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LunarNET 10th Anniversary Feature

December 24th, 2007 marked the 10th anniversary since LunarNET opened it's doors back in 1997. For this special occassion, we contacted numerous people in the Lunar fandom who were either a part of LunarNET's history, or had some contribution to the Lunar fandom. Each person was asked to share his or her comments on LunarNET and/or the Lunar series. The comments are found below. In some cases, we have listed the person's association with the fandom. If we contacted you in regards to sending in comments, and you missed the deadline, still feel free to send in, and we'll add them on.

Dan 'Dragonmaster Dan' Bailey:

Prior to the opening of Lunar-Net, I remember running into many of the early Lunar-net regulars before via a message board called the Lunar Threads on a popular website called* Dave's Sega Saturn page. *When the Lunar Threads eventually closed (after having moved a number of places in between) many of those regulars also migrated over to Lunar-Net. Since then Lunar-Net has been more than just a fan site for the Lunar titles. It expanded into covering many different types of titles, and eventually morphed into both an RPG specialty site and into a general gaming site.

What makes Lunar-Net a truly special site is its history. Lunar-Net when expanding beyond just covering Lunar started covering the lesser known and niche parts of the console gaming spectrum. Having its roots in the message boards much of the early focus of the site was on what was at the time the very under-represented Sega community. As the Saturn died and the focus moved on, Lunar-Net left only to return as a Lunar site and then again as a general niche gaming site.

Lunar-Net's impact on gaming media is significant, prior to Lunar-Net websites with heavy coverage of import games (particularly Role Playing games) that didn't have the brand name Square in them was practically non-existant. Lunar-Net helped pave the way for a culture of gamers who appreciated games that were beyond the scope of what most major online and print publications covered. While it has reverted back to its original purpose of being a site dedicated to the Lunar series of RPGs, its community remains strong and its impact remains on gaming media today.
--Dan Bailey

Rick 'NallWdrgn' Callahan:

My earliest and fondest memories of using the internet was back in the day when my brother and I convinced our parents to sign up for "Internet". Back then we called it AOL 2.0. We were amazed at all of these websites out there dedicated to various things that we were interested in. Specifically video games...Even more specifically Lunar the Silver Star. We had found sites such as "Dragon Master Lou's" and "Yuki's Den" and "Althena's Court Online" and even one called "Dragon's of Destiny". This site dragon's of destiny was headed up by some guy (then kid) Mickey Shannon. It was a website for a group of fans of the Lunar series. My brother and I were very interested in this site and we ended up being a part of it and coming back to the site to see its glorious animated gifs and witty writing. Eventually we gained interest in creating our own site and group. We created one called "Dragons of Lunar". There were several variations of this group and quite a few members. Eventually Mickey asked us if our DOL wanted to join his DOD (probably since we had a lot of the same members anyways) and we would then form the new Althena's Court Online (ACO)...IT ROAKES! (inside joke, sorry). ACO lived mainly on the AOL forums at this time, until my brother and I asked Mickey if we could make a website for it. He said we could and then BAMMO...ACO had a very nice website! Okay, so it was alright, but for what a 14 year old could do, it was awesome! A few variations of the website had come and gone, but the online forum stayed very strong. I made a ton of friends during this time and we all shared a ton of interests, even if at times we might have forgotten what single interest brought us together (lunar), we became a family. After a year or two Mickey decided to 'give me' the presidency of the club. Although, I'm not sure Mickey ever stopped being the president of the biggest and best lunar freaks out there, I mean just take a look at LunarNET now. 10 years later and still going. Of course like any family, we've lost touch with some people, we've unfortunately lost members, and even had new members join over the latter years of the past decade. All in all, i'm very appreciative of having been a part of such a tight-nit family of freaks. Even if I only get to talk to some of you once every 2 months now, i know I have friends for life. Thank you LunarNET for being the home for all things Lunar and ACO related.

