Video Games by the Numbers

 

Like many of my readers, I have been playing games for over 3 decades now. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of hours spent playing games like Super Mario Kart and Donkey Kong Country on my SNES with my friends, or time spent immersing in the stories of RPG classics back in the 16 and 32 bit era such as Lunar on the Sega CD or Zelda on the SNES and N64.

Video games have a long history and continue to entertain new generations of kids who are growing up gaming, just like they did back in the 80s and 90s.

To celebrate video games, the team at The Monitor Monitor has put together this infographic of consoles, the number of games produced for each console, and sales numbers for the top selling games on each console.

Please note that the graphic is sorted by manufacturer, then number of games produced, not chronological order.

Enjoy!

(Infographic published with consent from The Monitor Monitor)

Video games by the numbers

Video Games by the Numbers was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

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Seiken Densetsu 3 | Secret of Mana 3 | Secret of Mana 2 | Retro Videogame Review for Super Nintendo SNES Part 3 of 4

Check Out Parts One and Two of our 4 Part Secret of Mana Series

Part One: Secret of Mana Review
Part Two: Secret of Evermore Review

Welcome to Part Three of our Secret of Mana Reviews. Today’s topic is Secret of Mana 3, a game which we never got to experience in North America, but which was thankfully translated by some dedicated fans. You’re probably wondering how you can play this awesome game so here’s a link to the Seiken Densetsu 3 fan translation.

I really recommend that you purchase a physical copy of the game. You sometimes can find it on sites like Amazon. At time of this writing, it is about $160 but it is so worth it. Buy Secret of Mana 3 on Amazon.com

I don’t condone piracy so I’m not putting a link to the rom here. You can find it easily enough for yourself.

I’m really excited to be writing today’s review because this is my favorite game in the Secret of Mana series (although Legend of Mana is a very  close 2nd.)

Title: Seiken Densetsu 3

Platform: Super Nintendo

Release Date: September 1995 (Japan Only)

Genre: Action RPG

Geeky: 5/5 

Sweetie: 4/5 

Overall: 74 / 80 93% “A-. Excellent Game for Girls

Concept: 10/10 Seiken Densetsu 3 is an action RPG with real-time combat that is part of the Secret of Mana franchise. The game features 6 playable characters. When the game begins it asks you to select 3 of these characters to focus on, similar in a way to games such as Live-a-Live and Saga Frontier. Like Secret of Mana, Seiken Densetsu allows for you to play simultaneously with a friend. When playing solo, you can freely switch control between the characters, and have the other 2 characters back you up via artificial intelligence. Also like Secret of Mana, there is a ring like system which allows you to equip weapons or cast magic spells.

Gameplay: 10/10 The big differences and improvements over Secret of Mana focus on the leveling and class system. Upon level up the player chooses which stats to enhance for each character and at different levels the player can unlock different classes which each have a unique set of skills for each character, for a total of 5 (counting the starting class) classes for each character, times 6 characters, you have 30 unique classes and unique skill sets to explore. Although the classes are labeled as light or dark variations, they do not impact the storyline in any way.

There’s also a night/day cycle and a calendar system which similar to games such as Final Fantasy XI, gives a magic boost on different days to increase the effectiveness of corresponding magical spells. The calendar system also changes which in-game events occur and even what enemies you encounter.

Story: 8/10 Story has never been this series strong suit if we’re being honest. Despite that, I enjoyed the story in Seiken Densetsu 3 more than any of the previous titles in the series. This particular game has a unique approach to story that differentiates it from the other installments. As mentioned, when the game starts, you select 3 characters to focus on during the story out of 6 total. You also distinguish who your main character will be and this is the focus of the story. All 6 of their stories are intertwined, and to really experience the whole story you need to play the game multiple times using all 6 of the different characters.

Seiken Densetsu’s story is also unique in that it is the first game in the series to begin to establish some continuity between game worlds. In fact, there is a direct sequel for the NDS called Heroes of Mana (which I sadly have not played yet). I also find it interesting how the mana goddess in Seiken Densetsu 3 is a sleeping tree, and the tree is also a main symbol/character in Legend of Mana as well.

Characters: 7/10 Like any game with multiple stories, some are more interesting than others. Character interaction depends heavily on who you have in your party and that does detract a bit from the freedom given to pick and choose your party members. It was interesting in concept, but poorly executed, as more dialogue should have been written in for the other characters as well. – Still, overall, the plot and characters in this game remain much more detailed and interesting than the bare bones plot and characters in Secret of Mana.

