Friday, February 4, 2011

Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals

A little over 15 years ago, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System was in its prime, and the RPG genre had come into its own on the system, with several companies following the path that Squaresoft paved with quality offerings like Final Fantasy 4 and The Secret of Mana. And it was at this time that one of the most solid classics of the system was developed by Neverland and released by Taito, Lufia: Rise of the Sinistrals, better known as Lufia 2. As lousily bland and unremarkable as Lufia 1 was, Lufia 2 was fun, inventive, emotionally endearing, deep, and made every effort to tie itself in to Lufia 1 as a prequel that set up all the aspects of the first game, to the biggest plot themes to the smallest details. 15 years later, there are still many things done with Lufia 2's plot and characters that I sadly can't say I've seen attempted again. Although there are other SNES RPGs I think are greater works than Lufia 2, such as Chrono Trigger, I think that this game above all others is what I think of when I think of a classic SNES RPG. Simple yet elegant, standard yet creative--what a great game it was.

Until SquareEnix got its clumsy mitts on it.

Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals. This is the name of the remake released early last year of the classic Lufia 2 by SquareEnix. Seeking a quick, easy, cheap way to make a buck without having to resort to providing quality, as is the case of almost everything SquareEnix does these days, the company has taken the original Lufia 2 and given it a whole new look for the DS. Actually, it's more than just a new look--they've basically gutted the entire game and recreated every aspect of its nature in their own cheap, shallow image. Although according to Wikipedia, SquareEnix isn't totally to blame--apparently the same company that originally made Lufia 2 has developed this with SquareEnix. I don't know what the story there is, and I don't care. Maybe everyone involved in the original is long gone from the company, so its new developers didn't have any interest in the product nor skill at writing. Maybe SquareEnix did the lion's share of the development. Maybe the folks at Neverland just went fucking crazy during the past decade. I don't know.

All I do know is that the remake is garbage. If you go into it knowing nothing of the original Lufia 2, then Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals is an unsatisfying, trite offering of no interest that leaves no lasting, meaningful impact upon you at all. As a way to spend time, it rates slightly below gluing your hands to your face and slightly above being run over by a car. And if you go into it having played Lufia 2 and had any respect for it whatsoever, then it's...well, Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals is to Lufia 2 what The Last Airbender movie is to the original Avatar: The Last Airbender cartoon.

In the interest of having a concrete stance, I watched a reliable Let's Play of this remake, and kept notes on the problems I found with this remake. I soon found a rather sizable list forming (soon, as in, a dozen problems in the first 2 segments of the Let's Play). Some were nitpicky. Most were considerably more legitimate complaints about the plot and characters. And now, for your reading "pleasure," I am sharing them all with you. "Enjoy."

Obvious Note: There are a lot of spoilers. If you aren't familiar with Lufia 2, or at least the remake, then don't read this. It's written with the assumption you'll understand the plot points and characters discussed.


All the Things that Suck About Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals as a Remake of Lufia 2

1. Right off the bat, there are problems. Gades announces to the world that he's going to take over the world and that he'll let humans who obey him live. This is contrary to the original Sinistrals, who never announced their intentions like some stupid 1960s comic book supervillain. The Sinistrals were dark gods, and they were far above concerning themselves with the populace at large in any such way--they felt no need to announce themselves like this; they just came and destroyed as they pleased. THAT fit the character they're supposed to have--destructive deities who considered themselves so far above petty humans that just suggesting that they concern themselves with the beings they were about to crush to the extent of warning them would be insulting. It would be like you announcing to an ant that you intended to step on it and any others you happened across. This small act lowers their godly ego and works against the intended role of the Sinistrals.

2. The intro of the game makes me think of some 1990s arcade game's intro montage. You see the villain introduced in a nefarious, mustache-twirling manner as he speaks of his evil plans, and you cut to short scenes of every person who will join your party reacting to this threat by uniformly assuring the children around them that it'll be fine cuz they're gonna take this guy down. Seriously, it's like SquareEnix took its cues from the intro to Final Fight, and it gets sillier still by the fact that half of all the particularly strong people in the world seem to regularly hang out with children that need reassurance. I mean, come on, using that cliche once wasn't good enough, they had to jam it in 3 times?

3. Maxim's knowing Lexis already is a load of crap. In the original, Lexis was a scientist that Maxim and company met in the last half of the game, and whom they traveled with for a time, before he stayed behind to help them out from the science front rather than in battle. Here, he's vaguely introduced as Maxim's old friend from the start. There are 2 major changes that result from this alteration, and neither are good. The first problem is that it removes a good chunk of the game's time, since some of the events that would have occurred had Lexis joined the party later and done the plot-related stuff at that time just don't happen. Secondly and more importantly, this has actually LESSENED the significance of Lexis's role and limited his character development. While him being there from start to finish gives a greater chance to develop his character, SquareEnix squanders this by relegating him to a small support role, someone who rarely takes part in any major plot-significant way, and who usually only gets a chance to speak on the world map screen--and further, his lines usually are just a way to sum up what the party is currently doing and where they're headed. Lufia 2 created a better character with less time by giving him more to do and more significant things to say. The remake's Lexis is little more than a sign post pointing an arrow in the direction of the plot.

4. As with Lexis, Maxim also shouldn't have access to the ship, Excelion (Excerion in Lufia 2) from the start. The Excerion served a basic but functional purpose in Lufia 2, a way to open up new areas for Maxim and company to visit and advance plot in. They only got it later on, because in a game with a structured plot, having too many places open early on presents problems of keeping track of everything and having the party visit places in sequential order. In this game, though, Maxim's just given the ship right off the bat--and yet the problem with this is that SquareEnix has to immediately take away the ship's basic function! As soon as you get control of where you go on the map, you find out that Lexis has screwed up the ship so it can only travel on the land, and that he'll restore more functionality later. Um, excuse me, but if you're going to immediately go back on your action of giving Maxim a mode of transportation by limiting it to the same kind of travel he could do on his own, WHAT WAS THE FUCKING POINT OF MAKING THE CHANGE TO BEGIN WITH? Not only is it stupid and pointless and needlessly divorces the remake from the original that was respected and part of why people bought the remake to begin with, it's also a pretty weak example of writing--I mean, come on, Lexis removed the major function that would allow his craft to travel to the temple that he and Maxim knows is the central location for the world-changing events currently unfolding? All this needless change did was create a noticeably poorly-written cop-out! And this won't be the only instance of the game immediately having to go back on a change it made to the original for no reason, either. No, sir.

5. Hey, for that matter, how exactly does one modify a sea-faring vessel in the course of a few hours to be fully and only capable of traveling on solid terrain? I can suspend some disbelief with mad science in magical fantasy worlds, but that's just stupid.

6. Let's talk about the looks of the main characters, shall we? I was going to relegate these all to individual points, but I can't pretend that visuals are that important, so we'll just cover them all with one nitpick.

First of all, Maxim. Rather than be a well-groomed fellow with a dependable-looking build like in Lufia 2, SquareEnix has transformed Maxim into a leather-wearing Anime Biker Bishounen stereotype. Wasn't the point of updating the graphics of this game to make things look BETTER than their sprite origins? Way to fail on that, SquareEnix.

Next is Lexis. Apparently, just having Lexis's role be strictly relegated to science-related subjects wasn't enough for SquareEnix--they really, really felt you HAD to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Lexis was about science and nothing else. And so, they made him a body double for Doctor Emmet Brown. Nice work on subtle character design there, guys.

Every time I look at Iris I get annoyed. Why the hell did they make her look like an albino goth? It takes you hours to start taking anything she says seriously because of how ridiculous she looks.

