Malik (4/20/04)

Lufia 4


This review originally was presented on lazy.GEEKS (6/26/03)

First off, for those of you who played the old Lufia games for the SNES (not the Gameboy Color version), read on and you may find this helpful...for those who never played Lufia or Lufia 2, skip to the end score. It will save you a bunch of time and confusion. It is hard to explain this game to a person who never played Lufia or Lufia 2 without writing a books worth of information. That said...let the show begin.

I have been into this series since day one...well, day one for the U.S. since I don't think I can play Estopolis (the Japanese name for this series) with my lack of being literate in Japanese. The first game (SNES) in the series was a staright and to the point RPG. This impressed me since I love standard RPGs more than about anything else. The second one (also SNES) was a bit more innovative, as it used a puzzle format like you'd find in a 2D Zelda game for the dungeons, and it featured enemies that you can see in dungeons before you fight them (no random dungeon battles, but still random map battles).

Both of these games told the story of a 100 year cycle of destruction in the world where four beings of immense power, called the Sinistrals, would be resurrected and plague the world. As you can expect, you play the random dude and his pals who save the world each time from these evil beings. I am making it sounds sorta cliche and lame, but the story in each game was amazing and full of tons of plot twists.

Then I saw there was a third Lufia (GB color) and immediately rushed to get it, even though I lack a GBC at the time. I figured I would shoot first and ask questions later, so to speak. I barrowed a GBC and started to play...and then after 5 hours of trying to love the game, I stopped playing and gave the game away (I never give away that says how bad this game was).

Fast forward a few years to last week. I was browsing the local game store in the mall with some friends when I saw Lufia 4 (GBA). I was quite apprehensive about this title since portable Lufia was horrible, which also means the last game in the series was horrible. After debating over the pros and cons of trying the game for almost an hour, I decided I wold risk it. I mean if it was too bad of a game I could always return it...


OK, I haven't played all the way through yet...despite what many reviews are saying, this is not a 12 hour game. I have played for 11 hours so far, much to the annoyance of my woman, and I must admit the story so far is not wowing me over too much. For one thing, I cannot honestly tell you when in the Lufia timeline that this game takes place. I should be able to do that after playing for only an hour, but after 11 hours I still can only conclude that this is after Lufia 2 (which was before Lufia 1...2 was a prequal), since Maxim and Selan (the heroes of Lufia 2) have been mentioned as heroes. Other than that, I can't actually tell you when this takes place since none of the events of Lufia 1 have been mentioned.

Even worse, I cannot tell you what the point of the game is. So far, a war has broken out between the east and west, and a dude decided to summon a mythical beast of destruction to wipe out the west (where you're from), but those have merely been mentioned in the background of the game. So, for this, I must say the story is really disappointing me thus far...or should I say lack of story. All I've done so far is find a few friends to journey with, and travel from town to town, looking for jobs (you play a hero for hire...I think...).

Ok, if this section has been vague, I'm merely trying to point out that this is due to the lack of any story. If it weren't for the game play being so good, and the music being so good, I probably would've quit by now...but I have hope...I'm not even half way done yet. A story should...nay...MUST appear.


For those who played the original Lufia and Lufia 2, you'd recognize these graphics perfectly. You once again play bright and happy characters in a bright and happy world. Which is not a bad thing. In fact, I've always been a fan of the graphics on the original Lufia games. To me it's like playing a very Japanese's cute, colorful, and bright...but it feels comforting.

The special effects, like in spells, etc, are all pretty well done. They look a lot like the effects of the SNES Lufias. Which is good, but it does fail in comparison to Golden Sun 1 & 2. Also, the characters look really nice, but they too don't stand out in any way. It's all pretty much average across the board for graphics. However, if you loved Lufia(s) for the SNES and want some nostalgia, like I sometimes do, then these graphics will make you happy.


Lufia 2 fans, welcome home. The music in Lufia 4 is all remixes of music from Lufia 2. So, to be concise, it is remixed music from the later SNES era. In my opinion, this is some of the best music I've heard on a portable, period.

On the other hand, the sound effects from attacks, spells, and all of that fun stuff...well, once again...I hate to say it, but it's all average with no shining moments. Too bad, Lufia was always meant to be a game to wow RPG fans...not make them smile and think, "I remember when this was state of the art on the SNES". Oh well...I guess this game is winning more over with nostalgia right now...not technology.

Game Play

Thank goodness we have game play or else I would have been forced to call Lufia 4 a pile of crap. However, the game play stands out like no one's bussiness.

In dungeons, we face the same game play as Lufia 2. We see the monsters ahead of time, and you can even try to manipulate yourself to confront the enemy from behind to gain the initiative (or they can turn the table, do the same thing to you, and you lose the initiative). This means, for those of you who piss me off...I mean bitch and moan about random battles...rejoice. No random battles in this entire game.

