Dead Characters...

For discussion of Lunar: Dragon Song (Lunar: Genesis), the only Lunar game on the DS
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Dead Characters...

Postby hob » Fri Nov 10, 2006 9:26 am

*****Warning! Spoilers to those who haven't played!*****************

Ok, I usually just read the forums rather than post. But I just read another review on Lunar Dragon Song and had to get something off my chest.

They said that the battle system was the major downpart of the game. But the characters were likeable and story was warm.

Um... what? Okay, I have many problems with Dragon Song. The battle system is indeed horrendous but I found myself enjoying myself. In fact, I had so much fun actually playing LUNAR for the first time in years that I didn't realize I wasn't targetting the enemies until I had played it a few days. I was really excited about the split screen, touch sensative capability Dragon Song offered.

But after a while, I realized I was playing The Silver Star all over again. Althena was the girl who gets captured by the Ghaleon lookalike of the Vile Tribe. The only way to save the day is to become a Dragonmaster. Don't get me wrong, I loved playing the Silver Star. When I finally get another Playstation System and buy Lunar off eBay, I'll be playing it over and over again. But why do I enjoy playing it so much? Certainly isn't the graphics or the simple battle system.

It was the characters and the story! I discovered Lunar: Complete in a magazine at a time when Final Fantasy 7 was the center of my Universe. Once I bought and played it, I said "Final Fantasy Who??" In this game, the music was so... so... enjoyable I felt right at home. The characters were alive and many times I actually FELT like I was on a quest with them! When someone died in combat I yelled "KYLE! NOOOOO!"

But Dragon Song introduces characters into your party before you have a chance to even care. As far as appearances go, Rufus makes a cameo: pops into your party for an hour and never comes back. WHY IS HE ON THE COVER?!?! HE'S AN EXTRA FOR PETE'S SAKE!!!! And Flora... oh man. At least I was happy to have Rufus for that hour. Why? Because his character had been introduced earlier and built tension between him and you. Flora comes out of nowhere and suddenly you depend on her the rest of your life!

Just a side note... I was also offended that they named everyone after people in the Old Testament. Just 'cuz it's called "Lunar Genesis" doesn't mean you can grab any name and trash their reputation. I mean GIDEON as a huge monstrous beast with 3 forms??? Come on, my Jewish brothers, this ain't ripping on you too?? I know Japan wouldn't ever make a hideous monster who destroys everything in his path and name him "Buddha"!

At some point, I just didn't care what happened next. You can watch a terrible movie but one great moment can make it a classic. I kept playing Dragon Song waiting for that moment. It never came, while the others had them in droves.

I'm sure a lot of this has to do with it not being done my Working Designs. They would have at least given it awesome packaging and funnier NPC's. Dragon Song still had a fundamental dependency on NPC's, but in a way that makes you poke your eye with a staple to have more amusement.

And I was about a week into the game when I realized no matter how much I leveled up, the monsters wouldn't die faster. Why oh why do programmers make the monsters level up with you? Why oh why spend all that extra programming effort? Why oh why level up at all if you're gonna do that? And why oh why hasn't anyone ELSE complained about that?! Is mine just broken or something??

I really did enjoy the Gad's Express system, the separated Virtue and Combat Modes and even part of the battle system. (Pretend you're Jian when you punch guys, it makes things a lot more enjoyable.) The music was okay too. If I didn't know that Iwadare had no part in this, I probably could've enjoyed it more. (There are some tunes that make you do a funky dance.)

But the dull characters and rehacked storyline are the true problems of the game. I think the game has potential, but should be remade completely on a console with anime cutscenes. Lucia should be named something besides "Lucia", and she shouldn't be a Goddess incarnation. Rufus should be played more, and there should be some anticipation to recruiting Flora. Ditch Ignatius, the Ghaleon clone who can't compare. Rename the biblically name characters. Don't let the monsters level up with you. Scratch the Vile Tribe threat. And as the for battle system, I can easily come up with something far better, as can thousand of Lunar fans.