You know, I actually can't say I was particularly fond of Tia's original look--frankly, it was sometimes difficult to distinguish her from a random NPC. But it was STILL better than this game, wherein she cosplays Launchpad McQuack.

Dekar could almost look decent if not for the fact that they changed his Anime Cliche Blue Spiky Hair into an obnoxiously pale pink Vanilla Ice look.

And oh hey, an albino bishounen elf in a robe. Thanks a lot for the meaningful visual change to Artea, SquareEnix. I'm sure your decision to make this alteration to his appearance had only the most artistic of motivations.

7. At this point, this is almost a given for a SquareEnix game (although I am told that Natsume handled this part), but I should note that the voice acting is...pretty bad. It's not the late 1990s any more, developers. There's a large pool of voice acting talents who know what they're doing to choose from now. Get with the fucking program, for God's sake.

8. Why did they make the world map one of those Select Your Destination things? What, was the sheer processing power and scope of the 16-bit Super Nintendo game's map too much for the poor technology of 2010? Doing this isn't just a pointless change that takes that much more of the game out of your hands, it also screws up the presentation of Lufia's world. In a game like Final Fantasy 10, or Final Fantasy Tactics, these location-selecting maps are okay because the game's entire scope takes place in a limited area of its world. FFT takes place in a single country, Ivalice, while FF10 takes place in a large area called Spira--we're never given much indication that there's anything outside of Spira, meaning that Spira COULD very well be the entire world, but the overall presentation nonetheless comes off as that of a fictional LAND, rather than a fictional PLANET. World maps you travel on manually, like in Lufia 2, help you to interpret the size of the fantasy world you traverse properly, helping to instill the sense that this is a functionally large world from the fact that you have to spend time to go through it, and you can only see a small chunk of it at a time. Putting a whole world map on the screen and having you select from a list of locations almost invariably makes the geographical scope of the game seem much smaller. This makes the entire world of Lufia 2 seem stupidly small, and certainly doesn't help to lessen the feeling of disappointment at how much is missing--more on that later.

9. The start of the game in the remake has Maxim just jumping into a dungeon to find and fight Gades. In the original Lufia 2, Maxim was a professional monster-hunter who kept his town safe by killing monsters in the area, and he only found out about the coming threat of the Sinistrals by the words of the enigmatic Iris, who charged him with a mission of saving mankind. It was a bit cliche, but it was handled well enough that it also felt like a proper start to an epic tale of heroism and so on. In this beginning, he's just tossed straight into the world-saving bit unceremoniously, with his motivation and history being at best vaguely referenced later. The original's beginning was better, and this fast-forward to the action in the remake leaves something to be desired.

10. Maxim's general mannerisms and personality suit his new look, which isn't a good thing. The original Maxim was a respectable warrior, friend, and man who seemed like a believable, decent, dependable person that fit the role of a legendary hero well. This new Maxim is just another dime-a-dozen anime-style teen hero, which is not nearly as interesting or likable.

11. Hey, you know how I said Lexis looked like Doc Brown's clone? Well, it ain't just the looks, actually, his personality's been transformed into a generic mad scientist rip-off. Hell, he even says "Great Scott" at one point. The original Lexis's presentation was realistic and mildly creative in how natural a person he felt like to the audience--even if we didn't see much of him outside of his role as the team's science guy, he at least felt like he was a person, not just a one-dimensional stereotype. Now, however, he just comes off as Dr. Insano's lame dad.

12. Okay, I don't usually care about having much challenge in an RPG since gameplay doesn't matter to me anyway, but getting 5 level-ups for free as a reward for dying is IDIOTIC.

13. Why does Maxim ask himself "Do the Sinistrals really exist?" when he's actively seeking one out to fight him after hearing said Sinistral announce his candidacy for World Dictator to the entire planet's population via global megaphone?

14. Now, I don't remember Lufia 2 mentioning this point at all one way or another, but I got the impression that, in the original game, magic-using people weren't all that rare. Some couldn't use magic, like Guy and Dekar, but as most of the people who joined your party were able to (Maxim, Tia, Selan, Lexis, and Artea), and as little was really said about this ability for most of those members, I can only conclude that it wasn't considered a huge rarity for people to use it. So why change the game's world to make magic-using humans rare? There's no significant change it makes to the plot. I admit that this is a nitpick since it doesn't make the game WORSE, either, but it DOES stand as a prime example of all the completely unnecessary, pointless changes made to a game that functioned excellently as it was.

15. Instead of being the enigmatic watcher and guardian of Maxim throughout his journey, whose benevolence and knowledge is ever a source of curiosity to Maxim, Iris is now someone who just travels along with the party. This completely changes her very important role in the game, and the loss of the mysterious guiding figure lessens the story's ability to draw us in.

16. "Solider." "That laugh of your's." "Someone from Parcelyte has to make Gades pays for." Natusme's editors are so competent.

17. Why the hell would Iris introducing herself as "Maxim's new partner for his journey" make Tia think she means that she's Maxim's new wife? I know Tia was always somewhat jealously sensitive to Maxim's being around other women, but this is an idiotic exaggeration.

18. What the fuck is an energy core? This world isn't supposed to have modern technology! And why the fuck do they need it to power their DOORS? Not a single goddamn thing is accomplished for the game's events by introducing this inexplicable magical device that changes the world's technological level completely. What the HELL? Why?

19. I've already mentioned the change in Lexis for the worse as a character, but it bears mentioning that even the intended effect of the change--stressing Lexis's scientific pursuits--is less than the original Lufia 2's version. Frankly, the new Lexis's going irrationally bonkers whenever he encounters any technology of interest, it, well, it makes it less convincing, somehow. I mean, just throwing in such an exaggerated reaction isn't actually a very convincing way to say "This guy is a scientist." He seems more like a nut. Lufia 2's Lexis had an intellectual curiosity and enthusiasm that befits a scientist. He treated scientific pursuits and his interests with a scholarly eagerness, and it far more convinced an audience that he was a man of science than the new Lexis's fanaticism.

20. I'm sorry, how does Maxim noting that a mechanical bridge is incredible prompt Lexis saying "Now you can see how manly I am!" in response? Like, where the hell did THAT come from?

21. So...Parcelyte has the jeweler who crafts the Ruby Apple, is the home town of Guy, AND is where Selan is from. They basically just rolled 3 separate towns and arcs of the plot into 1! And the later Bound Kingdom combines 2 separate towns and arcs, as well, as does the Grahtze Empire. Having several towns and cities across an expansive world helps to build the idea that the world is big and well-populated. Cramming everything together into half a dozen locations this way makes the whole world of the remake feel smaller than the scope of events in RPGs that take place in one specific part of the world only--I feel like there's more people and land mass in any given Suikoden country than in this game's entire world.

22. If you're going to fuck up the entire role of Iris in the game so that you can clumsily force her into the party, then why the hell just have her sit on her ass on the ship when the team has to go through a dungeon? Although she rarely does anything when she IS with the party in dungeons and whatnot. What was the point in making her a constant companion if you're going to ignore her presence as much as you would have in her previous, true role? Throughout this remake, Iris's occasional role in events could have been served exactly as well had she been a recurring event character as she was in the original. She takes no significant part in the various conversations characters have with each other in the gaps between plot events, so what was the point in making her present for them? And most idiotic of all, comparing what actions Iris takes and events she influences, you'll see that she actually did considerably MORE stuff, and took part in more important conversations that would influence her perspective, in the original!* That's not just a Fail, that's a Cyclical Fail, a Fail that goes along its merry, sucky little way and accidentally plows into its own ass!

