn money in the game since all the fucking equipment you NEED TO BUY TO SURVIVE costs ungodly amounts of Silver.

And now for a special addendum by sonicmega.

A side note I think you'd like to hear, by the way: I just finished reading your LUNAR: Dragon Song review, and I can't find the words to express how absolutely I agree with you. Of course, being a training nut, repetitive battling didn't bother me as much, but I still found that game utterly boring and pointless.

However, I think you left out two particular traits of the game that absolutely drove me insane, and are worth noting:

1) How your main character, who normally attacks 3 times, INSTANTLY loses his "memory" and can only attack once as soon as you get a 3rd party member, and only regains it about 2/3s into the game, meaning if you want to do all those collection quests, you better do em early, and;

2) YOUR FUCKING ARMOR CAN BREAK, AND DOES SO WITHOUT ANY WARNING. Did you EXPERIENCE the agony that was spending your hard-earned Silver on an upgrade to your armor, only to have it "break" from an enemy's random attack? How about in the MIDDLE OF THE FUCKING DESERT when the only armor sold is back halfway through the area, costs 18,000 Silver, and in the meantime you are now left defenseless against enemies who can officially kill you in 3 hits without your glorious protection? The process is COMPLETELY random (could happen after 1,000 hits, or 10), and there is NO way to repair broken armor. NONE. It just disappears completely.

The combat system in this game is on a level of [REDACTED]ed I don't think the human race has ever seen before. Someone seriously needs to make up a new word to cover this supreme level of fucking [REDACTED]ed. You're given two options for battle; To fight for Experience points or fight for Items. You can't have both. This means you get to fight 2x the normal amount of battles if you want to keep your head above water. And no, you don't win Silver for winning battles so you can't just skip the whole stupid package delivery aspect of the game that way. Whoever dreamt this idea up needs to be shot.

Further complicating combat is that you literally have almost zero control over what happens. In their infinite wisdom, these fuckwits decided it'd be a good idea if they took a step or two out of the decision making for you. You do not have the ability to select what enemy you wish to attack after you tell your party to fight. Yep. You read that right and it's bolded JUST so you know. This basically means you just watch your battles and use an item if you need one. It's like they forgot to program in that step of combat or some shit. Instead your party attacks random foes. There's no formula to it. They don't say, attack the weakest of the bunch or gang up on one. They just attack whoever. Enemies however, don't display this random behavior. They're always focused on the absolute weakest member of your party and will concentrate on them until that character has dropped. Totally. Fucking. Unfair. Especially considering that the game can throw 7-9 enemies at your 2-3 party members at once. Having control over a situation like that is vital, but does Game Arts care? FUCK NO! What's the fucking point of combat now? You have no control over it whatsoever. We're moving closer and closer to that age of gaming I've told everyone about where you just watch and the game plays itself.

After Nanostray being a bit of a disappointment, Advance Wars being a stupid rehash job, and now this game turning out so horribly, I'm really re-thinking what the hell is up with this shit and the DS. LUNAR: Dragon Song had the chance of being a system seller based on the fact that it's the first serious RPG to be released and the anime [REDACTED]s just eat that shit up. It could have been a game that helped usher the LUNAR brand to the front line of the RPG mainstream, but instead it's just a game that tries to annoy the unholy shit out of you by doing everything that's been done in an RPG wrong. Every RPG has the tendency to be boring and tedious, but LUNAR: Dragon Song takes that ball and runs the length of about 49 football fields with it. This game is not worthy the LUNAR name. Don't buy this shit.

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