June 24th, 2007
Welcome to this new and now regular segment; Retro Review where I look back at games of old. This isn’t like a game review though, think of it more so like a retrospective. The name ‘Retro Review’ wouldn’t stop poking at my brain when it came to brainstorming names, so thats why its the review.
Lufia 2 was developed by Neverland and released on the SNES in 1996. Lufia 2 is the second title in the Lufia series and the first Lufia game to be released in PAL territories. Despite being the second in the series it is actually a prequel to the original Lufia. So where Lufia 2’s story finishes Lufia’s starts.
Lufia 2 is one of the many RPGs to have graced the Super Nintendo. Unfortunately for all its worth it received little notice from the gaming community due to its late release in the system’s life cycle. Which is disappointing as Lufia 2 was the first RPG that I fell in love with. Like many RPGs of the time period Lufia 2 contained the usual RPG cliches but what made it such a great game was its differences from the norm. The game’s story constantly evolved as you played the game. That is you did not know what the final goal was, you just waited for the next event to move you through the game.Its a bit like the TV series 24, everything is based of leads or clues to the next part. This allowed for a good variety of story scenarios and hence made the gameplay very fruitful.
After a quick tutorial the story follows, something like this. Lufia 2 begins the quiet town of Elcid. A red head swordsman called Maxim(its not that bad) and his childhood friend Tia are quietly eating dinner. Once they are done they hear news from two guards that monsters have stolen the door key at the passing between Elcid and Sundletan(a nearby village). Maxim volunteers to sort out the mess and does so successfully. After defeating the boss of that dungeon a strange woman appears and informs Maxim that his fate is to save the world. Maxim doesn’t really understand but he feels compelled to continue his adventure (you know the whole “its my destiny” thing?).
GameplayLufia 2’s gameplay is similar to that of all RPG games. That is you move from one place to another achieving various goals in order to get to the next part in the game. Lufia 2 is split up into 2 types of areas, that is the world map and specific areas. Specific areas are places of significance like dungeons, towns etc.
Battles are initiated in two ways. When traversing the world map random battles occur in the typical manner. When inside specific areas monsters walk around and once they touch you the battle begins. As the game progresses the enemies become more aggressive and get in your way quite often. These enemies can be stunned by skill items, which I will get to later.
The battle system in Lufia 2 is rather similar to the Final Fantasy series (and most 2D RPGs for that matter). When you begin a battle you have you 3 basic options of fighting, fleeing or re-arranging the character order. If you choose to fight you are presented with 5 options: Fight, defend, use item, cast spell and IP attack. IP attacks and Limit breaks (Final fantasy VII) are very similar. Basically as the character losses health the IP bar increases, once you have enough IP you can select an IP attack, these are more effective than regular attacks. IP attacks are determined by the equipment that the character is wearing.
As you proceed in the game you find various Capsule Monsters, these monsters act like an aditional party member but they cannot be contolled. There are seven different capsue monsters in the game world and they each belong to a respective element. These capsule monsters range from some sort of hulk look-a-like to a stone head, angel and some sort of ice cream man. Like all pet like creatures in RPGs they love to eat your discarded daggers and spears in order to evolve.
The further you proceed in the game the more ‘skill’ items you can obtain. This is very similar(some items are actually the same) to the items like the bow and hookshot in Zelda. Some of these skill items allow you to paralyze enemies so that you can avoid them. Although the main purpose of the skill items is to aid in solving the various puzzles situated in the dungeons.
The game’s puzzles are very well done, my main gripe with them is that many of the don’t move beyond one or two rooms. Generally they are simple puzzles that don’t get much more complex than move the block to fire the arrow at the switch which opens the gate. There are ocassional puzzles which last the whole dungeon. But most of them are just confined to a limited space. Overall they aren’t too bad.
Another feature that impressed me about Lufia 2 was the variety. The dungeons varied from cave like dungeons,towers, mountains, volcanoes, castle basements etc. Some areas such as the towers allowed you to move out to the balcony area(the camera changes to 2D) and solve further puzzles.
The most challenging aspect of Lufia 2 is the Ancient Cave. When entering this dungeon players are stripped of their items and knocked down to level one. The player must try to to survive the dungeon thru finding items scattered around the dungeon and battling enemies to level themselves up in preparation for the final boss battle. The most challenging aspect of this dungon is that it is 100 floors, thats right folks 100 floors of Lufia insanity.
Along Maxim’s travels he finds a inventory/scientsit whom joins his party and eventually creates the ultimate form of world map transport. No, its not just a blimp, its a submarine and a blimp in one. So you can fly around the map and then(in one magic transition) your blimp turns into a sub which allows you to explore the murky depths of the world map. This is really useful as it opens up a number of hidden secrets.
Almost every RPG out there has some sort of mini game system in place, for Lufia 2 that is the Markao Casino, situated at Markao the casino is full of your typial casino games like blackjack and poker. These games are all implemented so well and are insanely addictive, luckily it not a real life addicion. A cool note to add is that in the Japanese version the females in the casino are all dressed in bunnies. Awesomeness
Something that I almost forgot, each time that you finish the game you can restart the game with 2x,3x or 4x experience points. That is the first time you finish the game you can play thru again and you recieved 2x the experience points when finishing a battle.
Something that just annoyed me about this game was how they included a fairy/elf called Artea whom joins your team near the end of the game. The reasons for why I dislike him are obvious, despite being a male the guy looks ladylike, his dialogue is pouncy and his name is just so damn confusing, he is called Artea in the game and yet on the menu screen he is called Arty. He also joins your party too late in the game, so you don’t really want to use him as you have all of the other cool characters t play with. At least he has some cool dark magic spells like Fry.
There’s no denying that Lufia 2 has some clever puzzles, but they got it all wrong when it came down to the puzzle at Alunze Kindgom Basement. I was stuck on this puzzle for about 4 months. Right near the end of the dungeon, just before you reach the final boss they spring 3 block puzzles on you. It was the final one that stumped me. Fortunately I nabbed a play guide off the net and managed to defeat this monstorous puzzle. I also managed to nab a screen dump of this puzzle being solved. Just incase you too need the help.
PAL and NTSC differences
Lufia 2 is the first Lufia game for PAL regions, the original Lufia: Fortress of Doom was never released in PAL territories and hence Lufia 2 Rise of the Sinistrals is shortened to just Lufia. The box art is also different, the background is a pinky purple colour in the PAL regions. The PAL version was also released a year after the NTSC version.
Lufia 2:Rise of the Sinestrals is a great RPG game that had unfortunately missed the boat due to its late release. The game in an interesting mix of Final Fantasy-esque battles and Zelda like adventuring. The game is somewhat a typical RPG affair but its differences make it a worthy game for any traditional RPG fan out there.