Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals - Staff Retroview  

A Prequel That Works
by Derek 'Roku' Cavin

20-60 Hours


Rating definitions 

   Improving leaps and bounds over the first Lufia game come a prequel that actually works. Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals is an excellent SNES RPG despite the fact that it borrows quite a bit from other games, especially the first Lufia. It makes massive improvements though and is a good game in the end. Lufia II follows the life and death of the ancestors of the characters in Lufia as they fight against the might Sinistrals.

   Lufia II's battle system is rather interesting. In addition to the standard commands, characters have the ability to draw out special attacks from their equipment. These special abilities can have a large impact on battle and allow the user to do anything from a powerful strike to an earthquake. When balanced with other commands, the player will rarely use the same move twice in a row. This helps keep battles from becoming repetitive. Certain friendly monsters can join the battle as well, though their effect on the outcome is usually minimal. Enemies are found wandering the dungeon map and can be stunned and avoided if the player wishes.

Level 99 in just over an hour?  Hax. Level 99 in just over an hour? Hax.

   While the game starts off easily enough and most normal battles are a piece of cake, a number of bosses and Sinistrals can wipe out massive amount of HP quickly. This can be easily remedied by healing, but it does increase the challenge slightly. Lufia II also includes a number of puzzles of both the easy and difficult variety. The hard ones increase the challenge slightly as well.

   Most of Lufia II's menus are well-constructed and it is usually very easy to find what one is looking for. The localization is also quite good with very few noticeable errors in speech. Unfortunately, some other major bugs made it into the game. Several rooms found at various points in the game are extremely glitchy and difficult to travel through. This can really get in the way of enjoying the game and kills the mood completely at certain points. Errors this large shouldn't be allowed to make it into the final version.

   Lufia II features both original and unoriginal concepts. The ability to draw power from equipment is fairly new as is the ability to train, feed, and grow monster companions. Much of the rest of the game, including the basis for the storyline itself, come from other sources, especially the first Lufia. Puzzles are solved and tools are used in a fashion similar to Zelda games. There are items called dragon eggs which summon a dragon to grant wishes and are similar to ones found a popular anime. Even the constant trading of allies is heavily reminiscent of Final Fantasy IV. Though it does feature a good deal of original ideas, they are easily outweighed by borrowed elements.

Gades again!? Gades again!?

   Being a prequel, the ending and general outline of the story is already known. Nevertheless, Lufia II manages to do a surprisingly good job of adding a few twists and making the storyline very interesting. There is a lot of well-used time progression and character development. Even the ending which was revealed in the first game has a new twist on it. Overall, a good story.

   Due to a large amount of puzzles, Lufia II can take thirty hours to beat. There are plenty of sidequests such as summoning the dragon a few times to have wishes granted that can double playtime as well. As an added bonus, it is possible to replay the game with accelerated exp and gold which make it possible to defeat bosses quickly and earn a set of rare items. The second time through doesn't take nearly as long to complete, but it's still fun.

   Lufia II features excellent music. Even the slightly repetitive dungeon tracks are well done. Little can compare with the boss and Sinistral themes as they are some of the best boss tracks found on the SNES. Even the sound effects are very well done for the most part.

   While Lufia II doesn't have the greatest visuals, they are still quite good. Out of battle, environments are fairly well detailed and even character sprites seem to have been given careful attention. In battle, enemies have been given great detail, especially bosses. There are tons of palette swaps to be found which detracts from this slightly. Overall, visuals are still good.

   Despite borrowing from several other games, Lufia II mixes everything together well with a few new ideas of its own to create a good game. The story is good and dungeons are exciting due to the many puzzles and the ability to avoid monsters. In the end, it could have been better if some major errors didn't make it into the final version, but it's still a good game. It is a vast improvement over the original and is worth playing especially for those who enjoyed other Lufia games.

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