|Anyone who has ever played this game probably just came upon seeing this image.|
Lufia II was developed by Neverland and published in Japan by Taito, in North America by Natsume, and in Europe by Nintendo. It was released in 1995 in Japan and 1996 in North America and PAL territories. Lufia II was a prequel to the first game, and featured vastly different (and WAY more fun) gameplay. Let's jump in and see just why this game is so much better than the first.
Lufia II, as mentioned, was a prequel to Lufia I. The game follows Maxim, the ancestor of the hero from Lufia I, in his quest to destroy the evil Sinistrals. One of my favorite parts of the story is that instead of Maxim being just some random guy who turns into a hero, he knows he's the strongest guy in his town and a likely hero right from the very beginning.
If you've previously played the first game, you'll notice a lot of references to events that happened (rather, will happen) in Lufia. There are numerous times the story is weaved together very tightly.
The best part is that even though Lufia I opens with the ending of Lufia II, there are still a lot of surprises to be found. I'll just say that the full ending wasn't given away in Lufia I. The other best part is the addition of the character Dekar, the single best character in--yes, this is true--any video game ever.
This game features the standard betrayal, intrigue, triumphs, and sadness that any RPG will have. However, there's also a lot more to it. There's a love story in this game as well as a mid-game 'pre-ending', both of which are amazingly well done. The story will make you feel for the characters and laugh along with them (or at them, in Dekar's case) and cry when they hit their lowest points. It's a beautifully crafted story. I'll stop discussing it now, lest I give something away. This game is worth playing spoiler free.
Lufia II took a major step forward graphically from its predecessor. Enemies have more detail, colors are more vivid, and the characters' spells, attacks, and even the characters themselves look 10x better than they did in Lufia 1.
|Edges are a little rough, but it's MUCH better than Lufia I.|
The only minor downside is that a lot of the environments look a lot alike. Dungeons especially are prone to looking very similar to each other. They look nice, but it would've been nicer to have varying environments rather than just towns, mountains, towers, shrines, and dungeons.
Lufia II was pretty different from the first in gameplay. Instead of a standard RPG, this one plays more like The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and similar titles. You do the same thing as the first one, going from town to town, dungeon to dungeon, fighting battles and gaining gold for better equipment and EXP for better stats. However, dungeons work much differently, as do random encounters.
In dungeons, this game focuses very heavily on puzzles. You have different tools you acquire throughout the game to help you complete the puzzles like a sword, bombs, a bow and arrows, and a hookshot. The puzzles aren't usually too difficult, but there are some that will give you a pleasant challenge. There are also some that will make you smash your face against the wall, they're so hard.
Enemies are also dispersed throughout the dungeons. They're visible on screen before you fight them, and if you're good, you can avoid almost all of them. For every move you make (whether actually moving or just swinging your sword), the enemies also make one move.
Another new addition is capsule monsters. These little buggers are super useful. They work sort of like Pokemon. You find them at set points in game. They fight alongside you in battle; though you're unable to directly control them, they all have a specific set of moves they use whenever it's most appropriate. If you feed them certain pieces of equipment (they'll tell you what they're hungry for), they'll gain EXP and eventually 'evolve' through their several forms.
|Foomy, the first capsule monster you find.|
Yet another addition is the idea of IP skills. IP stands for Ikari Points, roughly translated to Anger Points. Basically, certain weapons and equip will have specific IP skills attached to them. As you get damaged, your IP will go up. When you have enough IP for a skill, you can use it in battle. This makes things much more strategic; you need to decide a lot between upgrading to more powerful equip with worse IP skills or keeping your old equip with better IP skills.
The best new addition is the Ancient Cave. I'll detail that more under 'Replay Value', as that's really where it belongs.
The soundtrack in Lufia II is AMAZING. Seriously, it almost rivals anything Uematsu has done for the Final Fantasy series. Of course, this is quite subjective, but the soundtrack really stands out to me as being waaaaaay above average. Words can't do it justice. Here's a few tracks, starting with the boss battle theme.
That song lends itself PERFECTLY to any number of metal remixes. Here's another great one, the epic Island in the Void.
Last one, here's a more mellow track, The Earth. This is the world map music.
Replay Value: 10/10
This game should get more than 10/10 for replay value, truly. First, there's the 'Retry' mode that becomes available after you finish the game once. This lets you play through, getting 4x the EXP and 4x the gold you'd normally get. After you beat the game in Retry mode, 'Gift' mode is unlocked. Gift mode is related to the Ancient Cave, and the Ancient Cave is the number 1 reason to replay this game. Normally, in the Ancient Cave, you can't pick your characters. You can only take whatever party members you happen to have when you're in Gruberik. In gift mode, though, you can ONLY do the Ancient Cave, but you can pick whatever characters you want to take into the cave.
Basically, in the city of Gruberik, there's a 99 floor cave that you can either choose to explore or completely skip, with the uberboss Master Jelly at the end. When you enter the cave, you start with 0 EXP at level 1 with none of your equipment or spells. Don't worry, when you leave, you get all of those things back. Now, as you go through the cave, there are red chests and blue chests. Red chests are items and spells you only have for that particular run through the cave. Blue chests contain spells and items that you retain for the next time you go into the cave. The idea is to go through and get a few blue chests and then exit, getting deeper and deeper every time because you have better equip (blue chest items) at the start. After floor 20 or so, there's an item called Providence that's specific to the Ancient Cave. Using it will return you to the surface, keeping all of your blue chest items.
Every time you enter the cave, it's different. Every floor is randomly generated. This lends it ENORMOUS replayability. There's also these things called Isis Treasures. They can be found randomly in red chests, though they have a low chance of appearing. Sometimes, you can find one every run through the cave, and sometimes, you won't find one for 100 runs through. Finding all of the treasures will keep you coming back to the cave over and over again.
PLAY THIS GAME! I can't say enough how truly fucking awesome it is. It's subjective, sure, but for me, this is one of the best RPGs I've ever had the pleasure of playing. Make sure to try out the Ancient Cave, too. And enjoy all the scenes with Dekar; he's one of the best characters ever put into an RPG.