So Game Arts! You said future Lunar titles rely in part in the support of Dragon Song. Well, so far so bad. But don't let that be an excuse to kill the Lunar fanchise! Enlist some diehard FANS to make the games! Or read some Fan Fictions online! Many Fan Fics are miles higher than the Dragon Song plot.

Last but not least... hire me to design the battle system and level up system! :lol: Heheheheh...
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Postby Benevolent_Ghaleon » Fri Nov 10, 2006 2:58 pm

You're correct. Lunar: Dragon Song is one of the biggest disappointments of my life.

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Postby Kizyr » Fri Nov 10, 2006 3:19 pm

I'll get back to this later, with more detail, since you bring up a lot of good points.

First, the quality of the game had little to do with it not being ported over by Working Designs. They wouldn't've been able to improve it very much, or at least not much more than Ubisoft did, except insofar as some editing and spellchecking (UbiSoft's rushed schedule was the main culprit for that). If you didn't like the English version, you wouldn't've liked the import; I can pretty much guarantee that.

Second, there's nothing wrong a priori with naming people after Biblical characters; most common names in the West originate with a Biblical figure. ...and Zophar was one of Job's buddies. I liked Zophar; he came off as intelligent. Lucia is also the female version of "Luke".

The only thing irritating about the names was how everyone was from a minor or major Biblical figure. They could've at least mixed it up a little. KF

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Postby Alunissage » Sat Nov 11, 2006 12:37 am

Zophar's name was from Zone Pharaoh, though, not the Bible.

I didn't like the Biblical names either, but I'm pretty sure the sole intent was to give the feeling of age; this is Lunar's ancient past.

I suspect that if WD had localized the game, they would have made battle targets selectable; it's the sort of thing they would do. However, it obviously would have taken longer to release it. I'm sure they wouldn't have changed the Biblical names, or at least not for that reason; there's all sorts of that stuff in Silhouette Mirage.

They might have renamed Lucia, though. You do know that the Japanese names for EB Lucia and DS Lucia are distinct, right? Lucy or Lucie might have been a reasonable analogue to having a name that was very close to that of EB's heroine but not quite the same.

As far as monsters levelling up with you, don't forget that SSSC's bosses all had stats based on Alex's level, at least up to 50.

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Postby hob » Sat Nov 11, 2006 9:04 am

Alunissage wrote:As far as monsters levelling up with you, don't forget that SSSC's bosses all had stats based on Alex's level, at least up to 50.


True, but that's different. I train hard to max out my stats and skills to crush all enemies in my path. But even then I hope for some sort of challenge to look forward to. The whole point of leveling up is so that you can get stronger than SOMEBODY. But Dragon Song ignores this simple fact.

I think if they wanted all enemies to stay as strong as you, they should've removed the Althena Conduct entirely so no one levels up. Instead, you should have to gain Abillity Points or something like that to be able to equip/remove more HP, MP and other status-builders. So fundamentally, your characters never level up at all, you customize them completely at any point in the game, depending how much AP and stat-builders you have. I know this isn't much, I just came up with it off the top of my head. But you get my point.

Oh yeah, and there'd have to be a different way to equip and learn skills, just to add diversity to gameplay. This is where the card system would come in. Um... I guess... uh... this is a tough one. Anybody got any suggestions?

Kizyr wrote:First, the quality of the game had little to do with it not being ported over by Working Designs.


Working Designs games went to 11! They had the capability to make the game rock! All I would've wanted was a living cast of characters. Working Designs had awesome translations with a few liberties here and there. (Pretty sure Austin Powers never made an appearance the Japanese version.) They had fun with their games which it made it fun for us. I know they would've had limitations such as gameplay and major plot, but they still could've made us enjoy our party members better.

Kizyr wrote:Second, there's nothing wrong a priori with naming people after Biblical characters; most common names in the West originate with a Biblical figure.


