The Lunar II That Almost Was

I prefer Lunar II: Eternal Blue to the original Lunar: The Silver Star. I could attribute this to playing Eternal Blue first, which made The Silver Star seem repetitive. Yet Eternal Blue is also a shade less cliché, with better character development and an ending that cruelly toys with the player. It’s the more interesting of the two RPGs, and the same goes for its unused ideas.

Lunar II was originally going to carry over the cast of The Silver Star, and its preliminary designs reflect that. Game Arts changed plans, however, and Lunar II got a mostly new lineup of characters. Some characters, including standard-issue protagonist Hiro and gallivanting monk Ronfar, didn’t change all that much from their initial concepts. Other characters did.

One of the biggest alterations: royal knight Leo and his priestess sister Mauri are beast-people in the final game, but they were first designed as centaurs. I suspect this was changed for two reasons. One: Leo would be harder to animate during battles if he were a horse from the waist down. Two: the romance between centaur Mauri and the fully human Ronfar would’ve raised all sorts of questions.

Leo still went through more redesigns, growing less bestial in each phase. That’s his near-final look on the right. Character designer Toshiyuki Kubooka abandoned a more leonine face in favor of a snout and horn.

Kubooka also played around with several hairstyles for Lunar II heroine Lucia, none of which really improves on the final incarnation.

Here's a near-final look at Lucia, though her hair's blonde instead of blue.

The most notable piece of early Lunar II art is the human form of Ruby, Hiro’s tiny pink dragon companion. Nall, the yipping white dragon sidekick from The Silver Star, can transform into a human in Lunar II, and Ruby could presumably do the same. The drawings are also labeled "Mink's human form," reflecting Ruby's original name.

Ruby never becomes human during the game, not even in the expanded PlayStation and Saturn remakes of Lunar II, so this was as far as the whole idea went.

Game Arts probably won't revisit Lunar II again. My preference aside, the first Lunar is the favorite among most fans. It gets remade every few years to a modest reception, which pushes the Lunar name back out of the spotlight and thereby starts the whole cycle over again. But Lunar still gave us two decent RPGs—and a few curious early designs.