That’s *Magic* Emperor Ghaleon
Since the NES days I’ve been a fan of role playing games; buy weapons, fight monsters, level up, etc. I’m a sucker for level grinding and acquiring every piece of power up I possibly can. There are dozens of games I’ve played since the 8-bit days that have been favorites of mine: Shining Force, Chrono Trigger, Fire Emblem, Skies of Arcadia, Grandia, the list goes on…
But of all the series I’ve played, and the 1000s of hours I’ve accumulated in these fantasy worlds the Lunar games have stuck with me the most. Lunar: The Silver Star, and it’s sequel Eternal Blue, are the most pivotal RPGs from my collective history in gaming. There have been other games in this universe but they’re more spin-offs than anything else. While Eternal Blue is my favorite, I have all four versions of Lunar: TSS that have been released (EB was not remade after the PSX version). The two portable versions include the Gameboy Advance (2001) and PlayStation Portable (2010).
Both originally released for the SEGA CD in 1993/95, then remastered for the PlayStation in 1998/1999 (RIP, Working Designs) years later, in my eyes they became the gold standard for storytelling in video games back when voice acting and animation cut scenes were unheard of (and good voice acting at that!) due to the limited storage capacity of cartridge games. If there’s one thing the SEGA CD should be revered for it’s these games.
Aside from the above benchmarks the music, composed by Noriyuki Iwadare (who also authored the Grandia soundtracks), created some truly magical compositions. Never underestimate the power of music to truly transform a game into an immersive experience when you are committing 50+ hours to it.
The other component is the quality of writing for all the characters in the game. The US localization was full of American puns and sarcasm (Bill Clinton references, for starters) but not so much where it was distracting. However, it was this cutscene from the original game that forever burned itself into my memories. Deaths in video games at the time were never displayed with such visual force, and antagonists were never more than colorful pixels on your screen. It all changed after this game, and from that point on Ghaleon was my favorite bad guy (sorry, Sephiroth groupies).
As stated in a long ago post, the main theme of this game was played on a flute during my wedding which more than tells you how much I revere this game. I unfortunately don’t have any media footage of that day but the memory more than serves me well.