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Video Game / Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals

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Sinistrals are back to being a nuisance, once again plotting to resurface their giant floating fortress (of doom) and bring the world to its knees. And only one hero can stop them: Maxim, swordsman of Elcid!

...Wait, isn't he dead? Oh, right; this is a prequel.

Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals is the second in the Lufia series and the prequel to Lufia & The Fortress of Doom. The conclusion to this game was known by anyone who had played at least ten minutes of the first one, but the story had more to tell. Legendary swordsman and progenitor of heroes Maxim is a simple monster hunter at the outset, eking out a meager wage with his companion Tia. On a trip to the caves near the town, Maxim encounters a mysterious woman named Iris, who hints at his great destiny. With Tia tagging along behind him, Maxim embarks on a quest to stop the Sinistrals, forming his soon-to-be-legendary party (Guy, Selan, Artea) along the way. Tia is just the first of several heretofore-unknown allies, including the happy warrior Dekar and Dr. Lexis Shaia of the recurring Shaia clan of inventors.

Lufia II threw out the random encounters in dungeons from the first game, replacing them with Pre-existing Encounters. Said monsters only move in response to the footsteps of the player, adding an element of strategy à la Mother: ambush them from the back and they'll fall more easily, but this also means you need to watch your flank. Limit Breaks have also been added: As characters take damage, their IP (Ikari Points — ikari is Japanese for anger) increases, allowing them to trigger IP Techniques that are built into certain gear. Most Techniques are offensive, while others are supportive or cast status effects. Maxim can also recruit a series of mons who evolve into formidable assist characters; essentially an AI-controlled fifth party member.

This game was lauded for introducing puzzle dungeons similar to those seen in the The Legend of Zelda games. With a series of tools (and liberal usage of the Reset spell) at the player's disposal, II's dungeons are a lot trickier than the former's.

Contains one of the saddest video game endings ever devised. Yes, even though it was spoiled by the intro to the first game. Proceed with caution.

These story and gameplay elements made Rise of the Sinistrals the agreed-upon high point of the series, though not enough to rescue it from obscurity. However, it led to a brief revival in 2010 with Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals, a loose remake of this game which was redesigned as an Action RPG.

Ancient Cave

Its biggest legacy is the "Ancient Cave", a roguelike sidequest with recycled assets and enemies. The Cave starts you off at Level 1 and with only the barest of gear. Items found in the rare blue chests remain in your inventory when you die and start over, allowing Maxin to plunge deeper into the Cave next time.

The Ancient Cave is a standalone game which has grown in popularity over time. In recent years, variations of the Ancient Cave have been inserted into hacks of other popular RPGs: from Secret of Mana, Final Fantasy V and VI, to Skyrim and even The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The EarthBound (1994) version breaks up the action with towns, but the building interiors are randomized and all of the sprites are shuffled around (e.g. party members, save points, ATMs, and NPCs); the result is a labyrinth of nonsense.

It is not be confused with a "randomizer" mod, which takes place in the same campaign as the main game but changes the content, such as item placements or the dungeon order.

