Lufia & the Fortress of Doom - Review  

Epic Mediocrity
by Lucky Melchior

20-40 Hours
+ Moderately enjoyable soundtrack.
+ Satisfactory story with some plot twists.
- Poor visuals.
- Frustrating battle system.
- Unoriginal title brings little to the genre.
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   In 1993 Taito decided to publish and release an RPG developed by Neverland for the SNES. The first game in the Estopolis series was titled Lufia & The Fortress of Doom in North America. Lufia represents both Taito and Neverland's first forays into the RPG market and subsequently it is a very traditional RPG that conforms to many classic RPG conventions.

   At it's core, Lufia's battle system is inherently average. It employs a basic turn-based battle system which allows you to attack, defend, use magic, use an item, or run away. The turn-based system is implemented a little haphazardly. Rather than enter commands for your whole party at once, you will be prompted to enter commands for each character individually. The order for entering commands and when enemies attack is random. Moreover, not only is the order random, but when the command is executed is also random. Quite often you will enter a command for one character only for another character to enter two commands in the time it takes for the first character to execute his initial entered command. Another frustrating aspect of the battle system is that when a group of enemies that was targeted is defeated your other characters will attack air instead of attacking the next group of enemies. This is akin to early NES RPGs and is an archaic system that has no place in an SNES RPG. Overall, while the battle system is not bad, it's frustrating elements makes the system a little below average.

Generic Battles Generic Battles

    Lufia's musical score is a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand it has several very good songs. For example the Fortress of Doom theme is outstanding. Also the prologue theme, the overworld theme and the Inn theme are examples of some very good melodies. On the other hand there are plenty of mediocre tracks as well. The shopping theme in particular I find quite annoying. There are also many unassuming generic town themes. Overall, Lufia has a slightly above average soundtrack.

    Lufia has a fairly enjoyable story though it is far from original. The game starts out in the past as you control the ancient hero Maxim and his three companions, each character is at a high level, fully equipped and with many powerful spells. You march your four characters to the top of the Fortress of Doom to face four god-like evil beings known as the Sinistrals. You must defeat them and then the game fast forwards 99 years to the present. You play as a descendant of Maxim who, while the world is lulled by the years of peace, does not let down his guard as he fears the return of the Sinistrals. He sets out on a journey with his childhood friend Lufia to prepare and search for any signs of the Sinistrals. The overall story arch is very generic and cliche, but the characters and their interactions with one another are enjoyable. Moreover, there are some plot twists to keep you interested. The story is slightly above average overall.

More Generic Battles More Generic Battles

    The Graphics are one of the biggest drawbacks of the game. Character sprites are very simple and generic. Most of the NPC's will be the same few sprites over and over. Each town looks similar with the few variations in character sprites and simplistic looking houses. Lufia's graphics were outdated the minute it was released. There are several titles on the SNES released prior to Lufia with far superior visual presentations, namely Final Fantasy IV and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.

   As with most aspects of this game the interaction and interface are average at best. Your party moves fairly slow on the overworld, but moves a little faster inside towns. The menu system is very basic, but fairly easy to navigate. There is an item and magic sort option, but you can only sort them manually. This can become extremely tedious the later you progress in the game as there are an immense amount of items which you will obtain throughout the game. You can only save at temples in town which, along with the somewhat high encounter rate, adds to the difficulty of the game.

   Lufia and the Fortress of Doom was an average title when it was released in 1993 and has not aged especially well. The story is decent, but cliche, the battle system is basic and frustrating, the graphic are very outdated and the musical presentation is slightly above average. While this game is not especially bad, it is below average and I only reccomend it to diehard fans of classic RPGs.

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