Friday, October 10, 2014

Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals (Super NES, 1996)

Time for the Aliens of this series. Lufia II is AWESOME. While the original is a perfectly acceptable RPG, this game still holds up today as being on the top tier of 16-bit RPGs. It came along pretty late in the life of the SNES and as a result it didn't do as well as it should have, but it has a strong cult following nonetheless. This is, of course, the prequel to the original game, so we know how it ends. Still, the journey to get there is a fun one.



We begin with a ball of light flying to a dark mountain fortress somewhere.

Here's Arek, the mysterious leader of the Sinistrals. Before you get too excited, he never really does anything in this series. I'm not even sure if he's seen again after this scene.

He converses with this mysterious woman. His intentions seem to be oddly ambiguous compared to the destruction-prone Sinistrals we've met previously.

The ball of red light (which is the woman in question, it appears) zips off, no doubt to cause problems somewhere.

Cut to footage of our heroes. Here's Maxim, stoic mercenary. At his side is ultra-clingy shopkeeper, Tia. Apparently they're friends who grew up together, and she can't tell him she's attracted to him.

Sigh. We just did this.

Meanwhile, here's Guy, the oblivious tank! He missed a date because he was busy FOIGHTIN'.

 Women don't understand monster-fighting! There's no time to explain!

Speaking of genders... here's Selan, whose entire persona thusfar seems to be to talk about how she's female. Okay then.

Here's the best character in the game, lovable simpleton Dekar. He reminds me of Jason Stackhouse. He's super-confident and badass, if possibly not too bright.

Here's Artea, the elf du jour of the four main heroes of the game. And Milka, who may well be the only character to appear in all three main series (numbered) Lufia games. This is her earliest form.

Let's do a rundown of what we have for semi-cliche RPG characters so far, going by the intro:

Maxim - The oblivious stoic hero
Tia - The clingy female
Selan - The strong female who makes sure you know she's a strong female at all times
Guy - The oblivious goofball warrior

As far as other characters go... Dekar doesn't really fall into any cliches, so that's cool. There's also Artea, who is an enigma at this point, and Dr. Lexis Shaia, mad inventor.

We cut back to Arek, moments away from never being seen again.

 WHOA, he has Dual Blade? What's the connection between them? I want to know more! ...unfortunately, this series never really explains who or what Arek is. He seems to be some sort of Thanos-like space emperor, a higher power who controls the Sinistrals. I knew Daos wasn't their supreme leader. He seems more like a priest than an emperor-type.

 As a monster hunter, Maxim is basically the Military-Industrial Complex in base form. As long as war exists, so too do the profits.

Tia shows up and starts nagging.

NAG NAG NAG. And the guy isn't even your boyfriend because you don't have the guts to be honest with him! Tia is like the female equivalent of a Nice Guy.

I visit the first shop in the game, which sells some fairly useless stuff. There's only one thing to get here...

"I'll take The Raper for one hundred!"

The Military-Industrial Complex is BOOMING, thanks for asking.

I make my first jaunt out onto the overworld. It's a lush, colorful place, if a bit... squared.

The first enemy I encounter... a breast implant! This world really needs to do something about the sentient breast implants.

Before I head out, I pick up the first heal spell from the town. This should eliminate the need to spend too much money on items.

This game has some great gameplay. It's a lot like a Zelda-series game. Most dungeon rooms have puzzles in them involving switches, pushing blocks around, or just defeating all of the enemies to open a door.

Not only can Maxim swing a sword to slash away bushes...he can also fire arrows to momentarily stun enemies. That's right, enemies are visible in this game. At least in dungeons. No random encounters here. I may not be that into Japanese RPGs anymore, but this game pretty much does everything right. My only issue with it is the over-abundance of caves, just like the previous game. And to a lesser extent, the cliched characters, but that may improve as the game continues.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch... Tia fixes Maxim the worst dinner ever. Let's get a closer look at that thing...







After not touching his food, Maxim beats a hasty retreat. Moments after he said this, he winked at all the women in the audience. And all the women in the game world outside of this room. Basically, all the women who aren't Tia.

Well, I can definitely see this "relationship" lasting.

Before long, a big event happens. A horde of monsters have taken over the cave to the north. That's right, time for another cave!

This one is a real dungeon, unlike the tutorial-like first cave. It's a bit complex, and I almost got lost at one point before realizing that there was a button under a bush.

...hee hee.

 Boss fight! This is the first boss, and it's nothing more than a back-and-forth slugfest. Maxim wins, and I move on.

 A mysterious green-haired woman named Iris shows up to be all mysterious. She claims to know all the answers as to the recent monster outbreak.