This game provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Selan in the first half, who fights alongside the rest of the party.
  • Action Mom: Selan in the second half, since she now has a son and continues to fight with the party.
  • Ambiguous Gender: Though the first game made it clear Artea was male, the second was a bit more fuzzy on this matter. Official artwork didn't help much either.
  • An Ice Person: The Gale, Blizzard and Ice Valk spells attack your enemies with ice.
  • Arrows on Fire: One of several skill items available. Aside from being used to activate switches like a normal arrow, it can also be used to burn grasses and bushes from a distance.
  • Artifact Title: This game has no Lufia or anything to even do with her, except in The Stinger, which contains dialogue from its predecessor. Only in the English version, of course, since the series was originally known as Estepolis in Japan.
  • Badass Normal: Guy and Dekar, who are the only characters to have no magic (although they can still use IP techniques) but can just dish out and take a lot more damage than anyone else in exchange.
  • Battle Couple: Maxim and Selan, once they become a couple and continue to engage in battle.
  • The Battle Didn't Count: Played absolutely straight if you beat Gades at Gordovan West Tower. After beating him, he decides to stop messing around and just blows you all away.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The world is saved, but Maxim and Selan, who are both Doomed by Canon, die. On the lighter side, their son survives.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: Perhaps due to Nintendo’s censorship policies at the time, the game translates "gods" as "super beings". Fair enough, but in Narvick, an NPC asks if there are evil super beings, why not good evil ones, which comes across as nonsensical, as opposed to the original meaning, in which they asked about evil gods versus good devils.
  • Block Puzzle: There are many puzzles that involve pushing around blocks.
  • Blow You Away: Some of Gusto's moves and Twister IP skill attack with wind
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Dekar and Guy, who are both extremely boisterous and very bruiser-y.
  • Bonus Boss: The Egg Dragon and the Master Jellyfish, who are very strong bosses that you don't have to fight in the course of normal gameplay, existing only as 'bonuses' with extra rewards for defeating them.
  • Bowdlerise: All mention of the Sinistrals being gods was removed from the English version, with "Super Beings" being the term used instead.
  • Cosmic Deadline: The game is noticeably rushed in the end, with plot events occurring much more quickly and fewer quests or details.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Played with when it comes to cursed equipment. After having a priest remove the curse, the item can be freely equipped and often ends up boasting even better stats than when it was cursed.
  • Cutscene Incompetence: There are several scenes where Amon overpowers your party as part of a cutscene even if you're strong enough to beat him (if you could defeat Gades the first time you likely are).
    • Dekar's death scene, when he's overwhelmed with monsters he could easily overpower.
  • Degraded Boss: The Lizardmen and Armor Goblins, who you first fight as a boss and later encounter as normal enemies.
  • Disc-One Nuke: If you’re lucky enough to get the Catfish Jewel from the Catfish boss, you’ll get access to an IP ability that costs very little and will easily clear out early trash mobs.
  • Dungeon-Based Economy: The town of Gruberirk is built around this, as most of the economy comes from items found in the Ancient Cave dungeon.
  • Elemental Powers: The game's spell system allows anyone who can use magic to learn almost all available spells, even though some are exclusive to some characters. Uniquely, several elemental-based powers can only be accessed by certain capsule monsters and IP abilities.
  • End-Game Results Screen: After the ending there's a statistics screen that displays how many of the 164 chests you have opened in the main game, among several other stats. (Ancient cave chests are counted separately in its own page)
  • Fill It with Flowers: Lexis does this for a little girl in his hometown, and leaves the party in order to do so.
  • First Girl Wins: Subverted. Maxim spends the first part of his journey with Tia, and it seems as if they're obvious love interests. He ends up with Selan in the end though.
  • Flower from the Mountaintop: The origin of Priphea, which only grows on top of a mountain.
  • Foregone Conclusion: If you've played the first game, you know how this will end, since this is a prequel and the first game opened with the events this game is leading to.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: If you Press Left on the Stereo/Mono setting it affects your stats giving you 999+ to almost everything and it takes an inordinate amount of time to display the battle results and save/load...assuming it doesn't glitch Maxim's name or kill your party first. In the American version, the Submarine Shrine and the final floor of the Ancient Cave are graphically trashed.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: The Mountain of No Return's last puzzle is designed so that players can't progress into the room no more than 3 steps when they enter it from Eserikto's side.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation:
    • No explanation is ever given as to why every dungeon, building and even natural cave contains numerous convoluted puzzles.
    • It is quite possible, but difficult, to beat Gades in the first encounter with him. However, when you fight him the second time the dialogue still states that he beat you. Then again, The Battle Didn't Count.
  • Giver of Lame Names: Guy does alright when coming up with impressive titles for most of the party, but Selan is rather annoyed that the best he could come up with for her was "Magical Wife Selan". Even more so when the villains start calling her that.
  • Global Airship: You eventually acquire an airship that can fly you anywhere in the world.
  • Guest-Star Party Member: Tia, Dekar, and Lexis are fully controllable party members, but eventually they are all dropped in favor of the main four. Particularly jarring for Tia, who had a close connection with Maxim before Selan came into the picture.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Lexis's weapons of choice consist of pliers and screwdrivers.
  • Increasingly Lethal Enemy: The Bonus Boss is completely harmless for three turns, saying supportive things and even healing the party. On the fourth turn, he casts a spell that inescapably causes a Total Party Kill, though thankfully it doesn't cause a game over. It merely sends everyone back to the beginning of the 99-level Bonus Dungeon without their final reward.
