The Ultimate Classic RPG Guide for New Gamers: Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals
Lufia: Rise of the Sinistrals
The Lufia franchise was one of those sleepers that truly had the potential to be a hit, but never really got off the ground. However, one soared above all the rest to become the proverbial diamond hidden in the rough. While many hail Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest among the best of the classic RPG franchises, Rise of the Sinistrals has the something special that could have made the series into something truly memorable.
You begin as Maxim, the protagonist who comes from humble beginnings in the recluse village of Elcid. The kind of honest guy who lives virtuously, honestly and might just have been the secret fantasy of every girl in town! One day, after a chance encounter with a mysterious woman known only as Iris, Maxim is convinced that he may really be destined for something greater than he could have ever imagined, and that is natural sword wielding talents may serve a purpose beyond human comprehension. Along the way you'll meet other lovable, quirky, larger than life characters who will tickle your funny bone and tug your heartstrings. Together, our group of warriors will journey, despite hardships, heartbreak and defeat in the hopes of saving life as we know it.
Fighting monsters and exploring gigantic dungeons is a massive part of the game. While battle is your standard turn based style, there are plenty of beautifully drawn spells, cutesie little helpers and interactive menus to keep the boredom at bay. What makes the battle system ahead of its time is that you can choose when you fight enemies. Represented by little sprites on screen, you can dodge, outrun and even stun the creatures trying to put a stop to Maxim and his gang. The only random battles you'll face are actually on the field in between cities. While brawn is important, this game will test your brain power as well. Each cave and tower is littered with mind teasing puzzles and traps that you must solve in order to progress through each level. On more than one occasion I was left scratching my head pondering a puzzle. It sounds a bit annoying but it really helps break up the monster onslaught.
What keeps me coming back to the game, decades later, is the Ancient Cave. At the time it came out, there wasn't a game with a feature like this anywhere in the market. The Ancient Cave is this incredibly randomized level where players test their skills and luck in an all out survival of the fittest. Comprised of 99 levels that change into different layouts every round so that you never play the same map twice. Your team resets to level one and is stripped of all their spells, items and equipment, but mercifully you're not totally helpless. You'll find that treasure chests are strewn everywhere and it won't take long to arm yourselves again. Along the way to the bottom, you'll encounter rare enemies that can't be found anywhere else in the game, and hunt for extra powerful weapons and accessories that will help obliterate your foes. If that's not enough, you're tasked with collecting several special artifacts that will grant bragging rights as the bravest treasure hunter.
The story is absolute gold. It's simple with all the emotional turns that you'd expect. Love, tragedy and betrayal all present themselves in this tale of hope and courage. Games of today have impressive graphics and new aged mechanics that draw attention away from the lack of, or to cover up an underdeveloped story. Most of these classic games shine because they need a strong story to be the forefront grabbing your attention and holding on tight. As underrated and unappreciated as Lufia: Rise of the Sinistrals may be, it will always be on the top of my list thanks to the deep story, lovable characters and intense game play.