23. A suitcase that can shoot boxing gloves. Really. THAT'S the weapon you chose to change Tia's armament to, SquareEnix? Something a Looney Tune character would have too much dignity to use?

24. Tia's personality has been made much too feisty and assertive. This wouldn't necessarily have been a bad change--I would have preferred the more serious Tia, but that would have just been personal preference--but for the fact that the writers don't handle the changed character very well, and thus her new, spunkier attitude just seems mildly annoying most of the time.

25. Berty and Bart weren't exactly subtle, serious thieves in Lufia 2, but their incarnations in this game, Berty and Betty, are absurd. They're actually MORE annoying and excessively dramatic than Team Rocket, for God's sake!

26. It's Maxim who's supposed to be fine with giving Rochy a false Ruby Apple, and Tia who's supposed to be opposed to it, not the other way around. This further screws up each character's development and personality, and ruins the entire point of the sidequest--the original purpose of it in Lufia 2 was to have Maxim decide to give Rochy the false Ruby Apple, but only so that he could then give the reward for it to Jaffy, who was supposed to be in unfair debt to Rochy, so in the end, the payment for Jaffy's craftsmanship and effort goes to Jaffy. This is a fair ending for everyone, and shows that Maxim values the spirit of justice, not the letter of its law. In this remake, it's a diversion from the plot whose only purpose is technical (to get the player used to Tia and her Grappling Hook) that has lost any intellectual or spiritual significance.

27. Why the Mystic Stone Board? The game already rewards you for poor gaming with 5 free levels every time you fail. What is the need for ANOTHER way to make the game easier? My only guess is that they hoped adding needless extra complexities to the gameplay would pad the game out a bit.

28. Making Idura into the local priest for Parcelyte adds nothing to the story or character in this remake worth mentioning; in fact, it's slightly detrimental, since establishing a previous personality and role in his community makes his sudden, unexplained change to evil seem strange. At least with a goon who had no backstory, as Idura was in Lufia 2, you don't have any previously established personality for the guy and thus his being an evil jerk isn't out of character.

29. The showdown with Idura to save Jessy is just fucking terrible. I don't care if you do think your boyfriend is a muscle-bound oaf sometimes. If you're in mortal peril, having been kidnapped by a psychotic magic-using jackass who worships malevolent gods of destruction, and your boyfriend has fought his way through a dungeon of murderous monsters and risked his life to save you, YOU DON'T FUCKING GIGGLE WHEN YOUR KIDNAPPER CALLS HIM A MEATHEAD.

30. As a follow-up to the previous grievance, you don't immediately hurl around a lot of insults about your boyfriend's intelligence right after he SAVES YOUR LIFE. Way to make Jessy real fucking classy, remake.

31. Guy's direct and thick-headed nature is over-played. A LOT. Occasionally being slow on the uptake was part of Guy's personality in Lufia 2; in this game, the entirety of his personality and development consist of people (including he himself) informing him that he's a stupid, brainless lummox. He seriously cannot say 3 sentences without the game reminding us again and again that he is a dumb chunkhead. It gets real old, REAL fast.

32. Guy and Jessy's relationship is supposed to involve some light verbal sparring and good-natured disagreement. It's not supposed to be 90% Jessy complaining about how stupid he is.

33. Where is Hilda, Guy's sister? What purpose was there in removing her from the game? I mean, I admit that Jessy can take Hilda's role as kidnapped bait early on just as well, and that from that point on Hilda didn't have too much plot importance anyway so Jessy alone suffices, but there's still no need to cut her altogether. Did they get rid of her because they wanted to have Guy's rescuing Jessy make their relationship more real to the player? Because that sure as hell didn't work out thanks to how they handled it (see points 29 and 30). Frankly, I would have welcomed Hilda's presence, as she might have managed to be 1 single person in Guy's life who wouldn't tell him over and over that he's stupid as shit.

34. Tia was not thrilled at having Selan around in the original Lufia 2, but she was a classy enough person not to just be whiny, hostile, and generally belligerent towards Selan like a put-out preteen. This game's Tia, of course, manages not to have this basic level of adult dignity.

35. If the remake is going to keep the scene where Selan admits that Maxim isn't a bad leader, it should have kept the scene where she has an issue with having him lead her to begin with! This scene just comes off as disjointed and coming out of nowhere without the progenitor that it was meant to have!

36. Tia's poorly-written bitchiness is not only an inferior change to her character, but it doesn't even make sense at times. Why would Tia resent the fact that Selan is allowed to hit switches to lower obstructions to the group's path when Selan is the only one with a tool that can do so anyway, and when it was already explicitly mentioned previously that Selan's presence in the group was good, because they needed a military officer, such as she, to open the obstructing gates? Apparently it's not enough to make Tia bitchy for no reason, they have to also make her a petulant child.

37. In Lufia 2, the point of the scene where Tia gets separated from the group by wandering off by herself was to establish that Maxim and Selan are both alike in having a reflexive, unthinking desire to save those around them, even if it's reckless to do so. Keeping the scene but removing that part of it renders the whole thing meaningless, and robs Maxim and Selan of important character and relationship development!

38. I don't care if she IS feeling meaninglessly indignant because people actually have the gall to laud praise on Selan for contributing to their quest, Tia's running off on her own after JUST having been saved from death that came as a result of her running off on her own and rebuked for doing so is IDIOTIC!

39. I don't really see the point of changing Prince Alex's character development in this new version. In Lufia 2, he was an arrogant prince who thought he could take anything on and was way stronger than his soldiers, who he basically patronized. He eventually learned his own limits and what his proper role as a prince was when he learned that his prowess as a warrior was largely imagined, which ended with him apologizing to Dekar and realizing that he could learn a lot on how to be a better man from him. The remake's take on Alex being a youngster who's too eager to be tough isn't terrible, but it's neither executed nor concluded as well. And that's really too bad, because, since the overall events of the Prince Alex plot arc are the same in either version, this was yet another thing that DIDN'T NEED TO CHANGE AT ALL.

40. That's right, Lufia 2 remake. Add an over-the-top comic sound effect and give people sweat drops when Dekar talks about being great at picking up the ladies. Really show us just how well you understand SUBTLETY.

41. In neither the original nor this remake is it in Selan's character to lose her cool about Gades's second attack on Parcelyte and go off to take him on herself. In all previous situations in either game, it's been shown that she is cool-headed, analytical, and highly competent.** SquareEnix is clumsily trying to force Maxim and Selan's relationship's growth the only way an incompetent company knows how--have the male save the female from doom that she's either too weak to save herself from, or (as in this case) has brought on herself by being irrationally emotional. In this imbecilic way, the miserable hacks at SquareEnix hope to compensate for having cut out a significant portion of the characters' interactions and disrupted the subtle romantic growth that the original Lufia 2 portrayed. They try to explain it later using a rather trite backstory they make up about Selan blaming herself for her reliance on her former captain leading him to his death, but that doesn't explain why she completely lost her head in the matter, since there's every indication thus far that her outstanding military discipline and mentality are the strongest part of her character.

42. Oh yeah, awesome, so Gades's True Form reveals that he is actually...a flying building. And I thought being menaced by a dastardly tree in Final Fantasy 5 was anticlimactic.

43. They really overplay Dekar's tendency to boast about being not only the best at swordsmanship, but also the best at whatever else happens to be going on at that moment. I mean, I admit that I DO quite enjoy the line "The other thing I'm the best at is doing things I don't understand with my energy waves!" But even a good joke gets old when it's told too many times.