Yeah, I guess I overreacted on this. I was just upset over that lousy review and was venting my frustration. It really didn't bother me as much as I let on, but still...
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Postby Werefrog » Sat Nov 11, 2006 6:50 pm

Biblical names in DS were a mixed bag for me. I get the feeling that many of the characters were just given random Biblical names just to create a feeling of "personality" that ultimately fell flat.

However, I have no problem with the use of the name Gideon. The name is suiting in my opinion. It has a certain inherent strength in it. I really didn't understand why I felt this way until I did a bit of research on the topic.

According to Wiki, "The name Gideon means 'Destroyer', 'Mighty warrior' or 'Feller (of trees)'."

As you can tell, this name fits Gideon pretty well even if his character is not precisely in line with the Biblical. Personally, I couldn't remember the story of Gideon, but I could feel the strength (and perhaps even a threat) in the name.

But yeah... most of the names of the minor NPCs were bad. I liked the name Titus though. I think that worked pretty well.

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Postby hob » Mon Nov 13, 2006 8:04 am

Werefrog wrote:Biblical names in DS were a mixed bag for me. I get the feeling that many of the characters were just given random Biblical names just to create a feeling of "personality" that ultimately fell flat.


Yes! Yes! You worded my emtions perfectly! This is what I WANTED to say! Where were you when I was first writing this out?
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Postby Benevolent_Ghaleon » Mon Nov 13, 2006 5:09 pm

I've been thinking about it and maybe we just aren't playing the game under the influence of the right drugs. Any recommendations? I think acid may have the potential. :lol:

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Postby Werefrog » Mon Nov 13, 2006 8:35 pm

I hear if you're on crystal meth you take apart pieces of technology. You could use it and take apart your DS. Then you would never have to play it again. 8) I shouldn't even joke about that. Crystal meth is really destroying a lot of places in rural America.

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Postby GhaleonOne » Mon Nov 13, 2006 11:47 pm

I was just upset over that lousy review and was venting my frustration.


Just out of curiousity, what review were you reading?
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Postby hob » Tue Nov 14, 2006 8:34 am

Um... don't know it off the top of my head. I yahoo'd or googled a search about Lunar 3 (who doesn't?) and came upon the review somewhere. If I find it I'll let you know.
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Postby Bravo 29 » Tue Nov 14, 2006 10:57 am

Hob, I agree with most everything you said about DS. Ignatius was very weak, Rufus was wasted, Flora was a ditz, and Pinky [I refuse to call her Lucia, lest I dishonor the EB Lucia, who was a stronger character than Pinky will ever be] was pathetic.


[spoiler]
















But most of all, I despised Jian. He was by far the lamest LUNAR hero EVER. He goes off on some half-baked crusade when he reaches Healriz, ditches Gabi and Flora because he thinks he doesn't need them, and in his ultimate moment of stupidity, gives up his black magic right before the would be climactic battle with Igantius because he thinks he's lost Pinky forever. And then he assails his foe with knuckleheaded logic that would make anyone want to smite him. If Alex or Hiro were that boneheaded, LUNAR would've been destroyed, end of discussion. [/spoiler]

Blah, these spoiler tags aren't working.

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Postby Kizyr » Tue Nov 14, 2006 3:00 pm

hob wrote:
Kizyr wrote:First, the quality of the game had little to do with it not being ported over by Working Designs.


Working Designs games went to 11! They had the capability to make the game rock! All I would've wanted was a living cast of characters. Working Designs had awesome translations with a few liberties here and there. (Pretty sure Austin Powers never made an appearance the Japanese version.) They had fun with their games which it made it fun for us. I know they would've had limitations such as gameplay and major plot, but they still could've made us enjoy our party members better.


I like your enthusiasm for WD {^^}. But, honestly, they can't work miracles.

