Friday, October 8, 2010

"They called the evil ones 'Sinistrals'..."

Today's review will be the first of two on the Lufia series for SNES.

Save files?!? Get RIGHT out of town!!!

Lufia & The Fortress of Doom was the first game in the Lufia (Estpolis) series. It was developed by a company called Neverland and published by Taito. It was released in 1993 in Japan and America. Lufia was a pretty straight-forward RPG, and not even a great one compared to a lot of other SNES RPGs. The story for it, though, is amazing, and it's necessary to discuss this game alongside its sequel, since both had one of the best storylines in video game history, in my humble opinion.

Story: 9/10

The story in this one is very interesting. The sequel, Lufia II, is actually a chronological prequel. Lufia I begins with you taking control of the characters during (parts of) the ending of Lufia II.

One day, a flying island with an enormous castle on it (the Fortress of Doom) appeared in the sky. The Fortress acted as a base of operations for an evil (and incredibly powerful) group of four beings known as Sinistrals. Their goal was essentially to force the world into obedience.

Four heroes were sent to fight this new evil, and eventually, they succeeded, though at great cost. 99 years passed, and peace reigned supreme. However, as so often happens, evil reared its ugly head again. The Sinistrals were back! Four more heroes would need to go and vanquish this terrible evil once and for all.

Graphics: 7/10

The graphics in Lufia I are pretty hit-or-miss. There are some scenes that just look beautiful, as well as some of the spells (Sunder looks AWESOME). Most of the bosses are also very well done and full of detail.

I don't know what the hell that thing is, but it looks pretty badass.

However, a lot of the scenery is very lackluster. The enemies have no real animation (although they do have a decent amount of detail). Some of the spells also have incredibly mundane animations, although that's forgivable since I'm used to seeing so many lame spell animations even in newer games. It's always the spells like Osmose and Sap and Leech that end up having the most boring visual effects.

Overall, the graphics could be a lot worse (like Secret of the Stars) but they could also be a lot better (like Lufia II).

Gameplay: 7/10

Lufia's a straightforward RPG: you go from town to town, talking to NPCs to discover clues about where to go next and what to do. There are random battles that give you EXP, gold, and items when you win. Bosses come up every now and then, being much more powerful than the average random enemy. You can equip different weapons and armor, getting stronger as the game goes on. There are also a large number of magical spells that can be cast for various effects, from buffs to damage to healing. Here's a short video showing how the battle system works on a very early boss battle.

There are a few things that stop this game from being as good as the average RPG, though. Random battles happen WAY too often. It almost seems to be every 2 or 3 steps. This is bearable for about half of the game, and then it just starts getting frustrating.

That kind of leads into another huge problem. Lufia I required far too much level grinding. The enemies aren't usually too difficult, but they never give out a ton of EXP. The bosses, though, require you to be pretty strong most of the time. As a result, you end up having to spend hours plowing through these weakling random encounters who give next to no EXP just to get strong enough to finish off the boss.

Another big issue is the battle system. During battle, you can't attack any one specific instead attack a particular ROW of enemies. Your attack will randomly hit one of them. This can get SUPER frustrating as you try to kill one enemy at a time and end up having 4 enemies with a little bit of damage, all still attacking you, when you could be down to 2 or 1 enemies.

Don't let these faults discourage you from playing this game, though. It's well worth it just to see the story, and also to prepare for the badassery that is Lufia II.

Sound: x/10

The sound effects in Lufia I are largely forgettable. It's mostly standard RPG fare. You have your hacking and slashing noises, your sparkly magic casting noises, your basic explosion kind of noises.

The music was pretty decent in Lufia. It was completely enjoyable, but nothing too memorable. A few tracks really stand out as being very well composed. Most sort of blend together, though. One of my favorite songs in the soundtrack was the final duel music (which is weird, since it didn't quite capture the mood of a final battle). Here's the last duel track.

Here's the normal battle music. This is another one of the better songs, and good thing, too, since you'll be hearing it A LOT if you play this game.

Replay Value: 7/10

Lufia, on the surface, doesn't have a ton of incentive to go back and beat it again. It's a pretty straight-forward RPG. It does, however, have 'Try Again' mode. When you beat the game for the first time, you have the option to start over, this time gaining 4 times the exp. and gold. This is super useful for playing a really quick run through the game to pick up on any plot points you may have missed. It's also nice so that if you do ever want to go back to this game, it'll only take you a quarter as long to finish.

All in all, Lufia's not a bad game, per se, it's just not a great game. It's altogether average. However, to really understand the story between this game and Lufia 2, it's super handy to play this one first. The overall story is pants-shittingly awesome, better than any Final Fantasy story ever was, in my humble opinion, and I loved most of the Final Fantasy games.

Join me next time for a review of the sequel, Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals.


  1. Epic review well constructed like always keep it up. Better than IGN's review XD

    and I love that BGM sounds cool I dont know why you think its just decent.

    When I was little I never herd of this lil gem, this game seems pretty good. Only RPG I ever played was a few FF games, Mario RPG and some other one forgot the name.

  2. This RPG if I remember correctly was very dungeon/leveling oriented. You are right though, the story is quite good. I remember when I played through this it, I was like "How is this better than some FFs I have played and how come I have never heard of it?"

    Like always, this is a nice review. I agree, the sounds are very "Meh" in this game and just are there to be...well sound effects. Danke, Programmable Abortion. You just made me nostalgia all over again.

    I need to go get a rag...

  3. Didn't this game have the endless tower? Or was it the next one. Either way, made the game epic with endless replayability for the patient.

  4. Lufia 2 had the Ancient Cave, one of the coolest additions to any video game EVER. It really did offer endless replayability. More on that in the next review, though :-)

  5. Nice review! Never played lufia. Loved the SNES squaresoft games though :)

  6. There are so many grate RPGs on the SNES, illusion of Time/Gaia, Secret of manner/evermore , Terranigma and i'm still finding new ones.

  7. ohh good old times when my dick wasn't thinking for me. ahh sorry was that too much info :D?

  8. I really liked that game as a kid! thanks for takin it back to the old school

  9. I started playing it some time back, then stopped after awhile. Still, from what I remember of it, it was pretty good.

  10. That boss thing looks scary, and pretty. And weird. It has lots of arms sticking out of it.

    Suggestion: take the average of all your scores (for story, gameplay, etc.) and put it at the end of your post. :D

  11. Awesome boss music! Loved this game.