44. Speaking of those energy waves! Personal energy waves were a part of Lufia 2, but you can't seem to have a single conversation regarding the Sinistrals without hearing energy waves mentioned at least 3 times in this version. When you mention them that damn often, the audience starts to really want to know what the hell they actually are and the details about them, since they apparently are an integral part of 3/4ths of the game's plot events...knowledge which the game never really sees fit to adequately grace us with. To be fair, Lufia 2 didn't, either--but it wasn't dropping the term every 4 sentences, either, so it wasn't drawing the audience's curiosity as much. If you're going to wave a wand and say "An energy wave did it" for roughly half of all the plot events in the entire game, then your audience needs to have a damn good understanding of this plot device for it not to seem like it's lazy and incompetent writing. Which they don't, and thus it does.

45. The romance building up to Selan's confession of loving Maxim is ludicrously short, underdeveloped, and spontaneous. In the extremely short time she's known him--short even compared to how long she'd known him in the original, and I admit, it wasn't all that long back then--she's barely interacted with him, and most of those few interactions have been unrelated to their getting to know each other, respect each other, feel out one another's personalities, anything. The issue of her accepting the need to rely on Maxim happens almost immediately before she lets him know she loves him; she hasn't had time to emotionally adjust to her realizations, and yet she's already deciding that she loves him for it! And besides the fact that they quite literally know nearly nothing about one another, Maxim has not had the time (nor personality) to really do anything to impress Selan in regards to his character--the game's rushed through so many events and cut so much out of the plot that Maxim doesn't come off as any more or less heroic or noteworthy than anyone else in his team at all. Even if I feel Lufia 2 did rush things a little with their falling for each other, it was at least mostly believable, and you could see actual foundations for their emotional connection there. Here, it's ludicrously spontaneous.

46. Oh, hey, yeah, great...change Selan's focal point of character development early on and the only issue she and Maxim really interact over from her coming to trust other people to fight with her as equals as it was in Lufia 2, to her coming to accept that she needs help sometimes and it's okay to be saved by Maxim. The difference between the 2 versions is subtle, but telling--in the original, the issue is trusting others as peers and leaders and the events that develop this involve Maxim proving himself capable, but in the remake, the issue is whether she can be okay with needing help, and the event that develops this is her failing and Maxim having to rescue her and carry her on his back. So while the founding principles for this character development are similar, it's the remake that takes it in a direction that can be seen as the female needing the big, strong man to save her and finish the job that she can't do herself.

47. For that matter, Maxim's side of the romantic build-up is even worse. Even if it's a terrible idea, Selan's falling in love with Maxim because he taught her that she can depend on someone else to save her less than 5 minutes ago is still SOME reason for her to emotionally attach to him. What's happened in the short time he's known her that's made him love her? She's done nothing for him on an emotional level, had very little to say to him, evoked little reaction in him besides a desire to make her accept his help, he hasn't made any mention of her being attractive to him in any way...there's nothing there on any level! You'll probably have a better understanding of whoever you sit next to on a 2-hour flight than he has of her!

48. You know, if you're going to keep Tia a part of the story after the part where she left for good in the original version--a change which I think is utterly meaningless to begin with, incidentally--maybe you should have cut out the original's line where she SAYS SHE'S LEAVING. Because it kind of seems a little misleading when she's back on screen less than 5 minutes later!

49. Tia and Dekar, ladies and gentlemen. Tia and Dekar. A love so pure and convincing, it had to be born off screen, in the space of 2 minutes real-time, done solely because it just wouldn't be right if there were anyone in the main cast who wasn't hooked up! Apparently, SquareEnix is getting advice on character romance decisions from a 14-year-old Fanfiction.net addict.

50. Okay, seriously, Jeros has way too much hair for a newborn infant. I don't have as much hair on my head as he does! Has anyone at SquareEnix actually SEEN a baby before?

51. "This is getting me excited!" THAT'S what you say when your friend and his wife come running to you and say that their baby has been kidnapped by a psychotic cult member? That is NOT the appropriate response, Lexis!

52. I'm pretty sure that Dekar saying the phrase, "I live by love, but I won't be chained to it" in reference to his girlfriend Tia wanting a baby does not, in fact, mean "Guy should be more open about his feelings for his girlfriend Jessie." That really just is not a valid interpretation of Dekar's statement no matter how you look at it.

53. Iris's development into a more human character is sloppy and not at all believable--particularly when a major scene for her development, the scene where she gives Leefa the flower and names it Priphea, actually has most of Iris's dialogue being basically the same as the scene was in the original Lufia 2--but in the original, it was SELAN saying them! How exactly do you use dialogue to develop a character when it was written for and said by someone ELSE who was a very different person? Even when this game keeps things the same as in the original, it STILL manages to screw it up somehow!

54. The spoken lines for Berty and Betty during the tank boss fight in Gratze are so stupid and fucking annoying as to defy description.

55. Why the hell does Tia get mad and claim that Guy's killed them all when he smashes up the Grahtze missile that the party is riding? They're riding an armed, fired warhead speeding towards its target! What, the team would have had a BETTER chance of surviving the missile's descent by staying on it and being at the very heart of its explosion?

56. What kind of idiot asks if the reason her boyfriend is surprised to see her is because he's cheating on her? It seems fairly obvious that Guy is surprised by Jessie's sudden entrance because she has just appeared out of nowhere halfway across the world from their home! But hey, by all means, remake, make Jessie MORE of a unlikable and highly illogical bitch for no reason.

57. Going back to how poorly Iris is characterized in this remake for a moment, in Lufia 2, Iris's subtle character development came significantly from her observations of people as she watched Maxim, being mentioned here and there during her appearances in small speeches that gave you a fairly good idea of what and how she was learning. In this game, though, these subtle monologues and dialogues are replaced with numerous choppy, awkward one-line observations like, "You are funny people," or "This weapon is amazing" and having nothing of significance to expand on these notes with. Call me strict, but I don't think that statements like "Grass is green" and "Water is wet" really count as acceptable character development.

58. Why the hell does Artea have a gun in the remake? Just...why? What was the point of THAT? He could have been a long-distance attacker with his bow and arrow equipment from the original game just fine! He's a member of an elven community that abhors technology and he lives a spiritual life in commune with Nature. How does it make sense that he would own and use a weapon more technologically advanced than almost anything else in the world? You don't exactly whittle a high-tech projectile energy weapon from wood, you know!

59. It is said at one point in the remake that Amon, Sinistral of Chaos, would not be so successful in creating his chaos if people could just learn to trust one another. This is not particularly well thought-out. Wouldn't unquestioningly trusting others make you MORE of a target for Amon's lies and deceptions, since, y'know, you'd just believe whatever damn thing he or one of his flunkies told you?

60. The more it's used, the more Karyn's song in the remake seems less like something naturally comforting and soothing and more like brainwashing. I mean, it's stated that it has soothing energy waves in it, so it's essentially a mood-altering form of plot-magic, and watching the scene where it's used in Elcid to instantly turn frightened children into completely enthused and reassured supporters of Maxim is...well, it just all really seems a lot like mind control. Like...emphasis on the words "REALLY" and "A LOT." I'm not entirely sure that this is such a morally acceptable tool for Maxim to use to get people to calm down.

61. Maybe the reason that Milka's absent father is never discussed in the original Lufia 2 is because it is rude and more than a little outrageous that someone (Tia) would interrogate someone she just met YESTERDAY (Artea) about whether he's the kid's illegitimate father, and if not, pressing him for information on who was. And THEN pushing the subject further by urging him to totally hook up with his dead friend's wife. Seriously, Tia, you have known Artea for 2 DAYS IN TOTAL. It really just isn't appropriate for you to be harassing him about his personal life, even considering that this terrible game has ineptly warped your personality to that of a pushy, obnoxious twit.

