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Lufia & the Fortress of Doom, known as Estpolis Denki (エストポリス伝記, officially translated Biography of Estpolis) in Japan, is an RPG developed by Neverland and published by Taito in 1993, for the Super Nintendo. It is the first title in the Lufia series of video games and the only game from the series released under the Taito label in North America.
The story of Lufia & the Fortress of Doom begins, in accordance with an ancient prophecy of the Lufia world, with a massive floating island with a large castle located on it emerging into the sky one dark day. Dubbed the "Fortress of Doom", this castle served as the base of operations for a group of all-powerful beings known as the Sinistrals, who planned to use their strength to bring the world to its knees.
In response, the people sent four of their bravest warriors: Maxim, Selan (Serena in Estopolis Denki), Artea (Arty in Estopolis Denki), and Guy, to infiltrate the dark fortress and destroy the Sinistrals before they could do any harm. The game begins with the player controlling these characters as they prepare to engage the Sinistrals, and eventually defeat them. However, after the battle, the fortress begins to collapse, with Maxim and Selan becoming trapped on the other side of a deep chasm that formed when the Sinistral throne room split apart. Unable to teleport them to safety, Artea and Guy left the falling island alone, and their trapped allies apparently perished when it crashed into the earth below.
Peace reigns for ninety years after the heroes' encounter with the Sinistrals, and the actual game begins nine years after that. The story is told from the perspective of a red-haired boy the player is in charge of naming, and along the way he gets caught up in a struggle to save the world once again from the newly emerged Sinistral army.
Lufia & the Fortress of Doom plays much like a traditional RPG and features 2D character sprites and environments. The player advances the story by travelling through several harsh dungeons, encountering monsters along the way. These battles occur randomly (every few steps or so) or in scripted situations, and winning them yields experience points that go towards leveling up the characters, giving them access to new abilities and making them stronger in the process. The battles themselves take place from a first-person perspective, and require the player to use each character's strengths, such as physical attacks or magic use, as in many other mainstream RPGs.
An interesting quirk in the battle system, reminiscent of older RPGs like the original Final Fantasy, makes it such that if you order two characters to attack a particular enemy, and the first character defeats the enemy, the second character's attack will still target the defeated enemy and thus miss. Thus foresight is required to make sure that no characters' battle moves are wasted, unlike other RPGs, where other enemies will be targeted if the intended enemy has already been defeated.
New equipment and restorative items are purchased from vendors in various towns, or found in chests scattered throughout the world. The player's progress is saved in one of three available slots on the cartridge's built-in battery back-up system by speaking to a priest at a church found in most towns.
- "The Hero"
- The primary character of the story that the player gets to name. He grew up in a small town of Alekia and was raised by a man named Roman, a friend of his father who had died in a battle long ago. Very skilled in swordplay, The Hero prefers to fight in close quarters, and wears heavy armor, though he does have some degree of magical skill, usually healing and defense spells. He is said to be a descendant of the great hero Maxim who vanquished the Sinistrals and saved the world.
- The Hero's best friend who he's known since childhood. She is bossy, but proficient in spellcasting. She has a romantic interest in The Hero and helps him in any way she can. She fights with wands and other lightweight weapons such as flails and even frying pans. Lufia utilizes Thunder, Water and Explosion magic as well numerous support spells.
- Leader of the army of the nation of Lorbenia, Aguro is a hardened warrior who is interested in the Hero's fighting ability. Having no skill in magic, he instead relies on his brute strength and skill with swords, axes and lances. He, like the Hero, can equip heavy armor to increase his defense.
- A half-elf who, because of her heritage, has an increased lifespan and actually appears younger than she is. Agile, and good with magic, Jerin prefers to fight at a distance, using either a bow and arrow or wands in combat. She is proficient with Fire and Ice magic and is a master of healing.
At the start of the game (introduction):
- The primary character in the prequel to Lufia Fortress of Doom (Lufia Rise of the Sinistrals). His past is much like "The Hero"'s present with certain variations. Maxim is in love with Selan and have a baby together named Jeros before they went to Doom Island to battle the Sinistrals. Selan becomes deaf and the power of the sinistrals ruptures her and she dies. Maxim brings down Doom Island into a lake and faints, plummeting to his death joining Selan as a "spirit". Jeros senses the spirits of Maxim and Selan.
- Maxim's wife, Selan was a champion of her own home-town prior to Maxim meeting her and she was the master combat trainer there. Selan didn't trust Maxim but through orders of Selan's king to work with Maxim she learned to trust him. At first Selan wanted to be like Maxim but later learned that what she wanted was to be with Maxim. Selan and Maxim got married and Selan was dismissed of her training instructor duties to be with Maxim. Selan is a very powerful magic user but is very weak with melee attacks.
- Guy is a long-term friend of Maxim who has no knowledge of magic himself but is very strong (Like Aguro).
- An elf who does weaker attacks but attacks everyone and has a decent amount of magic. Artea was introduced to Maxim through another elf named Milka because Milka stole the plans to an airship that Maxim needed to get onto Doom Island. Milka stole the plans because constructing the air ship in Dr. Lexis Shaia's laboratory would be polluting the waters. Artea lives through both comings of the Sinistrals due to the lifespan of an elf.
- The Sinistrals
- A group of four powerful, god-like warriors who plan on taking over the world. From their floating Fortress of Doom, they gathered their strength, only to be defeated by Maxim and his friends years ago. Their ranks include Gades, Master of Destruction, an over-bearing and proud warrior clad in dark armor; Amon, Master of Chaos, a resourceful man who wears gold armor and wields a trident; Erim, Mistress of Death, who can revive any of her brothers if they fall in combat; and Daos, Master of Terror, their leader, an incredibly powerful sorcerer. However due to a mistake, in the English version Daos and Amon have their titles reversed. Daos is the Master of Chaos (Infernos in the Dutch Version), while Amon is the Master of Terror. This is the only game in the series where this localization error occurs.
Taito originally planned to release a port of Lufia & the Fortress of Doom to the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive, but cancelled the project sometime in its development. At least two full-page advertisements were made in US magazines, the second one announcing a delay to spring 1995, with the tagline "It´s worth the wait".
The game has received mixed reviews since its initial release. Some people reflect on it fondly for its story and characters, others criticize it as being inferior to other console RPGs of that era such as Secret of Mana or the Final Fantasy titles. Game Rankings gives it a score of 71 out of a possible 100 by averaging the ratings of several online sources.
- ^"GameRankings Lufia & the Fortress of Doom Review". Game Rankings. 2005. Last accessed May 9, 2005.
- ^"Lufia & the Fortress of Doom Turns Ten". Forfeit Island. 2003. Last accessed May 9, 2005.
- Lufia & the Fortress of Doom at MobyGames
- Lufia World Lufia & the Fortress of Doom Section at GameSpy.com
- Lufia dot Net
- AncientCave.com - a Lufia Fansite
- Lufia Wiki