Lunar: Eternal Blue
|Lunar: Eternal Blue|
|Genre(s)||Role-playing video game|
Lunar: Eternal Blue (ルナ エターナルブルー Runa Etānaru Burū) is a role-playing video game developed by Game Arts and Studio Alex for the Sega CD as the sequel to Lunar: The Silver Star. The game was originally released in December 1994 in Japan, and later in North America in September 1995 by Working Designs. Eternal Blue expanded the story and gameplay of its predecessor, and made more use of the Sega CD's hardware, including more detailed graphics, longer, more elaborate animated cutscenes, and more extensive use of voice acting. Critics were mostly pleased with the title, giving particular merit to the game's English translation and further expansion of the role-playing game genre in CD format.
Set one thousand years after the events of The Silver Star, the game follows the adventure of Hiro, a young explorer and adventurer who meets Lucia, visitor from the far-away Blue Star, becoming entangled in her mission to stop Zophar, an evil, all-powerful being, from destroying the world. During their journey across the world of Lunar, Hiro and Lucia are joined by an ever-expanding cast of supporting characters, including some from its predecessor. Eternal Blue was remade in 1998 as Lunar 2: Eternal Blue Complete.
Lunar: Eternal Blue is a traditional role-playing video game featuring two-dimensional character sprites and backgrounds. The game is presented from a top-down perspective with players moving the characters across numerous fantasy environments while completing story-based scenarios and battling enemy monsters. While basic game function remains similar to Lunar: The Silver Star, with story segments being presented as both on-screen text and animated cutscenes, the abundance of these interludes has been increased to over fifty minutes of movie content and an hour of spoken dialogue. Players advance the story by taking part in quests and interacting with non-player characters, which engages them in the story as well as providing tips on how to advance.
Battles in Eternal Blue take place randomly within dungeons and other hostile areas of the game. While in a battle sequence, players defeat enemy monsters either by using standard attacks or magic, with combat ending by defeating all enemies present. In order to attack an enemy, a character must first position themselves near their target by moving across the field, or by using a ranged attack to strike from a distance. The battle system in as been enhanced from The Silver Star by including the option to position characters throughout the field beforehand, as well as a more sophisticated AI attack setting that allows the characters to act on their own. Characters improve and grow stronger by defeating enemies, thereby gaining experience points that allow them to gain levels and face progressively more powerful enemies as the game advances. The player is awarded special "magic points" after combat that can be used to empower a particular character's magical attack, giving them access to new, more powerful skills with a variety of uses in and out of battle. Players can record their progress at any time during gameplay by saving to either the Sega-CD's internal RAM, or on a separately purchased RAM cartridge that fits into the accompanying Mega Drive. In order to save at any time, magic experience points equal to Hiro's level * 15 is required.
The character of Lunar; Eternal Blue were designed by artist and Lunar veteran Toshiyuki Kubooka.
- Hiro – a young man and would-be explorer who is skilled with a sword and boomerangs
- Ruby – a pink, winged cat-like creature with a crush on Hiro who claims to be a baby red dragon
- Gwyn – Hiro's adoptive grandfather, and an archaeologist
- Lucia – a mysterious and soft-spoken girl from the Blue Star who is skilled with magic and mostly naive of the world's customs
- Ronfar – a priest-turned-gambler with healing skills
- Lemina – money-grubbing heiress to the position of head of the world's highest magic guild
- Jean – a traveling dancer with a hidden past as a prisoner forced to use a deadly form of martial arts against innocent people
- Leo – captain of Althena's guard and servant of the goddess.
While the cast's primary personalities remained intact for the English release, some changes such as colorful language, jokes, and double entendres were added to their speech to make the game more comical.
Primary supporting characters include the servants of the Goddess Althena, the creator of Lunar thought to have vanished centuries ago who suddenly appeared in mortal form to lead her people.