Jason 'Parn' Synbios:

Hard to believe that I've been on the internet for just over 10 years. While I wasn't there for LunarNET's grand opening on Christmas Eve in 1997, I was around when the site was in its infancy in early 1998. I was introduced to it going through a list of links on an old Lunar site run by Brandon Valdez, which is still around after all this time on Geocities (search for Brandon's Lunar Page on Google)! LunarNET's message boards were the first ones I ever posted on. My user alias at the time was pstar4, haha. I met a lot of great people, discussed and argued over various topics on those message boards, and all of them are really positive memories. Perhaps it was because RPGs were a niche genre at the time and the large gap between releases allowed us to discuss each one in great detail, but it really feels like message boards now lack that community 'togetherness' since very few are interested in discussing the finer points of RPGs, probably because there's so many to play these days. It's possible I'm just being nostalgic, but I'd like to believe that anyway. Here's to another 10 years and the continued hope for a Lunar 3!

Patrick 'Ramza' Gann: (

I joined the LunarNET staff just after its name change to RPGFan, and just before Mickey jumped ship to keep the original namesake going as a true fan-page to one of the best RPG series ever made.

It took me years to get around to doing something on RPGFan I had always wanted to do, and when I did it, I relied on Mickey and the content of LunarNET for guidance along the way. That thing was to review every soundtrack in the history of Lunar.

You'd think there wouldn't be much out there, since there were only three games. But the soundtrack publisher, FutureLand (Toshiba-EMI) had a good plan to space it out. Instead of releasing an OST, and arranged soundtrack, and a drama CD, they spaced all the music out in different releases, putting drama in here and there. the "Lunatic Festa" and "Lunatic Parade" albums are mostly drama, but they also feature some incredible arranged tunes. The vocal tracks from these discs (and others) were then compiled to the two-volume "Lunar Songs" set.

Behind all this music, there is one man. A man that ought to be acknowledged for his great work. That man is Noriyuki Iwadare. In many ways, he owes his success to GameArts (though the same could be argued the other way). Iwadare stayed the course for both Lunar and Grandia, providing excellent music for both.

If you've played either Silver Star Story or Eternal Blue, you'll be able to immediately recognize an Iwadare battle theme if someone hit the "play" button on their soundtrack. These songs are extremely memorable...Iwadare was well ahead of his time, even though the synths he used weren't always "high-tech" or "life-like."

For ten years, LunarNET has celebrated a great series of games. Within that, they've celebrated a great story, great characters, great art, and great MUSIC. I'd like to say that I cherish all of these equally, but I am prone to remember the music before all else. That's just who I am.

I am forever grateful for the opportunity I had to join the LunarNET/RPGFan staff so many years ago, and Mickey Shannon's guidance and advice throughout the years has made my life that much better.

Michael 'Werefrog' Wolfe:

When I first joined Lunar-Net, it was an exciting time both personally and in the Lunar fandom. I was just starting college, and Lunar fans were cautiously optimistic about the release of Lunar: Dragon Song. I came to Lunar-Net like many others to discuss the new game. Although Lunar Dragon Song might have come and gone without any impact in my life, the same cannot be said for Lunar-Net. In the years following Lunar: DS, it's become a daily tradition to check the boards. Although there may be some slow times on the board, it's never too long before there's something great--like one of Phyco's comics or Kizyr's translation guide or just a conversation about the daily news. The term community is thrown around a lot on the Web and usually means nothing. However, Lunar-Net is an example of what an online community should be. I truly believe that the people here care about each other.

This is what so many larger sites lack, and why I continue to come back. I would like to thank GhaleonOne, Kizyr, and all the other members for making Lunar-Net such a great site and community. Good luck in the coming years!

Robert 'wisequark' Marini

When most people here talk of a console RPG, the usual association is Final Fantasy. For some of us lucky enough to have been both in ownership of a Sega CD and wizened enough before Cloud Strife came on the scene to enjoy the genre, Lunar was what an RPG was all about. Ten years ago, even the bad games got recognition simply because there weren't enough games to go around and a player could easily spend months engrossed in a quest to rescue a goddess from the treacherous and terrifying hands of the magic emperor.

Ten years is a long time and life doesn't sit still waiting to give us time to treasure the things that used to really matter. Most of us don't play Lunar anymore, but almost everyone who picked up the game, went online, and found Lunar-Net can say that they made friends here. Our consoles may suffer from electrical spikes that leave them smoking, our games may be lost in a box somewhere at the bottom of our basements, but the people we've met here will always be on our buddy lists. When one must consider the legacy of Lunar-Net, it can be simply and effectively summed to this - Lunar-Net was never about money or fame, it was about friends and family. No other franchise can claim similar.