Here, she plays the role of Buzz-Buzz, telling Maxim about how he's destined to meet comrades and save the world from evil. This is weird. Luckily, she doesn't get squished by Pokey's mom.

Onward to the next dungeon... ANOTHER CAVE!

Capsule monsters aren't the Pokemen that you might suspect. In this game they function as fifth party members that can assist as you progress through the game. They're the unsung hero of this game, since the first game didn't have any monsters in the group during the intro.

Most of the buyable upgrades are extremely incremental. This is why I usually end up not buying upgrades in these RPGs, saving up until something substantial comes along.

The bridge to the next kingdom is out, due to constant earthquakes in the area. The source of these earthquakes?

 A GIANT FISH. He lurks in the cave that I started to do earlier, so I go back and finish the job.

 He SPEAKS, and... he's got a sassy attitude!

 Maxim quickly proves him wrong on the "weak" thing by casting Strong on himself. Gotta heal up. This catfish is MUCH tougher than the first boss, and I can see this being the first part of the game that new players have trouble with. Without any real repertoire of spells or special attacks to tap into at this point, it comes down to whether or not Maxim's levels are sufficient.

This one guy in Sundletan was telling anyone who would listen that there was a giant catfish causing the earthquakes. No one believed him, which is why Maxim had to go and confront Lord Jabu-Jabu himself.

What? I just stopped the earthquakes that were ravaging your town, and you're still charging me for the inn?

Meanwhile, rumor is that a woman went to the Lake Cave looking for Maxim. He goes back there to investigate, and finds... Tia. Just in time, too, as she's getting mobbed by monsters.

She continues to passive-aggressively be super-clingy. If you want to go with Maxim, just say it!

STAT UPDATE. It's fitting that Tia uses a whip, given how whipped she is. More on this game later.



Other Lufia II Posts

Other Lufia Series Games


5 comments:

  1. Dekar reminds me of Sonic the Hedgehog, but with less "totally radical!" quotes.

    That could be the real Dual Blade, I'm not sure. It might just be an image of it.

    Good call on getting Strong for Maxim. He can equip most of the elemental damage spells, but his magic power is so low that you'll almost never use them. For some reason he can't use fire magic.

    More troublesome than the amount of caves is how the various rivers tend to have teleportation shrines to cross them instead of bridges. Is teleportation really that much simpler in this world?!

    She's like buzz-buzz with better music. Hnnnng that music. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90BmchjQR6s

    The catfish is tough, but those incremental equipment upgrades help.

    Tia's probably the weakest character in the game, but the game smartly gives her to you when you don't have anyone else so she's a big help.

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  2. I forgot this game has a subtitle too. They had to use it since they did for the first game.

    This beginning is so intriguing. I didn't get it at ALL, but now I have a hint. It seems he planted the seeds of doubt in Erim's mind. He made her self-aware.

    We just did this (Maxim-Tia) but it really is different this time! This is one of the few RPGs where the childhood love interest doesn't win out in the end. It breaks Japanese stereotypes reaffirmed soon after this by FF7.

    FOIGHTIN', haha.
    This is the rare game so confident in itself it gives you credits at the beginning. Last seen with Suikoden II.

    I like Guy's sprite in this. He really looks like a tank.

    Selan had to break through a lot of glass ceilings to get where she is! You can't understand what it was like 100 years agoooo!

    Dekar fulfills a need this world has for MORE DEKAR.

    It's funny how we can literally see the puzzle pieces put together to create these maps, yes.
    I see a CAVE!!! CAVE CAVE CAVE CAVE (Lufia 1 has trained me!)

    There weren't very many games that were prequels back in these days.

    The battle menu looks REALLY nice in this.

    I'm gonna brush off this Tia-hating and say I quite enjoy how quickly and easily they set this up as a reverse version of the Jeros-Lufia relationship.

    I forgot this game has IP. It's pretty cool. It makes Guy a more complex character to use than Aguro was, at least.

    The monsters are organizing into unions! This IS interesting.

    Maxim's such a nice guy he does need this push from a magical lady to leave all his friends behind.

    The capsule monsters are pretty cool. Yeah, this game brings as much complexity as FF6 and CT tbh.

    Who is the catfish prophet of our times?!?!

    Of COURSE they're still charging you for staying in the inn! Capitalism!!!

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    Replies
    1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=XpokjMDGM60#t=190

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    2. Heheheh, never seen that one before.

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    3. Huh, you're right, FF7 does a very similar thing. Except then after the new love interest dies, it's possible Cloud gets together with Tifa after all. If you count Advent Children, I believe they were together in that. Then again, it was hard to tell since no one in that movie behaved like real people.

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