E3: Lufia: The Legend Returns Impressions

[05.17.01] » Hands-on impressions of the latest in Natsume's Lufia series.

   Lufia: The Legend Returns was playable at Natsume's booth, and the Lufia magic seems to be fully intact. The graphics were hard to judge, since the game was blown up onto an N64 adapter and further blown up onto a large-screen television, but they seemed to be the sort of graphics that would look quite nice on the screen for which they were intended. As always, characters are differentiated more by their color than image, a trick that works well on sprites small enough to fit on a GBC screen.

   Sadly, so little of the plot and dialogue was on display that it's difficult to form a clear picture of how the story and characters are shaping up. On the other hand, the battle system was fully implemented and looking very interesting indeed. As in Lufia II, all enemies are present on the dungeon screens and don't attack unless you make contact. You can avoid them, but every step you take allows them to move as well, so mind your step.

   Once into battle, the previously seen nine by nine grid allows for complex formations. Only three characters can attack per battle; the player will choose one from each vertical row. However, while the enemies can attack any of the nine characters, healing magic comes in a variety of forms: some spells will cure only the caster's horizontal or vertical row, some will heal only one person next to the caster, and some will heal the entire grid.

   Returning is the IP meter, which allows you to do special attacks when you've taken a certain amount of damage. Lufia: The Legend Returns adds to this a new kind of special move, gained from Ancient Texts. You'll find Texts in treasure chests, but to equip them you'll need the requisite amount of Learning Points, which are gained in battle.

   All in all, it looks like just the game that Lufia series fans have been hoping for. The wait has been long, but with a stated 95% completion rate, it'll be here before you know it.

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