Underappreciated Retro Titles: Lufia


When I was a lad, I had a few friends who appreciated RPGs the same way I did, which  ultimately led me right here, to write for you guys. But some of those games were just underappreciated, or not heralded as the classics, the greats. Not on the same level as EarthBound, Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger, Phantasy Star, or whichever franchise you place on a pedestal. So every so often, I’m going to talk about one of my favorite RPGs from a bygone era, and consider just what makes them great! That’s the beauty of this grand experiment, being able to try new things. And this is one of many! So today, we’re going to talk about the Lufia series, but specifically Parts 1 and 2 on the Super Nintendo. Good and the bad, though! I’m not going to kiss a games ass and not point out some flaws it has.

Lufia 1

It had a few other games in the series, Gameboy Color, Gameboy Advance, and Nintendo DS, but those never really climbed to the heights of storytelling and sheer emotion that the first two games held in my heart. Especially the DS game; turning  Lufia 2 into an action RPG was a ballsy, but ultimately, fucking stupid idea. So now, for those of you who don’t know: What IS Lufia? Lufia and the Fortress of Doom is a story set in a fantasy world where magic is not only powerful, but thrives. But prophecy and rears its ugly head, as it often does, and a floating continent, the “Fortress of Doom”, and is lorded over by four powerful Kings, or Sinistrals. The Four Kings is a very popular trope in Japan, from anime like Sailormoon. Each has its own sphere of influence: Gades [Destruction], Amon [Chaos], Erim [Death], and their leader Daos [Terror].

Lufia 2 FUCK YOU

As long as Erim lives, the others will come back time and again, no matter what. It’s a trope that comes back in Lufia 2, which curiously enough, takes place 99 years before Lufia 1. One of the clever things Lufia 1 does, is it starts at the end of the Great Battle, where you control the legendary heroes, Maxim, Selan, Artea/Arty and Guy. Then you start a hundred years in the future, as the descendant of Maxim. It’s a tale of “History Repeating”, and I don’t mean the Megas album [though I do love them so very much]. Lufia 2 has just as many gut-wrenching, heartbreaking moments, but it compounds that with infuriating puzzles. Lufia 1 is more a traditional RPG, with challenging dungeons filled with powerful monsters, but Lufia 2 has more technical puzzles and lots of things to keep your mind occupied while it tugs your heartstrings.  That’s what makes the series so fantastic. If it doesn’t make you feel things, you very well could be a monster. I don’t want to spoil it, but if you are in the market for a traditional RPG that will twist, turn, and make you feel like you’re cutting onions, then look no further!

Lufia 1 screen

It’s not perfect though; far from it. The graphics are cutesy in Lufia 1, but feel very simple. The music is beautiful to counteract that though I think. Lufia 1 has a humongous flaw that Lufia 2 fixed; it was a flaw that Final Fantasy 1 had, so it really confused me. If a party member kills an enemy, and you also targeted them with another character, that’s a wasted move. Nothing makes me want to play Lufia 1 less than that. Lufia 2 instead, is a fucking grindfest. You spend SO MUCH TIME farming to buy spells [instead of learning them in Lufia 1], armor, weapons, items, and THEN you have to farm items to feed your Monster pal. There are Capsule Monsters, for each element that you feed weapons and armor to to make them evolve. When they DO evolve, the item they need becomes much more expensive. There are glitches and ways to get around it, but fuck. I shouldn’t have to glitch a game just to make it playable. And that system needed some desperate work. There’s also some glitches to make fights easier. There’s no hard cap for enemy health; so fights like the Egg Dragon, which has maximum health allowed by the game, you can HEAL it once, reset its health to like 50, and kill it in one hit.  It’s not without its flaws, but it makes me think, and feel, and really settles me into a fantasy land.

You owe it to yourself to play Lufia 1 and 2, if you haven’t already. If you have? Go play it again. The story is better playing 2 first, but 2 has better game mechanics. I’d recommend playing 1, then 2 but either way works!

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  • Clownsaurus

    It’s just a shame they never found a way to make a third game that was actually as good as the first two.

    • Ragachak

      God, do I ever know it.

  • Matt Blaylock

    Lufia was one of the most phenomenal, underrated RPG titles of all time. I have such vague, but stupendous memories of this. Most of the memories are bittersweet because RPGs were something that my father and I shared an interest in, and now that he’s no longer with us, I tend to remember him fondly and miss our times together playing these. But Lufia is a must-must try for anyone who enjoys RPGs of any caliber.

    • Ragachak

      I don’t think I’ve met anyone who has felt loss as keenly as you. I have a friend from my old MUDing days who passed on a few years ago and we spent MANY nights talking about Lufia and other RPGs. It’s a grand way to keep someone’s memory alive.

  • Matt Blaylock

    I’m listening to the OST now, and OH MY GERD, does this take me back.

  • Herschel Pilcher III

    I won’t even lie: It was the designs for the Sinistrals that got me interested in these games. And the “4 Horsemen” style mythology that framed the story.

    • Ragachak

      I’m just bummed we never got to fight Arek.

  • Delsait

    I’m probably the only person who likes Lufia 3 for GBC..ah well.

    I haven’t gotten a chance to play Lufia 2, but I plan to. Lufia has playable characters who are references to Dekar, and Lexis in it.