Saturday, November 29, 2014

Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals #8 - Ominous Power

 Today on Lufia II, our heroes go to Dragon Mountain to rob Smaug find a missing elder. The end is near!

Dragon Mountain contains one of the toughest puzzles in the game...maybe THE toughest. You have to burn down plants as they grow, and if they reach full growth the puzzle resets. They grow in a set order, but you only have a couple of available motions to stop one once it begins growing. When two or three are growing at once, good luck if you didn't already get into position to take them out in the right order. It's the Rubik's Cube of Lufia II puzzles. You basically have to know every move in advance to get past this in any kind of timely manner, unless you're Stephen Hawking. And if you are, it's pretty cool that you're reading this.

I find the missing elder, and we learn why this place is called "Dragon Mountain".

BOSSU FIGHT! This is a big one. As a dragon-thusiast, I approve. Ice Valk does a lot of damage to it, but at this point in the game I'm finding my physical attacks to be my most effective offense.

Our heroes quickly dispatch the dragon with no regard for its family (given that we basically just invaded its home). WHO ARE THE REAL SINISTRALS, DAMMIT?

Characters frequently make reference to energy waves and how much our heroes are emitting. It's sorta like power readings in Dragonball Z. Tune in next April for Dragonball Z Month II, as I cover the DBZ movies that aren't Movie 14.

Back in town, the elder gives us a lead on where Dual Blade is. At this point we're basically just hunting down people for information that will lead to the sword, with an occasional dungeon or boss fight in the way. It's like an Everquest epic weapon quest.

More submarining follows, as our heroes traverse the depths of the oceans to get to...

...The town of mermaids. Didn't the first Final Fantasy have this exact place? Can a fight with Kraken be far behind?

The architecture here is unlike anywhere else in this game. The town overall is a sight to behold (with great music) and I wish more of the game took place here. You basically only stop here for a cup of coffee.

The mermaid queen knows where Dual Blade is. However, before we go, we have to help her with some problems. Everquest epic quest indeed.

Said problems involve rescuing her from a potent ocean current, then fending off a ghost ship.

Seriously, a ghost ship. I did NOT see that coming. This is basically the endgame DPS check, as this thing has vastly more HP than anything else up to this point (it has as much HP as the Sinistrals, roughly). It also summons very nasty adds that you need to be able to kill faster than they spawn. If you can't keep up and also whittle this boss down, then it's time for level-building. If you've been keeping up on levels and weapon upgrades, then the fight is pretty easy.

Stuff happens with the mermaids acting all high and mighty about how lame humans are. With all this nagging, maybe there's a reason there are no mermen around.

Artea and Guy have more of their good-natured arguing, and Guy uses some powerful mathematical skills to win this round.

The mermaids don't understand these bizarre human social interactions. They're also disgusted that humans eat fish.

You know, these mermaids, and their city, are possibly the most interesting thing in this whole game as far as other cultures go. I really wish this place had been given more screen time. The same goes for the imperial land of Gratze, but I'll get to that.

We head north to the weirdly-named Submarine Cave, which leads to another underwater temple. A disembodied voice barks at us while we look for Dual Blade. More threatening than that, however... the fact that the temple is COMPLETELY DISCOMBOBULATED. I've seen glitches in my day, but this is insane. Luckily, the temple is only one room, and there are no enemies or puzzles. I had to refer to a map to paw my way through it, regardless:

Here's what it's supposed to look like. You can just go forward, aside from getting snagged on the level with two stairways.

Daos appears before us, and immediately name-drops Arek. Why must you build up Arek so much, game? We never actually meet him or fight him. ...Also, Amon steals a lot of his heat by being similar-looking and also having a four-letter A name.

Not thrilled that Dual Blade seems to like Maxim, Daos rants and raves while the glitch consumes him.


Daos now teleports our heroes to the town of Chaed just to demonstrate his power.

...why not just kill them?

