By Video_Game_King 11 Comments
I never thought I'd see the day, but alas, it is here. What am I talking about? Why, the day when I encountered a mediocre Moon game. (Ignoring Dead Moon, of course.) Some of you might be confused, although that may be because nobody's ever heard of Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete. Apparently. To bring you guys up to speed, it's a remake of one of three reasons to own a Sega CD in the first place (the other two being very obvious).
Now what's wrong with that? For one, it's a very simple game. I mean, there are some cool ideas in Lunar, but the game never really executes on those ideas. They just sort of exist, like that's enough to make a good game. But alas, it isn't. It is enough for a simple, underdeveloped experience, though.
I imagine the story is a big reason why everything feels that way. It all begins with a youth named Alex. He wants to become a Dragonmaster. What is a Dragonmaster? What does that entail? Why is that position so desirable? Who gives a shit? The story's barely interested in any of those questions. Hell, it's barely interested in its own themes, as it only pays them a cursory glance. For example, freedom versus order. That's the easiest theme to spot in the story, since the bad guy (a nasally bastard named Ghaleon) is trying to revive a god to impose divine rule or whatever on mankind. That may not sound exciting, but seeing Ghaleon slowly arrive at these conclusions is enough to draw you in and generate inte-what's that? Freedom wins, just because?
Maybe that was a bad example. What about adventure itself? It's the main character's motivation, after all, and the game constantly raises the stakes as it figures out what the hell adventure means. It's going to be interesting, seeing how Alex changes as t-Oh, he stays pretty much the same from beginning to end? That seems.....overly easy. You sure you don't want to give that more thought, game? Are you sure you don't want to look at it more, make sure you haven't created any serious problems? No? Really? It's like the game doesn't feel invested in its own story. And that's not even getting into any of the other problems, such as expository dialogue or dumb plot choices (like oceanic fireflies).
Possibly because I want to talk about something that vaguely works: the characters.....sort of. Oh, there are so many characters to encounter in this game. You've got the fat kid with daddy issues, the girl who gets over deep sadness strangely quickly, that fucking thing that greeted you into this blog, and so very much more. Everybody's got a well-defined personality, and they all play off each other very well. So you end up with a bunch of mildly humorous situations that almost mitigate the narrative problems I talked about before. Almost. For you see, when decent characters and mediocre plot come together, the mediocre plot somehow wins out every time. Any sense of character development must be abandoned to meet the demands of a story that isn't very good, anyway. Luna's doubting whether she should even follow Alex on his adventures? Bring her along anyway; we'll figure out a reason later. Or not at all. I mean, that doesn't completely ruin the characters, but it certainly makes me less willing to play the game. It's like the writers don't fully understand what makes Lunar work in the first place.
But perhaps Lunar doesn't need a stellar story to be good. Maybe its mechanics are fun enou-OK, they aren't. There's so much potential here for a fun time, but again, never does the game deliver on any of that potential. Not in the core systems, though; those just suck. Most of the game involves Alex walking through fantasy areas and whacking fantasy creatures, possibly in a way that is fantastical in nature. If that sounds overly reductive, understand that there isn't a lot to reduce in the first place. Each character only has a few attacks at their disposal, all of limited use. In fact, you can usually get through battle by selecting the basic attack option and then checking out for the next ninety seconds.
So you end up with half the battles feeling eerily similar, and the other half being bosses. Who also feel similar. The characters' positions don't help much. Sure, it looks like those characters moving about the field might introduce a strategic element, but since you can't move them around yourself, such strategy is limited. What exactly does that leave? Me filing away through menus to remind the game that I exist. Doesn't sound terribly engaging, does it? It's like the game's filling space between story moments because it doesn't know what else to do.
Normally, I'd talk about some other gameplay mechanic the game has, but there isn't any, really. All you can do outside of battle is simply walk to the next story event or battle. You're essentially ferrying yourself from one mindless event to another mindless event, repeating for as long as it takes to reach the credits. Overall, Lunar's a disappointing game. That's really the best word I can use to describe the game. The story disappoints by introducing all these cool ideas and then doing absolutely nothing with them. The gameplay disappoints by letting its best ideas fall well short of what they could accomplish. Even the presentation is disappointing, what with the mediocre animation paired alongside forgettable music. Put it all together, and you end up with a game that's competent, but not much else. This is no way to honor my Lunar heritage.
- You've got some interesting stuff going on, but nothing ever really comes of it.
- At least the characters are kind of good. When the plot leaves them alone, of course.
- Walk into battle, bash things, walk into another battle, bash things, repeat for a while.
Is this what Mario was like in middle school? It's simultaneously glorious and horrifying.
Well, this is certainly weird. I'm not talking about the game, but rather, my reaction ot the game. Densetsu no Stafy 3 is probably one of the most average games I've played in a good while, but for whatever reason, I find myself enthused by it. Hell, its averageness is the very reason I'm enthused. How does that.....I don't.....Wh.....I am so very confused by all this.
I can't even begin with an explanation of the game, because there really isn't a lot to explain. You guide a star-shaped creature named Stafy through some aquatic environments, swimming about with the occasional light jumping. Throw in some shitty fetch quests and a rather low level of difficulty, and you've got the Stafy experience. Doesn't sound like there's a lot to this game, is there? That's because there isn't. This isn't a bad thing, though. In fact, it's the main appeal to the game. You never have too much to deal with, so everything's just so calm and relaxing. There's no sense of urgency, or huge monster to threaten you, or overly complex mechanic to wrap your head around. Just a D-pad, two buttons, and a few obstacles here and there to give you some light challenge. This is the perfect game to unwind to.
Even with all the dumb distractions the game throws your way. What? I didn't tell you about them? Turns out there's a lot more to this game than simply doing nothing. You also get to ride a submarine, a horse, a sheep costume thing, and so many other stupid, stupid vehicles. I guess this is to ensure some level of variety in the game, and while I can certainly commend Stafy for that, I must still acknowledge the hit or miss nature of all these side features. Each one has an annoying control quirk to endure (I'm not sure sheep move like boulders), and they're not all that fun to play through. But even at their worst, these games don't change the nature of the game. After all, there still isn't a lot to manage, and there still isn't a lot of risk in what you're doing. So really, what has changed between the normal gameplay and these stupid mini-games? At their worst, they're minor distractions from the overall game. At their best, they're a completely different character with her own way of getting about the world.
It has only now struck me that I haven't even mentioned the basic premise behind this game. What is there to mention? A monster has broken out of his porcelain prison a vase; not a toilet and he's trying to take over Heaven or something. Now it's up to a small starfish creature to dick around for a bit until things just kind of solve themselves. If my detached tone hasn't made it clear, I don't hold the story in too high regard. Sure, it's mildly entertaining, but it isn't that important. Or at least it isn't as important as how the story is presented. Everything's just so squishy and adorable and cute. The presentation really does a lot to put you in the relaxing mood that makes Stafy 3 as good as it is. In fact, now that I think about it, this is probably one of the few games I know of that can coast on charm alone. I mean, what else does the game have going for it? Simple gameplay mechanics? Terrible music? A story I decided to ignore less than halfway through? None of that is enough to make for a quality experience. But then you add a squishy layer of cute charm, and.......I don't even know how to finish that sentence. I am that mellowed out in the presence of Stafy.
- Imagine Ecco the Dolphin. Now imagine that it didn't suck total shit. That's Stafy for you.
- And then throw in something about riding a horse for no particular reason. Again, that is Stafy for you.
- Have you broken out into a fever and painful rashes? That's staphy for you.