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   Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals - Reader Retroview  

Sinistrals Rising Ö Sinistrals Falling. Sinistrals Fallen.
by JuMeSyn

BATTLE SYSTEM
INTERACTION
ORIGINALITY
STORY
MUSIC & SOUND
VISUALS
CHALLENGE
Puzzling
COMPLETION TIME
35-50 hours
OVERALL

4.5/5

Rating definitions 

   What a difference three years can make in the world of an RPG series. Lufia: The Fortress of Doom had its moments, but was mostly an unremarkable slog. Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals stands as one of the finer moments in SNES RPGs, and packs quite a few variations from the norm that make for a memorable experience. The game isnít perfect, but any RPGamer seeking a forgotten gem for the Super Nintendo (that is in English, amazingly enough!) is highly advised to check this title out.

   Lufia II begins with Maxim, a relatively respected hunter of sorts, getting the urge to travel and see the world. A woman in his hometown named Tia is more interested in him than he necessarily is in her, and insists upon accompanying him on this journey. Soon enough Maxim will meet other persons who will join up with him Ė permanently for some, in transit for others. Along the way he will meet a woman he will eventually marry named Selan. This is something of a spoiler, true, but as less than half the game has transpired by this point itís a mild one. Naturally Tia is less than happy with that turn of events, but she bows out gracefully. There is also the presence of some supernaturally powerful beings who have vowed to take over the world, merely because they have the power to make that happen: the Sinistrals. Maxim takes offense at their presumption, and our major conflict is born. The overlying story is not the greatest in the world, but aside from a few forgivable spelling/grammar errors is well translated. It is also rather fun.

See how big their heads are?  How can they move? See how big their heads are? How can they move?

   Battle in Lufia II proceeds somewhat akin to Lufia I Ė except there is more going on here. First of all, numerous items once equipped to a character grant special skills. These special skills are usable only after receiving damage from enemies however, and the best of them take quite a bit of damage before reciprocation (or aid to the party) can proceed. Battles are the typical random format outside of dungeons. Inside dungeons, however, enemies can be seen and frequently avoided or stopped long enough to avoid battle if the player wishes (more on stopping enemies laterÖ). In battle, also, two characters occupy the front row and two the back. This serves the standard function of making attacks weaker but defense stronger in the back. In dungeons the visibility of enemies means they will frequently seek out the player, and in a slight nod to Earthbound the player can get in the first strike by touching the enemy from behind while the enemy can do the same. Additionally magic is NOT learned via leveling, it is bought in shops.

   There is also the presence of Capsule monsters. TheseÖ beings are found as the story progresses, and each one has different abilities. Capsule monsters take up a fifth slot in battle. They cannot be controlled, but their abilities can greatly ease some random battles (as they cannot be healed they tend to die during boss fights, but they revive afterwards so no permanent damage is done). Capsule monsters gain experience akin to player-controlled characters, and capsule monsters can also evolve by being fed items. All Capsule monsters have 4 total evolutions, and will become rather formidable in their final forms.

   Interaction in shops and towns is responsive enough. It becomes far more important in dungeons, where some of the nastiest puzzles ever glimpsed in an RPG are to be found. Outside of battle the player has access to several devices such as a bow & arrow or a chain. These are absolutely essential to progress through the puzzles. They can also be used to strike enemies, which will stun the enemies for a certain number of steps taken by the player. Many enemies can be avoided completely with this technique should the player wish. Switching between the devices is accomplished through a quick button press.

Damn you Ė Iím a DEVIL!  I will NOT eat this seaweed junk when I can eat deviled ham! Damn you Ė Iím a DEVIL! I will NOT eat this seaweed junk when I can eat deviled ham!

   Aesthetically Lufia II shines, save for one detail that may not affect others the same way. While enemies in battle look impressive, the player characters are tiny and have ENORMOUS heads relative to their body size. This is beyond super-deformed and taken to the next level, itís just plain odd. Otherwise everything looks good, if not quite at the pinnacle of the SNES some Square games reached. The audio is wonderful, however. The sound quality issues of Lufia 1 have been overcome, and nearly twice the music of Lufia 1 is present. Yasunori Shiono did a splendid job on this soundtrack and deserves commendation.

   Lufia IIís replay value is actually rather good, since there are measures to play through the game again with the experience obtained the first time staying accumulated, and with any of the characters who leave the party as part of the story. There is also the Ancient Cave, which has entire FAQís devoted to it at GameFAQs. Suffice it to say that the Cave is a test of oneís willingness to endure nasty challenges in the pursuit of Ö well, more nasty challenges and some very nice rewards that can be taken out into the main game. There arenít many side quests other than this one, though there are some diverting mini-games in the form of gambling and other pursuits.

   Lufia II is fairly long, also. One should be prepared to invest at least 40 hours into this title. Some of that time will no doubt be spent upon its insidious puzzles, for these are frequently more challenging than the (not weak) bosses. The puzzles of Lufia II are not for the faint of heart, but anyone seeking a more cerebral challenge than usual will be pleased.

   The Super Nintendo did not see much RPG action in 1996; game publishers seemed to think it was outmoded and more business could be had from the PlayStation (and Saturn). Lufia II rises to the top of what did come out for the Super Nintendo (in North America) in its last great year however. The game will astonish anyone who was not enamored with its predecessor in the amazing leaps forward present here. Better than that, the game stands strong 10 years later as a fine RPG.

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