62. Regarding the remake's Albert character: Okay, I realize that 50 years is a long time, but somehow, it seems to me that if a guy finds the ultimate hidden temple where the world's most legendary and powerful sword lies, and has an emotionally traumatizing event in said temple that changes his life forever, then that guy shouldn't FORGET the location of the temple's entrance.

63. Adding Albert and Elaine's little side story to the remake makes the following part of the scene where Daos takes the Dual Blade less sensible. After all, the conclusion of this new side story has Maxim resonating his energy waves with Dual Blade to calm it and bring it under control. In Lufia 2, Daos's proving initially to be the more worthy master of Dual Blade is surprising, but there's really no precedent to indicate that Maxim has what it takes to wield it properly, so it's believable. But in this new version, Maxim has proved literally minutes before that he has the ability to control the sword, to direct it with his will! The only significant impact that adding Albert and Elaine's little side show has on anything is to lessen the logical integrity of this crucial scene.

64. It's time for another Good Idea, Bad Idea.
Good Idea: Getting the help of 2 thieves to help you sneak in somewhere.
Bad Idea: Getting the help of 2 loudmouth thief-wannabes who have all the subtlety and quiet of a marching band to help you sneak in somewhere.
Seriously, Berty and Betty get found out every damn time they do anything, and once they have your attention, they relish keeping it, as obnoxiously as possible. Those 2 are the last individuals on the planet that Maxim should be asking for help from for infiltration missions!

65. Why is Leon's word allowed to supersede Thea's on what the Gratze Empire will and won't do for Maxim? Isn't she the daughter of the emperor, while whatever hand in official state policy Leon has with Gratze Empire is solely based on his marrying into HER royal family? If Thea wants to give Maxim the city's energy core, Leon's say on the subject shouldn't matter.

66. Wow, President Miles. You learn a couple folks you're talking to are thieves, and you immediately suggest they go rob your wealthiest citizen. Kind of a dick move there, buddy.

67. In the remake, when Tia's group is confronted with a device that will need to be manipulated to continue, Tia's lack of immediate understanding of how it works is patronized with the statement, "Maybe some day you'll understand." It's a fucking energy augmenting machine the likes of which Tia will probably never see again. Either she gets it or she doesn't, and either way, it's not that big a deal since you don't have to understand the thing to interact with it.

68. Actually, wouldn't it make more sense for Tia, the girl who's expressed a mild interest in doohickeys and who knows the famous inventor Lexis personally, to know what the energy augmenting machine is, rather than Selan, whose job and hobbies (both of which are "Be A Soldier") don't have any particular connection to high technology?

69. In the original Lufia 2, Dekar made his return on the eve of the final battle between gods and men, arriving on the back of a whale to explosively destroy a legion of huge monsters in order for his friends to be able to leave so they can race to the final battle. In this remake, Dekar makes his return by...walking into a room and telling his prince that things will turn out okay. That's about as far a step down as it gets.

70. While the new reason Iris has for watching over Maxim is not actually a terrible idea for a villain (to make everyone believe in him so that when she kills him, the world's hope is completely crushed), the original Lufia 2's role for Iris as the one Arek the Absolute sent to observe the humans and determine whether it really was the gods who deserved to rule the planet had a grander feel to it. Not to mention that Iris's role in this seems nonsensically superfluous anyway--Daos's ability to completely terrify pretty much everyone on the planet accomplishes the same goal as destroying their hope anyway, and will certainly have as much of a lasting diminishing effect on people's thoughts of resistance as destroying Maxim will. The whole "Build up the perfect hero, then destroy him to utterly crush all hopes of resistance" idea is good and sensible, but only IF you don't already have another way to mentally subjugate all of humanity more readily available to you--which Daos clearly does have!

71: The plan to crush the world's hope using Maxim's death would be better for a different set of villains--the Sinistrals were, in the original Lufia 2, convincing deities of cataclysm because, while interested in exterminating humanity, they forever saw it as nothing more than insects before them. When you're an evil god and you know it, and regard mortals as no more than vexing ants to be stamped beneath your godly heel, you don't care about what those mortal bugs feel, whether or not they feel any hope of opposing you. The original Sinistrals sold their position of malevolent power greatly through their ego and indifference; the remake's Sinistrals have a concern for humanity's actions that's out of place for their role.

72: You know what strikes me as mind-fuckingly amazing when I watch the conversation Selan and Maxim have before they leave for the final battle in the remake? If you compare it to the original version, you will find that the original version--you know, the one released over a decade ago during an age famous for its poor translations, by a company with fewer resources than SquareEnix has currently--actually had THE BETTER TRANSLATION. And it's not like the problem is a poor translations of ideas that were added or changed in this version--this conversation is actually one of the few things that SquareEnix didn't significantly change the core of. Selan, Maxim, Guy, and Artea are all saying the same things as in the original--they're just using worse English to do so. This means that SquareEnix could have, for most of the scene, used the same dialogue line for line, and it would have been better. The localization team for SquareEnix is already behind the times in levels of competence, but this is a low moment, even for them.

73. One of the things the remake adds is Gades briefly waxing philosophical on evolution and his connection to it after the final rematch with him. Uh....what exactly did evolution have to do with this rematch with Gades, and his return to life in general? He wasn't any different or better than before, which is sort of what evolution is supposed to be about. And for that matter, how exactly is destruction the ultimate path of evolution, as he claims? That's a philosophy too bizarre and vague to just toss out there with no explanation, because without further elaboration, the statement really has no meaning.

74. Maxim's refusal to fight Erim is ridiculous. It's one thing in RPGs when a hero can't bring himself to face a loved one in combat when it's a case of the person being tricked or mind controlled into doing battle, or at the very least, someone the hero's known and cared for dearly for a long time. But Maxim is throwing the fight against someone who has willingly betrayed him, who has explained that she was never on his side and has taken long, elaborate measures to ensure a death for him that will doom the world. And it's not even like she's THAT important a person to him! He's only known her for small periods of time over the course of a year, and quite frankly, the emotional connection between Iris and him in this game is far from convincing--in fact, I think the emotional ties between these 2 were far better portrayed in the original--so it's hard to really believe that he would seriously refuse to fight against her when the entire world's population is depending on him to make it to and defeat Daos, including Maxim's baby son. We REALLY are expected to believe that he's not going to give his all to keep everyone he knows and cares about safe in this battle because he doesn't want to bruise the fragile goddess of death who's told him their friendship was just a roundabout way of killing him?

75. Goddammit SquareEnix, the temperature of one's hands really does not have any goddamn thing to do with how good a person they are.

76. In Lufia 2, the Dual Blade looked like a sword. In Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals, it...well, I don't know WHAT it looks like, really, but it sure as hell isn't a sword, and the shape, likely weight distribution, and size imply that it would be pretty damn difficult to USE it as a sword, too. Here, just look at this damn thing:

Dumb even by RPG weapon standards.

If when rotated 180 degrees your sword looks like a fucking toucan's face, you have FAILED as a blacksmith.

77: So let me get this straight--if you bought this game when it came out, you were paying $30--you know, the average cost of a regular, brand new game made from scratch--for a remake of a game about a decade and a half old that's had about a third of its content and play time erased. You guys know by now that I'm not a fan of the amount companies charge for rereleases, but at least with those, you're getting the FULL GAME when you pay for it a second time. With this, you're paying a new, complete game's full price for an adaptation that's only 60% there. I realize that the overhaul in gameplay and graphics and such is a significant cost, but just how much of that is offset by how much they didn't have to spend because they'd needlessly cut it?

