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Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals

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Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals, known as Estpolis Denki II (エストポリス伝記II?, officially translated Biography of Estpolis II[1]) in Japan, and as simply Lufia in Europe and Australia, is an RPG game with puzzle elements developed by Neverland and published in Japan in 1995 by Taito, and in North America and Europe in 1996 by Natsume and Nintendo respectively, for the Super Nintendo video game console.

The game is a prequel to Lufia & the Fortress of Doom. It follows the story of the first main character's ancestor, Maxim, and explains the origins of the war between mankind and a group of superhumans called the Sinistrals. Lufia II made a number of changes from the first game. Dungeons no longer have random encounters and there are hundreds of puzzles throughout the game, ranging from simple to extremely challenging. It also introduced new skills, such as a variety of weapons that could be used to stun monsters or solve puzzles, and IP attacks. In 2009, Square Enix announced a re-imagining of the original game titled Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals.

Plot

Setting

The story is centered around the hero Maxim, a swordsman from the town of Elcid who is born with a natural ability to fight and is destined to destroy the Sinistrals. Throughout his journey, he meets other warriors who are able to confront the Sinistrals as well. The game is a prequel to Lufia & the Fortress of Doom, set ninety-nine years before it, telling the story of how the Sinistrals first appeared in the world and the battles fought against them.

Characters

The game’s protagonist is Maxim, a talented swordsman from the town of Elcid. Little about his past is mentioned in the game, but the game begins to follow him when a mysterious woman named Iris tells him that he is to go on a journey.

Throughout the game, Maxim is joined by other talented warriors or 'Heroes of Legend' such as Tia, his childhood friend, who has a romantic interest in Maxim; Guy, a wandering warrior who joins Maxim after he rescued his sister; Dekar, the powerful bodyguard of Prince Alex of Bound Kingdom; Lexis, a brilliant inventor; Artea, an elven bowman; and Selan, commander of the Parcelyte army and Maxim’s wife.

The game’s antagonists are the Sinistrals, a group of four godlike beings bent on world domination. They are led by Daos, the Sinistral of Terror, who seeks an ultimate weapon to use against the people of the world. His three subordinates are Gades, the Sinistral of Destruction, who is credited with the destruction of two entire cities; Amon, the Sinistral of Chaos, who is known to be a brilliant tactician; and Erim, the Sinistral of Death, who is revealed later in the game to be Iris, the mysterious woman who sent Maxim on his quest.

Gameplay

In Lufia II, characters walk around an overworld map, enter dungeons, fight monsters, buy or find new equipment and spells, and set out on a quest to save the world. The player's party will support up to four characters at once, along with a Capsule Monster. There are various forms of transportation which the player may utilize in order to travel faster than walking, these include; warping, a spell learnt early in the game; a boat, modified by Lexis into a submarine and later a blimp. Various casino games are accessible later in the game; these include Pachinco Slot, Black Jack, Slot Machine, Stud Poker, and Action Bingo.

The game features a number of new gameplay features, explained below:

Dungeons

All monsters appear on the dungeon map as well, and can be avoided if the player wishes. Motion in dungeons is also "turn-based," in that monsters do not move unless the player does. Maxim gains a number of tools and weapons for use in dungeons (similar to the The Legend of Zelda titles), such as a bow and arrow, bombs and a hookshot; these will stun monsters temporarily (but do not damage them) and interact with obstacles. Finally, dungeons place great emphasis on challenging puzzles.

Skill Ring

During the course of the game, utilization of acquired "skills" is key to progressing in dungeons and towers. The player starts out with an arrow, which can be used to stun monsters on the dungeon map and is used in several puzzles. Shortly after the beginning of the game, the player is given "Reset", a spell that can be used from the spell menu or from the so-called "Skill Ring", a menu that can be brought up by pressing Select, to reset a room within the dungeon once the player gets stuck while solving a puzzle. All obstacles and monsters will be reset and the player will be set to the position where he entered the room. More skills that will be found later in the game will be added to the menu, such as a Hookshot, a Hammer and Bombs.