Also, like Lufia 2, the dungeons are made of puzzles for you to solve. Each charactr in your party has a different tool to interact with the world and thus manipulate the environment. The hero has a sword to cut things and break fragile objects, another person has a rope to swing across some gaps, another can light fires, etc. This means while you're stuck with the boring plot (or lack there of), you can at least enjoy some simple puzzles. Good thing, since otherwise the dungeons would bore you to death.

Another feature that was also seen in Lufia 2 is the capsule monster (now called the disc monster). In Lufia 2, your final party member was your choice of one of 7 different monsters you found on your journeys. These monsters would be out of your control, but would fight along side your party. Now, with the disc monsters, you instead can capture any monster via a disc (think pokeball) and have them fight along side your party (think pokemon). I liked this feature in Lufia 2, since it served a set purpose (that being, only 7 certain creatures would join you, and they would be quite cool and stand out), but in Lufia 4, it becomes merely a way to further rip off pokemon as most portable RPG makers have done since the release of that damned Pikachu. Oh well, at least, after you progress a bit into the game, you can stop using your disc monsters and rely on your human party members. Also, in Lufia 2, the capsule monster faught with your party, but in Lufia 4, the disc monster takes the place of a party member (you want to bring your mage or your lizardman into combat?...I prefer a character I can control, not a damned monster that dies in two hits).

A new feature to the Lufia world, found in Lufia 4, is the job system. Basically, this is like in Dragon Warrior 7 (PSX). You find a teacher who will make you an apprentice. As you fight battles, you can experience towards a job, gain ranks, gain new spells/skills, master the job, and move on to the next job. As you master some job, some new ones may become available (master being a priest to become a bishop...etc). This gives you some control over your parties development, which is always cool. So, if you feel like having on healer is not good enough, let everyone gain a single rank in priest, and now everyone has healing spells. The only problem with this new feature is that you don't know how long it will take to gain a new rank in a job. There are no specific job points, and you don't really know if experience points count towards jobs, or if it's the number of fights you go through, the number of monsters you kill, or what. I personally like to know when I will level up, and by not telling when you will gain a job rank, this defeats letting you know when you will level...sigh, Lufia 4, we almost had a fun innovative feature for a second.

The only other feature worth mentioning is the map screen. It used to be like an early Final Fantasy game, where you would walk around a map until you hit a dungeon or a town or whatever and you'd fight an occasional battle as you traveled. Not anymore. Aparently Lufia is too good for this convention anymore. Now, you will see a map, similar to Final Fantasy Tactics, and you will select your destination, and are there. Once you clear a dungeon, if there's a new location on the other side (i.e., two entrances) you can automatically go to the other side without having to clear it each time. This saves some time, but it also means we have lost the traveling aspect that us old school RPG fans hold quite dear. At least it does save time since each dungeon can take up to 2 or more hours to clear, but I still miss traveling the world and seeing the sights along the way.

For those who were wondering, the fights are the exact same as they were in Lufia 2, with only one exception. Now on, your IP points (the points you accumulate as you get hurt) are no longer used to access the special powers of your equipment. Now, if your character's disc monster is present in the battle, and your IP is full, you can merge with the disc monster (they call this "installing"). Once installed, you lose control of the character and he/she will just do some special attacks that are always weaker than the normal attack for said character, but on the plus side, you are invincible for the duration of the installation (3 turns). The only other change in the fights is that there are no set turns anymore. Instead of waiting for each person to go once and then it starts again, you keep going as quick as you can in combat. So, if your hero is twice the speed of the enemy, you will strike two times for every one attack of the enemy. Also, magic slows you down some. To make this simple, think of how fights were done in Final Fantasy 4.


Despite how thuroughly crappy this game is, I am enjoying far, at least. The graphics and sounds may seem less than impressive, but for those who miss the old days of SNES glory, nostalgia will ensue. The story is crappy, but once again nostalgia is saving this game for me. Last of all, the game play is actually pretty good, when you forget about the pokem...disc monsters. So, to put this in perspective, if you loved Lufia 1 and 2, try this game out, and you might too get lost in the nostalgia. If you never played Lufia 1 or 2, you will in all likelyhood hate this game. In fact, all reasoning says I should hate this game, but then as I play, I can't help but think about Lufia 2 and smile...maybe I should throw this away and just play Lufia 2 again (Malik has all, so it's just a matter of popping in the cartridge...I don't condone or condemn emulators...openly, anyway), if you loved Lufia 2 and no longer have the game, play this.

Ok, that was very confusing and longwinded at times, and for that I appologize, but this is one of those damned games that does not make it easy on the reviewer. So, to summarize it for all of you, I give this game a 7/10 (as a Lufia fan) or a 3/10 (if I had never played Lufia before).