I’ve talked about this title a few times, but seldom in-depth. Despite knowing lots of people who have played it, when it was out in its own time, nobody I went to school with was really familiar. Maybe one person tops. Welcome to a new series of editorials by yours truly!
Potential Spoilers ahead, but come on. It’s like. . . 22 years old now.
I could talk about the Lufia Franchise as a whole, but I’d have to stop after 2 because that’s really when they stopped being glorious. The GBC/GBA ones were a bit convoluted and weird. Not bad, just nowhere near the majesty and storytelling that were the first two titles. I mean, where do you go from there, outside of battling Arek the Absolute? I’m going to focus on why I love Lufia 2: Rise of the Sinistrals, and why it is deserving of play and being owned by anyone who loves retro RPGs. Sure, Lufia 1 was phenomenal, and both titles were plagued with the 1990s curse of bad translations [thanks, 90s America. . .] and censorship, neither of these made the games not worth playing. If anything, it probably made me appreciate them more as signs of our culture at that point in time. Lufia 2 takes place about 90-99 years before the first game. In fact, when you first play Lufia and the Fortress of Doom, you start at the “Battle of Doom Island” with Maxim, Selan, Guy, and Arty, your final team for Lufia 2: Rise of the Sinistrals. So in that, you kind of get the ending spoiled in the first game. You know that you must fight the Sinistrals, and you must win. You know that something tragic happens, but you don’t know how you got to that point.
To their credit, the devs of Lufia 1 did not spoil any of part 2 in part 1, other than a very major occurrence. But that was to set up the events of the game that was being worked on. I don’t know if they had a plan to develop 2 at all originally, but I’d love to get a word with one of the writers/developers. Anyway! Through the course of Lufia 2, you help Maxim grow from just a man who kills monsters, to a man who fulfills prophecy, gains new friends, to a man who saves the world and suffers unimaginable heartbreak. And also finds love. Maxim goes from simply being a man alone in the world, with a girl that maybe fancies him, to traveling the land, using his unexplained ability to do battle to affect great change on the world around him. He doesn’t know why he’s such a great warrior, but he is. And he does something noble with it, even if it means he might die. He’s not a Mary Sue: He can’t do everything, and he can’t do it alone. Bering a pawn of prophecy doesn’t mean you have to be an unstoppable killing machine who has limitless powers. There are limits to Maxim, in his intelligence, his strength. But not his will. He has a boundless will and the need to push forward that I find endearing.
It was also the first RPG I played that really had actual puzzles in it. These were dungeons we’re traveling through after all. They have great treasures in them, and so it makes sense that there are death traps/puzzles in the dungeons, right? However this is a pretty child-friendly game, so they aren’t really death traps. The graphics and sounds of the game are incredibly innocent-looking and child-friendly, but the story that is told is a bit more mature. It’s told in such a way that anyone could play it though. Sure, you’ll find moments that you will laugh and laugh til you’re red in the face. Then you’ll find moments of soul-crushing, heart-aching sadness. I promise. I felt them, anyone will. It does so much with the standard “walk over the world map, fight the monsters, save the world” trope that’s common both then and now in RPGs on console. I don’t think I’ve ever played an RPG that really filled me with more conflicting emotions, whether it’s the main cast doing what nobody should be asked to do, or even on the side of the villains. There’s great conflict even among the evil Gods called Sinistrals, and I love it. It’s not a technical masterpiece. It’s not the prettiest game ever. I mean, it’s no FFIV, FFVI, Chrono Trigger, Secret of Evermore in terms of aesthetics. But the cute graphics of Lufia 1 and Lufia 2 improve from one to the next. It’s more a traditional, early 90s kind of game. It’s really intriguing to me to have such an adorable game, and have it tell such a depressing, sad tale that you feel virtually no hope for a happy ending, until it really gets to the end. It’s worth playing from start to end, then playing again for the other two game modes.
Lufia 2: Rise of the Sinistrals is a wonderful tale, well told. Though it had amazing scores when it came out, not enough people really know about it now. It had a wondrous story, plenty to do in the world from gambling to making wishes on Dragon Eggs, goofy comedy and really heart-wrenching moments that stand out in my memory to this day. It’s not too difficult, not too easy, it’s…it’s just right. And it was not done justice by the re-imaginging “Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals” on the DS.
Even a glimmer, a faint ray of hope is better than none. They do what they do because they must. Nobody else will. Though they may die in the heat of battle, they do it so that others will not suffer. That’s sad, but beautiful at the same time.
Do you have a fond memory of this game? By all means drop it below!