Review by SoreThumb

"A Brief, but Rich Trip through the world of Lufia."

Okay, so the story was kinda lacking.

Yes, I didn't like the character development, but the story is good.

Let's go over everything, shall we? Ratings are on a 1 == worst, 10 == best system.

Using a new GBA-Game rating, I will rate on the following things from most important to least (But still) important.
Replay Value, Mechanics/Gameplay, Challenge, Linkup Capabilities, Intrigue and Story, Graphics & Sound, and the general favor of the game, as a whole.

Replay Value: 6
I define this as 'starting the game over and over,' or, 'playing this game more than once after you beat it.'
While this game has many things to collect and see, there is little consequence to them. No prizes are won for collecting all the monsters, weapons, armor, items, rings, helmets, etc. and so the value in it is pretty much lost. There is also the possibility to spend a lot of time having each character fully master every class, which can take some time.
More time can be spent in the Ancient Cave. However, unlike the previous Ancient Cave, you go into the cave with your equipment, ten items, your main character's monster, with level and stats staying intact. This detracts a lot from the replay value which was had by Lufia 2 and Lufia 3's Ancient Caves. So, technically, once you beat the Ancient Cave, you could beat the game, and there is very little need to go into the Cave again.

Mechanics/Gameplay: 9
Using the traditional mechanics of the Lufia system for battle (mainly before Lufia 3), Dungeons use a slightly different system. In this system, you switch characters for their individual tools, instead of switching for the different tools held by Maxim in Lufia 2. This system is helpful as you always know what skill you have equipped, but switching from one skill to the next could be tedious; You have to cycle through five characters near the end of the game, and so you hit the switch-button quite many a time.

Running around is at a great speed; people will be able to go from one part of a town to the other in a good amount of time. You also can tell, after a brief amount of time, what items can be broken or opened in town, so you quickly learn what to look for in houses for extra items.

Dialog screens are slightly tedious, as when one screen quickly finishes and you hit ''A'' to pass it, the next text-bubble is delayed slightly, which can become annoying, but is easily adjusted to.

The game's battle-mechanics allow for very little to be missed, but great care must be made; once you choose a character's action, you cannot back up, but this is because of the game's system which relies more on speed to determine individual character-turns, instead of battle-turns. Example: Character A can hit first, with Monster B hitting next, Monster C hitting, and then Character C gets to choose what he/she/it will do.

If battles are all approached with equal determination, they will end quickly instead of becoming tedium.

Challenge: 8
While the puzzles aren't very difficult to figure out, battles can become intense moments of strategy, which will include non-boss battles at times. The jobs each character has grown accustomed to are the only true assets in battle; good skill-usage is the key to winning in combat.

Linkup Capabilities: 4
In the beginning of the game, if you and your friend haven't beaten the Ancient Cave before, you can mutually go along and complete it together via Linkup cable, but once the cave is beaten by either player, it becomes a simple 'tank'-ing mission; the player who defeated the cave supports the person who hasn't.
In addition to the once-beaten, then-useless Ancient Cave linkup, a player can trade monsters with friends.
Which is pretty useless.
Any monster is easily obtainable in the game, and there aren't very many rare ones. There is very little value in trading monsters, also, because players may choose not to use them in exchange for higher character-EXP, or grow accustomed to the monsters that have high loyalty, and the player knows how to work.
Overall, if you buy this game, having a friend buy it, to cooperate, will not be worth it.

Intrigue and Story: 8
Intrigue: 10
When you start playing this game, you won't stop. Getting your characters mastered in jobs, completing the Ancient Cave, and generally seeing where the plot will lead you, will keep you going for this game for a brief time, but during this time, you won't set the game down. Graphics, music, and difficulty will keep any player plugging away for hours, with any defeat only giving the player more drive.
Story: 6
Okay, so the story's good at the beginning, but some plot points seem pointless, or redone so you have to replay something in the game over again. Almost every location in-between towns is another dungeon in essence; you go from one fighting zone with a boss to a town, to another fighting zone with a boss, etc, etc, etc. The story's quite good, as you will wonder what will happen next, but the ending leaves the player disappointed.
The ending of the game is very brief, and the pre-final-boss boss isn't developed in the game at all, only in second-person commentary. (Example: ''______ is a real jerk.'')
I would have enjoyed playing this game more, if the ending scenes had been more developed and expanded.

Graphics & Sound: 11
Graphics: 10
The graphics of this game, excluding animations such as a sweat-drop or 'surprise,' are simply amazing. Every zone shows new depth and new character, and you're entertained every second of it. It is more graphically rich than Lufia 2, and will keep the viewer watching for quite some time.
This is especially noted in battle; The human characters have animated sprites, and when the player gets into his/her first battle, his/her eyes will widen at their animation.

THERE IS A HEAVY TRADE FOR THIS AMOUNT OF GRAPHICAL INTENSITY

A lot of players have experienced slowdown during graphically-intense parts of the game. It is tolerable, but slightly irritating.

Sound: 8
The game's soundtrack would have been impeccable if it had a bassline in its battle soundtrack, or in many other parts of the game. I listened to most of the music in this game with Headphones, and I was greatly pleased throughout it.
A few battles have different battle-music, later in the game, and a change in battle theme usually shows a significant change in the feel and direction of a game. I thought that this new battle-music would have carried itself through to the end of the game, but it was merely a momentary diversion.

A review:
Replay Value: 6
· Great if you're into collecting for no reason.
Mechanics/Gameplay: 9
· Easy to understand, easy to use.
Challenge: 8
· Will only egg you on to play more, and test yourself.
Linkup Capabilities: 4
· Who needs friends?
Intrigue and Story: 8
· Keeps you playing until the end, where you don't want to anymore.
Graphics & Sound: 11
· Sweeter than the sweetest candy.

Finally, the Tilt; the gestalt of the game.

While playing this game, I was magnetically attracted to it. I was bored with another game, and when I started this, I felt that the collection-urge that is evident in other GBA games (as in, 'get everything before you go to the next level') was not here to ruin this game. One doesn't need to worry about obsessively searching or checking everything to an extreme degree, as if one diligently searches dungeons to every dead-end, there will not be anything missed, and quite a lot gained.

I was slightly disappointed by how the story was lacking in these departments:
Lack of Hero development, Lack of good ending.
In Lufia one through three, even if some things weren't pleasing, you could appreciate the characters, especially the hero's dilemmas.

While I was pleased with the game while I was playing it, I was effectively disappointed by the fact it had to end, and how it ended.

Tilt: 10
· A great game for the Lufia series, but disappoints in a few areas that made it part of the Lufia series. However, it still remains top-notch in its own right, and as part of the series. I had fun.

Total:
Replay Value: 6
Mechanics/Gameplay: 9
Linkup Capabilities: 4
Intrigue and Story: 8
Graphics & Sound: 11
Tilt: 10
6 + 9 + 4 + 8 + 11 + 10 / 6 = 8

FINAL DECISION:

If you buy this game, you will be addicted to it, but will consequently beat it soon. If you have the raw free time, rent it, but if you do not, buy it. It will make an excellent addition to any selection, and may still be used to spend time, as there is still a lot to find in this game.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 05/21/03, Updated 05/21/03


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