IP Skills

Aside from the RPG standards of "Fight," "Use Item" and "Use Magic," characters also have access to IP Skills, which are attached to weapons, armor and accessories. Each character's IP bar fills when he or she takes damage, and can deplete it to invoke available IP skills at any time, assuming they have enough charge in the bar. IP Skills take varying amounts of charge to activate. Players can purposely wear weaker equipment and/or fight higher-level monsters to fill the gauge faster, but run the risk of having characters killed in battle, which will empty the bar. Also, IP Skills cannot be customized, sometimes forcing the player to choose between a newer and stronger piece of gear, or an older, weaker one that has a useful IP Skill.

Capsule Monsters

Capsule monsters are special creatures which the player may only find on specific locations of the world. Once a Capsule monster is found, the party acquires a fifth, computer controlled member. These monsters can be fed items and equipment, and once they are satiated they evolve to a different form, up to a fifth form, labeled M. At any given time, the player may choose the form he/she prefers, even after evolving the monster. Seven of them exist, and each Capsule monster belongs to a different element (Neutral, Light, Wind, Water, Dark, Fire and Soil), and has a different set of skills.

The Ancient Cave

One of the most notable features of Lufia II is the Ancient Cave, a randomly generated dungeon composed of 99 floors which is presented to the player as a side-quest in the town of Gruberik. Every time the player enters the cave, a new layout is generated. The Ancient Cave has a very similar execution to the roguelike genre.

Within the cave, the characters are downgraded to zero experience points and are stripped of nearly all equipment and items. The player must then proceed through the cave's floors, collecting equipment, finding magic spells and increasing levels, with the objective of reaching the Ancient Cave's final floor. There are three ways of exiting the cave: by dying, by reaching its bottom or by finding and using an item exclusive to the cave, named "providence".

Within the cave lie two kinds of chests — blue and red. A red chest contains items which can only be used inside the cave for the duration of the playing session. As soon as the player leaves the cave, all items from red chests disappear. On the other hand, the rare blue chests contains items that are for the most part unique to the Ancient Cave (though not completely — the Catfish Jewel, for instance, can also be won in the battle against the giant Catfish), which can be used outside the cave and can be brought back to the cave on subsequent journeys. The equipment found in the blue chests is often far superior than those found outside of it. Some items that can be found in blue chests can also be found by other means, such as monster drops. These can also be taken in and out of the Ancient Cave just as if you had found them in blue chests. Also found in the Ancient Cave are the "Iris Treasures," which are found in red chests. Unlike normal red chest items, the player is allowed to take them out of the cave. They are not equippable and serve only as collectibles. The bottom floor of the inn and Gruberik serves as a storage for these items.

Several very powerful monsters exist only in the Ancient Cave, most notably the Bronze, Silver, and Gold Dragons.

On the 99th floor, the player must fight the "Master" (a huge red jelly). It must be defeated in four turns (actually three, since it goes before the characters - unless you repeatedly use some speed lowering IP moves like Spiderweb), or else it will commit suicide and give no reward. Upon defeat, however, it gives the player the Ancient Key, unlocking the room in the lobby, as well as one of the Iris Treasures. It is very difficult to actually defeat the Master due to the time limit and its high HP value (which is always 9980 and not based on the party levels as some rumors say). Thus, a much easier and somewhat cheap way has been devised to kill it. It was found that it was not necessary to kill it-the battle only needed to end. So if the characters killed each other in the allotted time limit, the game would still consider it to be a victory. Equipping and using items which removed set fractions of enemy health (from 1/8 to 1/2 of all enemy health) was also very helpful in defeating the monster.

Versions and rereleases

The North American release of the game has a few graphical and textual glitches which were corrected in the European version. These appear, most notably, on areas of complicated access, such as the underwater caverns—which can only be accessed with the submarine vehicle—and the last floor of the Ancient Cave.