Music: 10/10 The music for the game features many symphonic sounding tracks and melodic piano pieces which highlight the different scenes throughout each story. It is a huge soundtrack with over 50 different tracks recorded, making it quite possibly one of the largest soundtracks for an SNES game.

Graphics: 10/10 This game is just beautiful to look at, it really pushes the limits of what was thought to be possible with 16 bit hardware. When this game was released, systems such as Sega Saturn and PS1 had already arrived in Japan and I’d argue that this game almost looks as good as many of the early games for those consoles as well. I especially love the use of color, and the details given to the textures and environments.

Replay Value: 10/10 – unlike other games in this series, Seiken Densetsu 3 is a game which must be played 6 times to see the whole story. There are also significant differences depending on who else is in your party, making it actually possible to enjoy playing it even more than 6 times.

Overall: 74 / 80 93% “A-. Excellent Game for Girls

Seiken Densetsu 3 | Secret of Mana 3 | Secret of Mana 2 | Retro Videogame Review for Super Nintendo SNES Part 3 of 4 was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Secret of Evermore Retro Videogame Review for Super Nintendo SNES Part 2 of 4

Check out Part 1 Secret of Mana Retro Videogame Review for Super Nintendo SNES Here

Hi, and welcome to part 2 of a 4 part series covering Secret of Mana, Secret of Evermore, Secret of Mana III, and Legend of Mana. In today’s review we will take a look at Secret of Evermore which is what North America got as a sequel to Secret of Mana, instead of Secret of Mana III.

NOTE: While maybe not technically correct to refer to it as a sequel, because they had completely different development teams, and stand-alone stories and worlds, the gameplay, as well as the name, are so similar that most squaresoft fans (myself included) hold the opinion that this is (more or less) part of the mana series. Squaresoft however has pointed out numerous times that this is not part of the “mana” franchise.

If you’re wondering what happened to Secret of Mana II, well that is what North Americans know as Secret of Mana – that’s right there was actually another game in the series before Secret of Mana, but like many JRPGs it remained only in Japan. I have not played it, but I have played the entire rest of the series, including Secret of Mana III which also never left Japan, but which has been translated by the fans.

For whatever reason, Squaresoft didn’t think Secret of Mana III would sell well in North America, so they brought over Secret of Evermore instead. More accurately, they didn’t “bring it over” but instead actually “developed” the game in America and geared it towards a “western” audience (supposedly). In fact, this game never got released in Japanese. It is perhaps the only North American “exclusive” (though I believe its also in Europe too) JRPG developed by Squaresoft.

If you look at the credits, you will see many English sounding names. See the details from wikipedia below.

Designer(s) Alan Weiss
George Sinfield
Artist(s) Daniel Dociu
Beau Folsom
Writer(s) George Sinfield
Paul Mazurek
Composer(s) Jeremy Soule

Actually a Japanese version was planned to release after the American release but was cancelled because they didn’t think it’d appeal to the audiences over there.

Still, this game does play very much like a JRPG. Actually I might have liked it a little bit more than Secret of Mana though not as much as Secret of Mana III. Critics may not agree, as the game is widely considered inferior to other Squaresoft RPGs.

Title: Secret of Evermore

Publisher: Squaresoft

Release Date: 1995

Platform: Super Nintendo SNES

Genre: Action RPG

Where to Buy: Amazon has Secret of Evermore for SNES ranging from $30 to $45 which is a good buy for a rare retro Squaresoft JRPG

Geeky: 5/5 

Sweetie: 3/5 

Overall: 54 / 80 68% D+ “Average Game For Girls”

Concept: 10/10 This is a game about a boy and his dog. It plays very similar to Secret of Mana with Real-Time battles and the same Weapon Ring and Magic Ring from the original game. Unlike Secret of Mana, this game only features two characters, a boy and his dog. They travel throughout many different places and times from history lending the game a sorta educational feeling, though blending it with elements of fantasy as well. It also features an alchemy system.

Gameplay: 10/10  Gameplay consists of taking control of both the boy and his shape-shifting dog as they travel through time from the stone age, ancient egypt, and even into the future. As mentioned one of the key mechanics is an extensive alchemy system that allows you to craft your own consumable items as well as key items needed to progress the story. Magic was also reliant on alchemy ingredients which were often scarce in supply. This is an often criticized feature of the game’s alchemy system. I didn’t mind as much though, since when I play a game, I explore every nook and cranny of every room, dungeon, city, etc. I enjoyed the alchemy system even if it was flawed to a degree. In fact, I don’t think I would’ve enjoyed the game as much without said alchemy feature. Then again I enjoy similar games such as Kamidori Alchemist Master, Students of Mana Khemia, and the Atelier series, where you ‘grind’ and search for ingredients for various alchemy recipes. In fact in the end, from a gameplay perspective: this game resembles a mashup of Secret of Mana, Chronotrigger, and Atelier Iris.

