RPG Hack Showcase: Un-Worked Designs: Popful Mail, Vay, Lunar 1-2 (Sega CD)

Hack Showcases and RPG Hack Showcases are a series where I show off various game and rpg hacks. I try to stick with hacks that improve gameplay or add quality of life features, completely or partially change the plot and characters, along with additional content, dialogue, graphical and sound improvements. Non-rpgs I try to give a full run to, or at least enough for a solid review. Rpgs I will stick with titles that have enough changes in the beginning to show off, and when I can, show parts later in the games where more differences appear. There may be spoilers in the reviews and videos. Some of these I may stream fully in the future or play on my own. Reviews are open to later revisions due to bug and content updates or me playing them and finding anything new I wish to bring up.

Working Designs was well known for bringing amazing rpgs and adventure titles to the US for the Sega CD, Saturn, and PSX. They loved games and took a lot of time translating and making the titles they ported. Most people now have a love-hate relationship with them: They either love what they did and their translations, or love what they did and hate their translations due to many of the jokes and pop culture references made throughout the games. Besides their translations, they tended to make games more difficult then their Japanese counterparts for some reason and added other new mechanics that made no sense (needing magic pts to save in Lunar 2).

Supper reworked the 4 Sega CD Working Designs title (Popful Mail, Vay, Lunar 1 & 2) back to something more like their Japanese counterparts in way of difficulty and mechanics, and even changed the fonts for text in some cases, and more. Check out his website and writeups on TCRF for more details. Ms Tea took the improvements to Lunar Eternal Blue a few steps further with improving load times and a few other fixes too.

SO HOW IS IT? Before getting into the hack contents, I do want to say outside of text and stat changes, nothing else was really changed for the soundtracks or graphics, aside from censored religious and nudity content being restored. The graphics in all 4 of these games are quite pretty and the FMV cutscenes are well animated and not jerky. The soundtracks are still great and worth listening to outside the games as well! The voice acting is still great too! The Unworked hack for Lunar 2 has many of these changes, along with some slight improvements to dialogue and bugfixes

To start, I never really had problems then or now with all the text in dialogue boxes being upper case, but having it now and proper upper/lower case format does make things easier to read. Some the dialogue boxes during cutscenes wasn’t changed. Censored and religious content was restored along the 4 games in-game and cutscenes such as pentagrams in the teleporting pools in Lunar 1 & 2, brief spots of nudity and other things censored from Sega of America back in the 90s.

One the biggest changes to this is how you save in Lunar 2. Lunar 2 for Sega CD you need to use magic points to save that you earn in battle. Not enough mp, you’re not saving. Really dumb idea added to the US Lunar 2 that was revered back to how it worked in the original. Items, gear and other ways to spend money in these 4 games was changed back to what they were in Japan, Working Designs raised the prices to buy stuff, meaning you gotta grind more to get money for equipment. Donations at Althena’s Shrines in Lunar 1 was reverted back to 10 silver instead of 100 in the US. The lower prices are a godsend for Popful Mail.

You could say the meat and potatoes of these hacks is the fact that enemies and bosses have their stats reverted to the Japanese stats rather then how they were raised when Working Designs imported these games. Why it was done is beyond me, but possibly the whole “make games harder for the rental industry” policy may have to do with it. Having played Lunar 1 for Sega CD I never really had that many issues fighting, but i know from the PSX version there’s some really rough fights in Lunar 2, so they were reverted. Popful Mail is known for having tough boss fights and those were changed, and a glitchy first boss in Vay was fixed too.

The links below for the 4 Sega CD hacks also recommend reading the developer’s notes of all gameplay, dialogue and other fixes at the The Cutting Room Floor website, which is recommended for seeing comparisons between the jp, us and the hack fixes. i highly recommend these if you haven’t played the original Sega CD versions or, if you have any you want to see what was changed. i can’t wait to play these more!

GAMEPLAY VIDEO:

I GIVE THE UN-WORKING DESIGNS HACKS 4.5 OUT OF 5 SEGA CD DISCS!!

LINKS:
http://stargood.org/unworked/index.php – Un-Worked Designs Website
https://archive.org/details/lunar_2_eternal_blue_unworked – Lunar 2 Sega CD Reworked

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