This really wasn't a translation job problem. Even if WD did take a lot of liberties with the cast, a lot of characterization is dependent on events, and there just weren't enough substantial events to prompt good, meaningful dialogue between the characters. The only real way to upgrade the poor characterization job would've been to include a lot more things going on than really did.

However, WD very well may have tweaked the programming to do things like eliminate breaking weapons/armor, enable targeting of enemy, and that sort of thing. UbiSoft did at least allow the trigger buttons to speed up battles.

hob wrote:Um... what? Okay, I have many problems with Dragon Song. The battle system is indeed horrendous but I found myself enjoying myself. In fact, I had so much fun actually playing LUNAR for the first time in years that I didn't realize I wasn't targetting the enemies until I had played it a few days. I was really excited about the split screen, touch sensative capability Dragon Song offered.

But after a while, I realized I was playing The Silver Star all over again. Althena was the girl who gets captured by the Ghaleon lookalike of the Vile Tribe. The only way to save the day is to become a Dragonmaster. Don't get me wrong, I loved playing the Silver Star. When I finally get another Playstation System and buy Lunar off eBay, I'll be playing it over and over again. But why do I enjoy playing it so much? Certainly isn't the graphics or the simple battle system.


That's something that I noticed in the storyboard process... The thing is, there were a lot of elements that differentiated Dragon Song from Silver Star (Story). The only problem is that none of those elements were emphasized very well (of course, very few elements were emphasized outside of the same straightforward plotline).

Though I do need to disagree... I thought a number of background elements like the beastman/human divide and the early Althena's Cathedral organization, and the different role of Jian as a courier, with a focus on agility-based moves instead of swordsmanship, did plenty to set this story apart. The story admittedly is so bare-bones, however, that you probably don't walk away from it remembering very much besides the similarities with SSS.

hob wrote:But the dull characters and rehacked storyline are the true problems of the game. I think the game has potential, but should be remade completely on a console with anime cutscenes. Lucia should be named something besides "Lucia", and she shouldn't be a Goddess incarnation.


Man, hindsight is 20/20. Sorry about that.
I really wish I'd asked for Alun's advice back then {^^}.

hob wrote:Rufus should be played more, and there should be some anticipation to recruiting Flora. Ditch Ignatius, the Ghaleon clone who can't compare.


Rufus needed to be a lot more major character. And having him weaker than Jian didn't help any... But I do say Ignatius was a good villain. KF

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Postby hob » Tue Nov 14, 2006 9:05 pm

Kizyr wrote:
hob wrote:
Kizyr wrote:But I do say Ignatius was a good villain. KF


Really? He just seemed so half-baked and cliché to me. I'm tired of the snoody villians who always look down on everyone and act so calm in every stuation, even when they're hanging off of a cliff and about to fall to their death.

It worked for Ghaleon because on the side, he enjoyed flowers and fairies, and we saw him have emotion in flashbacks. So we know he's just a poor guy with a warped view of the world. We have sympathy for him.

It worked for Zophar because he had presence. He was more powerful than Ghaleon. He was a master of trickery.

But Ignatius was just... "Here I am. You're too weak. I want to destroy the world. You can't beat me. Oh darn, I'm falling. Whatever." AND he looked too much like Ghaleon for me to separate the two. I think if Dragon Song is remade, they should make Ignatius more desperate and anxious, so much that we feel truly sorry for him at the end.

That's what I say, anyway.
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Postby Benevolent_Ghaleon » Sat Nov 18, 2006 4:38 pm

Werefrog wrote:I hear if you're on crystal meth you take apart pieces of technology. You could use it and take apart your DS. Then you would never have to play it again. 8) I shouldn't even joke about that. Crystal meth is really destroying a lot of places in rural America.


Joke about anything you want whenever you want.

The humorous part is that Meth sucks. I've done it and only enjoyed it somewhat...eventually, if i did decide to do it...i'd end up bored the majority of the time. Of all of the drugs i've experimented with..this one falls very closely to the most pointless and unenjoyable.

