Sunday, December 7, 2014

Lufia: The Legend Returns (Game Boy Color, 2001)

Five years after Lufia 2, we finally got the third installment in this series. Originally, this was supposed to be a Playstation 1 game. One can only imagine the possibilities there. It would have likely been much more like the previous games, and perhaps we would have found out what the deal was with Arek. Instead, for various reasons we got a portable Lufia 3 for the Game Boy Color, and... it isn't very good. It certainly isn't at the level of the previous games, though it gets decent enough to be considered passable for a portable RPG.

The system downgrade may have had a negative effect on the design team's inspiration, as the design of this game seems like it was meant for a series gaiden rather than the next numbered installment; the developers even avoided putting a "3" in the official title.

This game takes place a hundred years after Lufia 1, and two hundred years after Lufia 2. Let's get to it.

The hero. This is a terrible name, and won't do at all. He needs a manly name, and since "Cockburn" is too many letters, I'll go with...

...this EXTRA-manly name. Now the hero is 100% PURE RUDO.

The story begins with a sassy blue-haired lady arriving somewhere on a boat. This is Seena, the second of the two main characters in the game.

That's right, her name is Seena. THE CHAMP! IS! HERE!

Unfortunately, let the record show that Seena completely sucks at being a relatable person:

Basically, Seena is a whore.

"And I want none of what she's sellin."

Here's the official character artwork of Seena. She seems happy and nice in this shot, rather than the wildly-immature harpy that her character actually is.

Seena is looking for a hero, and had a vision that he was here while she was presumably doing LSD. She can't find him, so she sits down and starts doing what all women do when they're bored.

Rudo happens along and is SHOCKED. He's right, female masturbation often causes serious injury to passerby.

Seena doesn't think much of our hero, so she waves her hand in front of her face and vanishes. Uh...okay then.

Now I control Rudo. Know why they call him Rudo? Because he's bad. Bad to the bone. B-b-b-b-b-bad. He's got Maxim's DNA, so he might just roll into Gratze and demand their clothes, their boots, and their tank.

I grab the first heal spell for our hero and set out for some portable-style grinding.

Rudo is rough, tough, and cruising for a bruising. Time to gain some levels fighting clitorii on the overworld.

That's right. While these games usually start you off fighting against breast implants, this time the hero must deal with dastardly clitorii.

I get to level 6 in the first area before I decide to move on. Why did I do this? The clitorii always attack one at a time, always go second, and can be one-rounded. In other words, you can battle them indefinitely without ever taking damage. It's a prime leveling opportunity right out of the gate as it presents no possible way to actually die whatsoever. It's like the first 80 levels of World of Warcraft.

I'd say the fact that it's called THE TOWER OF DEATH should be a giveaway that the place isn't on the up-and-up.

Meanwhile, in said tower, bad tidings are going on. Are the Sinistrals back? It would be about that time of the century. The Sinistrals are like the period of the universe.

Rudo arrives in the next town just as it gets struck by a huge bolt of light from the nearby tower. Final Fantasy VI did it first.

Rudo swings into action to rescue a girl from a burning building, because that's how the descendants of Maxim do.

With the girl saved from the... wait a minute, FFVI did this too! Right after the other thing!

Rudo encounters Seena again, and she makes an inappropriate request. I don't even know you, lady!

Unfortunately, Rudo left his balls in his purse, because he gets to it. Dude. Just... dude.

The next morning, Seena finally introduces herself.

" harem."

Get out of there, Rudo! She wants to turn you into a harem boy!

Our hero finds a note on Seena. Not only is she a despicable person, she's also dangerous. This is just great.

She joins the group. It's fitting that she's holding a ball, since she might as well have a vicegrip on Rudo's balls from here on out.

I missed out on doing the Lufia 2 style tutorial dungeon, and now this guy won't let me in. WTF! I want to do newbie stuff!

Moving on to the Tower of Death, I discover that the dungeons are full of little switches that you have to constantly hit to make new hallways appear. The dungeons are fully randomized, and rely on being multi-floor mazes to present a challenge. This is nowhere near as fun or interesting as the carefully thought-out, puzzle-filled dungeons of the previous game, to say the least.

The game continually has you return to the Tower of Death as the game goes on, each time climbing a bit higher to advance the story. It's as tedious as it sounds.

Moving on, I'm not crazy about the skill-learning system in this game. Spells are fine, you buy them in shops and then you can use them. Skills, though, are reliant on finding these Ancient Text things. They're a whole other issue, because... can only learn them if characters have the right color next to their name and the right amount of S.F. points next to that. You get more S.F. points by winning battles. It's fairly simple, but it's still more complicated than it should be for learning a measily skill.

These randomly spawn in random chests in the early-game dungeons. They're completely necessary to win the first big optional fight of the game, which I'm going to try to do this time. Time for some...


It takes a while for non-slime enemies to start showing up, weirdly enough. By now Rudo is pretty OP from my initial grindfest, allowing Seena to gain levels easily.

You may notice that there are nine character slots onscreen. That's right, you can bring up to nine characters into battle in this game. Only the three in front are engaged at any particular time, though; the others move up as rotated or when someone in front of them falls. It's unique, I'll give it that.