Story; 6/10 Like most western RPGs, story is not as strong as what is commonly found in most JRPG games – I feel this is where most of the criticism for Secret of Evermore comes into play. There are a few plot holes, and the story just seems to jump around without much of an overarching plot other than trying to return to your own timeline and the adventurous ‘scamp’ like nature of a boy and his dog, painted against a wild fantasy pseudo historical setting. Though the bare bones for some continuity between worlds exists it is tied only together loosely by a malfunctioning time machine and evil robot invaders.

Characters: 5/10 Likewise the character development is another weak point for most western developed RPG games. There’s really only two characters in this game, a boy, and his dog. Though there are numerous NPCs, they don’t connect with or endear themselves to the audience. The concept of a shape shifting dog was very fun, but the boy feels very flat and unappealing as a main hero leaving the player little reason to care about what happens throughout the story.

Graphics: 8/10 While most critics applaud the graphics in this game for being very detailed and more realistic than most other RPGs, I can’t help but miss the more “anime” feeling graphics of Secret of Mana. And while Secret of Evermore is a very lush and visually stunning game in it’s own right, I miss the more “cutesy” feeling and bright color palettes of other Square RPGs.

Music: 5/10 – The music in Secret of Evermore is composed by Jeremy Soule. This was his first ever videogame soundtrack. He has gone on to work on numerous other RPG soundtracks including Skyrim, Icewind Dale, and Guild Wars just to name a few. Unfortunately, being inexperienced, the soundtrack in Secret of Evermore is often very weak. He dared to be different though, so I’ll give him credit for that. Most of the soundtrack consists of a lot of dead noise and ambient sounds instead of the bright and colorful music found in most JRPGs. Ultimately though, using such a minimalistic tactic makes the background music do just that, fade into the background. It is no where near as memorable as other Squaresoft soundtracks.

Replay Value: 2/10 This, like most other 90s games, is a linear story. It’s also much shorter than other squaresoft RPG – to be fair, I have read that a lot of the game was cut due to cartridge size limitations. Still it is a fun, unique, little RPG that appeals to anyone who loves themes of time travel, or just simply anyone who loves their dogs :).

Overall: 54 / 80 68% D+ “Average Game For Girls”

Secret of Evermore Retro Videogame Review for Super Nintendo SNES Part 2 of 4 was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Secret of Mana Retro Videogame Review for Super Nintendo SNES Part 1 of 4

Secret of Mana is a series of real-time adventure RPGs from the 1990s. The “first” installment, which we’re reviewing today, is Secret of Mana for the SNES. This game was actually the 2nd in the Secret of Mana series, but was the first one to make it overseas. There’s also Secret of Mana 3 (Sometimes mistakenly referred to as Secret of Mana 2) which we also never got in the USA (but which has been fan translated), Secret of Evermore – which is a completely different, but equally fun game, which is what we got in America instead of Secret of Mana 3, and Legend of Mana on the PS1.

I say this review is part 1 of 4 because I plan to review the other installments in the series in the near future. I’ve never played the original “first” game (from Japan), so that one will not be included in the series of reviews. It may be available somewhere fan translated, I’ve just never sought it out. I have however, played the rest of the series, including Secret of Mana 3 which is among my favorites in the series. But we’ll start this series of reviews off with good old Secret of Mana, because it was the “gateway” for most english speaking players into this series.

Title: Secret of Mana

Platform: Super Nintendo

Release Date: 1993

Genre: Action RPG

Where to Buy: Amazon has the original SNES cartridge for as low as $67.00 – This is a good buy, as this game is a classic and sure to retain or increase in value among collectors. Just take a look at some of our other retro reviews around the site, similar RPGs from the 90s are going for upwards of $160 a piece. Secret of Mana is a bit more obscure than say, Chrono Trigger or Final Fantasy, but it’s still an amazing little game.

However, if you are not a collector, I would recommend the mobile edition of this game which features a completely new translation. The original game had many bugs and a translation from Japanese to English which took only 30 days to complete. As a result, much of the original story was cut from the English version – Whether that was due to a hastily translated script and pressure to meet holiday deadlines from Nintendo, or as a result of the limitations of the cartridge format, the fact is, that the IOS and Android versions provide a much better experience – and cost a lot less than the actual Super Nintendo cartridge too.

