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Any RPG fan from the SNES days will recognize this game on the spot. Two Lufia games made their appearance on the console, and both became a hit. This is the third in the series and is sporting a GBC look. Is Lufia: The Legend Returns as good as its SNES relatives? I wish I could say yes.
This does seem like a downgrade for the series since the other Lufia games appeared on the SNES. The graphics can't be nearly as good as the other two, but they're still pretty good for a GBC game. I also noticed that the colors look lighter and faded when played on a Game Boy Color, but deeper and better looking on the Game Boy Advance.
There's nothing special about the music. It's just typical RPG music, and it works well in the game.
There are good things, and really bad things about Lufia: The Legend Returns, so I'll start with the good stuff. The best part would be its unique battle system. I can't think of any other RPG which could have up to nine party members in battle at once. The drawback to this is that only three of them can fight at a time, and everyone in the party can get hurt in battle.
The layout of the nine characters is important. The party is laid out in a three by three square, and each character has a special characteristic that becomes shared with the others in same row. This can improve fellow characters' stats and also make it possible to use IP skills.
IP skills are another neat feature. They are basically abilities that can be found in dungeons in the form of "Ancient Text," and then can be learned and used in battle. Like magic, there is an IP meter from which the skills are drawn from. If a certain skill requires fifty IP to use, the IP will be drained from the meter. Everyone gets a fixed amount -- 100 -- and it can also recharge during battle.
One of the bad things about this game is its complexity. There are more menus in Lufia than Windows 95, 98, and ME combined, and it takes a while to get used to all of them. Yet the worst part of Lufia, without a doubt, is the dungeon layouts. The randomly generated maps aren't all that random. Besides the typical enemies, each floor is guaranteed to have five or six rooms, one or two secret walls, shrubbery with occasional traps, and a whole lot of hallways. As the game progresses, the dungeon maps don't get larger, they just have increased numbers of floors. This becomes boring for any player, and only the truly determined gamers will want to go all the way through it.
That said, the only interesting thing about the dungeons are the monsters lurking around. The battles are not randomly generated like in most other RPGs. The creatures visibly wander around the dungeon, and they move only when your party moves. Battles start up automatically when a monster and the party bump into each other. This gives you the option to fight the monsters or avoid them, and since they move around in different patterns, avoiding them takes a bit of strategy.
Lufia: The Legend Returns is a decent RPG, but the boring dungeon layouts and complicated design overshadows the interesting battle system and IP skills. If all you've got is a GBC and want another RPG, then give it a try, but you might be better off saving up for a GBA and Golden Sun. GBA players should avoid it altogether, and hope that the upcoming Lufia Gaiden will be much better than this.
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