- Borgan – an obese, self-absorbed magician with his eyes on the seat of power in the magic guild
- Lunn – a martial artist and Jean's former instructor
- Mauri – Leo's sister and Ronfar's love interest.
- Ghaleon – (the primary villain killed in the previous game) the current Dragonmaster, Althena's champion, and supposed protector of the world. His final end reveals that he regrets the evil he committed and does what he can to aid Hiro.
- Zophar – the game's principal villain, a long-dormant evil spirit who is attempting to destroy and recreate the world to his tastes. Although his voice is heard numerous times, he remains faceless until the final battle.
The plot of Lunar: Eternal Blue was written by novelist Kei Shigema, who previously conceived the story for The Silver Star. Working together with new world designer Hajime Satou, Shigema intended to craft a story that would not only pick up where the previous game ended, but give players a thoroughly new experience that would elaborate on the history and mythos of the Lunar world. The story begins a sequence showing a young woman emerging from suspended animation inside a deserted fortress. Walking outside, she views the vast, snow-driven landscape of her world, The Blue Star, and comments on how this could not possibly be the time for her awakening. Commenting that "something must be terribly wrong", she stares into the sky to see the distant moon of Lunar, and sees a vision of a pair of clawed hands grabbing at Lunar and crushing it between its palms, squeezing the life out of the land. Worried, she knows what must be done.
Meanwhile, on the surface of Lunar, a young man named Hiro is exploring an ancient ruin with his friend Ruby where they discover a large gem, The Dragon's Eye. Upon removing the jewel from its resting place, a trap triggers causing the temple to collapse and monsters to chase after them as they make their escape. Outside the ruins, they meet Leo, leader of Althena's Guard, an army in service to the goddess, who tells them to leave the area due to rumors of a "destroyer" Althena had predicted would be in the area. Meeting with Hiro's grandfather and prominent historian, Gwyn, the group witnesses a strange light hitting a tower known as the Blue Spire, and decide to investigate. Using the Dragon's Eye, they gain access to the spire, and upon reaching the top floor meet the girl from the Blue Star, Lucia. Claiming she has come to Lunar to stop a catastrophe, she requests to be taken to Althena, the only one able to avert what very well could be a worldwide disaster. Exiting the spire, the group is contacted by a sinister voice revealed by Lucia to be Zophar, an ancient, evil god who has apparently broken free of the restraints Althena once placed on him. Draining Lucia of her magic powers, Zophar reveals that he will soon take control of Lunar, and departs with Lucia in critical condition. Deciding to help her, Hiro and Ruby take Lucia to see Ronfar, a priest living in a nearby town. Having lost his faith years ago, Hiro must convince Ronfar to return to the temple of Althena and aid Lucia which sparks memories of his past with his girlfriend, Mauri. Haunted by the fact that Mauri had taken severely ill by a curse and Ronfar was powerless to save her, Ronfar vows not to let the same thing happen again a second time. Using a powerful spell, Ronfar manages to cure Lucia, who then travels alone to the holy city of Pentagulia where Althena is said to reside.
Learning that Leo is looking for Lucia under Althena's orders, Hiro, Ronfar, and Ruby follow her, but arrive too late to prevent her from being abducted. Sneaking aboard Leo's ship, the team rescues Lucia and escape to a nearby forest where they meet Jean, a dancer in a traveling gypsy troupe with a powerful fighting style. With Jean's help, Hiro and his friends are led outside the forest undetected by Leo's men, and escape to a nearby town where they are told the only way to Pentagulia is blocked and must be circumnavigated through a mountain path. At the base of the mountain, the team finds a seemingly haunted house, which up investigation is revealed to be a training facility for magicians. Running the facility is Lemina, a young wizard who tags along with the group with the hope that they will agree to join the magic school of Vane, of which she is the future headmistress.
