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The Sun is a Star, and this is an Rpgmaker game!

Hello adventurers!
Welcome to... The Sun is a Star! A RPG Maker 2000 game by LDanarkos made around 2019-2022. This is apparently a classic rpgmaker jrpg game, but has some peculiar aspects that we'll see later, but first, the plot!

The game starts with our protagonist, Lucian receiving a letter from his ex-girlfriend Shelley. Anyway he arrives too late at her home and finds her dead. With the help of Rose, a friend of Shelley, he will find the man responsible of her dead and earn his revenge. End of the game? Well NO, that's just the prologue or first chapter! The man who killed Shelley was just a henchman of Top Dollar, a crime boss that didn't took too well his actions, and retaliated...


Ok, but then WHY Trunks is still lying on the ground? Yes, the purple haired guy's name is Trunks!

Anyway Top Dollar has another enemy! This evil boss like brainwashing people to make them approve him, but he recently brainwashed Brandon, the son of Lee, a martial artist champion that together with the mage Summer and the archeologist Clyde will oppose the crime lord... inevitably they will meet Lucian and Rose and join them together with other colorfil characters like Cecil the King and Trunks the Thief. Uhm these names are familiar to me... but nevermind!
I want tell you more, but you can clearly understand that The Sun is a Star is a classic adventure with a big bad guy and a team of characters that will travel all around the world to oppose him. Classic: travel the world map, complete quests visiting dungeons to retrieve objects, solve puzzles, and then once you fought random enemies and bosses you can go back to town and restock! Buy potions, consumables and equipment, but do not forget to rest inside the inn! Nothing new, even if this game has some really good ideas, and others that are not so good.

Something good? Well when you are on the main map you can save anytime and also display a minimap that proved to be really useful, even if the names of the locations are never shown, so you may guess if that's the right point of interest you need to visit... still better than nothing! Another cool thing is that there are cutscenes shown when you rest inside an inn, sometimes are dreams or flashbacks, and so on.


This game has battles, and we've a party of SIX character fighting all at once!

Combat is... both good and bad: on one hand I absolutely liked the idea of using six characters, and also having enemies that you can see and avoid, both on the world map and also inside dungeons (NO random encounters, yay!), on the other hand battles are pretty easy and at first you do not even need to buy and upgrade gear for everyone. Why? Because the "Burn" spell is overpowered! Really, both Rose and Summer have this spell that inflicts ton of damage (40-60 compared to the measly 10-14 of a sword attack!). The others skills besides healing are relatively useless except few cases, and Lee is the only character who as a sort of quick time events that lets him unleash a combo attack, but I guess I was too bad at it. I also did not like that there are some choices in this game that will lead to instant game over! Sigh.

Another good thing? The puzzles! I liked them, there are some classic lever-combinations, mazes, puzzles in which you have to jump on mobile platforms, and so on. Not many, but they're ok. Dungeons are also never too long, and that's good since you have to rely on save points... IF there is one! Another bad thing? Mapping! Is pretty bad, most locations, except for rare cases, aren't really inspiring and there is also a use of assets of different styles that sometimes do not match very well. Music also comes from a ton of different sources. Yes, really a TON: there is classic music from the Final Fantasy series, music from U2, Smashing Pumpkins, Verve and Cranberries, and themes from Star Wars, Scooby Doo and The Good the Bad and the Ugly! Seriously a potpourri with a bit of everything!

This mixture probably was done for humor, and what can I say about that? Having a party that included a Lee the martial artist, Georgiana the archeologist and Trunks fighting a white dressed "Smooth Criminal" or seeing Summer drinking a strange potion and experiencing a trip with pink elephants may make you smile... or maybe not!


What? Nonsense, IF you were a true hero you would have a proper faceset. Come on, we met people with a unique faceset and they DIED!

Final Verdict
I admit I enjoyed The Sun is a Star despite not being one of these games I can recommend except to those who like me have to play all the old-style Rm2k and Rm2k3 games! It's not a game for everyone, nonenthless I liked some aspects like the custom parts, the avoidable enemies and the absence of grinding. I would have liked some more chests of loot here and there, but still there was little need for that. Concerning the story, it's really weird and a bit semplicistic, there is a bad guy with bad minions and the heroes have to save the world. A classic isn't it? In any case improving mapping and rebalancing combat would have turned this into a classic!
Try it, then if you like old-style games and overlook some flaws like I did, you will surely have fun!

PS: for some reason the title of the game that is displayed is... "The sOn is a Star"!!!

Posts

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Hey. I haven't logged in in a while, so I just saw your review. Thank you so much for the thoroughness. You seemed to pick up on a lot of the stuff that I was laying down and played pretty much all the way through it. Very grateful for all the effort you put into this.

Good suggestion on creating a faceset for the blue-skinned possibly The Light character.

What you pointed out in your PS, there is some multiple meanings as far as The Sun / Son Is A Star in the title. I've wrestled with the idea of intentionally using inconsistent spellings to touch on different meanings or whether not to do that. The full significance wouldn't get revealed until the very end of the game. But I do know how to spell, in case that was unclear. I've just been conflicted about whether it was better to do this or to lock down one spelling.