You can get Secret of Mana on IOS here for just $7.99

And Android here also for $7.99

Geeky: 5/5 

Sweetie: 3/5 

Overall: 48 / 70 69% D+ “Average Game for Girls”

Gameplay: 10/10 The most unique thing about these games is the weapon “wheel” in which you can quickly switch between different weapons. Every character in the party can use every weapon in the game, in sort of a class-less system. If you try to equip the same weapon on 2 different characters though, you will only switch their weapons instead.

The weapons can be upgraded with weapon orbs found in various dungeons. Also by using a weapon, it will begin to level up and unlock new special abilities.

Since all the combat is real-time (much like Zelda, Ys, and other Action Adventure RPGs) you have to be fast thinking and take into account the movements of your enemy as well as use the terrain to your advantage to kite your monster around the map.

The game features an AI system as well in which you can decide if your party members should engage enemies directly or stay in the back to minimize their damage.

There’s also a magic “wheel” but the main hero does not have access to this; however, the other party members can use offensive or healing magic to aid the hero. You cycle through and select spells in the same way that you cycle through and select weapons. And similar to the weapons, magic also levels up the more you use it.

Some spells will be specific only to certain characters, and others will be shared by both of the magic users in the game.

Aside from the unique wheel like mechanism for choosing spells and weapons, the game plays much like other action JRPG of the 90s. You control a party of 3 heroes, and complete quests, level up, go into dungeons, and progress through the storyline.

Story: 7/10 As I mentioned above, the original SNES translation (which to be fair, is the version I’m reviewing) suffered from time constraints and/or physical limitations of the technology of the time. While we did get the game just a few weeks after the Japanese release, we really missed out on a lot of the storyline and character development.

The premise of the story is very interesting. It tells of an ancient war fought with magic which resulted almost in the end of the world. However, a hero emerged and using the Legendary Mana Sword was able to bring peace back to the world. To prevent a similar war from occuring again, the mana seeds were sealed and scattered across the earth. Powerful guardians were charged with protecting each mana seed.

Foreshadowing tells us however that the peace will not last, and a time skip brings us to our main hero as he is playing outside the village with his friends. An accident occurs in which you get separated from your friends and must find your way home but your path home is blocked by thick weeds. Conveniently, there’s a sword sticking up out of the ground, so you figure you’ll just use that to cut your way through. However, as you pick up the sword, a voice speaks to you telling you that you are the chosen one (similar to the legend of the sword in the stone) and that you now posses the legendary Mana Sword. As you make your way home, you see there appear to be monsters closer to the village than usual, so you get to try out your new sword in some real combat practice.  When you finally make it back home, the villagers blame you for the appearance of the monsters and banish you from the village.

As the story unfolds, you learn of the plan to release the mana seeds and restore the ancient technology from the first war. Knowing that this will again anger the gods, you become like the hero from the first war, destined to once again seal away the power of mana from the hands of man.

The story is actually pretty well written with some interesting surprises, and was very dark for a game of the 90s including suicide, spiritual possession, and themes of war and sorcery.

Characters: 3/10 But in the end it felt like there was more that could have been told here. Perhaps as a result of things lost in the original translation. I especially felt that the characters themselves were flat and never really connected with them in the way that I would in most other games. This made the game ultimately less enjoyable and less immersive than I would’ve liked. I should have been devastated when a major plot thread occurs which effects one of the playable characters and a love interest, but ultimately, I was just not moved or able to feel as much emotion for as grave as the plot had become, because I just didn’t care that much about any of the characters. And I am not a cold person, there are many games which have brought me to tears. This just isn’t one of them. To be fair, I’ve not played the improved new translation from the mobile games. I suspect a lot of what was cut from the script may have filled in this void in character depth and may be restored in the new mobile version.

Graphics: 8/10 I really liked how colorful and bright this game world is. Most of it features outdoor environments with lush green fields, bright blue rivers, and the character sprites are also very brightly colored.

Music: 10/10 Another iconic 90s Squaresoft soundtrack. Very memorable tracks which helped to set the mood throughout the game.

Voice Acting – N/A Not Voiced.

Replay Value: 2/10 This is a completely linear game with little to no replay value, aside from the fact that it is an enjoyable little rpg that you may wish to revisit down the road.

