Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Lufia: Ruins of Lore (Game Boy Advance, 2003)

For this game, I'll be doing a No Pants Playthrough. I have to do something exciting, because trying to enjoy this game on its own is about as impossible as Shaquille O'Neal fitting inside of a condom.

This takes place twenty years after Lufia II. That's right, it's another prequel to the original game. But since it has little to nothing to do with the rest of the series, it might as well be a prequel to Contra.

As this is a Game Boy Advance title, the graphics are a huge step up from Lufia III. Huge. This gave me the early impression that this game would be better than the mediocre previous game.

Parcelyte! Yep, it's Lufia II's world. At least, the names indicate as much. The location appearances are off, though.

So, is this relatively badass-looking spiky-haired jerk the main character? Unfortunately, no. That honor goes to...

...this guy. I don't know what's wrong with him.

I rename him to something a little more fitting. "Eldin" sounds like it was generated by an AD&D manual for a wise sage.

...which this guy isn't.

Stuff happens in Parcelyte and I quickly get sent to a nearby cave. Cool, we're getting right into the action. The spiky haired jerk (Torma) joins RVD for this and is more powerful from the get-go, immediately neutering the hero a bit. I hate when games do that.

We battle slimes! What thrilling action! Look at Torma stealing RVD's heat.

Our heroes stumble upon a monolith with a hole in it. Yeah, I'll bet RVD has something that fits in it.

He's a mute, so this is all we get as he inserts the key into the stone. I don't even.

Ding! Level 2!

"The girl's got an afro bush! We've lost good men in there!"

Yeah dude! Because when I see a coffin, the first thing I want to do is open it up!

Inside we find...


Nope, it's just the first boss: Goblin. Seriously, Goblin. What would be a generic early-game foe in any other RPG is our first boss here. What's the next boss going to be? "Orc"?

Upon returning victorious to Parcelyte, our heroes are rewarded by being showered with both gold and 'hos.

Well, no. They got "Hunter Licenses", whatever that means. In the rest of this series I gathered like-minded warriors to battle an existential threat to world peace. In this game... I'm doing menial tasks to get the equivalent of scout badges.

I have no idea what the point of this journey is. Aside from the lack of threats, there has been a lack of even so much as problems. It's just "Let's go get hunter licenses! Cool, now let's walk to the next town, which the way to is suddenly open!"

I really like the graphics, at least. Check out the fields in this battle scene as we fight... MORE SLIMES. I'd like to know why the slime population is so out of control in these games.

I get a flashback to a much better game, Secret of Mana, when I discover that Torma can whip his way across gaps if there's a post handy. Unfortunately, this also reminds me of what I COULD be playing right now instead of playing this turd.

The grasslands go on...and on, as our heroes do battle with a foomy. A foomy named Mousse! What the hell? I'm so confused! Mousse in the third game wasn't a foomy!

Finally, I get to the end of the grasslands dungeon. Yes, this was a dungeon...this game has a habit of giving you confusing-as-hell outdoor dungeons as much as possible. They're much worse than your typical dungeons because they don't have clear walls. Half the time you have to run behind a tree to proceed, miss it, and roam around aimlessly for ten minutes until you come back to it.

In any case, this huge spiderweb doesn't bode well.

Second boss: Spider! My God! It's huge!

.....Does this game have the worst bosses ever or what? Think of how much badder-ass the tarantula boss earlier in the series was. That thing kicked my ass. This one, however, just uses regular attacks and nothing else. So did Goblin, actually. No strategy here, just wail away and heal every couple turns.

Good luck figuring out who to heal, though. They made the HP meters transparent.

Well, there's one thing I won't be doing in this game... actually, I'd be shocked if they actually bothered to put it into the game in any kind of fully-realized form. It's more likely to be a smaller, neutered version of the one we know. Much like the bosses...and the battle mechanics...and the world

Alright, alright, let's move on.

The men in this town are all infatuated with this one woman who dances at the local club. Of course, they can't just admire her... they have to be insanely creepy about it.

::holds up a cross:: NO! NO!!!!

Lufia III flashbacks aside, so far I have actually enjoyed this more than Lufia III. It's more colorful, the dungeons aren't random, and it simply flows better. That said, overall the game is far worse from here on out. The story is inane, there aren't any puzzles, and it seems more like a poor man's Lunar game than a Lufia game.

There are plenty of callbacks to earlier games in the series, or at least Lufia II. Not that it matters much, because it comes across as hollow. "Look, we mentioned something that everyone liked back in the day!"

