Interview: Jimmy Soga, product manager, Lunar: Silver Star Harmony

Posted on Mar 12 2010 - 2:44pm by Tim Torres

500x lunar Interview: Jimmy Soga, product manager, Lunar: Silver Star Harmony

Lunar is back. The much-beloved RPG that first wowed gamers on the SEGA CD (and virtually every other console since) has returned in the form of Lunar: Silver Star Harmony, which  looks to be the definitive version of the game. While the crew works on the review, we decided to reach out to Jimmy Soga, product manager, XSEED Games to answer some of the questions that have weighed heavily on the minds of Lunar fans.

lunar Interview: Jimmy Soga, product manager, Lunar: Silver Star Harmony

I’m curious what kind of working relationship XSEED has with Game Arts and Working Designs. Who decided Lunar: The Silver Story Story Complete wasn’t complete enough? Who are the main team members behind the new PSP version, and is anyone returning from previous versions?

Our relationship with Game Arts is pretty simple. As the North American publisher we do the localization and all the changes we make (text updates, the new voice recordings, bugs, etc) we toss over to Game Arts to throw into the game. Then we look at how the changes have been implemented and send more changes and vice versa. There’s a lot of back and forth.

As for Working Designs, since it doesn’t exist anymore we don’t have any working relationship with them, but we did use the old Working Designs script as the base so that the game will have the same feel of Lunar that fans have loved for so long. We also had our translator stay in close communication with the scenario writer, Shigema-san, to fully understand his vision and worldview of Lunar so that the long time fans can experience the familiar yet new Lunar.

As for the decision of Lunar: SSSC not being complete enough (that’s pretty funny btw), the Japanese version was actually just “Lunar: Silver Star Story” so perhaps it was never really “complete” in their mind. But jokes aside, the team really wanted to look at this project not as a “remake” but more of a “rebirth” of Lunar. We have the original character designer, Tshiyuki Kubooka-san drawing new art and character designs, the scenario writer Kei Shigema-san adding new scripts to the story so that players can better understand the world of Lunar, and the composer, Noriyuki Iwadare-san who re-recorded the whole soundtrack to make it more perfect in his mind. I heard he even went out and bought an ocarina to practice for this title.

Why the change to an isometric view?

Considering the screen size of the PSP and the art style of the game, the isometric view seemed to be the best way to show off all the graphical upgrades and give a nice view of the revamped world.

The Working Designs script in both the Sega CD and PlayStation One versions of Lunar Silver Star contained a lot of goofy humor, in-jokes and pop culture references to things like M&Ms, Bill Clinton and Michael Jackson. Talking to NPCs was fun and encouraged. Will the PSP version’s script carry a similar sense of humor?

Definitely! The new script uses the earlier version as a foundation and, though we tweaked some minor points like the really obvious pop culture references, fans are going to recognize a lot of the dialogue and jokes and catch a few new ones, too. Keeping the humor in was a big priority because that’s what Lunar is known for. It was one of the first RPGs to really make it worthwhile to even talk to NPCs and that’s not going to change in this remake. Fans can expect lots of inappropriate commentary from lovelorn NPCs, inflatable companion pitches and even a few serial killer nods.

Although Lunar is an RPG beloved by generations of gamers, this will mark the fourth version of the Silver Star story. Anything you want to tell old fans on the fence about it? What about new players who might overlook it?

Lunar: Silver Star Harmony is actually really worthwhile for both new and old fans. Older fans would get to see Lunar reborn with lush new backgrounds, fleshed out sprites and a masterfully redone soundtrack. The story will scratch that Lunar itch they’ve been having for years and Jenny (Stigile) Maganalles was brought back to do the new versions of WINGS and Nocturne of the Wind. The Limited Edition also comes with something every fan is trying to get their hands on in-game: Bromides!

Fans of the original also have the added incentive to try it out because there’s a new prologue where you can play as the Four Heroes and we’ve added back in some history that was left out of the older versions. So, some new, some old, all good. As for new fans, Lunar is a game that has been remade so many times because it’s just THAT good. The story is timeless and moving, and the characters stay with you long after you beat that final boss. It’s a must for anyone that loves RPGs.

Fans of the SEGA CD version of Lunar really latched onto the opening theme that played during the attract mode in the American version. Will it return in this version?

Haha. Oh man. While the “Attract mode” song from the SEGA CD is one of the greatest things ever made I’m afraid Lunar: SSH follows the music/opening from SSSC. The animated opening is the same as SSSC, but the song has been remastered and redone with new lyrics. Something nice for a bit of continuity between the last version and the remake, however, is the return of Jenny (Stigile) who sang both the updated WINGS and the boat song once again. She’s an incredible singer who’s only gotten better over the years, so fans should look forward to that.

Finally, can we expect a new PSP version of Lunar 2 or Grandia?

I’ve spoken to Masato Dobashi-san, the director of Lunar: SSH about this before and he said that there are no plans of it as of now but it all depends on the reaction from the fans. The American fans are very vocal about their love for the series though, so here’s hoping for another remake or even Lunar 3.

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Editor-in-chief Tim Torres is a video game geek, a tech nut, a film nerd, and he occasionally picks up a book once in a while. He has written all manner of copy for PCMag, Computer Shopper, The Jersey Journal, Radio One, and Random House. As a video game critic and podcast host, he has written in-depth reviews, attended industry events, conducted interviews and led creative discussions on various topics related to games and the games industry. Before entering the tech world, he attended New York University and worked in education as an art instructor. In his spare time he acts, sketches, eats a lot of sushi and watches a lot of Netflix. He does not hate Final Fantasy VII.

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