Alright, kiddies, the game is Lufia & the Fortress of Doom (Estopolis Denki in Japan), the first installment in the Lufia franchise. This game has it all. Simple puzzles, a love story, non-stop action, an amazing and in-depth story line, and that old-school rpg feel that we all know and love so much. Story: 9/10 The story in this game, I feel, is one of the best stories I've ever had the pleasure of taking part in. We start with the ending of the second game (Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals, the prequel to the Fortress of Doom.) The reason behind this is to give you a very slight inkling as to what is going on. Four super beings, trying to take over the world, being taken down by a mix'n'match party of travelers. The battle ends as Doom Island falls somewhere into the sea, bringing peace to the world. This game picks up 100 years after the battle at Doom Island. We meet our first two members of the party, the main hero of the game and a little girl named Lufia. In times of peace, what are kids to do? Why, play tag of course. Years pass and things are going well for our two friends, until there comes word that a neighboring kingdom has been attacked.....but how can this be? There haven't been monster sightings for nearly 100 years, this can't be true, can it? We must find out, and so we single handedly trudge forward to the kingdom of Sheran, where we find that it has, indeed, been completely destroyed. From that moment on, the story takes on it's twists and turns as we uncover the mystery of what happened all those fateful years ago, and who the Sinistrals are. Along the way, obviously, we meet many people who help us in many different ways. The story becomes increasingly more interesting the more we uncover the secrets of Doom Island, making this story line almost an edge of your seat ride from start to finish. Battle System: 7/10 The battle system in Lufia is very similar to the generic battle system that Final Fantasy had adobpted until Final Fantasy VII, when they created the materia system. However, different in this game, the turn based system is not necessarily turn based. It randomly chooses who is going to attack, leaving your boss battles covered in sweat and nail clippings. There are moments where the bosses won't attack for a full round, then they hit you with their most powerful skills twice in a row, not giving you a chance to recover from the first one. It does tend to get a bit frustrating at times, considering the set levels in each area. For instance, if you are not level grinding (as you should be when playing ANY game that Square had anything to do with) you will die....and there's nothing you can do about it. Even if you do level grind, but you don't do it enough, you will die. The frustrating thing about that is there is no telling when you've leveled up enough or you've done it too much until you get into the boss battle and either struggle or demolish, there is no in between. The system of using magic in this game is on a "level up to learn" basis, which I find to be very useful and yet very hindering. I enjoy having to level up to learn certain abilities and spells, but I do enjoy going to a shop and acquiring my spells that way, too. Another issue that I had with this battle system would be the lack of auto-target mechanics. You kill one monster, and have your other three party members at the ready to attack said monster, they all miss. It does add a bit of difficulty to the game that it doesn't necessarily have otherwise, so it really isn't a bad thing. But because of the spells and lack of target switching, I am torn on the battle system Graphics: 8/10 The graphics for this game, as with most RPG's on the SNES at it's time, are sprite driven and built in 5 different layers. Don't get me wrong, I love the older style graphics, I find that a lot of the newer 3D graphics have become the focus of games. The graphics for Lufia are a testament to the older style of gaming, when everything was much more simple and yet....so amazing. There are times when I do wish that the graphics were a bit more detailed, but that is to be expected when built on the same 8 bit and 16 bit engines as Final Fantasy III and IV. The graphics are not mind blowing by any length, but they are still creative and awesome, even with as simple looking as the are. Acting: 8/10 There was no acting in this game. The dialogue was very entertaining I thought. It was built around the idea that the characters in the game were mainly children during this time, the oldest being Aguro (unless you really want to use the elf as being the oldest....who still looks like she's wearing diapers), Aguro seems to be about 23 years old or so. That is just a guess from the way he reacts, talks, etc. Character Development: 6.5/10 The characters in the first couple of Lufia games are very linear. There isn't a whole lot of development until the final sections of the game. The beginning gives us a good idea of who the hero and Lufia are, along with each new member we meet has a fair amount of introduction, but after that....not a whole lot of focus on the characters. This would be a bit frustrating if it weren't for the amount of fun you have playing the game. 6.5 for the lack of further progression. Art: 9/10 Concept art, one of my favorite things to look at when it comes to games. The characters and monsters in this game were designed and I believe they couldn't be any better, especially the Sinistrals. From start to finish, the artists put a great deal of work into the entire game, and it shows. The final project and application of the work put into the character art was certainly worth the journey. I would highly recommend looking up the concept art for this game if you intend on playing through it, which I highly recommend as well. World Development: 4/10 World Development....again, very linear. There isn't much exploring, if any at all, to do. You finish up one town, start traveling, and next thing you know, you're in the next town. Everything is very close to everything else, which they make up for in the slow walking on the world map and in dungeons. The world is not very large when compared to the other Lufia games, especially when compared to other RPG's of it's generation. The world is small, non-complex, and extremely easy to navigate, leaving nothing to be "found" or explored. Again, this is squashed with how much fun the game itself is. Overall Gameplay: 9/10 There is a reason this game is my favorite of all time. Despite it's obvious flaws, the game in undeniably fun, and I am yet to hear 1 full review that is negative. As with any game, you're going to find issues that you don't like, that can't be helped. But what makes a good game is when you don't notice such issues through the amount of laughing and smiling and all around fun you're having. Domino and I had a great time playing this game, and it was a nostalgic trip for me. The game is a great game to play through, and I would suggest any RPG fan to go out and give it a shot. If you don't, you can't call yourself a true RPG fan. All in all, this game is one of the greatest RPG's I've ever played. 90/100 Great job, Taito.