Eric 'Pisces' Salonis:

A few things I wanted to say, both about LunarNet and Nicole:

1) I think it's amazing and wonderful that this site has been around and going strong for such a long time. I remember when I joined ACO back in the old days and began to quickly feel right at home. It may sound cheesy, but there are a lot of us who (even if we don't admit to it) find and feel deeper, spiritual and emotional themes in the stories of the games we play and the characters, "musical notes" that we tune in to or things we connect to...and I think that's why the site has done a great job of bringing people together and has created a lot of wonderful lasting friendships. The people on it have impacted my life deeply, just like those deeper themes that I connect to within the stories and the characters.

2) Nicole really brought a unique personality and element of life to both ACO and Lunar-net, in so many aspects...her personality, her passions, her cosplay...To me, she WAS Beatrix from FF9, and anyone who saw her costume would agree with me. And although she never got to do her Dark Althena costume, she would have pulled it off marvelously. She introduced me to Lunar. She brought a different side of RPG storytelling and atmosphere into my life, and even changed my opinions on some things. Through her eyes, I saw things I previously considered sappy or goofy in a totally different perspective, and began to understand why she loved those things so much. And I began to love them. There isn't a single day that goes by that I don't think about her, because she's so deeply rooted into nearly every taste, hobby and passion I had, and she always put such a unique spin on those things. Everyone could see that. She was never afraid to be herself and love the things she loved. In a way, she reminded me of many of the characters in Lunar...the sweet singing voice of Luna...the feistiness of Jessica...the twisted/sexy presence of Dark Althena...she really loved all of this world and the people who were drawn to it. Her death was a great impact to the people of this site, especially those who had known her for so many years. It's funny, though...even the people who didn't know her at the time of her death were impacted by the grieving of all those who did know her. I do believe, in the scheme of the roots of Lunar-Net, she was one of the greatest influences, even behind the scenes...and the loss of her had one of the biggest impact on those roots. And yet, her memory lives on in them, as they have continued to grow.

Corey Fong (ex-UbiSoft, current: 2k Games)

Working on the Lunar series was an incredibly memorable experience, both professionally and personally. Being a fan of the series myself, it was one of those experiences of why you choose to work in the game get to work on the games you love as a gamer, you get to meet fellow fans, like Mickey, and share your passion.

Working with Mickey and LunarNET, made the entire experience that much more memorable.

LunarNET was key in promoting Lunar Legend DS. It provided a place for fans and especially new fans of the series to go learn more about the game and more importantly, find out what makes Lunar stand the test of time against bigger well known modern RPGs, "HEART" and "PASSION".

Happy 10th Anniversary LunarNET! May you have many more years to come in spreading the "HEART" and "PASSION" of the Lunar RPG series.

Corey Fong
Product Manager
Lunar Legend

Kaiser 'Kizyr' Farooque (LunarNET):

I've never been as into anything entertainment-wise as I've been into the Lunar series. That series has been the impetus for many things in my life, and LunarNET, likewise, has been the driving force behind my continued interest in the series.

LunarNET's become the central source for everything about the Lunar series (which is largely thanks to all our supporters, and Lunar fans in general). The manga translations I've done, the novel summaries I've worked on, even the walkthroughs I've finished (and the Lunar: Magic School one I'm still working on--be patient, please!), I don't think I'd have the incentive to do any of those if it wasn't for LunarNET. After all, I actually hate the process of translating, but the satisfaction of adding new content for LunarNET and, hence, distributing that content among the fans who continue to enjoy the Lunar series makes it all worthwhile.

Not to mention that it's on account of LunarNET that I was able to weigh in a little bit on the process of translating one of the Lunar games itself. Sure, it wasn't the highlight of the series, but it let me feel a little bit like Akari Funato for a moment.

Thanks to LunarNET, and, more importantly, thanks to all the fans who've given reason for LunarNET's endurance over the past decade. KF

Charles 'phyco126' Ritz II:

Before I even seen or played the game (SSSC), I was incredibly drawn into the game. In a time when FFVII was king, here was a little known game that had quality music, voice acting, and voice effects for when magic was used. I head parts of the sound track, and the Boat Song captured my heart.