Overall: 48 / 70 69% D+ “Average Game for Girls”

Secret of Mana Retro Videogame Review for Super Nintendo SNES Part 1 of 4 was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Chrono Trigger Squaresoft Retro Super Nintendo SNES RPG Videogame Review

I’m sure the majority of my readers have played this one, but it’s a great game and deserves to be included on our site. I still remember when Chrono Trigger first came out, I was only a child then, and my mother had gone with me to the game store where I was browsing through the games. Since I seemed to be taking awhile, the clerk offered help and my mom told him that I needed a game that would be challenging and last me a long time because I used to beat my games very quickly. The clerk recommended Chrono Trigger because of the high replay value with 13 multiple endings and some challenging boss fights, and the rest is history 🙂 It quickly became one of my favorite and most memorable RPG experiences from my childhood, and still remains a fun game even to this day.

Title: Chrono Trigger

Genre: RPG

Platform: Super Nintendo

Publisher: Squaresoft

Where to Buy: Since the original SNES version is a collector’s edition, and an immensely popular game even to this day, the prices are about $100 – as you can see on Amazon here. However, there are many cheaper alternatives. The game was later re-released on numerous other (newer) consoles including a version for Playstation 1 which you can get on Amazon for under $18 at this link here. There’s also a version for Nintendo DS for about $25 on Amazon here – This version even has extra scenes which help to tie it into the sequel Chrono Cross which are not found in any other versions of the game. I believe there’s even digital editions of these games available in the PSN store and Nintendo’s Eshop for those who prefer digital versions. But there is still no PC version for Steam yet. However the cheapest way to get the game is if you are an Iphone or Ipad user. You can pick the game up for just $9.99 in the app store. And Android Users can also get the game in the Google Play store for $9.99 – Though I suspect many android users had rather just install the rom on their mobile device.

Geeky: 5/5 

Sweetie: 3/5 

Overall: 72 / 80 90% A-. “Excellent Game for Girls!

Concept: 10/10 The concept of Chrono Trigger revolves around time travel (hence the name, duh lol) to both the future and past as well as back and forth to the present. You play the role of a young boy whose friend is a “tinkerer” always making new inventions. There’s a big faire coming up and she has a “teleporter” that she’s put on exhibit, however, her invention malfunctions and creates a time gate, teleporting people not only from one place to another, but one time to another as well! – What begins as a quest to save their friend who is lost in the time gate, becomes a quest to save the entire world. You see many interesting locale from futuristic cities or prehistoric villages. The characters are also equally as diverse, including some anthropomorphic in nature such as a cavegirl/catgirl and a frog prince. The biggest draw to chrono trigger is the freedom of choice and multiple endings. It was perhaps one of the first games to have multiple endings, at least such a huge number of them, which greatly added to the replay value.

Gameplay: 10/10 Gameplay is the highlight of this title. Everything is so fun, and believe it or not, but almost everything you do matters in this game. I remember one scene in which you can have a drinking contest and eat another man’s chicken, if you eat his chicken you will later hear about it when you’re accused of a crime. Little touches like this, and the freedom it gives to the player to travel back and forth between eras and encourages exploration really made it stand out from any other RPGs of the 90s.

Story: 7/10 The long winding path between different eras in time, is a rewarding experience, with tons of character development and excitement. It has a very epic feeling to it. However, it can at times, be bogged down by the sheer number of side quests and running back and forth which does little but drag out the game.

Characters: 9/10 I’m not the biggest fan of the designs for the characters, I know he’s an immensely popular mangaka, but I just don’t like his art style. — But looking past the outside appearances of the characters, you find a lot of heart and a story that very much relies on character interaction and character development to move the plot. The characters are not as diverse nor as many as in the sequel, Chrono Cross, however, they are all exceptionally well written and endearing. You really come to care about your little group of heroes and become invested into what happens to them as you play the game.

Graphics: 8/10 Graphically speaking, Chrono Trigger was one of the most detailed and best looking SNES games of its time. The character designs are not my cup of tea, but that just boils down to personal tastes. The character designs are instantly recognizeable, and for most people who are a fan of his other work such as dragon quest and dragon ball z, this really helped to sell the title. Some of the newer versions of the game even have new animated cutscenes added in to key scenes to further draw the player into the world of Chrono Trigger

Music: 10/10 Chrono Trigger has one of the best soundtracks to come off of an SNES cartridge. It’s also highly memorable and equally appropriate for the scenes in the game. Music can be used to help tell a story or create emotions in the audience playing the game, and that’s exactly what this soundtrack accomplishes.