78. Oh, and hey, part of the later half of the game that was cut out of this version? It included some of the good characterization given to Maxim and Selan regarding their relationship with one another. Actually paying attention to the continued love between husband and wife and some issues that come up for them to overcome was one of the several great things that Lufia 2 did that was noteworthy and unique. In this version, though, barely a word is mentioned about their marriage from the moment they finish saving Jeros halfway through the game until the talk before the final battle. Jeez...what good parts of Lufia 2 this remake didn't outright destroy, it just removed entirely.

79. Why the change of dialogue in the ending regarding the wound to Artea's eye? In the original Lufia 2, Milka noticed during the ending that Artea's eye was wounded. He reassured her that it was "alright," and that it wouldn't kill him. This is, of course, one of Lufia 2's countless moments of setting up Lufia 1's events, in this case the fact that 99 years later Artea has gone blind from this injury. Him saying it won't kill him is fine, since it clearly doesn't, and does leave the possibility that the injury is still serious enough that it will eventually blind him. It's not the BEST way of writing in this eventually blinding injury, I'll grant you, but it at least is reasonable. In this remake, however, Artea assures Milka that it "is not serious." The original at least didn't DENY that it was a serious wound, just saying that it wouldn't kill him. But by just flat-out saying it's not a serious injury, there's the implication that this injury WON'T ever amount to any permanent damage. So if this remake still intends to set up Lufia 1's events the way the original Lufia 2 did (not that there isn't already plenty of other stuff that would contradict the succeeding game anyway), then it has stupidly changed the dialogue to be worse suited for its purposes than the original game's. And if the remake is NOT trying to set up the later game's events the way the original did...then what's the bloody point of having the eye injury to begin with?

80. Hey there, kids! Are you not happy with the original ending of Lufia 2? Are you too shallow to appreciate an ending where the main hero dies, no matter how excellently created it may be? Are you willing to believe the most contrived plot-hole-creating horse shit without question or complaint so long as everything is happy sunshine with bunnies, peaches, and sprinkles in the end? Do you just have a hateful loathing for anything even remotely resembling intelligent, or even competent, storytelling? If you answered yes to those questions, then has SquareEnix got a treat for you: the new, secret New Game+ True Ending for Lufia 2's remake! Thrill as all emotional impact of one of the greatest endings in RPG history is sucked out instantly thanks to Maxim and Selan NOT dying in the new ending! "Ooh" and "Ahh" at the utterly ridiculous way that Iris defies what's actually been shown by the game to be her death and inexplicably comes back to life just long enough to provide a nonsensical reason for why Maxim can apparently increase his personal energies at the drop of a hat! Gleefully ignore the obvious questions running through your head about why the act of pouring all his energies and concentration into saving his son wouldn't already have raised his personal energies as much as possible anyway, and how he could have MORE energy and endurance to provide AFTER going through a long secret boss battle than he would have had he not been in exhausting combat for 20 minutes! Clap and cheer as SquareEnix rubs its unwiped, infected asshole against the tombstone of Lufia 2 in one final, heinous act of defiance against the game that it has brutally murdered!

81. Oh, yeah, remake, that's just great, have Tia crying in the cowardly happy ending, too. Just remove that much more meaning from her character and the ending by having her sob just as hard for the fact that things are okay as she would have for her intuition of Maxim's death.


And there you go. I hope this list shows pretty conclusively why Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals isn't just a fairly lousy RPG in its own right, but also a vile, wretched pile of slop that insults and mocks the classic RPG that it claims to reimagine. I mean, just LOOK at all the shit I've mentioned here--there isn't a single level that SquareEnix's remake does not fail on when compared to its predecessor. The little details are worse. The quality of story-telling and character-developing is worse (and by a lot). What parts of Lufia 2 it keeps, it screws up. What parts of Lufia 2 it removes had impact on the rest of the game that is not eliminated, causing later events to seem spontaneous and strange because they had been meant to rely on concepts and dialogue that's been cut. And what parts it changes are almost invariably made worse by the alteration. And hey, let's not forget, the player was paying the FULL price for a new game, yet only getting a PARTIAL game due to all the events and content of Lufia 2 that's missing in the remake.

Now, in the spirit of fairness, I DID compile a list of the things that Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals changes for the better. I honestly am trying to be objective and reasonable here, and I'll give the remake credit where it's due. So here are the things the remake changes or adds that had any significantly positive influence.


All the Things That Don't Suck About Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals as a Remake of Lufia 2:

1. The tutorial images are kind of cute.

2. Selan's speech to Lamitty, the girl who's being teased, is a bit better and more reasonable in the remake than it was in Lufia 2.

3. Parcelyte's king in Lufia 2 was a little too generic an NPC given how many instances of the plot he was involved in, and the fact that Maxim clearly came to know him on some personal level over the course of the game. The new president having a more distinctive character makes more sense for telling the story.

4. The aftermath of Gades's attack on Parcelyte is handled pretty well--having the city's residents survive because of Selan's constantly training them in evacuation procedures, along with having them witness Maxim's battle and gain hope from it, actually strengthens Selan's character a little, makes Maxim seem more like the bastion of hope that he's meant to be in the game, and helps give the player a little more respect for each of them.

5. Although the Sinistrals taking such an interest in human affairs is lessening to their roles, as I mentioned above, I do appreciate that Amon is now using powers and plans that relate to his theme of Chaos. The original didn't seem to really do much that showed him to be a god of Chaos specifically.


And that's it. Now, I do appreciate these changes here, and a couple of them are reasonably significant (the Lamitty speech and Parcelyte aftermath). But there's 5 good differences against 81 bad ones, and none of those 5 can compare to the severity of several of the 81's, like fucking up the ending and ruining characters' development and personalities.

Overall, Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals is a lazy, shoddy, sloppy piece of work. And when you look at the game it used as its template, it becomes revolting, even tragic. This is a level of careless incompetence destroying a good product that rivals that of George Lucas and Joe Quesada. Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals is a bad RPG, it's an utterly repulsive remake, and pretty much everything about its existence makes my soul violently ill.










* Oh, but wait, she was mildly amused by that one conversation the party had at the tower. Well, what MORE could an audience want as explanation for why a deity of entropy would have a change of heart and go against everything in her nature? Surely there's no more realistic and powerful cure for moral dilemmas than a case of the giggles!

** I will give you that Selan is later emotional to the point of irrationality regarding the safety of her newborn son, Jeros...but it's a realistic expectation that new motherhood's overpowering protective instincts would cause this in anyone.

20 comments:

  1. I agree. SQUARE-ENIX ruined the game. I prefer the original. T_T Please NEVERLAND and TAITO do LUFIA I, NO SQUARE-ENIX!.

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  2. To be fair, as I noted, I'm not sure how much involvement each company had with this remake, just that the original creating company AND SquareEnix were working together on it. With a game this abhorrent, it seems unlikely it was JUST SquareEnix that made all the terrible, TERRIBLE decisions (although I'd certainly not be surprised if you were right and it was entirely the one company). Like I said, I don't know the full story on how much blame each company takes for the shitty nature of this game. I just mostly blame SquareEnix for this product because A, there's little doubt they had SOME developmental say in this since it reeks with their crass incompetence, and B, it wouldn't have existed without them backing it. But even if you cut SquareEnix out of the equation, any further Lufia remakes might be almost as bad as this one.

    Actually, a remake of Lufia 1 might be even worse a game, given how lame Lufia 1 already is to begin with.

    Thanks for commenting, though!

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  3. I was playing Lufia 2 on an emulator, and stopped to look some minor detail up, and ran across this article.

