Top 100 SNES Review: #50 – Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals

Mini-Game > Actual Game

The Ancient Cave commandeered by Thanksgiving holiday.

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A Bob Ross inspired landscape with Phthalo Blue and Titanium White mountains.

Sydlexia’s Ranking: #50/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-star

The original Lufia was a garbage heap, and Lufia II doesn’t try to fix the original problems, particularly the conglomeration of fetch quests masquerading as a main storyline. It is better though!

Each dungeon now has a puzzle element, very reminiscent of a Legend of Zelda, where you have to push, pull, and place things in the environment to open up passages to bosses. So while you might not have much emotional drive to slug your way through fetch quest #71 due to lack of character development, you will get the personal satisfaction of solving some very neat puzzles.

Then of course, the ANCIENT CAVE.

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Lufia II creates an imaginary world bursting with creativity giving the player a chance to travel to exotic locations such as the Southeast Tower. 

[story/plot.]

Maxim has amazing fighting abilities. While training in a cave, he is approached by a soothsayer Iris telling him of the evil that is to come and his destiny to confront it. He then reclaims a king’s stolen crown and kills a catfish causing earthquakes while traveling to the unique locations such as the Northwest Cave and  Southeast Tower. 

You know what — that’s enough.

I’m not going to pretend anymore that their was a story. Not only is the premise hackneyed, the quests and locations have nothing to do with the little bit of story you get. After about 8 hours of gameplay, you do get a sequence of events that happen in rapid succession using title cards.

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But, this moment of narration is besieged by the same problems very quickly — more fetch quests and indescript locations. Making matters worse, this is a PREQUEL: having played the original, I already knew the ending.  So, try not to think of Luifa II as some powerful story with emotional ties to characters. Instead, see it as a collection of 0s and 1s being processed by a computer; it will make it more poignant.

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Just like Renaissance artists had trouble drawing babies, Lufia 2 can’t get the perspectives of boats versus people right. 

[gameplay.]

It’s standard RPG fair that doesn’t need to be described though the upgrades do need a mention:

  • You see monsters on the world map — no more “every-three-steps-encounter” rates! What’s really cool is if you approach from behind, you get one free round of attacks, making something strategic out of how you approach enemies.
  • The puzzles are really, really good. I have a big admiration for people who can make engrossing mind twists out of just a few simple elements, and that’s exactly what Lufia II does.
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Enthralling battle against cross-eyed skeletons carrying popsicle-like swords.

[ancient cave.]

About halfway through the game, you get access to a side-quest cave with some rules and stipulations:

  • You enter as level one with no equipment and just ten potions.
  • There are 99, randomly generated levels.
  • Anything in a blue chest you get to keep when you leave (this is where the best equipment is in the game). 
  • Anything in a red chest can be equipped, but you can’t take it with you outside.
  • The only ways to escape is find the item prodigy around level 20 or get to level 99.

The benefits of going into the cave were too great for me. Super-charged weapons that I can keep with me to more easily succeed in the actual game? YES PLEASE. I took moments to write down my reflections as I began my descent.

Field Notes: 

Day 1 —

  • B3: “Okay, this is stressing me.”
  • B13: Hell yes. I’m hitting my stride now.”
  • B19: “I’m going to stop at level 20.”
  • B20: “I wonder if there are any blue chests on this level?”
  • B24: “Okay, 25 is a good number to stop at.” 
  • B39: “Five hours is enough time to spend in one sitting.”

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Day 2 —

  • B45: “I’ve had some pretty close calls.”
  • B53: I’m getting worn down.”
  • B59: “Life isn’t fair.”

 

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B59 – A 30 minute endeavor, but I need that blue chest!
  • B69: “I think I’ve seen it all”
  • B71: “Oh, a ship that isn’t floating because it always has water under it.”

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Day 3 —

  • B85: “I WANT THIS TO BE OVER.”

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  • B93: “NOT WORTH IT.” 
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Levels B85-100, a character study in cowardice.
  • B99: “I MADE IT. My mind hurts and I lost 10 hours of my life. Wonder what my reward is………….oh, fighting a red jelly.” 

[conclusion.]

That Ancient Cave really sucked me in. Mowing down enemies afterwards with my overly powered gear gave me immense joy, but then I realized what I had come back to — a mindless world where the people don’t matter and the locations carbon copies. It’s telling that Lufia II’s strongest pull was it’s randomly generated cave, not it’s intentionally crafted story.

Other People’s Takes:

  • World Walker: “Lufia II is a great game because it has something for every gamer. The puzzle-lovers will enjoy the challenge. The fighters will enjoy the special attacks that equipment grants them. There’s even a quest for the explorers.”
  • Mind Decline: The reason why this overly simplistic narrative isn’t lethal to the game is that Natsume largely ignores their own plot.”

Author: Casual But Smart

I review the top 100 books, movies, albums, and games of all time.

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