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SNES REVIEWS: Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals


For those reading one of my SNES review blogs for the first time, here is the basic concept:

"While the SNES was a constant presence in my childhood, I never had a large collection of games for it. In fact, many of the games I played I still don't know the names of. It wasn't until I say the uproar over Breath of Fire 6 that I knew I played Breath of Fire 1 in the SNES.

After reading the excellent top 100 SNES games list by IGN:


I decided to go back and play those 100 games and review them. Well, as I looked closer at the list, I realized that there are many genres that did not age well from the SNES (racing, sports) and many other genres that I am simply not good at (shmups, arcade shooters) and others that I need other players to play against for an accurate representation (fighters). Also, I played many of the more well known games such as Final Fantasy and Super Metroid."

We finished with the legacy reviews, so we are beginning with the reviews after my hiatus. Please feel free to give me advise on my reviews, as I always look for improvement.

Also, here are a number of extra rules for Destructoid:
-If you have any suggestion of a game that is not in the IGN list that I should review, please suggest it.
-Make a bet on each game to check whether Chris Charter played it or not.

Without further ado, here is:

34- Lufia & the Fortress of Doom:
Year: 1996.
Genre: RPG.
Publisher: Natsume.
Developer: Neverland.


First things first, I am changing my rating system to better rate different genres according to their own rules. It will still be from 50 quality points, but every title will start from 25 and earn/lose points according to criteria important to the titles and genres themselves.

The SNES is not short of quality RPGs, from the magnificent efforts of Square and Enix, to the more basic games of Capcom. In such crowded market, Lufia 1 managed to make a very faint splash. It was not picked up by many, but it had a loyal small fan base. Lufia 2 did not manage to make a bigger splash, but it rewarded that fan base with one hell of an RPG.

It might not be the best role playing game in the SNES library, but Rise of the Sinistrals is by far the most underrated RPG in the 16 bit era.

"Have you thought about getting an ordinary job?"

Maxim (whom you might recognize from the first Lufia) is one of a long line of RPG heroes who start as (bounty hunter, monster hunter, mercenary, etc). Seemingly incapable of living peaceful lives, and destined to fight evil and save the world. The tale of Maxim does not veer much from that particular trope. Taking on the evil Sinistrals, you will travel a loosely defined geographically impossible world, and prepare for the final showdown with foes as dimensional in purpose as tsunamis and earthquakes.

While not an imaginative plot at all, the overarching story is only the backdrop of one of the deepest character plots in SNES RPGs. The host of characters you control grow and develop in ways unlike any other games in the ear, and relations blossom in unexpected ways. By the end, you realize that these characters manage to acquire real dimensionality to them that is simply unexpected for the time.

Unfortunately, the script doesn’t do the character interaction or the story any justice. Perhaps due to limited spacing, or simply mediocre translation, Lufia 2 manages to reduce all character’s speech into lines read from Google Translate. It is a testament to the strength of the central character plotline that this weak script fails to ruin an otherwise very good story.

Besides the written word, the game manages to convey its multiple layers through clever use of brief 16 bit cinematics and intelligent set pieces. With an awkward beginning, a middle full of micro-stories, and a fantastic end. The game manages to accentuate each arc with suitable mood. Overall, Lufia 2 takes everything good from the first game story-wise, and elaborates on it wonderfully.

Strong Presentation: +4
Character Depth: +4
Terrible Script: -3

"Don’t overestimate yourself, the time will come"

By end game, you realize that the constant threats and cheap jabs by the all-powerful sinistrals were ridiculous overestimation of their own power. Maxim and his jolly gang of misfits easily trounce everything they face off against.

Through many innovations on the classic combat system, Neverland crafted enough advantages for the player that the game is rarely if ever hard. Starting with I feel is a precursor to Final Fantasy 7’s limit break system, characters are able to do special rage moves that basically undermines whatever a boss come up with. Other innovations include healing and save points in dungeons, and the Capsule Monster system.

Reading that, you are correct to think of Pokemon immediately. While these monsters are found, not caught, they both evolve and help you in battle as an extra member of the party (not taking a character slot). However, you are not able to directly control them, but the still offer an offensive push to your team and also help as bullet sponges. It is a shame though that these monsters are not impressive in both design and application, and feel like an unfortunate afterthought.
Outside of battle, Lufia 2 takes the dungeon approaches of Zelda games in traversing its many monster dens. With several tools, you navigate Maxim and friends through some clever puzzles, and since you monsters are not randomly encountered (you can see them in the screen) it is never frustrating.

While not challenging at all, the fast paced combat and the interesting puzzles make for an overall enjoyable experience that is among the best in the SNES.