It takes a little while, but now I have TWO of these! ...this process was very tedious, but at least it's optional. I complained about how there were only four different dungeon types repeated endlessly in the previous game... well, this one is even worse, as nearly all the dungeons are indistinguishable from one another.

Our heroes arrive at a mysterious throne. Who is this evil mastermind?


::backs away, falling on the floor::


Frue destruction, eh? Well, the tension in the air is dispelled somewhat at least.

Gades proceeds to BLOW UP HIS OWN DUNGEON just to show us how strong he is.



I think it might already be time for me to back away from this game slowly.

::backs away slowly::

Because... everyone here is apparently ten years old?

Good God, this game is awful so far.

I UNLEASH HI-BOMBS, doing significant damage. Unfortunately, two of them aren't enough to take this guy down by any means.

The smoke clears, and Gades proceeds to WHOOP THEIR ASSES. As is tradition.

Seena blames Rudo for the crushing loss. This is what the series has become: A bunch of ten year olds having a schoolyard fight.

No kidding, dude. No kidding.

Now, at this point, I could continue on with the story, or... I could try to defeat Gades.

HHH: "Come on, man! Just move on with the story! You don't have to win this fight. There are plenty of other challenging fights in the game! Beating Gades isn't necessary!"

And if I only could...

Make a deal with God!

And get him to swap our places...

Be running up that road. Running up that hill.

Running up that building.

If I only could, oh.

"There are plenty of other battles in this game! Beating Gades is unnecessary!"

Not for me.


...Not for me.


  1. You do the "dungeon advancement a little bit more every game" thing as well in Phantom Hourglass. It's not AS tedious because Phantom Hourglass is actually pretty fun, and if I remember correctly the dungeon changes a bit each time.

    Wait, I must be confused. You said you have to climb the tower of death a bit each time to advance the story, but Gades BLEW IT UP! WTF! You said all the dungeons are indistinguishable, so did that dungeon just LOOK like the tower of death?

    I don't know why, but there's something about the gate to the tutorial dungeon that makes it look as if it's terrible at keeping others out. I can't put my finger on it, though...oh, right! There's no top so you could conceivably just climb over it. Yeah, nice security.

    And finally, seriously?! No battle backgrounds? Was it to save space? Cause if not, that is the epitome of laziness.

    1. Oh yeah, I heard about the dungeon in Phantom Hourglass that does that. I haven't played PH yet (I'm several Zeldas behind, only caught up to 2005 or so) but I'm looking forward to it.

      I actually played this game a while ago and am only now getting around to doing posts for it, so I can't remember what the deal is with the towers. If I remember right, Gades only blows up one part of the tower. As in, you walk through that room to get to further parts. It looks destroyed, but then the next floor is fine. ...If I remember right.

      Blank battle backgrounds were pretty normal for Game Boy RPGs... in the early 90's. Given that this game came out in 2001, yeah, it does seem pretty lazy. I still wish this game would have gotten the Playstation release that it was originally intended for. Likely would have been a much better and deeper game rather than just a cash-in / gaiden-type experience where nothing of note really happeens.

      All of that said, compared to the GBA follow up Ruins of Lore, this game might as well be Chrono Trigger. That's right. It'll get worse.

    2. Off the top of my head I can't think of any Game Boy RPGs with battle backgrounds. Some may exist, but the Pokémon games don't, neither do Dragon Warrior II and III. Those are all very late Game Boy games. Oh, Dragon Warrior I did, but that was true of the NES version as well while the sequels also had no background. You just didn't see backgrounds all that much in 8-bit RPGs. Likely for all the technical reasons being 8-bit entails. Definitely not lazy.

  2. This post needs more of the game's awesome intro video, localization problems aside:

    This game likes extraaaaa letters and exclamation marks!!!!!!!!!!!! Suikoden II is another victim of this poor localization bug.

    This game tries to be another Lufia 1 in a lot of ways, and Seena's... conversational issues is their (poor) attempt at another Lufia. Of course there's a difference between having a temper and screaming at people all the time.

    Tower of Death, LOL

    Man though, how rough would it be in a world with actual magic though? "You can use a sword? That's nice, I can set you on fire on a whim. Get to work!"

    The worst part of this game without question is every dungeon being random. There's not a doubt in my mind that it was either random dungeons or no game at all, but man.

    By far the BEST part of the game though is the battle system, with both the 9 character grid and the color element as well. I haven't seen anything else quite like it.

    I'd say the GBA game is more what /I/ would call frue destruction.

    Back in the day having four different dungeon types was pretty darn good. I never even thought about it, really. I guess FF6 having such variety was pretty unappreciated back in the day by me, and likely the reason why that cart is filled to the brim.

  3. Because this game is a lot worse there's less tension about reading it and it's kind of breezy. I'll tell you what, that conversation between Rudo, Seena, and Gades was really funny. I'm getting an MST3K or Fanfic vibe from this title. Frue Destruction indeed.

    Been a long time since I saw Ye Olde GBC Color Scheme, too.

    I'll be with Brayn in being curious about how the color system works in this game! The "next man up!" 9-person team makes sense too.

    The Sinistrals and their effect on human society makes me think...the existence of monsters makes fighting way more important in these game universes, but would it also affect human personalities by making everyone more violent? Well maybe it'd just make everyone more like Americans...