Then I was able to actually see the game, and the 2D graphics not only where great, but I found the graphics to be far closer to a friendly gaming experience than 3D.

I was hooked, addicted, and when EBC came out I spent nearly every dime I had saved for the past 6 months to buy it. I didn't regret it, and I will never regret it.

Not only has the game captured my heart, but it has led me to places where I have met friends. The most notable, is of course, this site, Granted I wasn't around for a good 5 or so years when it was first made, but thus far I have seen the site and the community grow over the last 6 years.

I have met many friends, great friends who I have great respect for. Some I have met face to face, others I have talked to via the phone at some point, and others I keep in contact both on and off the community forums.

The Lunar series has had such a large impact on my life, and continues to impact my life today.

Thank you GameArts, Studio Alex, and the other companies involved in Lunar. However, thank you Working Designs and thank you Vic for your faithful and hard work to brings us such a classic and beautiful game to America.

Rune Lai: (Shrine to Ghaleon)

LunarNET's anniversary falling on Christmas is kind of funny because my love affair with Lunar began on Christmas as well. My brother wanted this funny RPG called Lunar: The Silver Star for Christmas. It was way back in 1993 and all I knew about the game was from a two-page magazine spread. It was an RPG for the Sega CD, and didn't look all that remarkable to me. But of course it was an RPG in era when RPGs were few and far between and my brother wanted it bad.

On Christmas day my brother opened his present, and we started going through the game, because this was back in the day when the two of us rarely played an RPG without the other sitting in. We were blown away by the (now cheesy) opening animation and watched it over and over again. When we saw Ghaleon for the first time we immediately knew he was the bad guy (because the opening animation wouldn't be wrong about it) and we had all kinds of misgivings about having him follow us to Quark's lair.

Over the next few days we'd recite cut scenes to each other and the line "I'm not through with you yet, Dragonboy!" was butchered many a time before we tired of saying it. We'd never had such a game influence us before, or since, so Lunar is special because of that.

I've participated in many Lunar-related fan activites since, from my own web site, to fanfics and fanart, to IRC and message board RPGs, but it's funny that it all started with a Christmas present that wasn't even mine. Lunar could have slipped by me so easily, and then I wouldn't have met as many people as I have, or might not even work in the industry I do now (since Lunar fandom led into my first job). For me, there's a lot of Christmas in Lunar.

Happy Anniversary LunarNET!

Chris 'Zone Pharoah' Reed:

I knew I wanted Lunar The Silver Star as soon as the first screenshots and details were released. Anime and CD-ROM technology interested me a great deal after all.

What I didn't expect was how Lunar TSS made me reconsider how I thought about videogames. Sure, my appreciation of a challenge, pretty visuals and good audio wasn't altered. But now a concern over storytelling had to be added. By including so many characters and lines of dialogue, and requiring me to be involved in Alex's quests and hardships, the game was a far more intense emotional journey than I'd found other mediums such as film and books to be.

When the sequel was announced, I was excited because I wanted to know what happened next to Luna, Alex, Nall and everything else to do with the world of Lunar. Usually with game sequels, the anticipation is about just getting more levels, maybe a visual update... Lunar Eternal Blue was a much bigger than this.

EB was bought, played and beaten by myself at around the same time I first explored the WWW. No Lunar 3 had been announced, but speculation on what may happen next had to be done, and I found such a conversation on the extremely buggy forums of the Sega of America website in late 1995. The 'thread' ran for ages, well into 1996, but needed a home away from glitches and other game talk. Hence the travelling to places such as Dave Z's site (he was from the SoA forum days also) and finally settling at LunarNET, where one of the oldest surviving gaming communities I've ever encountered has been taken care of ever since. I feel as though I've ran out of things to contribute a long time ago, but it makes me happy to know that The Lunar Threads are still being used, and I know where to find them.

Thanks to everyone involved in LunarNET and the sites related to it, and to everyone who is or has been part of the community. Now if only Game Arts could finally respond to our pleas for a true Lunar 3!

Joe 'ilovemyguitar':

I came to Lunar-NET to talk about my favorite video game series, and found a wonderfully tight-knit community of people with interests sometimes similar and other times vastly different from my own. I'm glad that I was able to find an online hovel where I was able to discuss not only a great series of video games, but to have intelligent conversation on a variety of matters ranging from politics, to theology, to the arts, to even sports. And I'm especially glad to have been able to take part in such a milestone movement for this community. I think it's safe to say that Lunar-NET goes to 11!

