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Lunar: Silver Star Story Touch

For: iPhone   Also on: iPad
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Exotic port

Product: Lunar: Silver Star Story Touch | Publisher: SoMoGa | Format: iPhone | Genre: RPG | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0.2
Lunar: Silver Star Story Touch iPhone, thumbnail 1
As iPad and iPhone gamers it's easy to bemoan the number of ports we receive - especially when they're poorly handled.

But when you consider things from a different angle, the porting process is really a means of curation - preserving gaming artefacts for new generations to appreciate.

It's easier to see things that way when the games are relatively obscure and - of course - of a high standard. That's why we're willing to cut Lunar: Silver Star Story Touch a certain amount of slack in spite of some glaring control and UI issues.

Epic story

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin the epic story of how Lunar: Silver Star Story Touch came to be on iOS.

Lunar: Silver Star Story Touch (let's just call it LSSST from now on) dates back to an old Sega Mega CD game from 1992, which was called Lunar: The Silver Star. That was then converted to and enhanced for the 32-bit consoles (the Saturn and the PlayStation) in the mid-'90s under the title Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete.

It's that game that we hold in our hands today - albeit with added touch controls.

The test of time

Here's the good news - while LSSST remains a very traditional JRPG, it's a playable one that was really quite ahead of its time in certain vital ways.

The story is light, the script is surprisingly witty, and the original's lush anime-style cut-scenes have been preserved. The characters are simple but likeable, and there's a cheeky sense of humour at play - such as a venerable dragon who hints that the much-vaunted dragon gem our young protagonists are chasing early on is little more than dragon poo.

Sure, you have the usual boy-with-a-destiny and vulnerable-girl-with-hidden-powers schtick going on, but it's all handled with oodles of charm.

Pick your battles

LSSST also stands the test of time thanks to a few wise choices in its battle system. Yes, it's essentially the same turn-based battle system found in countless other JRPGs, but there's a degree of fluidity and life to the battles that few games from the era can match.

For one thing, battles aren't random - you can see the enemies coming on the world map and you can even avoid them if you're quick. Also, combatants don't stand still in fights. They wander around to find the right range, and powerful attacks knock opponents back. This adds a layer of strategy to battles.

You can also choose how involved you want to be in each fight, opting for complete autopilot, pre-set tactics, or complete manual control.

Twist in the tale

Unfortunately, the controls in LSSST are pretty awful. In a way we want to praise the developer for trying something different from the usual virtual D-pad and buttons, but it hasn't gone far enough.

You can either touch on the screen where you want your characters to move or touch and drag, which brings up a virtual analogue stick of sorts.

The problem with the former is that there are no path-finding algorithms on display, so if anything is in your character's direct path they'll get snagged. The problem with the second method is that it's just too imprecise, and you'll find yourself walking into walls or even in completely the wrong direction.

It's not aided by the fact that our gang zips around the levels at a relatively brisk rate. The game cries out for some nailed-on digital controls - which, of course, it was originally designed for.

What's on the menu

The game's ancient menu interface is also clunky and in need of an overhaul. Having to swipe the screen to back-up from menu screens or command decisions never quite feels right, either.

Still, there's no denying that Lunar: Silver Star Story Touch is a fine JRPG that's stood the test of time well. If you can stand the bodged controls, you'll have a lengthy and engrossing epic on your hands.
Lunar: Silver Star Story Touch
Reviewer photo
Jon Mundy | 26 September 2012
Lunar: Silver Star Story Touch is a charming JRPG with plenty of nice touches and an enjoyable story, but it's tarnished a little by poor controls
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