  • Innocent Flower Girl: Leefa, the flower seller who works herself to the bone to raise two children living with her. Her request to bring a flower from a mountain while Lexis completes the ship modification is the origin of Priphea flower.
  • I'm Crying, but I Don't Know Why: Tia at the end, because of Maxim's death, finds herself crying for the first time in a long time, without knowing why.
  • Jack of All Stats: Maxim, who is moderately good at everything.
  • Japanese Ranguage: Asashins (Assassins), Gorems (Golems), La Fleshia (Rafflesia), Hidora (Hydra) and a few other monster names.
  • Just Friends: Tia likes Maxim, in a childhood friend sort of way.
  • Klotski: The "World's Most Difficult Trick" is a standard Klotski puzzle.
  • Limit Break: The IP Gauge, which increases as you take damage, and can be used to cast special spells from equipped gear. Predates even the Trope Namer.
  • Making a Splash: Droplet, Vortex and Dragon spells attack your opponents with water.
  • Mega Dungeon: The Ancient Cave, 99 randomly-generated levels of increasing difficulty beneath the town of Gruberirk. Also, you have to give up your current gear when you go in, to retrieve it when you return; but you can find some very powerful items inside, which you get to keep. The Final Boss is a giant slime who congratulates you and offers a huge reward if you can defeat it within a handful of rounds. The game has a New Game Plus mode that lets you choose any set of characters to venture into the dungeon until you get to the bottom.
  • Metal Slime:
    • Cube/Core enemies, which, as is standard for the trope, have very high defense, low hitpoints, and give lots of money and XP when beaten.
    • The boss of the Ancient Cave: a low-res 'Master' version of one of those jelly enemies you fight at the game's start (the oldest and strongest of jellies!). Despite its bluster, all it does is heal your party and run away in four turns. You have to deplete its HP before then.
  • Minigame Zone: Forfeit Island, which is full of minigames.
  • MockGuffin: Ruby Apple. After the painstaking battle with the giant spider, it was revealed that the Ruby Apple inside the Ruby Cave was actually fake, created by the local glass sculptor. The real treasure didn't exist at all, but somehow the glass creation ended up in the Giant Tarantula's possession in the deepest part of the cave.
  • Monster Allies: The capsule monsters, which are monsters that fight on your side.
  • Monster Clown: Literal example. The monsters guarding the chamber for the Treasure Sword in Parcelyte take the form of a clown, minus the scary circus BGM.
  • Mortal Wound Reveal: After the explosion that occurs when the heroes use their unified energy to negate the energy of the defeated Sinistrals who were trying to take the world with them, Maxim goes and checks on Guy and Artea to see they're OK, then goes over the Selan who's already on her feet. She talks about how she's looking forward to going home with him to their child now that the battle is over- and then she staggers and collapses...
  • New Game Plus: EXP and Gold earned in NG+ is 4x the normal amount. (Except the Ancient Cave).
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Subverted? Apparently, if Maxim died fighting Gades, instead of marrying Selan and having a baby, the world would've been at peace, and the events of the second half of this game and the rest of the series would've been averted. But it was Iris who told Maxim this, so is it the truth?
  • Percent Damage Attack: Accessed through IP skills which reduce enemies' HP to 1/2 (Fatal Blow) or 1/4 (Battle Fury).
  • Playing with Fire: Spark, Fireball and Firebird spells attack your opponents with fire.
  • Puzzle Reset: The very handy Reset spell resets the current puzzle.
  • Random Drop: Even the bosses, which you can only fight once. Good thing is, some of the drops can be found in Ancient Cave.
  • Random Encounters: Random encounters are only found on the world map; when you walk, the screen will randomly blur and you will encounter an enemy. Averted in dungeons, where you can see enemies in advance.
  • Readings Are Off the Scale: When Lexis tried to measure Maxim's energy waves, this happened to his machine as opposed to Guy's (5 times larger than Lexis' largest reading) and Selan's (8 times larger) energy waves.
  • Replaced with Replica:
    • Maxim and his team meet up with Rochy who wants them to retrieve the Ruby Apple from the Ruby Cave. However, as they are finally able to get their hands on it, it breaks. But in a room behind the room with the Apple, they find Jaffy, a glassworker who had also forged replicas of the Apple with red stained glass. Rochy still rewards the team without knowing he got a fake.
      • Subverted that the "real" one was also a glass sculpture that had been made by Jaffy, which is why it broke so easily. Rochy just thought it was made of rubies.
    • Maxim and co. also have Jaffy replace the stolen Ruby Icon in Ferim, since there is a ceremony for it coming up. However, this time the Queen isn't convinced, but Maxim and co. are able to find out who stole it and bring the real Ruby Icon back to Ferim
  • She's a Man in Japan: Artea's sex is switched in the German translation.
  • Shock and Awe: The game has Flash, Bolt and Thunder spells, which strike your opponents with lightning.
  • Shout-Out: The Egg Dragon, which grants you a wish if you collect all eight Dragon Eggs, is a reference to Shenron and the Dragon Balls from Dragon Ball.
  • Solve the Soup Cans: Most puzzles are just sort of there, without much explanation as to why.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Done to Tia when Maxim insists that she stay behind.
  • Summon Magic: Ice Valk, Firebird, Dragon, and Thunder (the ultimate elemental spells) are treated as normal spells, but their animations involve summoning monsters to attack enemies.
  • Teleportation Rescue: Maxim was fated to die in the Ancient Tower after defeating Gades, but Iris warped in to save him by sending him back to Parcelyte.
  • Together in Death: Maxim and Selan. Expanded on from the original version of the scene at the start of the previous game, with Maxim having to leave Selan's body to go and prevent Doom Island from falling on Parcelyte. He collapses after expending his energy and Selan's ghost comes to his side as he dies.
  • Trying Not to Cry: Tia, due to her name sounding like "tear", was constantly teased as a child because she easily cried. Because Maxim always rescued her, she eventually tried so hard to stop crying that she eventually became Unable to Cry.
  • Unexplained Recovery: Dekar, who returns after his supposed death with very little explanation.
  • Unlucky Childhood Friend: Tia, who is Maxim's childhood friend and whose love for him ultimately leads nowhere.
  • Wedding Smashers: The wedding of Maxim and Selan itself isn't attacked, but they hear about monsters appearing nearby and throw off their wedding clothes to go sort them out.

