Lufia & the Fortress of Doom

In case you haven’t had enough of 16-bit console RPGs, here’s another!

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Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ve come to enjoy many of the classic RPGs of the era, despite never having a Super Nintendo growing up (I was fortunate enough to grab a TurboGrafx-16 back in those days, although not quite fortunate enough to acquire the CD attachment with which I could’ve further damaged myself playing Ys Book I & II for hours on end). It’s unfortunate really, as such games require a fair deal of time investment to get through, whereas work and borderline alcoholism have severely limited my ability to focus on extracurricular activities over the years.

But I digress.

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Lufia & the Fortress of Doom takes the standard ’90s RPG formula and more or less gives it right back to you without trying too hard. Linear storyline taking place in a fantasy setting? Check. Endless random encounters and turn-based combat? Also check. Add your typical character and inventory management as well, and you’ve got yourself a game! SHIP IT!!

So, now wait a sec, you might be thinking, “Well, most Final Fantasy games do about the same, so what makes them ROCK YOU LIKE A HURRICANE in a manner dissimilar to Lufia?” While I can’t really vouch for the power of the Scorpions delivered in video-game form, I’ll try to play along…

For starters, the storyline is fairly weak. In a gist, a group of “evil beings” that were thought to have been defeated nearly a century earlier seem to be making a comeback, and—brace yourself—they want to destroy everything. Not really sure why; it’s just their thing. Either way, the main character ends up being the one who has to venture out to save the world, along with his stalwart party of companions. Now, I may be able to forgive a generic storyline (which is often the case with most video games), but the dialog was so awkward and painful that I almost tried to locate the Japanese version just so I wouldn’t understand what was going on (fortunately, exhaustion and alcohol eventually took care of that issue).

EEEEVVVVIIIIIILLLLL!!!
EEEEVVVVIIIIIILLLLL!!!

Combat isn’t too special, either. Everyone takes turns attacking, casting spells, defending, or using items. Encounters are, for the most part, random, so moments when you’re trying to get somewhere so you can save the game and switch the TV to America’s Next Top Model before it starts can be a bit frustrating when you’re interrupted every now and then by an angry bowl of Jell-O trying to pick a fight.

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I mean, I didn’t completely hate this game. It’s effective enough as a time waster. You can do better with a console RPG, though. You can also do much worse.

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Dragon View

DID YOU KNOW that Dragon View for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System utilises MODE 7 GRAPHICS?! Do you even know what Mode 7 means?! Neither do I, but I’ve heard it’s in Mario Kart and it’s probably the menace behind this ugly-ass overworld as well.

U-G-L-Y, you ain't got no alibi!  Yo' ugly!
You ain’t got no alibi!

It just goes to show that after 15+ years, game developers still haven’t figured out that overworlds suck and get in the way of, you know, PLAYING THE ACTUAL GAME. The Mode 7 sections of Dragon View are probably only there so that Kemco could advertise it on the box art, and really only serve as a vehicle for getting from level to level (it’s only appropriate then, that when I collided with a shrub next to a doorway, I had to reverse out, steer, and drive back in as if parking a bus).  As I drove my magic bus through fields of green, watching poorly redrawn sprites blink in and out of the frame, seeing enemies flutter towards me like spotted silver clouds, I thought to myself, perhaps this is the ‘dragon view’. Perhaps this is how a dragon views his world; here and gone in the blink of an eye; his enemies reduced to tiny, silver clouds.

If there's one positive thing about my overworld experience, it's that I found a 3D Tri-force on the ground, which will please Zelda fans to no end (OMG 3D Zelda before Zelda 64!!!).
If there’s one positive thing about my overworld experience, it’s that I found a 3D Triforce on the ground, which will please Zelda fans to no end.

When I hit a silver cloud, I got a taste of the real game. And that is, side-scrolling slash ’em up (slmup) action. It was kind of like bullfighting once I’d worked out the patterns.  Slash them front on, move out of their path, let them charge like a moron, then get behind them now that they’re facing the wrong way and stab them in the back like the yellow-bellied coward I am. These encounters are good for level-grinding, which I needed to do to stop dying in the actual game. Thing is, I could avoid them altogether by simply driving around the silver clouds.

When I wasn’t getting lost or killed in the overworld, I was speaking with villagers in a strange narrated format (“a blessing upon your house, sire”, he said, “and upon your children, and your children’s children”) and doing fetch-quests for them.  Then I’d get a priest to record my valiant deeds [save game] and trudge my way through the overworld again to find whatever damned thing I was supposed to find, and bring it back.  One such example was having to go to Tylon’s storeroom (which is a cave filled with demons and A GIANT SCORPION) across the other side of the overworld to get him some more dynamite, so that he could make some more bombs for me, so that I could blow up some fallen rocks, so that a lady could get home via Galys Pass.  Now, if you hear your grandparents jabber on about how they had to walk 50 miles to school everyday barefoot in the winter snow, you can tell them to shut their damn faces.  Here’s why:

This is "on the way home" for your typical Dragon View shopkeeper.
This is “on the way home” for your typical Dragon View shopkeeper.

Notice the falling rocks, the craggy cliff face and the skeleton wedged under a rock! Hot-damn this game is hardcore.  More hardcore than your grandma, bitches.