I'll consider balancing the Burn spell, but personally I feel it's still minor compared to the high amounts of sustain that the healing spells give you. And I find the stat-reducing spells to be super strong against bosses. Usually I don't use Burn too much in boss fights and I don't burn through too much magic in random fights.

I'm glad that you noticed that this is a pretty grind-free game. I tried to set the monster exp so that the boss exp pretty much gives you the levels that you need, and that excessive grinding of the random mobs doesn't get you vastly over-leveled (but that it's still possible).

I have always felt that the monster stats needed some boosting to make the game more balanced, but I kind of have to go back over all of them and boost them evenly. Right now, you can kind of just walk through the game like a hot knife through butter.

The fact that you can't afford gear for everyone is something I find to be a little unique and interesting, as most RPG's, you just buy top gear for the whole party and still have tons of spare gold that you'll never use. This game, you're making strategic decisions about where to allocate your gear, which I think leads to more decisions. I tried to make this game something where you were making lots of real decisions rather than just buying max gear and spamming the same skills.

Btw, you mentioned that a lot of the skills weren't very useful. Your opinion is valid. But the way I designed the skills was that a lot of them were very competitive with the Fight command and would require some discernment to tell when they would give you more damage. Like an armor-piercing attack that only outperforms Fight if the enemy has high armor. A can't-miss attack that outperforms Fight if the enemy has high agility. A weak hit-all attack that is better than Fight if you are fighting a horde of weak insects. A Jab attack that refunds half of the initiative cost and is better than Fight if the enemy is almost dead. A Brawl attack that trades blows back-and-forth, that is better than fight against like mages with low attack; as well as another anti-mage attack that drains some of their MP, depriving them of what they need to cast powerful spells. Anyways, point being, I tried to make it so that the optimal decisions were fairly challenging to arrive at and didn't involve spamming the same selections against every monster; but the payoffs are a bit marginal.
author=LDanarkos
Hey. I haven't logged in in a while, so I just saw your review. Thank you so much for the thoroughness. You seemed to pick up on a lot of the stuff that I was laying down and played pretty much all the way through it. Very grateful for all the effort you put into this.

Good suggestion on creating a faceset for the blue-skinned possibly The Light character.


Ahaha that about the blue guyfaceset was a pun anyway.
Anyway I liked the large cast of playable characters... it's not something that happens frequently.

author=LDanarkos
What you pointed out in your PS, there is some multiple meanings as far as The Sun / Son Is A Star in the title. I've wrestled with the idea of intentionally using inconsistent spellings to touch on different meanings or whether not to do that. The full significance wouldn't get revealed until the very end of the game. But I do know how to spell, in case that was unclear. I've just been conflicted about whether it was better to do this or to lock down one spelling.


Yeah I expected that!

author=LDanarkos
I have always felt that the monster stats needed some boosting to make the game more balanced, but I kind of have to go back over all of them and boost them evenly. Right now, you can kind of just walk through the game like a hot knife through butter.


Personally I did not mind since I prefer focusing on the story. Anyway there were some difficult battles for example the ambush in the forest by that minion... I do not know if it was just a matter of bad luck but it was tough and the first time I was defeated!

author=LDanarkos
The fact that you can't afford gear for everyone is something I find to be a little unique and interesting, as most RPG's, you just buy top gear for the whole party and still have tons of spare gold that you'll never use. This game, you're making strategic decisions about where to allocate your gear, which I think leads to more decisions. I tried to make this game something where you were making lots of real decisions rather than just buying max gear and spamming the same skills.


Well yes, after all that was not too bad, I mean the difficulty was fair, so this was not a real issue, moreover if someone wants it IS STILL possible to grind.
But nah, that's not for me! Ehehehe good thing that this isn't necessary.


author=LDanarkos
Btw, you mentioned that a lot of the skills weren't very useful. Your opinion is valid. But the way I designed the skills was that a lot of them were very competitive with the Fight command and would require some discernment to tell when they would give you more damage. Like an armor-piercing attack that only outperforms Fight if the enemy has high armor. A can't-miss attack that outperforms Fight if the enemy has high agility. A weak hit-all attack that is better than Fight if you are fighting a horde of weak insects. A Jab attack that refunds half of the initiative cost and is better than Fight if the enemy is almost dead. A Brawl attack that trades blows back-and-forth, that is better than fight against like mages with low attack; as well as another anti-mage attack that drains some of their MP, depriving them of what they need to cast powerful spells. Anyways, point being, I tried to make it so that the optimal decisions were fairly challenging to arrive at and didn't involve spamming the same selections against every monster; but the payoffs are a bit marginal.


Uhm well I admit I'm not really good at strategy and I am TERRIBLE at quicktime events (used for Bruce special attavks), anyway spells were pretty powerful even in the beginning, for example the first boss easily falls using the fire attacks... maybe things change later, but hey... they sound pretty good!
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