    First thought: Woo! Remake! Like Ocarina of Time! I must get a DS!

    ...

    Thoughts thereafter as I read: Why? WHYYYYYY? Bastards! I loved that game. How dare they crap all over one of the finest oldschool rpgs of all time. I'm trying to convince my other half to give it a go on the emulator, citing fine points like character development - like when Guy's sister gets sick, does the protagonist bitch and whine and go 'Nooo, we need you for the battles!'? No, he pretty much says family comes first, take care of your sister, and we'll be fine. It has an interesting plot, a moving storyline, and ties in as an excellent prequel, in spite of the fact that Lufia 1 was irritating and clunky, mostly due to battles in general.

    In a time where we have games like the Dragon Age and Mass Effect series, one would think that a simple remake of a beloved SNES rpg wouldn't be beyond the developers.

    FAIL, squeenix, FAIL.

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  4. I pretty much agree completely with you. Hope I haven't steered you away from the DS, though--it does have some rather excellent RPGs on it, like Radiant Historia and Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume, along with a lot of rereleases of old RPGs that DIDN'T get contaminated from SquareEnix's touch.

    At any rate, thanks a bunch for reading and commenting. I hope you'll find more articles here of interest to check out in the future.

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  5. I figure any time I get the urge to buy a random 2nd hand ps2 rpg, I'll check with you first in case it's rubbish. :P

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  6. i like how they remade the music!

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  7. I know the article's a bit old, but I just wanted to say that I enjoyed reading this. As a longtime fan of the original Lufia 1 and 2, I was at once intrigued and appalled, because I KNOW what Square-Enix pumps out these days and I haven't been impressed with them in over a decade (with the possible exception of FF1+2 on the GBA).

    But while replaying Lufia 2 on the SNES, I thought back to the remake which had recently become a topic of discussion amongst some people I know. So against my better judgement I went and picked it up (sadly used with no case or manual) for pretty cheap. I haven't gotten super far, so I haven't read all of your complaints (yet), but they have pretty much mirrored my general sentiments about the game so far.

    I really don't like the new character designs (it was the main reason I refuse to touch FF4 DS, and their handling of Rydia as eye-candy was awful), and the changes to the general setting left me very disappointed. I kept thinking "it's like I'm not even PLAYING Lufia 2 anymore, but then what the hell is this and why does everything seem vaguely familiar?" I was especially saddened that they pulled the whole "select your destination on the map" bullcrap which I've come to seriously hate in RPGs these days.

    .. I think I might be straying, I'll wrap this up. Basically, I wanted to say that I pretty much agree with what you're saying and it's nice to know that I'm not alone in my disliking of Lufia DS. On the other hand, because it IS such a different game, there's a part of me that manages to enjoy it in some small way, even if I'm constantly reminded of how they basically gutted the original and hung it's husk out for all to see. This is the kind of thing that actually keeps me away from newer games, sadly.

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  8. Thanks for commenting, and I'm glad to know I'm not the only fan of Lufia 2 who had these impressions. And by all means, comment anywhere you feel regardless of how old the rant is; I read them all!

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  9. I'm new to Lufia in general, having only recently started playing Rise of the Sinistrals on my mobile SNES emulator. For reference, I actually downloaded numerous SNES RPGs trying to find something that could hold my interest with both a good story AND an enjoyable combat system (I know people would shoot me for saying this, but I just don't like the combat in the likes of Final Fantasy III/VI). Of the games I tried, Lufia was the one I found myself continuing to go back to. I love its mixture of Zelda-esque overworld puzzling with the tried-and-true RPG elements and turn-based combat.

    When I heard about the DS remake, I figured it'd be along the lines of Chrono Trigger's port. When I found out it had 3D models and anime-style character art, I was cool with that (I tend to like RPGs that use character portraits because as much as I love sprites, the portraits do make me feel more emotionally attached to characters...one of the reasons I love Fire Emblem so much). But then I started playing it and...what is this? A generic hack-and-slash instead of the unique pseudo-adventure pseudo-RPG I was expecting? The intro sequence alone was agonizing, and made me wary of what was to come. I was surprised when I found overall positive response to the game in reviews online, because it seemed exactly like the sort of thing that would turn fans of the original off...your Avatar TLA/live-action movie comparison is perfect, and basically how I expected to see fans reacting. This does not feel like an enhanced remake with new visual elements...it felt like a different game using the same character names and vaguely the same plot.

    I personally liked what I saw of most of the character portrait art (though I thought the same thing about Lexis when I first saw him, too...terrible Back to the Future ripoff). I think Maxim looks a little too much like your generic JRPG protagonist, but it didn't seem character-breaking to me, and I like his VA (Todd Haberkorn, pretty well-known anime VA) enough though I can't say it's the voice I'd have personally chosen for the character. It's more the gameplay itself that my criticism lies with...it's just...NOT Lufia 2. It's just not. And I couldn't even play the remake far enough to comment significantly on the plot, because it was just intolerable to play.

    I don't hate remakes, even when they take a few liberties in 'upgrading' things like the designs or some story elements. But when you add that on top of breaking the core gameplay mechanics that made Lufia 2 so unique among the plethora of SNES RPGs of the time, it's too much. It's not even a remake anymore, it's just a pile of trash unfit to bear the original's name. And that's what this remake feels like to me. It's good to see that I'm not the only one who really appreciates what the original SNES game has to offer, and dislikes this trend of moving everything into a simplified format like most games do these days...I mean come on, the stupid select a location menu that destroys the fun of exploring, or giving you FREE LEVEL UPS for failing...I'm just glad to know I'm not the only one out there who remembers when games were truly epic adventures, in scope and in story - and that's epic as in a grand-scale story of heroic exploits - not internet kiddie slang for 'cool'.

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  10. I just finished playing this game recently. The adding 5 levels bit helped tremendously, since I don't play games very often, and I don't have the time to build my levels very high. I am not a hardcore gamer and never will be. I just want to enjoy a (hopefully) good story.

    I actually liked new Lexis. Honestly, Lexis in Lufia 2 was a pretty flat character. Once he joins the party, he has absolutely no dialogue until the party saves Milka on the Mountain of No Return. He doesn't come into his own until he's in a lab doing something to Excerion. I think that's why SE made him a NPC. It isn't really much of a change. (And I actually like the Doc Brown reference. Lexis became a bit of a scene-stealer in Curse.)

    But I agree with you wholeheartedly with the Maxim/Selan relationship. It was done so cleverly in the original. The game gave it the time to play out properly, to show us players that Selan was way more suited to him than Tia ever was. Selan wasn't just a frigid woman with emotional hangups; she just had trust issues because she was used to being alone. But her destiny required a partner, so she had to learn to trust another. It was so well done. In Curse of the Sinistrals, this was abbreviated to fit the shortened plot, to the point where I didn't even pick up any romantic feelings between the two. They seemed more like friends that had a kid together. And really, Jeros seems like an afterthought to the two of them. They're comrades-in-arms in Curse who just happened to get hitched.

    And Tia's leaving and her conversation with Dekar is not as touching either, since she comes off as an annoying brat when it comes to Maxim. In the original, while she was still a teenager, she had more maturity, and her feelings were more real, not just a kiddie crush.

    I actually like the new Maxim better than the old one. To me, old Maxim had no personality. He was the generic hero. I dislike the new Selan, however. Now she is the boring, uninteresting one.

    Tia and Dekar...I don't think that relationship is serious. SE just hooked them up because they wanted to give Tia a happy ending. I don't mind it too much, though.

    Guy got a lot of Dekar's old flaws, I think - the ones that made Dekar, Dekar.