He then warps himself up to the flying Doom Island, where he pulls a General Zod and speaks to the People of Earth. I think he took Dual Blade with him, but I'm not certain on this one. Can't recall exactly.

He then unleashes the judgment of the heavens on the town that we're in, just to demonstrate his power-superiority. More deaths follow, and this time it's a town that we've actually been to before, with characters we've talked to.

We need an airship to get to Doom Island, and an airship requires an engine. The only nation with engines at this point is the militaristic techno-land of Gratze. Looks like we're going there next. I figured this would be a fairly extensive part of the game, but...not so much. It could have been, but perhaps the developers were running low on time. Overall, the Gratze Empire is over in about 15 minutes. Reminds me of the severely-underutilized Empire in Secret of Mana, only to a much greater degree.

We sneak into Gratze via secret underwater tunnel, then immediately get apprehended once we emerge from what may or may not be the bathroom. Eww!

In jail, we encounter the nefarious Berty and his cohort again. This turns out to be a stroke of luck, as they possess the skills of lockpicking. The only thing stopping them from sneaking out is the guard presence, but we possess the skills of ass-kicking. Combine the powers of the two teams, and we're outta here.

Prince Needledick of Gratze manages to capture Berty, and there's about to be a hanging when Maxim and Co. barge in. A brawl follows. This whole scenario is kind of an annoying side-show to the main story at this point, and I wonder why it didn't happen earlier (and in an extended form) as far as pacing goes. Could send us back here real quick to get an airship engine before the endgame, but having the whole Gratze storyline play out now (short as it is) is an odd choice. Again, it's like they ran out of time and had to just get the Gratze deal out of the way real quick.

The Prince totally screws up "Magical Wife" (or the translators did). Either way, all this does is INFURIATE the Magical Wife in question.

Maxim lays down the law. He might as well say "Give me your clothes, your boots, and your motorcycle."

BOSSU FIGHT. This Advance Wars refugee is the "you must be this strong to proceed" fight. If you aren't ready for the endgame, this is another spot where you'll find out. It dishes out a ton of damage compared to other fights up to this point. While the Ghost Ship - with a boatload of HP and summoned adds - is a DPS check of sorts, the Tank is a check on your survivability.

These two make their escape, and live happily ever after since they pilfered some priceless artifacts from Gratze.

Yep, basically our heroes just rolled in and bullied Gratze, then left. So much for the militaristic empire.

The Scientist Brigade installs the tank engine in the ship/submarine, giving it flight capabilities. Now we can spy on our neighbors in their homes go to Doom Island.

Get equipped with: Airship! AWESOME! This is a magical moment in most 90's RPGs... the moment where you get flight and can go anywhere.

Next stop is the final town of the game, Narvick. It has outstanding, mystical music.

It also has a really creepy elder who keeps three identical girls in the back room. I don't even want to know.

The three girls are all psychic power-detectors who need to be brought to the top of three towers that stand around where Doom Island is safely hovering. At first I groaned about this, but all three towers are fairly quick as far as dungeons go. This, like Gratze, comes across as more game-padding while simultaneously coming across like something that was originally supposed to be much bigger than it was. Two almost contradictory things. Weird.

This isn't entirely hyperbolic; the stuff here is Zircon, which generally IS the best buyable equipment.

The towers themselves don't look like any other towers thusfar in the game. They resemble M.C. Escher drawings with a lot of overlapping hallways and stairwells. The toughest regular enemies in the game are encountered in these towers. Aside from that, they're quick non-dungeons with a distinct lack of puzzles, much like Gratze. Maybe the designers got puzzled out with Dragon Mountain, as that place really did seem to be the pinnacle of puzzle-design in the game (and the last vestige of puzzles in general).

Atop the first tower, our heroes are confronted by Gades...yet again. The Guy of the Sinistrals won't go away, and it seems he'll keep reviving as long as Erim exists.

That's right, this is the Guy of the Sinistrals. Poor Guy. Gades is the hard-headed physical warrior of the group.

