The RPGs of the SNES era were remembered for a lot of different things. Some were remembered for being able to innovate and push the medium forward with the most of the latest technology. Others were able to take the ideas of the previous generations and execute them to the fullest. Lufia II falls into the latter category. It is a relatively simple game that takes basic ideas and executes them to the highest standard possible.
The Role You Play
Your main character is Maxim: a warrior from a small town drawn to battle his entire life. He is an overall well-balanced character whocan fight with swords and magic.
He is joined by several other characters, including his childhood friend Tia, another fighter named Guy and a spell-wielding knight captain named Selan.
Maxim makes a routine of regularly defeating monsters. One day, he is visited by a strange woman named Iris who tells him that he is destined to save the world from the Sinistrals. They have the power to bring destruction to the world and it is up to him to stop it.
Maxim, with the help of others he meets along the way, travels across the world assisting the towns and gathering the strength and equipment he needs to rid the world of the four Sinistrals who threaten the safety of the world.
The gameplay is a bit varied. The combat is made up mostly of turn-based combat where each character takes turns fighting off enemies.
The other main component is the adventure aspect, where you have to explore the dungeons and solve puzzles along the way. There are usually a lot of new types of mechanics introduced in each new dungeon utilized as a puzzle. You also regularly get a new item to use to help you explore, such as arrows, bombs and a grappling hook.
The puzzles and combat are varied enough that they can avoid feeling repetitive, but that feeling doesn’t last forever. The game has a formula of visit town, learn about a problem, finish the dungeon, unlock a new area, rinse and repeat. It’s fine for a while, but it gets old. If Lufia II had been shorter, it wouldn’t have been a problem, but since it takes about 20 hours to finish, it overstays its welcome quite a bit.
The soundtrack in Lufia II goes the extra mile to convey the tone of its settings. There is a feeling of unease in the caves and a feeling of comfort in the towns. The battle themes also ramp up in intensity as you face more difficult enemies. There is a regular battle theme that is what you would expect from a typical RPG battle theme. Then there is the Boss theme which escalates in intensity. Then there is the Sinistrals theme which escalates even further and is still one of my personal favorites.
Lufia II has one of the best side quests in any game ever made: The Ancient cave. It turns the entire game of Lufia into a procedurally-generated roguelike. In today’s gaming market, a sidequest like this could have been its own DLC pack or even its own separate game, but here it was just presented as an ordinary sidequest and stands out as one of the best in any game the Super Nintendo had to offer.
The Talking Parts
The dialogue in Lufia 2 is nothing special. It does little more than move the story forward and it barely gets that right. A lot of it feels mistranslated or like the tone is just off. Several scenes that feel like they are supposed to have emotional weight are just spoken text with nothing else to help carry any emotion behind it.
This problem extends to the in-game text as well. Not only are there a lot of weird translations for enemy names, but there are also a lot of text-related issues in the menu screens where the names of equipment can blur together and combine the names of two items into one.
Z…We’ve Reached the End. Anything Else?
Despite the bizarre title, Lufia II is actually the first game in the series and it sets the events of the first game in motion. Because of this, it had to go in a rather dark direction and it doesn’t hold anything back. Two of the main characters get married and have a child who ends up being the main protagonist of the second game. This is not something you often saw, but it was a necessary step to set up the events of the next game and it was interesting to see.
If there was any game I would recommend to up-and-coming RPG developers, it would be Lufia II. It does a lot with very little in terms of textures and assets, but it was made by passionate people. It stands out for being a fun and interesting game and its best qualities rise far above its peers.