What happens when you take one of the best classic game companies and throw them into the RPG arena? Lufia happens. Lufia may not be the best RPG ever, but it definitely offers a new, interesting take on console RPGs and has developed quite a cult following, though typically due to the sequels and prequels rather than the original product.
Available For: SNES
Release Date: 1993
Yes, once again, I’ve seen that a LOT of traffic has been generated by RPGs for 1993, so once again, I’ve hand selected one that isn’t sucky at all to have a go at. Taito isn’t typically known for doing RPGs, with a few rare exceptions. No, more often than not they’re making stuff like Bubble Bobble, Renegade, Operation Wolf, Rastan Saga, Darius, Space Invaders, and various other classics.
One thing I learned while researching Taito a little more was that, like many other classic gaming developers, they’ve been swallowed up by the ever-growing beast that is Square Enix. This doesn’t annoy me, but it is a tad worrying. If you don’t quite understand why, it’s best if you investigate the Square Enix wiki link yourself. Scary stuff if you ask me.
In any case, Lufia. So what is it? What’s it about? Well, the game opens up with the 4 heroes of light…err, just heroes, I guess…raiding the temple of fiends…err, fortress of doom…to defeat the sinistrals once and for all! Allegedly! Really, the story’s not too terribly interesting and very cliche, especially in comparison to other RPGs.
Now, I don’t want to get sidetracked too much here, but effectively this is the weakest of the Lufia titles, which is odd when you think about it because they sequels and prequels all kick ass. And I do mean ALL. The DS one’s a little weak, but it was trying something new and still offered some new things like voiceovers, 3D graphics, action, and so on.
Where it wins is in terms of simplicity and the combat engine. Remember that in RPGs while the story still does matter, what you’re going to be doing 80% of the time, if not greater, is fighting. This doesn’t always apply to newer RPGs, but especially with classic RPGs, oh yeah. All the time. So even if the story and characters suck out loud, what it really boils down to is keeping the player focused, especially when performing one of the more tired, boring, and repetitive tasks of the game (fighting).
Lufia’s battle system is interesting because it’s based around menues, yes, but they’re accessed super quick because you simply press in different directions to access different menues. The battle layout is simple and easy to understand, though sometimes the spells and overall spell effectiveness are kinda vague until you experiment with them a bit.
There isn’t too much more to say than it has good music, graphics, and design overall. It’s not boring, but nothing truly significant pops to mind as far as the plot or characters. I know there are some major twists that occur somewhat late in the game, but a few of them are fairly predictable. Again, the game is relatively cliche overall, so don’t expect anything mind blowing from the story.
As far as why you should play it, well…it’s pretty simple. Let me put it this way. It’s an RPG kids can play. On top of that, it’s not overly hard, has a relatively simple interface all around, doesn’t require too terribly much grinding, and it’s a good first step forward for a series that is ultimately far better than the original product. Seriously, once Natsume took over, this shit skyrocketed.
And that’s not to say Taito wasn’t the right company for the job. Just like Capcom and a few others, they wanted to dip into the RPG realm which, by that point, was held mostly by a select few companies exclusively. And really, that makes sense because RPGs simply weren’t that popular to the American audience back then. Why take an hour or so to grind in Final Fantasy 6 when you can sit down and blow shit up in Contra 3?
When all’s said and done, Lufia isn’t the best RPG ever, but it deserves to be checked out. I mean, I guess. There’s nothing technically wrong with it other than it just being a little bland. It’s a fun little game that doesn’t do anything new, but doesn’t suck either. You already know what I think about Lufia 2 and Lufia – The Legend Returns, so I’d recommend checking this one out just to see how it all started.