Voice Acting: N/A – Not Voiced

Replay Value: 10/10 – Not only due to the plethora of multiple endings, but also the large number of sidequests which can be easily missed on the first playthrough. Also the ability to start a new game and keep your character stats and most equipment in place really encourages users to go back through to try to find all the extra endings or hidden sidequests.

Overall: 72 / 80 90% A-. “Excellent Game for Girls!

Chrono Trigger Squaresoft Retro Super Nintendo SNES RPG Videogame Review was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

SaGa Scarlet Grace – Coming to PS Vita / PS TV in 2016

I recently read a review for another game, The Legend of Legacy, over on Techno Buffalo, where they continuously compare the game to SaGa Frontier, because some of the same developers went on to work on the Legend of Legacy. Which looks like a great game for the 3DS by the way (after reading their very in depth review, I really want to play the game now too!).

I also have very fond memories of SaGa Frontier and its sequels. But what I was really reminded of was the fact that at this previous Tokyo Game Show (2015), we were treated with a trailer for a new SaGa game, SaGa Scarlet Grace. And it is very likely, we will get this game in the U.S. As well as our friends in Europe, as Gematsu reported that Squaresoft trademarked the name Saga Scarlet Grace for both markets.

This new game will be the first entry in over a decade in the 25 year old series which first began as Final Fantasy Legends on Gameboy. Many western fans never got to experience the most popular titles (Romancing Saga, and its sequels), and so the series never took off in the same way as it did overseas.

However, despite many criticisms of SaGa Frontier 1 and 2 and Unlimited SaGa, I’m a fan of this series. The games feature multiple player characters and you need to play them all to see all bits and pieces of the story, similar to Live A Live on the SNES (another great RPG that we never got here in the US. but one that has thankfully been fan translated (get patch here)) (on that note, Romancing SaGa has also been translated by US fans which you can get here).

However, Romancing SaGa 2 and 3 have never been fully translated into English by fans yet; only partial translations exist which do simple things like menus and item names, no dialogue which is kinda the whole point of an RPG. There is a full translation for 3 but it’s in Spanish which is useless to me lol. More SaGa games is a good thing; and I’m super excited for SaGa Scarlet Grace!

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SaGa Scarlet Grace – Coming to PS Vita / PS TV in 2016 was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Lufia 2 Rise of the Sinistrals Retro SNES JRPG Game Review

Title: Lufia 2 Rise of the Sinistrals

Genre: RPG

Publisher: Natsume

Platform: SNES

Release Date: 1996

Geekygeekygeekygeeky

Sweetie

Overall Score: 60/80 75% C “Good Game For Girls”

Concept: 9/10 This review is for the 2nd game in the Lufia series. Although, chronologically, the events in this game take place before the events in Lufia & the Fortress of Doom. Which we reviewed by the way over here in our Lufia and the Fortress of Doom Review. The 2nd game improved upon many aspects of the original including some pacing issues with the story and enhanced graphics, more challenging puzzles to solve, and no more random encounters. The story in Lufia 2 Rise of the Sinistrals takes you back to playing as Maxim and the original heroes who helped defeat the sinistrals as shown briefly in the prologue of the first game. Like it’s predecessor, Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals also includes some dungeon crawling and adds a new monster taming mechanic, but the game is largely a traditional turn based JRPG with colorful graphics, endearing characters, and a heart warming story.

Story: 8/10 You play as Maxim, a bounty hunter, living in the town of Eclid. His childhood friend, Tia, who runs a shop where Maxim receives new orders and turns in his bounty to be paid worries about the recent increased occurrence of monster attacks near the village. Maxim soon learns from a strange woman named Iris that these attacks are no mere coincidence and that he is “fated” to save the world from evil and thus sets out on a journey to a floating citadel to defeat the sinistrals. As for “plot” this is all that is really “presented” to the player; it is bare bones at best…. but is plot really the only driving force in creating a good “story”? No, it’s not; because the characters themselves are equally as important as their settings and surroundings. There are numerous plot twists which emerge later in the game and many different playable characters who all feel very real because of the way character interaction is handled within this game. The story is less about saving the world, and more about the bonds that are formed along the way between Maxim and his comrades. It seems as if “real” relationships are formed (and sometimes cruelly ripped apart, just as love can be fleeting also in real life). There is death, there is pain, and most of all, there is love, because love is the most important thing in the world. You will experience all of the emotions that the characters are feeling and you will be surprised and shocked a few times along the way as well. Because of it’s excellent character interaction and the way in which the story builds upon the relationships of the different characters, this saves what would otherwise be a fairly run-of-the mill plot, and instead turns it into one of the most touching and memorable experiences on the SNES.