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Postby ilovemyguitar » Sat Nov 18, 2006 7:53 pm

I'm just gonna chime in and say that I can see where they were going with Dragon Song's story, and it probably would have been something really special if it had more time and a larger budget put into its production.

*Lunar DS Spoilers!*

It seems to me like the intent of the game's story was to further explore the "power of humanity," which has been a recurring theme within the Lunar series so far, this time delving more deeply into humanity's own dual natures of good and evil. Although it was poorly written, Jian had an interesting character arc that progressed from him believing that he needed to act alone to be efficient (illustrated by him ditching Gabi and Flora on his first trip to Vile Castle) to learning to listen to others and act as a member of a group; it's no coincidence that the final Dragon Trial implicitly states that Ignatius became evil because he came into power and refused to surround himself with people whose opinions he could listen to, and that Jian himself would inevitably become evil himself if he did the same.

The one thing that I feel was most drastically mishandled was Althena's story. They could have done a lot with her as an actual character here, and the developers really dropped the ball. In particular, I wanted to see Pinky (I love calling her this!) as a fleshed-out human being with normal human feelings and desires attempting to act as a goddess, and because of her human weakness ending up becoming genuinely evil herself. It could have been a great twist: Ignatius finds human Pinky, turns her back into a goddess expecting her to smite his enemies and help him re-create the world, and instead she kills or de-powers him and steps up and becomes the big bad villain herself. And the reason for her evilness would be because as a Goddess she retained her desires, personality, and emotions from her life as the human Pinky, and she fell prey to the same cycle of narrow-minded selfishness that led to Ignatius's downfall (and Jian was on the road to himself).

I was actually waiting for something along these lines to happen in the second trip to Vile Castle. It could have even been done in a way that fits in with what we already know about the history of Lunar at this time. Picture this: Pinky regains her goddess powers, but retains her human personality; she is now essentially a human with goddess powers. She kills Ignatius, and destroys the Sungrid Bridge, effectively banishing the Vile Tribe to the Frontier. And then, angry with the people of Lunar because she feels they betrayed her by allowing Ignatius to achieve as much power as he did, she creates a massive rainstorm with which she intends to flood the world, and raises the Cathedral of Althena into the sky above the storm and retreats there. Jian and company then fly up to the now airborn Cathedral in their airship-thingie, and defeat the now-evil Pinky. The Cathedral itself is destroyed, but the land around it remains in the sky, and is named Vane. And in the end, Althena reverts back to her human form as Pinky, (thus insuring a happy ending with a Pinky and Jian reunion), and she now knows that in future human incarnations, she should make it so that her human identity is kept separate from her identity as a goddess, and this is why in TSS/SSSC Luna and Althena have no memory or knowledge of the other's existence.
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Postby hob » Sat Nov 25, 2006 6:01 am

I really like you idea of having an evil "Pinky" but I feel (and I can't believe I'm saying this) like it would've been to BIG for a handheld if that makes any sense.

I just can't see something as big and epic as Althena/Pinky being the main villian you have to tackle without playing it on a console or something. You'd want the big anime cutscenes and voices to capture the real feel of it.

That also doesn't feel like a Lunar *prequil*. It feels more like a middle chapter or a near-final chapter.

And I'm sorry to say it, but I can't see Vane being made like that. I dunno, maybe any "birth" of Vane would disappoint me, because 1) I'm so picky with entertainment and 2) I like the idea of a floating hunk of land in the sky but any sort of explanation would take away its mysteriousness.

I don't know why I'm even blabbing on now, I'm just tired. But yeah... KUDOS, ilovemyguitar.
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Postby Kizyr » Sat Nov 25, 2006 7:33 pm

hob wrote:And I'm sorry to say it, but I can't see Vane being made like that. I dunno, maybe any "birth" of Vane would disappoint me, because 1) I'm so picky with entertainment and 2) I like the idea of a floating hunk of land in the sky but any sort of explanation would take away its mysteriousness.