Eluding Leo's men once again by using a traveling device involving a cannon, the team arrive at an ancient temple where they find a projector-like recording device that plays back an image of the past. The projection involves the destruction of Vane by Ghaleon hundreds of years before, with the recording being interrupted by the very much alive Ghaleon suddenly appearing before them. Saying that he still has plans for the world, Ghaleon leaves the baffled team to continue their journey to the holy city. Making their way to a tree top village, they meet Nall, leader of a band of child thieves who gives Ruby the impression of a dragon. Indeed, Nall later reveals that he was once a dragon that fought alongside Dragonmaster Alex, and has remained alive due to his extended lifespan.
Arriving at Pentagulia, Lucia demands to see Althena, and after only a short audience, concludes that the woman in front of her is not the real goddess at all, and subsequently attempts to kill her. However, this is thwarted by Ghaleon, who knocks out Lucia in retaliation. Enraged at Ghaleon for attacking her, Hiro duels him, but despite showing an impressive amount of power, he is quickly defeated. Both of them (along with Ruby, Ronfar, Jean and Lemina) are all then thrown into separate dungeons. Rescued from their captivity by Leo in disguise, they re-unite to seek the truth of Althena's fate. Nall recounts how Ghaleon mysteriously re-appeared and drained all dragons of their power, claiming the title of Dragonmaster for himself and is now serving the false Althena for an unknown purpose. In order to stop him, Hiro's team must regain the power of the four dragons by gathering their auras, which are guarded by each of Althena's Four Heroes. During the course this mission, characters confront the Heroes they have a connection to: Lemina faces Borgan, the Black Hero, for the right to lead the Magic Guild, Ronfar attempts to appease his girlfriend Mauri, the Red Hero, by helping her confront the inner demons that curse her, and Jean faces her martial arts instructor Lunn, the Blue Hero, in single combat. Leo, the White Hero, has had his faith shaken by Althena's recent actions, and joins Hiro's quest to stop Zophar at any cost.
Before the party can reach Althena's Tower to liberate the goddess, Ghaleon appears and turns Hiro into a crystal in order to slow Lucia's progress, and thus allow Zophar time to be reborn. After being convinced to delay their journey to Pentagulia by Ruby, Lucia returns with Hiro's crystallized body to the Blue Spire and uses stored magic to restore him.
Using the power of the auras, the revived dragons, including Nall and Ruby, attack the false Althena's stronghold, where she is transformed into a demonic monster by Zophar, which the heroes manage to defeat. At the tower's pinnacle, Nall appears to play a recording for Lucia, an image of the real Althena reveals to the group that she is no longer alive, having given up her godhood after falling in love with a human, and that she believed humanity could sustain itself without her. Shocked by the revelation and uncomprehending of Althena's choice, Lucia absorbs Althena's power into herself to destroy Zophar, thereby eliminating all magic in the world. Zophar appears and reveals that such power would destroy the world of Lunar as well. As Lucia hesitates, Zophar captures her and starts to siphon Althena's power into himself. Lucia uses the last of her power to teleport Hiro and the party to safety. While Jean, Ronfar, and Lemina train to fight Zophar, a demoralized Hiro is confronted by Ghaleon, who delays killing Hiro to allow his fighting spirit to awaken and allows the group to harness their own inner strength to use their magic abilities again and gain faith in themselves. He reveals to Hiro that he allowed Zophar to revive him so that he could atone for his actions in the first game, but because Zophar could withdraw his power at any time, Ghaleon had to appear to be an enemy. He entrusts Hiro with his sword and disappears as the group goes to battle Zophar.
Hiro and the group go to save Lucia and fight Zophar using the power of humanity instead of Althena's power, and together they destroy Zophar. Lucia then returns to the Blue Star, in faith that she can one day entrust the Blue Star to humans based on what she has witnessed on Lunar. Hiro, having fallen in love with Lucia, is heartbroken by her leaving.
In the epilogue, Hiro and the group reunite to help Hiro go to the Blue Star himself to find Lucia and be reunited again. Climbing the Star Dragon's Tower, Hiro succeeds, and is reunited with Lucia on the Blue Star. Together, the two look towards a bright future for humanity.