Here's a kindly old lady who informs our heroes that she was once hot. That's an odd thing to tell a couple of strange young men who wandered into your home, but things get even stranger when...

...what in the hell?

 What? Why? WHY? NO! All of my heroes are dead!

Here's the overworld map. It's segmented, like Romancing SaGa III. I have yet to see another game do this, probably because it's a terrible idea. Nothing ends up lining up right, there's little sense of continuity, and so forth.

I like this town. It's a desert bazaar of sorts. Of course, the game doesn't do anything with such a cool setting, but at least it's nice to look at.

At this point, I get access to class changes. This is new for the series. Now, before you get excited at the awesomeness that class changes usually involve, let me explain. First off, these classes are extremely simplified. Second, they aren't exactly appealing, and seem to largely overlap each other in purpose... which defeats a lot of the point of classes.

There are six standard classes and four higher classes that you can get into after mastering different combinations of the first six.

Swordsman and Fighter are the two melee DPS classes. Not much difference between them. Thief is the utility class that has weaker DPS, but learns the useful Escape skill. The casters include Priest (heals, yo), Wizard (attack spells), and Mage. That last one is an oddball. They get attack spells, but not as many as the Wizard, and they have some miscellaneous spells thrown in.

Now for the issues. The classes are simplified, as I mentioned. What this means is that they generally only get a few abilities total, and out of those few abilities you might use one or two of them regularly.

Then there's the problem of only getting three characters who can class change. The fourth slot is reserved for guest characters, and they can't change. Having a mere three party members to play around with classes is unfortunate, as these kinds of games are a lot more fun with four. One is invariably stuck being a healer, so really you've got two to work with. This drove me nuts when I played Final Fantasy: Four Heroes of Light, as the first half of the game is spent in two-person parties. The much-touted return of the class system was basically nullified as you needed a healer and someone who could take hits up front. No chance to experiment or play around with different combinations, and it was mind-boggling. That game got better later on, but I digress.

ProTip: Priests learn the super-useful Heal after a couple of battles. It's weak, but it makes for excellent post-battle recovery throughout the game. Characters keep whatever they learn regardless of class, so it's good to make both of these guys Priests for a few battles just to get Heal on them. After that, turn them into their real classes.

In my case, playing somewhat blind as to the abilities of the classes, I make RVD a Swordsman and Torma a Fighter. We'll see how that works out.

This cliche priestess is Rubius, the useless character du jour. She starts tagging along with our heroes to give them something resembling a goal, but she never fights or anything. That would be crazy!

The next dungeon is a pirate ship. It's probably the best dungeon in the game... because it's about two minutes long.

Next up, I get to play errand boy and run letters back and forth between the dancing girl and one of her admirers. Lufia: Ruins of Lore!

The admirer guy is only mildly-creepy, as I recall that her name is indeed Marin. No relation to Link's Awakening. So... why am I running errands for this douchebag?

Next up, Rubius leads us to a tower. Could there be a Sinistral atop it? Don't bet on it, given that this is 20 years after Lufia II. This game also feels the need to be as boring as possible at all times, so don't get your hopes up for anything exciting to happen.



  1. I lost it on the first line about Shaq!

  2. ::holds up a cross::

    The graphics really were rather nice, the game had a number of visual similarities to Lufia 2. It's all a damn trick, though.

    I don't know who is less cool, this game's hero or Brave Story's.

    I don't really mind being less powerful, gives you something to grow into, like the beginning of Mega Man X, comparing him to Zero. The other route is to make you super badass at the start, like Cecil in FF4.

    I think there's some potential in a less intense world, in this particular case this world has earned the peace from your exploits in Lufia 2. However this game sucks ass either way.

    The only really positive thing to come from this game is that it finally broke me from having to play sequels, which would become very useful when the Final Fantasy 13s came out.

    1. I'm not familiar with Brave Story or its hero.

      LOL, Torma is not Zero in any way. He has like 2 HP more than the hero, which serves no purpose except to make you wonder why they did that.

    2. Premium Shaq Joke.
      Naming -this- hero RVD made these mails significantly better.
      Not sure I'll have a lot to say about these. It looks like the guys who made this just looked at pictures of the original, not even playing it first, and then did their own thing. I hope they went on to get better at their jobs.
      The animated gif of the wrestling ladies here is terrific.
      Excellent use of guest stars in this mail; it's good to see The Edge back to work.