Lufia and the Fortress of Doom is a traditional RPG, published and developed by Taito right in the middle of the 16-Bit era, said by some to be the Silver Age of domestic RPGs. Like many RPGs, Lufia has both medieval and futuristic cultural elements.
When the game begins, the player is in control of an extremely powerful team consisting of 4 heroes: the knight Maxim, a warrior named Guy, Selan the Mage, and Artea, an Elf and expert of archery. These 4, who were said to be the world’s strongest heroes, had just arrived on Doom Island to stop the 4 evil Sinistrals from destroying their world. Maxim and his partners travel through this short dungeon searching for the top floor, where the Sinistrals are. Along the way, these heroes easily dispose of powerful looking monsters. When they reach the top, there are 4 boss fights, none of which are very difficult. The battles start with Gades, the Sinistral of Destruction, followed by Amon of Terror, Erim, mistress of Death, and finally the boss Sinistral, Daos, lord of Chaos. After the battles are over, the fortress begins to fall apart, and the heroes become separated. As a result, it remains a mystery as to whether or not everyone escaped alive. The purpose of this opening scene is to introduce the player to the game’s battle system, spells, and items, as well as provide the history on which the game is based.
Ninety-nine years later, the world is at peace, and all seems well in Alekia, the town where Maxim’s great-grandson (the player names him) resides. The hero has recently become a knight in the king’s army, and he spends a lot of time with his childhood friend, Lufia. Then, on one seemingly normal day, while Lufia is ready to cook up some pie for her friend, the hero listens to a patron at the inn say something about an unimaginably powerful evil presence at the neighboring kingdom. The young man finds that he has no choice but to skip out on Lufia and go investigate the other town. He was in for a big surprise, one that would forever change life as he knew it…
Lufia uses the tried and true traditional turn based battle system with rounds. Most characters get 1 attack per round, and faster characters always go first. Battles occur somewhat frequently, but not to a tedious extent. Boss fights occur in many places, and they are usually fairly difficult. Regular enemies can also provide decent challenges at times, as some have dangerous attacks. Walking in towns, dungeons, and the world is tile based, where each step moves the party ahead by 1 block on the screen.
Ultimately, the player will control a team of 4 heroes in Lufia. The first hero is Maxim’s descendant. His attack and defense are high, and he can use a few powerful spells, although his MP are limited, so he can’t use his most powerful magic very many times. The second hero to join is Lufia. Lufia has the lowest attack strength, but she has the most MP and best spell repertoire of the team. Aguro, a soldier, joins up fairly early in the game. Aguro has the best attack and defense of the group. He has no MP or spells, and he’s also a little slow. Finally, an elf child named Jerin joins the team part way through the game. Jerin knows many useful healing and auxiliary spells, along with a few offensive spells, and her attack with a bow can hit all the enemies at once, but for less than one of Aguro’s or the Hero’s attacks.
The graphics in Lufia are much like other Super NES games of the time. Lufia’s graphics are an improvement over first generation 16-Bit RPGs, but they’re not up to the quality of late Super NES games. Enemies were done well, and some are very colorful and lifelike. Larger monsters, including bosses, look great, especially the bosses that take up the entire enemy screen by themselves. Special effects for magic are pretty good. The sprites used for the main world, dungeons, and towns are sufficiently large for a 2-D game.
Lufia scores very well in the music department. Music for the battles is great, and the song used for the Fortress of Doom is one the finest I’ve ever encountered in a game. Most of the other songs in Lufia are fairly decent, but I found the 2 aforementioned songs to be the best from this game.
Taito’s translation of Lufia was fairly solid. There were a few places where the dialogue didn’t sound perfect, but it was always understandable. The translation kept the character development intact (assuming the original Japanese text did so too), and almost all items, menus, and monster names were spelled correctly.
Lufia is a fine example of a classic 2-D 16-Bit RPG. There may still be copies lying around, so if you’re looking for an old school style RPG, keep an eye out for it.