Lunar: Eternal Blue was developed by Game Arts and Studio Alex, with project director Yoichi Miyagi returning to oversee the production of the new game. According to scenario writer Kei Shigema, the game's concept of an oppressive god came from the image of Sun Wukong, hero of the Chinese epic Journey to the West, being unable to escape from the gigantic palm of the Buddha. Shigema stated that "it was a picture showing the arrogance of a god who is saying, 'In the end, you pathetic humans are in my hands.' The moment I understood that, I thought, 'Oh, I definitely want to do this,' it'll definitely match perfectly. So we used it just like that." Eternal Blue took three years and over US$2.5 million to produce, and contains twice as much dialogue as its precessor. The game's development team originally wanted the game to be set only a few years after The Silver Star, and would feature slightly older versions of the previous cast along with the new characters, yet discarded the idea when they thought the new cast would lose focus. Like its predecessor, the game contains animated interludes to help tell the game's story, which were developed in-house with Toshiyuki Kubooka serving as animation director. While The Silver Star contained only ten minutes of partially voiced animation, Eternal Blue features nearly fifty minutes of fully voiced video content.
The game's North American version was translated and published by Working Designs, who had previously produced the English release of The Silver Star. Headed by company president Victor Ireland, the game's script contains the same light humor of the original, with references to American pop culture, word play, and breaking of the fourth wall not seen in the Japanese version. Working closely with the staff at Game Arts, Working Designs implemented design and balance fixes into the American release, including altering the difficulty of some battles that were found to be "near impossible". Finding little risk in the ability to save the game anywhere, Ireland's team added a "cost" component to the game's save feature, where players would have to spend points earned after battles to record their progress, remarking that "[We] wanted to make the player think about where and when to save without making it too burdensome." In addition, Working Designs implemented the ability for the game to remember the last action selected by the player during combat, allowing them to use the same command the next round without having to manually select it. Like The Silver Star, the North American version of Eternal Blue featured an embossed instruction manual cover.
The soundtrack for Lunar: Eternal Blue was composed by Noriyuki Iwadare, who had previously co-produced the music for Lunar: The Silver Star. The game utilizes studio-quality Red Book audio for one of the two vocal songs. (Both are CD tracks in the US version.) Every other piece of music was encoded into 16 kHz PCM files. Dialogue and certain ambient effects also used the PCM format. Most sound effects were generated through the Sega Genesis sound processor. Along with music director Isao Mizoguchi, Iwadare's goal was to produce music that contained "a high degree of originality" when compared to both the previous game and role-playing games in general. While the original game's music represented a number of styles and genres, Iwadare purposefully narrowed his range of composition to give the songs a unified feel. The English version contains an original title not found in the Japanese release, named the "Star Dragon Theme". It was used as the BGM for the Star Tower dungeon. The game's ending theme, "Eternal Blue ~Thoughts of Eternity~" (ETERNAL BLUE performed by Chisa Yokoyama, is one of Iwadare's favorite compositions. An official soundtrack featuring selected tracks from the game was released in Japan on February 22, 1995 by Toshiba-EMI Records.
