The Best Place 001 – Luna (Tales of Phantasia)

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The Best Place is a series about the Moon in videogames. Because the Moon has done a great job so far and it deserves it.

I don’t need to tell you why the Moon is the best place but I will. Without the tides, life may not have evolved the way it did. Tidal pools and the movement of the ocean facilitate some of the most complex and important eco systems in the world. Human society’s most important stories were inspired by it. Cultures all over the world have used it to justify weird gender stuff, sometimes empowering and sometimes subjugating women. That same weird gender stuff has been co-opted to justify new age philosophy and religion. Your aunt probably has a lot to say about the Moon. A race to it determined the political landscape of the latter half of the 20th century. Dogs bark at it maybe. The Moon has gravity. It has a pull so powerful that people confuse it for a lot things it isn’t.

Because it’s just the Moon. It’s perfect and just there. Quiet and mostly empty and sometimes light and sometimes not and it doesn’t care what you think it means. It doesn’t anything because it’s just the Moon. Your aunt is wrong.

Videogames do a lot with the Moon. And that makes sense because The Moon is the best. I hope this series will help you understand that.

The first videogame moon we’re going to look at is the personification of The Moon from 1995’s Tales of Phantasia for Super Famicom, Luna.

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That’s her up there. She’s a moon girl about to laser some ghosts.

Luna is the name of the Greek Goddess of the Moon. She is often depicted with horns on her head obviously because of the crescent moon, you see? The studio behind Tales of Phantasia, Wolfteam (wolves also are very much into the moon), decided this was dumb and instead made her into what appears to be some kind of child’s mobile. If you can find a gif or video you’ll see in her idle animation that the stars and moon around her swing slightly as if suspended from above by an unseen thread. This is super cute and Luna would already be great if this was all there was to her. But there’s so much more.

Tales of Phantasia was re-released several times and with those re-released came updated sprite art and character designs. None were more important than Luna’s.

In Phantasia’s lore there is a long-lost ancient city called Thor. While most of the locations the player visits are the usual fantasy JRPG fare, Thor is a decidedly modern-looking place with skyscrapers, computers, and robots. It’s completely abandoned when the player arrives but I like to imagine that Luna, with her “Eat-At-Luna’s”-style love for noble gas, was familiar with the city during it’s active period.

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Just look at her though. She’s having a blast. What a fun moon. The fact that her little neon sign WITH HER OWN NAME ON IT changes to announce the firing of her laser is about as charming as it gets. It’s not up for debate; Tales of Phantasia, you have given us a wonderful moon, full of life, love, and laughter.

 

I know we started things off with a real bang here — Luna is a treat and we’re gonna have a hard time following up this excellent moon, but please stick with me as we journey through the many many moons that videogames have to offer us. And please, remember…

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