The reasons for Vane floating in the air were given in previous Lunars (mostly Lunar TSS/SSS). Althena was saddened by the Vile Tribe - Humanity war, her tears flooded the land, and Vane rose up to the sky to escape the flood. While it sounds like a parable, Vane rising up to escape destruction on land (or the destruction of war) seems like something that would need to be kept constant.

The Vile Tribe - Humanity war was about 500 years prior to TSS, as well. DS took place 1000 years prior. KF

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Postby Bravo 29 » Thu Nov 30, 2006 1:05 am

ilovemyguitar wrote:*Lunar DS Spoilers!*

It seems to me like the intent of the game's story was to further explore the "power of humanity," which has been a recurring theme within the Lunar series so far, this time delving more deeply into humanity's own dual natures of good and evil. Although it was poorly written, Jian had an interesting character arc that progressed from him believing that he needed to act alone to be efficient (illustrated by him ditching Gabi and Flora on his first trip to Vile Castle) to learning to listen to others and act as a member of a group; it's no coincidence that the final Dragon Trial implicitly states that Ignatius became evil because he came into power and refused to surround himself with people whose opinions he could listen to, and that Jian himself would inevitably become evil himself if he did the same.


Ooh, good point, I actually missed that when I played the game. It definitely makes a lot of sense. Now that I think of it, that's precisely what happened to Ghaleon in TSS; he tried to save LUNAR all by himself, and lost his soul in the process.

ilovemyguitar wrote: The one thing that I feel was most drastically mishandled was Althena's story. They could have done a lot with her as an actual character here, and the developers really dropped the ball. In particular, I wanted to see Pinky (I love calling her this!) as a fleshed-out human being with normal human feelings and desires attempting to act as a goddess, and because of her human weakness ending up becoming genuinely evil herself. It could have been a great twist: Ignatius finds human Pinky, turns her back into a goddess expecting her to smite his enemies and help him re-create the world, and instead she kills or de-powers him and steps up and becomes the big bad villain herself. And the reason for her evilness would be because as a Goddess she retained her desires, personality, and emotions from her life as the human Pinky, and she fell prey to the same cycle of narrow-minded selfishness that led to Ignatius's downfall (and Jian was on the road to himself).


It would've been a huge improvement, I'll say that. The DS Althena was so, I'm not sure how to describe it. There was no reason she should've been that naive about evil. She claimed she wanted all races to live together in harmony, and that humans had already surpassed her, which was far from the truth. Perhaps the flood occurred when she realized how misguided she had acted, and was saddened by the consequences of prematurely attempting to relinquish her throne. Fortunately, she more than redeems herself in TSS and afterwards, when she secretly passed from the world, so no on would realize she was gone.

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Postby Alunissage » Thu Nov 30, 2006 11:21 pm

I guess I wasn't paying close attention to the last few posts (tuned out when Althena started being called "Pinky", which made it all but unreadable), but the comments on Jian's progressing from acting alone to acting with others finally give me a reason to finish the English playthrough which I stopped at Oberusho Bay, whose English (and possibly Japanese) name I've forgotten. This would fit in well with Luna's recorded message to Lucia, in which she says that Lucia must have good friends -- she couldn't have gotten there without them.

I have to point out, though, that Ghaleon wasn't working alone; he has one or three henchwomen, and Taben. And he sought Lemia as an ally, though he rightly thought that she probably wouldn't go along for it, and tries to persuade Laike to join him as well, late in the game. (I forget whether that's in both games.) Admittedly his plans involve him specifically being the Emperor, the One In Charge, but of course Alex is the one who wants to be a dragonmaster (never mind the novels etc in which everyone else does too).

Interesting speculation on possible directions to take the story by giving Althena a more key role, but I like my version of what happened between DS and TSS better. :P But that's why I don't get into the fanfic thing; everyone else's ideas feel wrong to me when they don't match mine.


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