|Lunar: Eternal Blue Original Soundtrack track list|
|1.||"Lunar Eternal Blue ~Main Theme~"||3:10|
|2.||"Adventure Road (ADVENTURE ROAD" (vocal by Hikaru Midorikawa as Hiro)||4:09|
|5.||"Town ~ Street"||4:28|
|6.||"Lucia's Decent ~Thoughts of Sorrow~"||3:06|
|8.||"Holy Port Pentgulia"||2:35|
|10.||"The Final Match Approaches"||3:50|
|13.||"Field of Reaching for Tomorrow"||2:22|
|14.||"Lucia vs. Zophar ~The Last Battle~"||4:48|
|16.||"Eternal Blue ~Thoughts of Eternity~ (ETERNAL BLUE" (vocal by Chisa Yokoyama as Lucia)||6:03|
|Hiro||Hikaru Midorikawa||Mark Zempel|
|Lucia||Chisa Yokoyama||Kelly Weaver|
|Ruby||Kumiko Nishihara||Jennifer Stigile|
|Ronfar||Ryōtarō Okiayu||Ned Schuft|
|Jean||Aya Hisakawa||Jennifer Stigile|
|Lemina||Megumi Hayashibara||Kathy Emme|
|Leo||Shinichiro Ohta||Ty Webb|
|Lunn||Masaharu Satō||Blake Dorsey|
|Borgan||Daisuke Kyouri||Dean Williams|
|Mauri||Kumiko Watanabe||Emmunah Hauser|
|Nall||Rica Matsumoto||Johnathon Esses|
|Althena||Shiho Niiyama||Katie Staeck|
|Ghaleon||Rokurō Naya||John Truitt|
|Zophar||Iemasa Kayumi||T. Owen Smith|
Lunar: Eternal Blue features spoken dialogue during cutscenes and specific points in the game's script. While The Silver Star contained only fifteen minutes of voiced content, Eternal Blue features over an hour and a half of pre-recorded speech. The game's cast consists of fifteen voiced roles, with the original Japanese version featuring veteran anime and video game actors, including Rokurō Naya returning as Ghaleon. For the game's English version, Working Designs hired friends and staff of the game's production crew, many of whom had worked on previous projects with the company. John Truitt also reprises his role as Ghaleon, and is joined by a number of new cast members to the Lunar series, many of which would return in future games.
The Japanese release of Eternal Blue was preceded by a spoken drama album called Lunar: Eternal Blue Prelude in June 1994 featuring the game's future voice cast performing skits and songs in-character to promote the game. When the game was released the following December, it was packaged with an 8 cm music disc called the Lunar: Eternal Blue Premium CD featuring short conversations by Lucia and Lemina, as well as in-character theme songs. In the months following the game's release, a two-volume drama album set featuring an expanded cast titled Lunatic Parade would be released by Toshiba-EMI records in June and September 1995.
|Lunar: Eternal Blue Prelude track list|
|1.||"Prologue: Eternal Blue Prologue"||8:16|
|2.||"Chapter One: Sea of Sand"||4:14|
|3.||"Chapter Two: Oasis"||8:12|
|4.||"Chapter Three: Ghost Valley"||4:25|
|5.||"Chapter Four: Ghost"||3:20|
|6.||"Chapter Five: Camp"||3:41|
|7.||"Althena's Song – Distant Journey" (vocal by Kikuko Inoue as Luna)||6:34|
|8.||"Chapter Six: Black Knight"||5:59|
|10.||"Lucia's Image Song – Rondo of Light and Shadow" (vocal by Chisa Yokoyama as Lucia)||5:07|
|11.||"Epilogue – Prologue Reprise"||5:29|
|Lunar: Eternal Blue Premium CD track list|
|1.||"Lucia and Lemina's Conversation 1"|
|2.||"Money is #1" (vocal by Megumi Hayashibara as Lemina)||3:37|
|3.||"Lucia and Lemina's Conversation 2"|
|4.||"Eternal Blue ~Eternal Sentiment~" (vocal by Chisa Yokoyama as Lucia)||6:08|
|5.||"Lucia and Lemina's Conversation 3"|
|Lunar: Eternal Blue Lunatic Parade Vol. 1 track list|
|2.||"Chapter One: Burning Determination"||6:59|
|3.||"Lone Wolf Knight Leo"||2:47|
|4.||"Rise Up Men of Valor! Battle No. 1"||3:03|
|5.||"Chapter Two: The Magic Guild's Hair Crisis!"||17:50|
|6.||"Money is #1" (vocal by Daisuke Gouri as Borgan & Megumi Hayashibara as Lemina)||3:37|
|7.||"Martial Arts Tournament"||2:22|
|8.||"Chapter Three: Hope's Second Chance!"||9:01|
|9.||"Victory Teacher Ronfar"||2:27|
|10.||"The Four Heroes"||4:11|
|11.||"Chapter Four: Ghaleon's Last Moments"||2:33|
|Lunar: Eternal Blue Lunatic Parade Vol. 2 track list|
|1.||"The Envoy of Justice, The Masked White Knight Appears!!"||4:25|