    A lot of jokes go into overkill mode in the second half of the game. The dialogue really turns south, and you're right about some of the stupid things the characters say. I was surprised myself - half of it didn't make any logical sense! It's like SE said to themselves, "oh shit, the game's getting too long. Gotta wrap it up." So we got stuck with sub-par dialogue that runs contrary to the characters' established personalities.

    Curse had a good thing going with the religion-vs-science thing, but they don't really take it anywhere. An opportunity was missed to make Lexis and Iris foils for each other - Lexis representing reason and science, and Iris representing faith and the power of the unseen. There could have been some amazing dialogue between them.

    I think the world of Estpolis was made smaller and the plot shorter because gamers today have lower attention spans. There are tons of games out there, and companies want gamers to play them all, plus they don't want to put too much effort into any of them - it would lessen their already astonishing profits, I assume. It's all about getting people to buy a cheap foreign product.

    I didn't dislike Curse of the Sinistrals. It started out okay, but then it got sloppy. It's a real shame, because it could've been so much better.

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  11. Those are all pretty valid points... which is sad. I have not played the remake and I probably would have been suckered into buying it at one point because I loved Lufia 2...

    I'm glad I read this.

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    1. Thanks very much for the comment. I'm glad that you enjoyed the rant, and knowing that it actually made a positive difference is gratifying to no end.

      (Unless you're playing an April Fools on me, in which case: Well-played, sir/madam, well-played).

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  12. Hi, RPGenius

    Have you heard of any fan remakes for Lufia 2 which is faithful to the original (straight RPG, original storyline etc)

    thanks!

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    1. I haven't heard of any such project, no. Of course, you can always just go play the original if you need a Lufia 2 fix. It's not hard to find an SNES emulator and Lufia 2 rom to download, and since Nintendo isn't selling it through their eShop to my knowledge, I can't see how anyone but SquareEnix would mind.

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  13. Hey RPGenius,

    I felt like going through Lufia II (SNES) again, mainly to fully explore the Ancient Cave/Find all Treasures/etc. I looked online to see what has come of the Lufia series to find they still have alot of missing storyline to fill (100 years here, another 100 years there, and the unreleased prequel to Lufia II which could help develop an introduction/explanation to the Sinistrals slow repeated attempts at takeover on the planet) Seeing that Lufia II had a remake on DS, I started watching a playthrough on youtube - 20 minutes through - I just couldn't watch anymore horrible changes. There was so many things I could point out, which you mentioned above, that I could see that the game couldn't possibly have the same feel or character development!

    When it comes down to it some questions/comments do arise though:

    - Is there still even an Ancient Cave? (random dungeon with blue chests every 10 lvls down?)

    - Why did they change everybodies hair color and even stature?

    - Since when is Gades pronounced like 'Gah-des' is he French? or just a masculine female on a megaphone now?

    - Tia pissed me off in the original game because Maxim doesn't seem to be the type of person to open up emotionally and she didn't bluntly propose her love for him before running off. The 20 minutes I saw of her in the video just made me hate her character more! It didn't reveal that she possibly may have of had a fear of losing a good friendship by not being in constant contact with Maxim & settle jealousy of others, but instead made her out to be a obnoxious baby shopkeeper with a loud mouth!

    - Maxim & Selan dying at the end of the game with the ending music/cut scenes brought a tear to my eye when I originally went through the game a year after release. To take that away kills the idea of even making a follow up adventure based on Jeros as a hero! It also makes the shortened history relived in Lufia I at the beginning more than enough to say, 'Well I know the general outcome, why play the prequel!'

    - Finally I have to say the 100% adventure rpg setup with the overview map is better for a game like Legend of Mana it took alot away from this game when instead they could of expanded on the overworld and just played it out like the more recent Zelda adventures.

    Love to hear your feedback!

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    1. 1. There is still an Ancient Cave, yes. Didn't pay any attention to it myself, though, so I can't say how faithful it is to the original. Given all the rest of the game, I'm gonna guess it's a pale imitation of the real thing.

      2. They changed everyone's look to make it less visually threatening for the tasteless weeaboos that SquareEnix consistently attempts to transparently, insultingly pander to.

      3. Eh, I don't sweat pronunciations so much. Names don't much matter.

      4. Tia's character in the original game has a lot of good qualities and I personally like her, but I can understand that certain very noticeable traits of hers can turn an audience off. But I'm with you wholeheartedly with Remake Tia. She's just 1 cog in the glorious mechanical tower of stupidity that is the remake cast, but what a loud and irritating cog that is.

      5. Yeah, "fixing" Lufia 2's ending in such a trite and tasteless way is just a slap in the face to everything good and meaningful in the whole series, and it certainly does fuck up prospective canon quite a bit.

      6. I don't necessarily say that the way they set the game's overview map up could never work, but even if it might be possible to make it function well for Lufia, the fact is that they did fuck it up royally.

      Thanks for the comment; I hope you'll stick around and check out some of my other rants, too. Always happy to see new readers!

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    2. The ancient cave did have one good change, there's more variety in its music. Otherwise, instead of changing the floor design every 20 floors to floor 40 and just in general having more than just rectangular rooms it is exactly that and becomes therefore boring to look at fast. I'm rather playing the original Ancient Cave, thank you very much.

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  14. Honestly, the only decent idea I thought this game had was Tia doesn't leave the party after Maxim and Selan get together, aside from that, stupid changes.

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  15. Some clarifications and notes:

    7/16: Natsume, the original translation company behind Rise of the Sinistrals also translated its remake, so the jabs at Square Enix for the poor voice acting should be directed at them.

    14/18: The third Lufia, which was cancelled (well, kind of cancelled. The publisher got bankrupt, so Neverland scrapped their ideas for the story and setting to make an entirely different Lufia game for the Game Boy Colour) was meant to have a more modern setting where technology thrives and magic has been lost to time. I don't know what the purpose of introducing these concepts to the remake was, though.

    19: Not really relevant, but Miyata has a track record for making characters similar to Doc Brown. I think the character designs started ressembling the Doc in Energy Breaker (which is also probably the best-written expy of him).

    12/27: When I tried this on an emulator, I kept trying to lose on purpose so the rest of the game is easy, but using the Mystic Stone Board was practically a necessity even when your characters are level 99. I admittedly liked the addition of gaining more levels to mke the game easier since it would mean that less time would be required grinding.

    58: I wasn't fond of the change in Artea's weapon either, since it kind of conflicts

    70/74: The idea for Erim to build the perfect hero to crush the world's hope was part of the finale for Lufia 3 (the one that actually did release). It was executed pretty well compared to this and is probably the best point about the game (although there are a few differences)*

    *If you're curious about how that scene plays out, then yu could watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=mY3DVICspas#t=107 at the 1:47 mark and (a boss battle interrupts it, but the scene continues at 15:00).

    **Feena is a character from Ys; she was the first RPG character to pull off the whole "deuteragonist is a deity" twist that Luna/Althena and Lufia/Erim used.

    For what it's worth, I agree that the remake is not as good as the original and I'm curious as to why or how that happened. Neverland sort of lost it in the period between Shining Force Neo and Curse of the Sinistrals (although I liked Shining Force EXA and Rune Factory 3 did well in most of its romances and creating a story that ditches the save the world trope that RPGs not called Planescape Torment are plagued with).

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    1. I have amended points 7 and 16; thanks for pointing that out.

      I also liked Shining Force EXA. Not a masterpiece or anything, but it was solid, and Cyrille seems a somewhat uniquely appealing character. Regardless, I haven't any idea of how this nightmarish whirlwind of incompetence came about, either. Thanks for reading!

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