Lufia & the Fortress of Doom - Reader Retroview  

We Call This ‘Retro’ Nowadays
by JuMeSyn

40-45 hours


Rating definitions 

   The early years of the Super Nintendo found it with a fair RPG library. 1993 was found Secret of Mana being released, certainly a prize worth seeking out by any RPGamer who has not yet played it. Also in 1993 Lufia: The Fortress of Doom was released. For some RPGamers who do not mind a lengthy quest through a not-terribly-interesting world, the game will work. For those who become bored by endless boring-yet-challenging combat, stay far away.

   Lufia’s battle system is simplicity itself. It exhibits the traditional turn-based random battles, complete with magic learned by going up a level, levels gained through attaining experience after battle, and money being granted at the same time as the experience. There is the annoyance of not being able to target individual enemies; only a group of enemies of the same type can be targeted, which can lead to all too many frustrating encounters in which the idiot AI will attack a full strength enemy while another that cannot be hit with a paper airplane without falling over keeps attacking. Other than this; the battle system has nothing noteworthy. It works, after a fashion.

Ooh, ah!  A walking Terminator is among us! Ooh, ah! A walking Terminator is among us!

   Lufia’s visuals are, to put it charitably, dated. Admittedly most other SNES RPG’s in this time zone didn’t look much better, but Secret of Mana came out at just about the same time and looked far better than this. The characters are all the standard sprites, the enemies sometimes look intimidating but more often look generic. The landscapes tend to look the same also, and in a game that is already lengthy this can be problematic if one gets lost in a dungeon.

   Audio for Lufia is unimpressive but not particularly bad. The sound quality is lower than the Super Nintendo could put out, however. Again, for such a lengthy title more audio is always good – Lufia has enough tracks for a bit of variety but not quite enough. Sound effects are unmemorable at best.

   Lufia’s interaction is actually rather good for a title of this vintage. The effects of items and weapons can be viewed in shops prior to purchase, for example. Menus are clunky to navigate through in the fashion of older titles but nothing is obstinately annoying. Battles may be a pain but the menus do their job. There really is nothing pertinent to say on this subject.

Foul!  You have not proved the causality between the two events, I say this is merely coincidence! Foul! You have not proved the causality between the two events, I say this is merely coincidence!

   Lufia’s story has potential. It finds the Sinistrals, four sinister beings defeated at the beginning of the game in a flashback sequence involving a heroic team who would be the majority of the cast in Lufia II, reviving. The player takes control of a descendant of Maxim, leader of the heroes who defeated the Sinistrals, 100 years later. The protagonist lives in a town with a young woman named Lufia who has surprising magical power. Then the expected Ominous Events Unfold, and they gain a couple of allies to round out a party of four while marching off to deal with the evil Sinistrals.

   Actually the story is not quite as cut-and-dried as that brief description makes it sound; there is a pretty good development later on that is still interesting. Unfortunately the translation, as could be expected in 1993, does a poor job of making the characters come alive. Even with the assumption that they were more interesting in Japanese, the words placed into their mouths in English do a remarkably effective job of diverting the player’s attention to something else in the room than the TV screen.

   Challenge is present, although more from the unpleasantly omnipresent random battles and the need to build levels constantly. Bosses are quite strong, and there is no substitute for having the strength to keep up with them. The game is rather lengthy as well, with dangerous dungeons popping up repeatedly. The need to build levels frequently also makes the game longer, although this may not be welcomed by some players.

   Replay is essentially nonexistent. The story does not change, there are no hidden areas. If an RPGamer wants to replay this game for a few treasure chests conceivably left in the recesses of unpleasant dungeons… more power to him/her.

   Lufia: The Fortress of Doom is not a BAD game, just one that wasn’t much above average even when it was released. It has not aged particularly well. For anyone interested in the Lufia series that has not played a title before… while I would recommend playing Lufia II because it is set before Lufia 1 and thus eliminates a few spoilers, the potential distress of playing a far superior game before its inferior predecessor is not to be taken lightly.

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