|2.||"Chapter Five: First Kiss"||11:18|
|3.||"Love Love Funny" (vocal by Kumiko Nishihara as Ruby)||4:55|
|4.||"I am the Great Nall!!"||2:38|
|5.||"Chapter Six: Heart-Pounding, Happy, Bashful First Date!"||16:43|
|7.||"Martial Arts Investigation"||3:34|
|8.||"Fierce Fighting – Battle No. 2"||3:10|
|9.||"Chapter Seven: Discussion of Lucia's Life!"||10:39|
Lunar: Eternal Blue sold well in Japan despite an estimated retail price of JPY¥9,900, nearly the equivalent of US$100 in 1994. The game would go on to sell fewer copies than its predecessor, Lunar: The Silver Star, yet still became the second-highest selling Sega-CD game in Japan and third highest selling worldwide. Eternal Blue received a score of 30 out of 40 in Japanese magazine Megadrive Beep!, with fellow Sega publication Megadrive Fan calling the game "fun" and featuring an official manga strip written by scenario writer Kei Shigema over the next several months.
The game experienced relatively low sales during its release in North America, which Victor Ireland attributed to both the rise of 32-bit game consoles such as the Sega Saturn and PlayStation, and widespread media declaration of the Sega-CD's "death" in the video game market in 1995. Its English release met with a favorable response, with GamePro remarking that "Eternal Blue could appear to some as 'just another RPG,' but the epic scope, appealing characters, and excellent cinematics make it much more," yet found the game's linear story progression to be its low point. Electronic Gaming Monthly praised the game's "great story and witty characters", adding that "the all-important, usually absent ingredient is there: fun". They awarded it as the Best Sega Mega-CD Game of 1995. In their review, Game Players found the game's larger scope and expanded features made it less enjoyable than its predecessor, saying "it's a better game, it's just not quite as much fun. [We] still liked it, a lot, and it's definitely recommended, but it feels like something's been lost." Next Generation Magazine echoed this sentiment, remarking that "overall it's a much stronger game, but you can't help feeling something missing", yet maintained that the game's storyline was "decidedly less goofy, with more of an emphasis on drama and storyline."
When asked if he approved of the game's reviews, Ireland replied that they were "overall in the ballpark" from what he expected, with the exception of a portion of a review from GameFan. In an earlier preview of the English version, editors of GameFan called the game's translation "ingeniously written", which was later quoted in an Eternal Blue print advertisement that appeared in several magazines up to the game's release. When the editors reviewed the final version, however, they questioned the game's frequent use of jokes and lewd quips in place of the original Japanese narrative which Ireland described as "a complete about-face" Despite their problems with portions of the translation, the magazine would still regard the majority of the game's "non-joke-laden" script as "excellent", and awarded the game an above-average 91% rating, calling it "one of the greatest epics ever programmed". Retro Gamer included Eternal Blue among top ten Mega CD games.
In July 1998, Game Arts and Japan Art Media released a remake to Eternal Blue, Lunar 2: Eternal Blue Complete for the Sega Saturn, with a PlayStation version available the following year. Like the remake of The Silver Star, Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete, the new version of Eternal Blue features updated graphics, re-arranged audio, and more robust animated sequences by Studio Gonzo, as well as an expanded script. This version would be released in North America in 2000 once again by Working Designs in the form of an elaborate collector's edition package that includes a soundtrack CD, "making of" bonus disc, game map, and a special omake box complete with Eternal Blue collectibles.
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