Lufia and the Fortress of Doom - Retroview

Nothing new, but still good

By: Spleener

Review Breakdown
   Battle System 7
   Interface 8
   Music/Sound 8
   Originality 7
   Plot 8
   Localization 8
   Replay Value 7
   Visuals 7
   Difficulty Medium-Hard
   Time to Complete 20-30 hours  
and the Fortress of Doom

   Back in '95, I had only gotten a SNES the past Christmas, and my RPGing experience was limited to action RPGs such as the Zelda games and Secret of Mana. But then, through some friends of mine, I was introduced to Final Fantasy 6, but never really got a chance to play through it until later. However, I was allowed to borrow from them a little gem entitled Lufia and the Fortress of Doom, which I, being the obsessive RPGamer that I was destined to be, finished in about a week. For the 16-bit era, it was overall a very good game.

   The battle system is very simplistic and icon-based. You simply choose from attack, magic, defend, item, or run, choose the spell/item/target if necessary, and watch the round go by. There are a few gripes I have, though: first off, the targeting system is based on groups, and the fact that you can only target a group with any attack (save an all-enemy attack), is rather unnecessarily annoying, since single-target attacks simply hit a random person in a group. Also, if the entire group is destroyed and someone else was supposed to attack the group afterwards, that person attacks thin air. Aside from that, no problem. The game also has a very nice way of getting you used to the combat system without much frustration- it starts you out with four characters at very high levels (see below).

Careful where you point that thing, buddy...
You see this guy a lot...  

   The music in itself ranges from pretty good to very good- I liked some themes, such as the boss music, but none of the tracks were truly horrible. Sound is standard 16-bit fare, not extremely realistic but not exactly the "beeps" and "boops" from the NES days.

   The majority of the system is standard fare, the combat system is still the basic "line up and hit each other with sharp objects and/or spells" that had been used in many games of its time, shops and menus are handled in a traditional way, and in a nutshell it's an "old school" RPG from the old school days.

   The plot is nothing really original- the game starts as a flashback to when the four (very powerful) heroes led by Maxim defeat the evil Sinistrals- Gades, Amon, Erim, and Daos. The game then jumps 100 years ahead to the present, where you are a boy who is Maxim's descendant. You and your childhood friend Lufia eventually discover that said four Sinistrals are being resurrected, and journey around to find them. Eventually you are joined by the soldier Aguro and half-elf Jerin, as well. The story in general is handled very nicely, and the characters are often portrayed very well. One of the few gripes I have with the story, though, is that a rather large portion of the game is spent on attempting to find the elf Artea, one of the four heroes who fought the Sinistrals 100 years ago. However, the game fails to lose your interest despite this, and there is one very good plot twist that you most probably won't expect until about two minutes before it's truly revealed.

   The game's translation is nothing special. It's not especially good, but it's not so bad that it detracts from the game. Very strange, however, are the healing spell names: "Boost", "Strong Boost", "Courage", "Valor", all are names of spells you'd expect more on stat-boosting spells, not healing spells. Ah well, you can't make everything make sense.

The little number next to the star is the character level, mind you...
Believe it or not, this is only about 10 minutes in...  

   The game isn't so great that I played it over and over again, but it does have a very nice incentive: After finishing the game, a "retry" option appears on the menu. The game goes on as normal, but enemies give you four times the experience, making hanging around and level-building not quite as necessary.

    The visuals are standard 16-bit fare, enemies are large on the battle screens but have no animation, and for some odd reason if they just shake at you they can do damage. Spell animations are very nice, though. Outside of battle, graphics don't really impress but are not horrible either. My one gripe is that the main characters look like two year-olds, mostly due to the SD look, I know, but they could at least try and make them look a bit more like sixteen year olds.

    The game is fairly difficult, often requiring a bit of level building to beat some bosses. The "retry" mode mentioned above pretty much gets rid of that part, though, at least for the second time through- which is good, since one generally doesn't play through a game twice because they absolutley loved building up levels for 20-30 minutes between each major plot point. The few flaws in the combat system mentioned above make it a bit harder to win a fight just by holding down the A button.

Our sparkles can beat up your sparkles!
You see a lot of those sparkle thingies in Lufia games...  

    The game should take about 20-30 hours to complete. It's a good play overall, if you want a classic "old school" RPG; however, I found the sequel to be much better, since it essentially improves on every aspect of the original. I'd say give it a whirl if you enjoyed games such as Lunar, since the two series are very similar.



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