Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Lunar: Dragon Song's Characters

Lunar: Dragon Song. I’d say it’s garbage, but for the fact that festering carrion rats frequently use garbage as a squalid staging ground within which to uncontrollably breed both their rancid vermin spawn and the plague-ridden parasites that prey upon every filth-soaked inch of their scabby flesh, all of which gives said garbage a level of value to the world that Lunar: Dragon Song can’t possibly compare to. While it’s true that no one single aspect of this game is to blame for its being universally reviled (it’s more like every single part of the title works together in evil harmony to create its crappiness, like a twisted, masterfully horrible symphony of agony and human vice), let’s take a look at its characters for now.

Jian: Jian is of the Selfish, Bull-Headed Moron subgenre of RPG heroes. It’s a well-known fact that about 50% of all JRPG heroes are complete idiots by design, but not all idiots are created equally unintelligent. Most of the time, an idiot protagonist comes in the form of someone like Lloyd from Tales of Symphonia 1, a teenage simpleton whose heart of gold sees him through his adventure and makes up for the fact that reading his age backwards gives you his IQ. However, sometimes they make an idiot protagonist and forget to counterbalance his stupidity with a likable personality, leaving you with a self-centered dipshit like Jian. Yeah, Jian is all about racial equality and all (which is less wise and forward-thinking than it initially seems to be, when one considers that it’s HIS race that’s the one being looked down on as inferior; of COURSE the one being persecuted wants people to treat each other better), but more than that, Jian is about pursuing what HE wants and values, as impatiently and recklessly as possible. Aside from just hurling himself face-first into whatever his current objective happens to be without the slightest forethought whatsoever, he really has no personality to speak of.

And actually, I make it out like he’s stupid, but he seems to be the only person in all of Lunar who has figured out that hitting an enemy once is actually, incredibly enough, less effective than hitting them more than once. Jian is, in all seriousness, the deadliest fighter in the world simply because he thinks to kick his foe three times instead of just once. So as stupid as he is, everyone else in the game is apparently even dumber.

Lucia: Oh, yeah, great idea, Japan Art Media. Name the main female character of this Lunar game the SAME NAME as the lead female character of Lunar 2. Because THAT won’t cause confusion or anything. Jesus, people, this is not the Suikoden series, you don’t have literally dozens of female characters in each title that you have to come up with names for. This is not a huge RPG series like Fire Emblem, Final Fantasy, or Shin Megami Tensei; there are only 4 Lunar titles with distinct stories and casts! You guys could not think of ANY other name to give this character than the same one as an iconic former cast member?

Anyway, Lucia is...uh...boring. Like, really boring. You thought the first game’s Luna was a boring, lackluster character utterly devoid of personality? You ain’t seen nothing until you’ve seen Lucia. Along with Goddess of Lunar, Althena must also be Goddess of Ultimate Blandness, because every mortal incarnation of her has all the personality of a moist block of tofu.

Jian and Lucia’s Love: AKA Sir Not Appearing In This Game. Seriously, this romantic subplot is so irrelevant, unconvincing, and for all practical purposes nonexistent, that it actually makes Lunar 1’s love story between Alex and Luna look wildly romantic and convincing.

Gabi: The writers’ strategy when making Gabi’s character seems to have been hoping that you’ll be too enthralled by the novelty of “OMG CATGIRL KAWAII” to actually read her dull, uninspired occasionally-plot-forwarding-but-mostly-just-pointless dialogue. Unfortunately, Japan Art Media forgot that it’s not the goddamn 1980s any more and catgirls aren’t the new, adorable anime phenomenon that they were 30 years ago, so the fact that Gabi is a super boring character whose only point of depth (that whole thing where she uses her brand new friends as the next wave of cannon fodder for her dad’s army) barely makes sense anyway does not go unnoticed just because someone glued a pair of feline ears onto her head. Sadly, she’s probably still the highlight of this cast.

Rufus: Considering that Rufus is shown more prominently on the game’s cover than Gabi (the character who is, aside from Jian, with the party the longest, and does the most of importance to the plot), it’s a little puzzling that he’s only in the game for one full dungeon before getting killed off. What was the point of having Rufus in there anyway? We never learn much of anything about him, he doesn’t do anything that really affects the way the plot unfolds, he doesn’t seem to have any particular influence on Jian’s character either way, and his position as a replacement for Gabi and Flora isn’t important to the story because Jian’s forcing Gabi and Flora away was meaningless; it didn’t develop any of them or show us anything important about their characters. You take poor Rufus out the picture entirely, and Lunar: Dragon Song would proceed virtually unchanged.