Characters: 10/10 As I mention above, the characters themselves are what keep you engaged in the game’s plot. They seem like they are as real and troubled as many people that we personally know in real life. The drama can be over-the-top at times, but I like a good drama, so for me, that’s not an issue. The characters fight amongst themselves, deal with secret feelings and desires, have conflicting emotions, objectives, and they grow and evolve throughout the game, coming to reconcile their differences and sort through their emotional struggles.

Gameplay: 8/10 If you enjoy the puzzles in games such as Zelda or Alundra which force you to think outside the box, you will also enjoy the puzzles in Lufia 2. Lufia is well known for having some of the most challenging puzzles for it’s time (I found them much more abstract and challenging than Zelda a Link to the Past which released around the same time). The ability to see monsters on the screen also gives you an element of strategy in your gameplay as you can surprise them to take the advantage or avoid combat to travel more swiftly. Though this mechanic is commonplace in RPGs today, I do believe Lufia 2 was one of the first games to shift away from the random encounters that were prevalent in most RPG back in the late 90s. Other noteable features include the capsule monster system which allows you to gain a 5th (all be it, computer-controlled) party member which you can “raise” in a virtual pet sort of way by “feeding” him items and equipment that you no longer need. The monsters would evolve in various ways and multiple times, getting increasingly stronger and aiding you further in battle. Also, as in all Lufia games, the ancient cave returns providing an (almost) endless and optional dungeon crawling experience to obtain the best loot in the game. Lufia 2 introduces an “IP” system, where as you battle, your IP gauge begins to fill, and upon filling, you can unleash powerful skills. These skills are often obtained by equipping special items (like those found in the ancient cave). The one caveat that people like to pick on is the amount of “fetch” styled quests (many of which are optional) (but some that are required to advance the story). That is, quests which are not “story” driven and merely “go here, kill x monsters, or find x items”. While these quests aren’t very innovative, they are a commonplace mechanic in most JRPGs.

Graphics: 8/10 The colors are much richer, and there is a wider range of textures and tile sets used in Lufia 2. It addresses the main critique of Lufia 1’s graphics as being reused and dungeons and towns all looking and feeling similar to one another. I enjoyed the super flashy “anime” style colors and enjoyed the large areas that were used for various towns, making them feel more alive than it’s predecessor. The character sprites although not overly detailed are cute and keep with the same anime vibe. The combat screen in Lufia 2 is much better; where as in Lufia 1, you see your characters primarily represented as stat bars, in Lufia 2, the characters are present on the battle field, as in most other RPGs of that era. Lufia 2 is definitely on equal footing with most late 90s RPGs in terms of graphics and presentation.

Music: 7/10 Lufia 2 is often complimented for it’s very large soundtrack. Aside from the first few dungeons, other tunes are seldom reused. When you enter a new area you hear new tracks; and the tracks used vary widely from upbeat peppy tunes to sweeping ballads. However, I find very few of these tracks to be very memorable when compared to other RPGs of the 90s. The music is “good” but not “great”. There are also a number of different sound effects which add an additional depth of immersion to the game world.

Replay Value: 4/10 Lufia 2 has a replay mode that allows you to earn increased XP and Gold on multiple playthroughs; however, it’s a completely linear game, so the story never changes. There are still some interesting side quests and gameplay elements that could keep people coming back to find everything this game has to offer. Replay value is minimal; although I have personally replayed this one many times, because it’s just so fun and the storyline is so touching.

Overall Score: 60/80 75% C “Good Game For Girls”

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Lufia 2 Rise of the Sinistrals Retro SNES JRPG Game Review was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Lufia The Fortress of Doom Review SNES Retro RPG Videogame

Title: Lufia the Fortress of Doom

Genre: RPG

Release Date: December 1993

Platform: SNES

Publisher: Taito

Where to Buy: Amazon has a few used copies in stock from time to time; at time of this review, it’s priced around $68 You can keep an eye on this page on amazon to see when copies become available. http://www.amazon.com/Lufia-Fortress-Doom-Super-Nintendo/dp/B0007Y66N4 You may also have good luck searching on ebay for a used copy of the game.

