Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Console RPGs

Last month was the first time I've played the classic SNES RPG, Lufia and the Fortress of Doom. It had a solid design: gameplay was enjoyable if not a bit simpler than most of its contemporaries, graphics was sufficient and I guess is quite standard for early games on the SNES (the cutesy art style is a plus as well), and the soundtrack evoked feelings of heroism, plunging the listener into a world filled with magic, mayhem, and monsters.

The story few twists to vary the standard fantasy console RPG fare, but all told, in its time, the game would have stood up to other RPGs (particularly the fan-favorite Final Fantasy IV to VI which were also first released on the SNES). Lufia's epic story opens up with the final battle of Doom Island: the great hero Maxim, his wife Selan, the warrior Guy, and the elf Artea. Together the four friends took the fight into the bowels of the Fortress of Doom and confronted the four Sinistrals, evil beings of god-like power. As the battle ended, the Fortress collapsed around them and Doom Island crashed into the oceans. Artea and Guy were the only ones to make it out, Maxim having chosen to stay by his wife's side. Then, the game fast-forwards almost a hundred years into the future and the new hero, a descendant of Maxim, starts his epic journey.

The dungeons were quite old school and featured extensive twists and turns. Enemies often attacked, but the combat is usually quick: most of the time taking but 2 or 3 rounds of Lufia's turn-based system. Boss battles are a different matter all together, as they will surely wipe-out an ill-prepared party of adventurers which has not leveled up sufficiently. Most of the quests merely involved travelling to the next town and dungeon, but at several points you'd have to backtrack to a previous town to complete a quest.

Lufia and the Fortress of Doom is a game that you should have played if you fancy yourself a fan of console RPGs. For me, it handles its own respectively enough even when confronted with the other "classics" that always spring to mind when SNES RPGs are talked about: Breath of Fire I and II, Chrono Trigger, the Dragon Quest series, and the Final Fantasy series. Here's a summary of Lufia's Fudge ratings. The ratings are based on my feeling that RPGs should have a top-notch story and/or gameplay first and foremost, rather than breath-taking graphics (which, if good, does add more enjoyment, but cannot really help improve poor story or gameplay).

Lufia and the Fortress of Doom: Great Story, Great Gameplay, Great Graphics.
(rated according to Fudge's seven-scale system going from Terrible [-3] to Superb [+3])