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Lunar: Dragon Song
game: Lunar: Dragon Song
posted by: George Holomshek
publisher: Ubisoft
developer: Japan Art Media
ESRB rating: RP (Rating Pending)
date posted: 12:00 AM Thu Jul 21st, 2005
last revision: 12:00 AM Thu Jul 21st, 2005

Click to read.Back in the days of the Sega CD, developer Game Arts attempted to create a grand RPG of its own to set itself alongside Squaresoft and Enix.  Their weapon was Lunar: The Silver Star.  While it obviously never knocked Final Fantasy off its pedestal, it still managed to garner an army of followers.  However, after only one sequel on the Sega CD - Lunar: Eternal Blue - nothing appeared from the series but remakes on other platforms.  Now, Lunar fans rejoice!  After ten years without an original title, Japan Art Media, under the direction of Game Arts, will be giving the Nintendo DS its first official fantasy RPG, entitled Lunar: Dragon Song.

Taking place one thousand years before the events of Silver Star, the world of Lunar, under the protection of its goddess-creator Althena, is enjoying peaceful times.  Also enjoying this peace is the game's main protagonist, Jian, and his friends Gabryel, Lucia, Flora, and Rufus.  Unfortunately, the peace does not last, and powerful demons begin to invade Lunar, and, while things start out straightforward enough, it becomes clear that Jian's adventure will quickly become more important than anyone could have imagined.  It is up to Jian and his friends to unravel the mysterious plot against Althena.  They alone have the power to stop the invading evil and save a goddess.

Something veteran Lunar players will notice is the new graphical approach used in Dragon Song.  Instead of the more exaggerated art style used in previous games, characters will now have a more proportioned and realistic figure.  However, in classic Lunar style, the story will still be progressed via wonderfully hand-drawn anime-style cutscenes.  The player's view of the overworld has also changed.  Instead of the 2D, top-down view used in previous titles, the view is now slightly slanted and viewed at an angle, much like in Chrono Trigger.  Battle is also no longer viewed from the side but from a more behind-the-back perspective.  This new view also helps make use of the DS's dual screens by allowing for better special effects and more impressive monsters.

Several new twists have also been thrown into the gameplay, starting with the new Light & Dark? system.  This new system requires the player to transform creatures of Darkness into creatures of Light in order to defeat them.  Exactly how this is accomplished hasn't been revealed yet, however.  In addition to new weapons, there are Battle Cards, which can be found throughout Jian's adventure.  These cards can be used to power up members of your party and give them a little extra umph? in battle.  Other features include using the touch screen for management purposes, as well as using the DS's built in microphone to issue commands in certain situations.  Also, using the unit's wireless capabilities, players can challenge each other in the coliseum mode using the Battle Cards they have collected.  And while this game may not make complete use of the DS's touch screen, I don't find that to be anything to complain about.  I would rather have a smooth playing game than one that feels like it has a forced control system.  Not every DS game has to be defined by its interface.

Set for release this September, Lunar: Dragon Song is definitely a game to look forward to.  Classic Lunar fans and RPG fans alike, get ready to enjoy the first true fantasy RPG on the DS.  And, with the way this game looks to be shaping up, hopefully it is but the tip of the iceberg for Nintendo's handheld.

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