Geeky Factor: 

Sweetie Factor: 

Overall: 52/70 74% C “Good Game For Girls”

Concept: 8/10 This is the first game in the Lufia series if you look at release date; however, several “prequels” were released that take place prior to the events in this game. The order that you play them in does not matter much since several decades elapse between each point in the storyline; if you have time for only one game, I recommend Lufia II Rise of the Sinistrals (Which we’ve recently reviewed in our new Lufia II Rise of the Sinistrals Review ) over this original game. The pequel improves on almost every aspect of this title, including storyline, character development, gameplay, and graphics. But the first game is still a great rpg with a touching story full of plot twists and challenging gameplay. The game begins by playing a group of heroes (who are the stars of the prequel) in the final stretch of their journey to seal away ancient evil powers known as the Sinistrals. After some brief gameplay and story, the time skips ahead almost 100 years into the future, and you are playing as the descendant of these heroes. The world has been peaceful and uneventful until now; but now the ancient evil that your ancestors faced has reawakened and you must follow in their footsteps to save the world once again. Lufia’s strength as a whole has always been its rather challenging puzzle solving elements that are presented as you explore various dungeons. There’s also many different side quests and things to explore in each game which give players a break from the main story.

Story: 8/10 As mentioned above the concept of the game is that you are the direct descendant of heroes who faced great evil almost 100 years ago. You play as a young knight serving your kingdom, and you have a childhood friend who mysteriously turned up in your village 10 years ago with no memories of her past that serves as a love interest for the main character. The game is more about Lufia than your main character who is more just like a sidekick as far as story and character development go. Lufia has a very strange past which slowly emerges as you play the game and really becomes the main focus and catalyst of the storyline later on. The storyline is very touching, and you can really feel the love that has developed between the hero and Lufia. The real game (after the prologue) begins when a nearby village is attacked by someone claiming to be one of the defeated sinistrals. As a knight, it’s your duty to go help the villagers and when you arrive, you come face to face with the Sinistral Gades for yourself. After learning that the Sinistrals have reawakened you begin your journey to help save the world once again. The story does start out rather slow, so I deducted a few points there. It suffers from some bad dialogue at times too, being either bland or cringe worthy at times. However, the plot twists and the love story that slowly emerges, as well as the shocking truth about Lufia’s past make the storyline a very rewarding experience that’s well worth the somewhat slow start.

Characters: 5/10 Your party consists of 4 characters, the hero, his childhood friend Lufia, Aguro a knight from a neighboring village, and Jerin, a healer who later becomes a love-rival for Lufia. The characters are not as well developed as in Lufia 2. With the only character who’s strongly well developed being Lufia herself. Lufia and the love that you feel for her are very emotionally engaging. However, the other two party members often feel flat and lifeless. The main hero is left somewhat generic to allow the player to better immerse and imagine themselves in the role of the hero. This can sometimes make the main character feel more cold and uncaring than if he also had a well developed backstory and personality. The character dialogue can also be cheesy or fall flat at times which can detract from the emotional impact of the storyline.

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Gameplay: 8/10 This is a typical “90s RPG” featuring turn based combat, dungeon crawling, (lots of) random enemy encounters, and puzzle solving. You level up and learn new skills and spells, travel from town to town, purchase new equipment, talk to NPCs, and take on side quests as you progress through the main story. There’s nothing terribly innovative here; but the puzzles and monsters can be quite challenging which makes this series very fun for those looking for a challenge. One of the most challenging features is the “Ancient Cave” which has 100 levels and I think it may be procedurely generated if I remember correctly. Each level features better loot, but increasingly difficult monster encounters. This area is completely optional, but most players will want to explore this dungeon to level up their party and acquire some of the best in-game items. This is a linear rpg (as most games where back then) with little in the ways of customization and no replay value or incentive for multiple playthroughs (so I deducted a couple of points there).  If you love traditional retro RPGs, that’s what we have here, so you should be right at home in Lufia Fortress of Doom.

Music: 10/10 The soundtrack to Lufia is very memorable, maybe one of the best back in the 90s (aside from “big name” games such as final fantasy). The sound effects and ambient sounds also help to immerse the player into the world of Lufia and help set the mood for each point in the story.

Graphics: 7/10 The graphics are dated by today’s standards of course, but back in its time, Lufia had some of the most vivid and colorful graphics around. One flaw in the graphics may be in the combat system, as you are shown a row of enemies in the middle of your screen, and beneath that, 4 status bars representing your 4 party members, with a small animated sprite in the right hand side of each bar. It seems odd to present the statistical info more prominently than the characters themselves. The game is also often criticized for reusing several graphics and not having enough variety in level or monster design.

Overall: 52/70 74% C “Good Game For Girls”

Lufia The Fortress of Doom Review SNES Retro RPG Videogame was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News