Top 100 SNES Review: #40 – Lufia and the Fortress of Doom

Sunk Cost Fallacy.

As the hour count continued to rise, I continued to play to not lose out on time already invested.

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Sydlexia’s Ranking: #40/100
Developer: Taito
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star

“Individuals commit the sunk cost fallacy when they continue a behavior or endeavor as a result of previously invested resources (time, money or effort)” (Arkes & Blumer, 1985).

You know, I like to think of myself as rational. Who doesn’t like to imagine themselves as an autonomous agent living out their free will initiatives? Unfortunately, Lufia and the Fortress of Doom dissolved any notion of me being in control of my faculties. This game is a hot piece of garbage, a big to-do list from hell, and it could only be my irrational, emotional processes that made me continue.

[plot.] Lufia actually starts in an interesting way: you begin at the end of someone else’s final boss fight, playing as four warriors defeating the evil Sinistrals on the Fortress of Doom. Forward 100 years and you take over the main character with the name of your choosing (BEAR in my case). Monsters have returned, and the peace ushered in by the defeat of the Sinistrals has left warriors few and town defenses nil. It’s up to Bear and his three friends to save the world from the return of the evil Sinistrals.

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[gameplay.] This is very standard RPG fare here. You have your attack, magic, item and run away choices. You equip items that bolster attack and defense. You find treasure. You explore mountains, oceans and caves. There is nothing new here. 

Since there is no new ground in gameplay, you would have hoped for something else to really lean on. The story is pretty bare bones outside of the opening few hours. There is very little interesting dialogue. The locations are all copies of one another with only the placements of rocks and ladders changing, not style nor content.

I’ve left toast out for an entire weekend that was less stale than this. While the retro graphics, couple of catchy songs, and promising beginning signal the start of a classic, the monotonous nature of this game crushes your soul into an ephemeral bone meal.

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The quest that made me snap.

[analysis.]  Every quest in this game is junk.

One that gets my blood boiling involves a bridge that is out between a town you need to get to. So, you search for this architect and find him, but of course he can’t do the job alone, so you need to go across the continent to find his co-worker. After you buddy them up, he then asks you check out the bridge. You fight through the dungeon, random encounters about every three steps, and finally come upon the bridge to only see that it is indeed out, which you already kew.

So, you return to tell him that it is indeed out like he thought, you thought, and everyone knew. Then he tells you to MEET HIM AT THE BRIDGE.

SO THEN YOU SAY, fine… I’LL GO BACK TO WHERE I JUST WAS AT SO I CAN JUST GET TO MY NEXT LOCATION. You fight back through the same dungeon with the high encounter rate, taking three steps before having to press the SAME commands over and over again. You finally get back to where you JUST were and he says…COULD YOU GET TO THAT LEDGE UP THERE AND LOOK AT ME WORK?

SO THEN YOU HAVE TO GO AROUND IN THIS DUNGEON MORE, GETTING TO A HIGH POINT IN THE CAVE. He completes his bridge in seconds. YOU THEN, of course, have to get back down to where you JUST WERE, to then go across said bridge.

And if it isn’t a bridge, it’s metal, gemstones, cooking ingredients, people, jewels, treasure, keys, etc.

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If the last few hours collecting seven pieces of metal wasn’t enough catch and fetch, you get to then  go get some power oil.

[conclusion.] Every Role Playing Game is one long fetch quest. You go somewhere to talk to someone or get an item. You then repeat that for twenty to forty hours, having the player continue to fetch in new locations while building towards the final crescendo of a boss fight to resolve the reason for all the fetching.

The trick is to make this fetching meaningful to the player. Story, plot, characters, rewards, and sense of accomplishment are all reasonable ways to do this. Or you could just skip that part. 

Other People’s Take:

  • Extra Lives Review: “I don’t think there’s a single one I would have a more difficult time recommending than Lufia & the Fortress of Doom.”
  • World Walker: “If you want a RPG where you have to think your way to victory, Lufia is your game.”
  • Death By Troggles: “Lufia is not terribly memorable or exciting, but it’s an effective time killer.”



  1. I’m flattered you liked my review of Lufia enough to quote it. This game just isn’t very good. I’m not sure why some consider it an underrated gem when it’s clear its sequel is the superior game by far.


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