Luna Story in review – Rough exterior with a heart of gold

Recently a certain high profile game came out that some were even touting as the first true RPG on the iPhone. Personally, I didn’t see it as much more than a glorified combat simulator. On the other hand, I look at a game like Luna Story, and while it may not have all the glitz and glam of games like the one above that shall remain nameless, it has more old school charm going for it instead. There are plenty of NPCs to talk to, a bunch of quests to solve, and a deep if ultimately clichéd plot to unravel. The height of technology it isn’t, but it manages to remind me why I loved playing RPGs on the various consoles I’ve owned over the years.

You are part of a race known as the Bohemians that engineered a magnificent city called Shangri-La. Through egos, greed and war the city was lost, and is now nothing but a myth. It’s up to you to find the city and restore your people to their rightful place. You start Luna Story playing a character called Ray, but through discoveries and completing the game you can ultimately play the game with one of 5 different people. The game plays out like a typical console RPG – you start out in your home town, where most people have goods to sell you, and they also usually have a story to tell or a quest to send you on. You can accept or turn down quests, but I tend to be a bit of an overachiever, so I usually accept them all. There’s a nice little log to tell you about all the quests you have pending and what state they are in.

To move around the world you have a virtual d-pad. To pull up the menu there’s a button conveniently labeled menu, and once you’re in, you use the d-pad to navigate and the OK to reach submenus or to equip or discard items. Combat is a simple matter of OK button mashing, and conversing with NPCs is initially handled with the same  button. The menus can get a bit cumbersome at times, but they work pretty well and are fairly easy to understand. On the other hand, combat is not very comfortable at all. The game is played in portrait mode, and it really needs to be landscape so the controls can be spread out more. Additionally, you have to press OK when on top of an item to pick it up, when it would be much nicer if you could just walk over the item.

On top of your normal array of weapons and trinkets, there are 3 items you can collect that give you additional skills. There are also 5 non-item skills you can learn and enhance throughout your journey. And then there are the pets. You can get different pets along the way that will help you on your quest, whether it’s fighting along side you or healing you during battle. What the pet is good for of course depends on the pet. And, just like you and your skills, the more the pet is used, the more it levels up. You do have to keep the pets fed to keep them happy, however, so be sure to buy food whenever you can.

At first I wasn’t real keen on the graphics, but they actually grow on you after a while. They’re definitely a throwback to the 16 bit era of video games (or 8 bit when it comes to color palettes), but the images are detailed and there’s actually some animation in the background, which you often times don’t even see in fancy modern games. I do wish the main character’s image would reflect the equipped items, though.

Sound effects are mainly limited to sword clangs and menu movement. A bit disappointing that there are no creature noises. The music is decent, but pretty typical for this kind of game. It’s nice to listen to but certainly won’t wow you.

I really struggled to get this review written because when I first loaded up the game it didn’t strike any chords with me. When I finally gave it a chance for the purpose of writing the review, however, I really began to enjoy it. The interface is quite “old school” and probably won’t appeal to everyone, and the controls make it somewhat cumbersome to play in terms of combat at the moment, but there’s definitely a quality product trying to escape its shackles. People who are looking for the latest wiz-bang technology need not apply, but those that remember with fondness their NES / SNES days might want to give this one a shot.

App Summary
Title: Luna StoryDeveloper: Njoy Entertainment Group, Inc.
Reviewed Ver:1.2Min OS Req:3.0
Price:$2.99App Size:5.9 MB
  • Nice retro feel
  • Lots to do
  • Skills and Pet systems are interesting
  • Hard to control during combat
  • Menus can get cumbersome
  • Lackluster sound

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