Lufia: The Legend Returns
Description official description
The third title of the Lufia series gives us an entirely new battle and dungeon system. All of the dungeons in this game are randomly generated, which can get annoying at times. Otherwise, it's a lot like Lufia 2 in the dungeon department. You see the monsters, they move when you move and you can stun them.
The battle system in this game is rather unique. You can use 9 characters in a 3x3 formation. The character in the front row deals the most physical damage, but also takes the most physical damage. Vice versa for the back row one, and the one in the middle row obviously takes and deals average damage. 9 characters might seem like much to use, but you can only let 3 characters attack during a turn; One from each vertical row.
The 3x3 system is also used for special attacks and magic systems. Each character has a power in one colour; Blue, green, yellow or red, which means magic, defense, speed or power respectively. The other characters who are in the same vertical or horizontal row also receive the same amount of power from this character; This way, all characters share their power with eachother.
Other than that, the story circles around the Sinistrals returning - Again. Another thing that has returned is the Ancient Dungeon, but this time around, it has 200 floors and a very difficult and unexpected boss at the bottom...
Credits (Game Boy Color version)
Average score: 64% (based on 13 ratings)
Average score: 3.5 out of 5 (based on 6 ratings with 2 reviews)
Lufia : The Legend Returns is the third game in the Lufia series, following 2 SNES games. However this was my first game of the series, so please forgive my ignorance about it's two predecessors.
At a fist glance, Lufia the Legend Returns looks like a perfect nice little RPG for your Game Boy Colour. Released late in the GBC's lifespan (at about the same time the Game Boy Advance came out), this game uses the system's capabilities at the fullest.
Graphics have never been Game Boy's strong point, but this game manages to set up lively and colourful environments which are attractive. Characters sprites are very gameboyish but they are cute and have their charm.
Battles are paced in the 1st person view (like in the Dragon Warrior series). Unfortunately there is no background of any sort during battle, which is where this game looses a point about the graphics. The battle system is simple and round based. There is a party of up to 9 members, but only 3 of them can act in a round. The presence of so many characters on the small screen at once is probably the reason no background can be seen, and this is very excusable. The graphical effects of the spells is satisfying. In short, there is nothing wrong with the graphics in this game.
I haven't finished the game, but the story is pretty average. Basically there is 4 big demons and you have to fight them, and along your way you're also going to do smaller tasks like chase thieves, fight against pirates and so on. What is different however is that this game is set up in some sort of parodied environment - the game does not take itself seriously. The scenes before the boss fights are especially funny. I really appreciated this touch of originality.
Sound wise, this game is nothing special. There is a few good songs here and there, but overall nothing to write home about.
The battle system is simple and straightforward, yet enjoyable. Each character has different abilities, and to make them progress you need to find items that learns them new abilities.
I really wish I liked and finished this game, unfortunately it is completely ruined by one thing : Randomly generated dungeons.
Usually in RPGs, every dungeon, cave, tower, or whatever is designed by game designers, stored in the cartridge, and this way has been made to be interesting to explore (to a certain extent). Unfortunately, the programmers of Lufia : The Legend Returns apparently were in a rush to release this game before the Game Boy Advance came out or something in the like and didn't take the time to design dungeons and store them in the cartridge.
Instead, they wrote a program that design the dungeon automatically as you enter it, this way if you go out and in again, it will be completely different. Only the number of floors and is constant. Enemies, chests secret passages and stairs leading to the next and previous floor are randomly placed every time you change a floor.
The result is however disastrous. What happens is that the program that generates the floors is very predictable : There is always 9 "rooms" (sometimes less) arranged in a 3x3 square on the floor. Those rooms are interconnected by random passages, but enemies, treasures and stairs will only be present in one of the rooms. And then, randomly, a secret passage is there on the top-left, top-right, bottom-left or bottom-right corner. There is 2 kind of secret passages, those containing a single chest, and those containing 4 chests and 2 enemies.
All floors of ALL dungeons of the game will be exactly like this. After a while it becomes so boring and annoying you'll just stop to play the game because you'll be tired of exploring the same floor again, again, again and again.
This system can be taken advantage of. For example you can go down the stairs, and see if there is another staircases that leads to the next floor in the same room. If there is not, you go up and down again until you have a floor with both staircases right next to each other. This usually takes a dozen of tries. Repeat this 5, 10 or 15 times, and you pass the dungeon without having done much.
Unfortunately even while abusing the system, the game is not fun to play. Because yes, this is one of those games that supposes you to do massive level grinding, otherwise you're out. And I absolutely loathe having to do massive level grinding, which I consider only bad RPG designers introduces in their bad games. There is no way massive grinding can be considered a "challenge", it is just annoying and is only a challenge for your nerves instead of being a challenge to your brain, which is what RPGs should be about.
The Bottom Line
This game shows some promises because it does a great usage of the GBC hardware, and have a funny parodied tone to its story. The battle system is simple, original and easy to get used to. Unfortunately, the game is ruined by randomly generated dungeons and the required massive grinding. If you really want to play this game then just use a cheat code to be invincible and enjoy the story.
Game Boy Color · by Bregalad (937) · 2013
The combat system gets really engaging once you start getting party members (up to 9!) and some tunes are very nice. Most boss battles are challenging and well designed, and boast some nice sprites.
The dungeons, while randomly generated, can get repetitive very fast, and, contrary to Lufia II, has no puzzles to speak of. Characters , while likeable, are either very simple or generic (while not a bad thing if they fall under the first.)
The Bottom Line
If you like Lufia or RPGs in general, give this game a try, it´s amongst the nicest on the platforms, and has some winks to past iterations of the series. Combat system is its strong point, and makes for quite a bunch of exciting boss battles.
Game Boy Color · by Carlos Cid (1) · 2011
- MobyGames ID: 22573
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Contributors to this Entry
Game added by Arancil.
Nintendo 3DS added by Michael Cassidy.
Game added June 5th, 2006. Last modified August 23rd, 2023.