Flora: “Hi! Did someone here order a conveniently-timed, obligatory generic healer?”

Ignatius: Oh, hey, an arrogant, self-righteous semi-smooth talker who plans to control Althena and abuse her powers for his poorly-reasoned, quasi-misguided but mostly just evil-in-a-dumb-way villain motives. Just like Ghaleon. The villain from Lunar 1. Bit of a one trick pony there, aren’tcha, Japan Art Media?


  1. Are you implying John/Juan/Joan fights dirty? That would make him far more interesting than this breakdown implies, or is he just unusually violent as per his generic hotblood foundations?

    Idiot RPG heroes worry me. Take Lloyd. Not only is he dumb with a side nuance of being the world's leading Dwarven scholar and homebrew swordplay - he is discussed as having a brain, just not in things that particularly matter - but he doesn't get smarter. I can appreciate an ignorant character like Tidus who actually learns things - and is actually more of a thinker than...too many in his cast. Or Luke Fon Fabre. Dare some punk to tell me he didn't start from rock bottom and wasn't a great protagonist for it.

    No. Truly damaged protagonists are what happens when writers tell me that's what I want to relate to. That, or they're that opposed to different types of characters. Or I'm just cynical. But hack writing is the more charitable presumption at this point.

    Joan Juan Johnson isn't worthy of such lofty talk. Onward!

    “Hi! Did someone here order a conveniently-timed, obligatory generic healer?”

    *Looks at my pile of used, abused, and discarded one-trick healer-chicks that marched to the tune of Metallica's Disposable Heroes*

    No, I really didn't.

    And I'll take Red XIII over catgirls any day. Sure, he never make much comment about actually being an animal, but he's at least more interesting than someone wearing a fuzzy headband or a fur suit.

    All in all, there isn't even enough here to riff on. I'm sorry you experienced this vacuous crew in real time.

    1. I guess you could call it fighting dirty in that every turn he makes 3 attacks to the rest of the world's 1, but I more just call it Understanding How Damage Works. He's not more interesting than this breakdown implies (in fact, I think I give him more credit than he deserves), he's just more pushy than the standard idiot protagonist.

      Yeah, it's like you say here--Tidus and Luke are ignorant, not stupid. They wise up as they gain more information (and have emotional catalysts that cause them to grow as human beings). Jian and Lloyd are simply dumb. And dumbly simple.

      To be fair to Flora, she's not as sweet and kind and caring and all that junk as your standard white mage character. But no character traits are brought in to replace these missing generic virtues, leaving her kinda just...there. She exists, she says a line here and there, she very vaguely acts...I'm not sure whether it's supposed to be spunky, upbeat, haughty, cheerful, or abrasive, honestly.

      To be fair (again), it's not like LDS is really touting Gabi's catgirlness per say...although they do sort of make it her only relevance to the plot. I'm just sort of assuming that since there's essentially nothing else to her, they were banking on the cat ears to really enthrall us all. That or they just didn't give a rat's ass, which is pretty damn likely, but it's not as interesting.

      Anyway, thanks for reading, as always. Since I've got your eyes at the moment, I sent you a message at Icy's a while back that I was looking for some feedback on.

    2. Oh, he's just hotblooded, then. Luke acts exactly as he should once context is provided, which makes things pretty twisted and sad upon hindsight. Tidus really does have multiple gears running from the start, his main faux pas being cultural ignorance more than anything.

      Message received and replied. Emailing you later.

  2. Well at least he isn't Wain from Lufia 3 who manages to make Lloyd look like a college professor (since at least Lloyd is good at crafting and other things) Wain decides that it's a good idea to provoke the super beings that destroy everything and goes berserk whenever people call him stupid (ie all the time) it gets to the point where it's almost a parody with the snarky Seena and Dei call him out on this all the time.

    1. That sounds painfully inane. No wonder everyone I've ever known who's played that game has warned me away from it.

  3. This is probably one of the first RPGs I ever played (I was around 7 at the time of its release...) and never noticed how terrible this game was until I revisited it (though I didn't regret it since it led me to the PS1 remakes of Silver Star and Eternal Blue).
    I'd still say it's better than the original Silver Star on the Sega CD, though.The plot seemed really disjointed in that...

    1. Ah, but to comment on Lufia 3 on GBC, I would say that it's worth playing somewhat. Definitely better than the GBA game, and it has one of the more interesting battle systems out there (somewhat similar to Radiant Historia's) and the character development is closer to the second Lufia than the first. The battles are still tough as nails, though you might be able to use cheats if you aren't against that.
      It's worth avoiding the GBA Lufia at all costs, though.