Chris Hoffman (former Working Designs media relations):

Congratulations. LunarNET, on your 10-year anniversary! I feel a little weird writing commentary for the site since I was never a contributor, but then again, I was a little late for the Lunar party to begin with. I didn't pick up the original Lunar: The Silver Star until a few years after its release, when I found it used, but I became so captivated by the story and characters that I immediately tried tracking down Lunar: Eternal Blue. EB was already pretty hard to find by that point, but I contacted some poster on Usenet named Victor Ireland who was supposedly somehow knowledgeable about the series and its publisher, and he directed me to Working Designs' sales department. The game blew me away.

Fast forward a few years and my love of games had carried me to Gamers' Republic magazine, where in 2000 I was working as a staff writer. My boss, Dave Halverson, was invited by Working Designs to come to their office and be interviewed about Lunar: Eternal Blue for the Making-of documentary included with Lunar 2: Eternal Blue Complete. As luck would have it, he couldn't go because of some emergency business meeting that popped up, and I got to go in his stead, being the biggest Lunar enthusiast on the staff. I wanted to be a professional during my visit, but I probably came off a lot more like a gushing fan at times, getting to spend the day meeting the folks who brought Lunar to the U.S. and many of the voice talents who made it so memorable. I was asked a lot of questions for the documentary, but only one bit was used; something about how when all the elements of Lunar come together it's simply magical. Cheesy, to be sure.

My fondness for Lunar and its creators caused me to seek employment at Working Designs in 2002 as the company's public relations manager. (Technically, I wasn't a manager; my business card just said "public relations," but I digress.) Sadly, the only Lunar project I got to work on during my tenure--other thank interacting with a lot of Lunar fans and a lot of ticked-off owners who really wanted one of the sold-out official strategy guides--was promoting the rare Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete Fan Edition on PS1, which was released just before WD's contract to publish the game ran out. Nonetheless, my time at WD was mostly a fun one, and it wouldn't have happened if I hadn't picked up that used copy of Lunar on Sega CD those years before. I know it's cheesy, but it's still true: the series is magical. Here's to another 10 years, LunarNET. Keep the magic alive.

Sean "Zel" Lozier (a.k.a Nobiyuki77):

The world of Lunar changed my life forever back in 1994. I know that sounds like an incredible exaggeration, but really it's not. Before Lunar, I didn't really have any goals or aspirations in life. I had seen lots of movies and played lots of videogames, but none of them actually inspired anything in me. Lunar was different however. It felt like a living, breathing world of fantasy and wonder, the likes of which nothing, not Final Fantasy nor Harry Potter, has ever topped for me. Now I pursue a creative career, in the hopes of touching the hearts of others the way that Lunar moved me all those years ago.

While I admit I'm not as active in this community as I really should be (if for no other reason to have friends to gush about Lunar with...), I continue to be amazed by the new things I learn here about my favorite fantasy. Books I never knew existed, insightful interviews, translation differences, LunarNET has been a wonderful guide and resource for information whenever I feel like researching something.

I remember someone once asked me "If you ever won the jackpot in the lottery, what would you do with the money?" They were rather surprised when I told them, "Once I set my parents up to retire comfortably, I'd take the money that was left, fly out to Japan, and see what I could do to get a Lunar 3 project of high quality and caliber up and running." The world of Lunar is just that amazing to me, and I hope this amazing site devoted to it will last forever!

Happy 10th, LunarNET. May many more years follow! ^_^

Jonathan "Ozone" Jamrog

It's really a shame that more people don't know about Lunar, and that's why I was really drawn to ACO/LunarNET. I knew that when I was going to say something regarding the brilliance that is Ronfar these people would actually get what I was talking about and not shoot me off a comment that relayed some sort of confusion or flame me and go all Final Fantasy. While that's what drew me to ACO/LunarNET, what has kept me here is the quality of people that populate the forum. I truly believe that we have some of the best poster on the web here, and, while they're kinda odd and probably at least partially insane, they're interesting, warm and welcoming.

Now, before I get all sappy, cheers to 10 years of LunarNET and here's to many more.

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