Lack of Challenge: -2
Innovation in Turn Based Combat: +3
Pioneering In Monster Collection: +2
Fun Out of Battle Gameplay: +3
The World’s Most Difficult Trick: +1

"I have nothing to lose or gain but I cannot let you live"

One problem I have with the story is not in the overabundance of clichés, which run the gamut from fated hero to escaping from prison. Not even the fact that the script is an amalgamation of robotic phrases. My problem is simply that the evil guys have nothing to say in what otherwise could have been an actually interesting plot.

More gods than simple evil things, the Sinistrals could have been more interesting than the natural disaster vibe they emit now. Some plot elements suggest a greater depth to their actions, but that is not actually followed.

While it is no big deal, it would have fit well with the attention other facets of the story received. Not every humorous action registers well, and due to the script, it mostly falls flat. However, it shows an attempt by the world to establish some personality.

Mundane Villains: -2
Some Humor: +1

"I really don’t like your face"

After playing Lufia 1, I was not expecting anything much from the prequel visually at all. As such I was pleasantly surprised by the graphics which leaped to the better end of the 16 bit spectrum. Other than the advancements to the battle screen, the entire world of Lufia 2 received a vusual overhaul. From the cities that feel more distinct, to the dungeons that show some variety and sometimes surprising creativity.

Unfortunately, the sprite design did not receive as much attention. With both characters and monsters feeling gimped. With only hair color separating main characters from the NPC population, players get the graphical short end of the stick. Monsters might look more detailed and some look interesting, but their neither animate nor are that interesting to look at. The worst offender being the final bosses which are recycled from the first game, with Erim the Death bringer looking particularly hideous.

As for music, I wasn’t impressed at the start, with a terrible dungeon music (caves) being played in the earlier dungeons. However, the excellent over world theme and battle themes kept mu aurally interested. When more dungeon themes started showing up, and I begin listening to the breadth of tunes the game has to offer, I must say the music was great. With emotional tracks giving way to epic battle music, the game had a theme for every possible moment. Truly, the music added another dimension for us to enjoy.

Unfortunately, the awesome melody did not push the limits of the system, and the quality was obviously less than similar games in 1996. Which is unfortunate since I would have loved to hear the Final Battle music with FF6’s sound quality.

Upgraded Visuals: +3
Boring Character and Sprite Design: -2
Great Sound: +5 (-2 for quality)

In Conclusion:

Lufia 2 was not played by many gamers in the SNES era, with neither Taito (of Lufia 1) nor Natsume being known for quality RPGs, it somewhat understandable. Unfortunately, this lead to many missing a gem of a game.

While not as immaculately crafted as Square RPGs, or as creatively conceived as Enix’s. Lufia 2 manages to take the usual RPG clichés and present them in a fresh way as to make them endearing again. Less like a big studio game, Lufia 2 feels like it was an indie of a bygone era.

Final: 40/50


1- Don’t waste items to feed you Capsule Monsters, sell those items to finance cheaper feeding alternatives.
2- If you get surprised, you can switch lines without wasting a turn, do it if you are in trouble.
3- If you are playing this game in an emulator, then Dual Blade shrine is glitched up, press 2 to clear things up a bit, and simply move forward and try to navigate yourself to the sword. It is only a short walk with no puzzles or anything so you should be fine to continue the game.
4- Always make sure you have fast healers.
5- Your rage moves depend on your equipment, some sub-par gear is worth keeping just for their moves.
6- Press X for help information (would have seriously helped in Lufia 1).

"Next Game"

After being pleasantly surprised by the Lufia franchise, I am ready to move on to another genre. Something that doesn’t take as much time as RPGs.

My next game a shooter featuring mechs by Lucas Arts. Not a star wars game, Metal Warriors sit at #33 in IGN’s lis

Stay Tuned

For Previous SNES game Reviews:

The List

For More Screenshots:


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About Lord Spencerone of us since 5:57 PM on 01.12.2014

Hello all, I am Lord Spencer, your friendly neighborhood royalty. Yes, the ancient bloodlines are letting absolutely anyone in these days.

Being the lurker that I am, I have been following Destructoid for more than four years. Well, its 3 AM where I live now, and I just plunged in getting HUGE in the way.

Here is hoping for a fun time.

Oh yes, here is a little more info about me that is probably not as interesting as I think it is:

-I owned and played about 1000+ games.
-I owned and read about 2000+ books (I counted comic books I read as a kid so this is not as impressive as it sounds).
-I absolutely love Legos.

Out of all the games I played, I only regret playing a few. I am a big fan of gaming, and thus I really like most of what I play.

Thanks to the excellent work of community member Dango, now I have a cool infographic of my top 20 games. This list is not my final one, but what I thought off at the moment. If you notice, they are presented in chronological order:

Oh, and here is a link to my blogs:
My Blogs