In the North American release, the Capsule Monsters' cravings were buggy. Whereas Capsule Monsters would request easily-obtained items in the Japanese and European releases (with enough money, the player could purchase any requested item from a shop), they would request rare items in the North American version, including Dragon Eggs (this is clearly a bug, as there is a finite supply of Dragon Eggs, and the player needs a complete supply to fulfill a subquest).

The Australian release of the game was titled "Lufia", not "Lufia 2", and included no subtitles. The Australian version was released in 1997, one year after the North American version. The background color for the instruction booklet/box/cart is also purple-pink, not black, although it maintains the same image of Maxim with the sword and the island.

Bunny ladies

In the Japanese version of the game, inside the Markao Casino, most women are dressed up like bunnies. They were changed into ordinary women in the other versions. This also explains why there is a set of bunny equipment for sale in the Casino.

Priests

In every church there is a priest to be found; however, in the original Japanese version, the priest had a cross instead of a vertical line on his miter. Also, inside every church, there was a cross behind the priest instead of an obelisk.

Interestingly, at the churches in the destroyed towns of Gordovan Agurio and Chaed, the crosses are still visible on the altar in the western versions of the game.

Treasure Sword Shrine's alternative puzzle

The block puzzle rooms inside Treasure Sword Shrine aren't there in the original version of the game. In the Japanese version this was one big room with a simple teleporter puzzle. The room is an Amidakuji puzzle where the player had to find the spot that would allow him or her to reach the door based on the rules of Amidakuji. Amidakuji is a Japanese lottery game where the players choose a course to receive a prize. The player must take the first available (complete) turns into another path until the player reaches the end of the course.

Ancient Tower's "X" & "O" puzzle

On the second floor of the Ancient Tower there is a small puzzle which was removed from the game in the international versions. All that remains is an empty room with one enemy in it. To solve this puzzle the player had to walk on the tiles so that the "X" changes into an "O".

Gordovan's Holy Cross puzzle

In the Japanese version of the game the player had to form a cross on the ground using 6 blocks to get past the undead Zombie for the Sky Key. The other versions all have a puzzle where the player had to hit 7 blocks in the right order.

Harbor men's hair

In the western version of the game, all men in the Harbor town have brown hair, but in the Japanese version they have light blue hair.

Configuration menu problems

During the development of the western versions, a glitch made its way into the game which could cause issues from characters leveling down to causing the end of battle exp calculations to take more than 10 seconds at a time to finish. This also left some characters more powerful than normal. The glitch involved going into the menu, changing the audio to Mono, then pressing the left D-Pad button to change it back to Stereo.

Capsule Monsters uncensored nudity

Some of the content in all three of the Japanese, North America, Europe SNES versions of the game feature nudity which slipped past censorship intended for the North American region. This was against the Nintendo family-friendly policy at that time. For example two of the Capsule monsters including "Flash" as "Cupid" and "Zeppy" as "Fish Head" can be shown with their exposed buttocks showing from their backside during battle and in the capsule monster menu screen.

Nintendo DS remake

The new Estpolis is being developed by Lufia creator Neverland Company, with much of the staff of Lufia II closely involved with the project. This Estpolis is an action-RPG "reboot" of Lufia II, which originally hit the Super NES in 1996.

Starring Maxim, a young monster hunter blessed with impressive and mysterious powers, the game features him and his friends on a quest to uncover what lurks behind the Wave Device, an object that grants the user godlike powers. As in Lufia II, the game will feature dungeons that focus heavily on puzzle-solving; unlike Lufia II, the gameplay is now action-RPG in style, with the player controlling Maxim directly in battle and switching between characters by tapping their portrait on the bottom screen.

References

  1. Neverland Co., Ltd.. Estpolis Denki. (Taito Corporation). Super Famicom. (25 June 1993) "< Staff > [...] Biography of Estpolis"

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