The Ancient Cave provides examples of...

  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: Your party's levels drop to 1 every time you enter the Ancient Cave. Your inventory is replaced with a brand new one (which contains 10 potions and your previous blue chest equipment), capsule monster evolutions are reset, play time resets to 0:00, and money resets to 0 as well. When you exit the Ancient Cave, all of these return to normal.
  • Anti-Grinding: Each floor has a finite number of enemies, which limits experience and item acquisition.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: In Gift mode, you can choose which characters to be in your Ancient Cave party. There are 6 characters to choose from, and you can take at most 3 of them.
  • Can't Drop the Hero: It is impossible to drop Maxim out of your party (unless you use a cheating device).
  • Checkpoint Starvation: There are no save points in the Ancient Cave at all! It will take at least 10 hours to reach the bottom floor in a single sitting. This is assuming everyone in your party is already geared completely with blue chest items at the beginning of the run. And hope you don't get wiped on the 98th floor...
    • Depending on your viewpoint of what "Ancient Cave" is, you might consider Providence a form of checkpoint, since nobody beats Ancient Cave in one run. There are many checkpoints and it takes a long time. Spatially the Ancient Cave contains no checkpoints, but Ancient Cave transcends space as a dungeon that requires multiple entries over time.
  • Disc-One Nuke: Depending on your luck, you can get equipment from the blue chests that far outstrips what you can find when you first tackle the Ancient Cave. Particularly lucky players may even get the Gades Blade, which can make several early dungeons easy.
  • Luck-Based Mission: Even once you get all of your characters fully decked out in Blue Treasure Chest Gear (the stuff you can take into the cave with you), it is still a battle against RNG if you can actually make it to Floor 99, let alone kill the slime. Sometimes you might get zero healing spells, or you might get a cheap ambush in the 40s where you start meeting enemies with instant-death attacks, and maybe the game decided not to give you very many revive items, to boot. Or, there's always the hilarity of a double Gold Dragon fight and you get blasted by 6 whole-party damage attacks in the same round because again, the game decided that this run should have no smoke balls. Other times, you'll get healing spells out the wazoo and everything will happen perfectly and that particular run through the cave will be ridiculously easy.
  • Money for Nothing: Despite all the monsters inside being Money Spiders, you can't take any money you earned inside the Ancient Cave outside.
  • New Game Plus: You can begin a new Ancient Cave run with all blue chest equipment you previously acquired, either in the main game or previous Ancient Cave runs (provided you exited the dungeon alive using a Providence).
  • Random Drop: Enemies drop items at random.
  • Roguelike: The ancient cave is one of the earlier console JRPG ones; your levels and most of your items are reset each time you enter, and the structure is randomly generated.

Alternative Title(s): Lufia 2 Rise Of The Sinistrals