Lunar: Silver Star Harmony is the fourth version of Lunar, if you count the Sega CD version as the original. What could Game Arts tweak this time? We asked Masato Dobashi, Producer of the PSP remake, about the changes and his thoughts on the Lunar series.
This is looking way back, but how did you envision Lunar when the series started?
Masato Dobashi, Producer: Unfortunately I was not part of the development staff for the original game, but I have asked similar questions to my colleagues before. The scenario writer, Shigema-san, mentioned that RPG protagonists in those days were already heroes from the beginning, so to break away from the norm, in Lunar he created an ordinary boy who saves a girl in danger. It’s a straightforward story, but I think it has a universal theme and, like “Lord of the Rings” or “The Earthsea Saga,” it has a timeless, classic story.
Which character is your favorite?
Each character has their own strong personality, so I love them all, but if I had to choose one, it would have to be Dyne. The reason being, Lunar has a sub-theme which is “succession to the next generation,” and Dyne is one of the characters that shows this the most. The goddess Althena, who is the guardian of this world, is thinking of leaving hope up to the next generation. Dyne takes this to heart and helps a bit but doesn’t really interfere with Alex and his friends. Dyne is really strong, but he also knows that if he solves their problems for them it would do no good. I really like this stance and how he steps back to watch over them all.
How did you come up with the design for Nall? (Is he really a cat? Kidding!)
Kei Shigema, Scenario Writer: Since the protagonist in RPGs is usually the alter ego of the player, they can’t be too assertive. In those situations, friends and party members come in handy to give a little personality. On top of that, if the mascot character is soft and fluffy, you can’t lose! I’m sure such a cute and funny party member would take the edge off the other party members during their adventure, too. (LOL)
With all that in mind, our friend Nall became something like a cat-looking animal. But he’s actually pretty heavy so I’m sure Alex is having a tough time having him on his shoulders and head all the time…
Why did you decide to remake Lunar for PSP?
It was at the behest of the fans that we decided to create a remake, and of course if we were going to do it we wanted to do the perfect remake.
We decided to go with the PSP because it can hold all the movie scenes, which are one of the main elements of Lunar. The movie data was in the storage of the anime creative company that worked on Lunar previously, so we had to dig up the D2 master tapes. After finding the tapes we then needed to re-digitize them since the old Sega Saturn MPEG 1 files would have noise blocks when played on the more advanced PSP unit. For the US version we got to retake the voice-overs as well, so we were able to re-edit the sound effects and background music at the same time, thus the overall quality became very high. So, I think our decision to go with the PSP for this complete remake was the right choice.
So many different companies translated Lunar and each version has its own flavor too. Which one do you prefer?
I really like the PSP remake. I feel this way, because for this version we were able to have the translator and the scenario writer work closely together. For Lunar: Silver Star Harmony our intention was to keep the good parts from the old, but at the same time be more faithful to the original script as well. You can see this in the song lyrics, too, especially for Luna’s boat song, “Nocturne of the Wind 2009.” I think it conveys the nuance of the Japanese lyrics really well.
How do you feel about the addition of all the American pop culture references?
Well, for the PSP translation we trust our partner XSEED’s opinion on this matter. They fully understand the original script and also how to make Japanese RPGs interesting. We really want the US fans to enjoy the title so we hope everyone will have a great experience, references and all.
It looks like all of the artwork has been revised. Why did you change the graphics and stick with sprites?
We wanted to keep the Sega Saturn feeling as much as possible. Considering the PSP screen size, we decided to go old-school and keep the 2D sprites since they can express the characters’ movement and emotions the best.
Aside from the visual upgrade, did Game Arts alter or rebalance the game for the Arts Gauge system?
As you know the Arts Gauge system is from the Game Boy Advance version. Since for this PSP version the graphics changed, as well as the character placements, distance, and effective areas, the parameters are different from the Sega Saturn version or the Game Boy Advance version and were adjusted specifically for the PSP version.
What about the story changes, what do the new scenes add to the game?
The details are secret. I would love for people to find out by playing the game. However, I can say that the prologue episode is something that the scenario writer Shigema-san wanted to do for many years. I think including this prologue episode really adds more depth to the story as a whole.
Lunar has been remade a bunch of times, but if you had to do it again, what would you want to add or change?
Another remake? Hmmm…that’s a tough one. This remake is pretty close to perfection. If we were to have some new elements to add on I think it’d be better to just develop a new Lunar altogether.
*If you didn’t know (I’m pretty sure you do!) Lunar: Silver Star Harmony is in stores now. Check back later this week for the other half where Xseed’s Localization Lead discusses the new translation.