In any case, it doesn't seem like he has gotten much of a stat boost from earlier for whatever reason, so this fight is actually -easy- at this point. Victory nets us the Divine Armor, Maxim's best armor. It has an incredible IP ability that I'll get to in a minute.

At the top of the second tower is the Artea of the Sinistrals, Amon. It's about time we got to fight this dude, and I'm surprised it didn't happen sooner in the place of one of the Gades fights.

He's much more powerful than Gades, but that isn't saying much at this point. He's well-balanced between physical and magic power, and the most threatening thing about him is that he uses a lot of status effects.

At one point I nearly lose, but the Phoenix IP effect from the Divine Armor completely saves the day. Whoaaaa. That would have been my first game over.

Winning that fight results in another piece of uber-equipment. All of these Divine items have really useful IP abilities, but since there's only so much IP to go around, I tend to save it for the Phoenix ability.

After each tower, I return to the creepy elder to pick up another of the wonder-twins. These girls give me the willies, and they've each got a raging clue pointing in a different direction. If only they weren't so good at solving mysteries.

The third tower, weirdly enough, lacks a boss. Another weird thing is that the Divine equipment is called "Pearl" equipment in the menu screen. Reminds me of Holy being renamed Pearl in Final Fantasy VI. Why rename Divine gear in one place and not the other, though?

Daos himself appears and knocks everyone out. Is he seriously just going to leave without finishing everyone off? Again? How dumb are these Sinistrals?

Maxim does a ZOMBIE SIT-UP, then HULKS UP. What follows is some kind of weird beam tug-of-war with Daos, during which Dual Blade floats around until it chooses to side with Maxim.

The ultimate weapon is obtained. This is the best weapon in the game, and has an IP effect that pretty much triples Maxim's stats for the rest of a battle.

Daos beats a hasty retreat at this point. Next time on Lufia II, I finish this.

Other Lufia II Posts

Other Lufia Series Games


  1. "Guy uses some powerful mathematical skills" Hahaha

    This is the part of the game that you really want to be playing the European version for. It was great to finally see the shrine proper.

    I like Gratze being out of touch. They're practically ignorant of Sinistrals and get rolled over by heroes. It's great. Like Freeza in Movie 12.

    I guess the writers never got around the problem of "how do the heroes survive getting owned by the bad guys this time?"

  2. Thanks for explaining the puzzle. I can't remember it but I'm proud of you getting through it.

    I agree with you on the mermaid and imperial towns being underutilized. Games need to be more multicultural, but it's difficult for people who don't have multicultural experiences themselves to write interactions like that.

    "Not thrilled that Dual Blade seems to like Maxim, Daos rants and raves while the glitch consumes him." This...this is an awesome image. I remember my emulator having trouble running this game sometimes too.

    "Overall, the Gratze Empire is over in about 15 minutes." I too think they ran low on development time. Also agree this should've been earlier, because having notched the plot up to a level of such intensity royal hijinks feel kind of passe here.

    I kind of get why Daos enjoys lording his power over everyone, now that I know more about politics.

    The prince inside the tank is so kawaii.

    I remember Narvick too. With this music, and the mystics. It's a perfect Last Town in a way most games don't manage.

    Amon's design here is way different than in Lufia 2 but really cool. It distinguishes him from Daos more.

    1. Gratze is a lot like the SoM Empire, it's like the big piece of the game that got jettisoned into space.

      In Lufia 2's case it feels like there's a lot of story missing there. In Mana's case it feels like there are bosses/weapon orbs AND story missing. I feel like the whole Empire part of the game could have been great, with Fanha and Sheex playing more of a role, the Empire getting fleshed out a bit, Geshtar's descent to zombie-ness... as it is, these guys appearing at the Grand Palace was, aside from Geshtar, a weird out-of-nowhere scene that felt like episode 10 of a series we hadn't been watching.

  3. One of the greatest RPG's ever! :)