Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals, known as Estpolis Denki II (エストポリス伝記II, officially translated Biography of Estpolis II) in Japan, and as simply Lufia in Europe and Australia, is a role-playing video game with puzzle elements developed by Neverland and published in Japan in 1995 by Taito, and in North America and Europe in 1996 by Natsume and Nintendo respectively, for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.
The game is a prequel to Lufia & the Fortress of Doom. It follows the story of the first main character's ancestor, Maxim, and explains the origins of the war between mankind and a group of gods called the Sinistrals. Lufia II made a number of changes from the first game. Dungeons no longer have random encounters and there are hundreds of puzzles throughout the game, ranging from simple to extremely challenging. It also introduced new skills, such as a variety of weapons that could be used to stun monsters or solve puzzles, and IP attacks. In 2010, Square Enix released a re-imagining of the original game titled Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals.
In Lufia II, characters walk around an over world map, enter dungeons, fight monsters, buy or find new equipment and spells, and set out on a quest to save the world. The player's party supports up to four characters at once, along with a Capsule Monster. There are various forms of transportation which the player may utilize in order to travel faster than walking, these include; warping, a spell learned early in the game; a boat, modified by Lexis into a submarine and later a blimp. Various casino games are accessible later in the game; these include Pachinco Slot, Black Jack, Slot Machine, Stud Poker, and Action Bingo.
In dungeons, monsters appear on the map, and can be avoided if the player wishes. Motion in dungeons is also turn-based, and monsters do not move unless the player does. Maxim gains a number of tools and weapons for use in dungeons (similar to the The Legend of Zelda titles), such as a bow and arrow, bombs and a hookshot; these, along with his sword, will stun monsters temporarily and interact with obstacles. Finally, dungeons place great emphasis on puzzles. On the world map, monsters are encountered randomly.
Aside from the RPG standards of "Fight," "Use Item" and "Use Magic," characters also have access to IP Skills, which are attached to weapons, armor and accessories. Each character's IP bar fills when he or she takes damage, and is depleted when an available IP skill is invoked. IP Skills take varying amounts of charge to activate. Players can freely wear and customize their characters with different varying sets of these weapons and armor for different IP skill effects and apply them while utilizing tactics during battles. Also, IP Skills themselves cannot be customized, sometimes forcing the player to choose between a newer and stronger piece of gear, or an older, weaker one that has a useful IP Skill.
Capsule monsters are special creatures which the player may only find on specific locations of the world. Once a Capsule monster is found, the party acquires a fifth, computer controlled member. These monsters can be fed items and equipment, and once they are satiated they evolve to a different form, up to a fifth and definitive form, labeled M. Seven of them exist, and each Capsule monster belongs to a different element (Neutral, Light, Wind, Water, Dark, Fire and Soil), and has a different set of skills.
The Ancient Cave, a randomly generated dungeon composed of 99 floors, is presented to the player as a side-quest in the town of Gruberik. Every time the player enters the cave, a new layout is generated, similar to the roguelike genre. Within the cave, the characters are downgraded to zero experience points and stripped of nearly all equipment and items. The player must proceed through the cave's floors, collecting equipment, finding magic spells and increasing levels, with the objective of reaching the Ancient Cave's final floor. There are three ways of exiting the cave: by dying, by reaching its bottom or by finding and using an item exclusive to the cave, named "providence". Within the cave lie two kinds of chests, blue and red. Red chests contain items which can only be used inside the cave for the duration of the playing session. As soon as the player leaves the cave, all items from red chests disappear, except for "Iris Treasures," which cannot be equipped and serve only as collectibles. The rare blue chests contains items which can be used outside the cave and brought back to the cave on subsequent journeys. Some items that can be found in blue chests can also be found by other means, such as monster drops. These can also be taken in and out of the Ancient Cave just as if they were found in blue chests. The bottom floor of the inn in Gruberik serves as a storage for these items.
The game is a prequel, set ninety-nine years before Lufia & the Fortress of Doom, which tells the story of how the Sinistrals first appeared in the world and the battles fought against them. The story is centered around the hero Maxim, a swordsman from the town of Elcid who is born with a natural ability to fight and is destined to destroy the Sinistrals. Throughout his journey, he meets other warriors who are able to confront the Sinistrals as well.
The game's protagonist is Maxim, a talented swordsman from the town of Elcid. Little about his past is mentioned in the game, but the game begins to follow him when a mysterious woman named Iris tells him that he is to go on a journey.
Throughout the game, Maxim is joined by other talented warriors or 'Heroes of Legend' such as Tia, his childhood friend, who has a romantic interest in Maxim; Guy, a wandering warrior who joins Maxim after he rescued his sister; Dekar, the powerful bodyguard of Prince Alex of Bound Kingdom; Lexis, a brilliant inventor; Artea, an elven bowman; and Selan, commander of the Parcelyte army who becomes Maxim's wife in mid-story.
The game's antagonists are the Sinistrals, a group of four godlike beings bent on world domination. They are led by Daos, the Sinistral of Terror, who seeks an ultimate weapon to use against the people of the world. His three subordinates are Gades, the Sinistral of Destruction, who is credited with the destruction of two entire cities; Amon, the Sinistral of Chaos, who is known to be a brilliant tactician; and Erim, the Sinistral of Death.
The North American release of the game has a few graphical and textual glitches which were corrected in the European version. The European versions were released in English, German, Spanish and Dutch for distribution in Australia, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands respectively. The Australian version was released in 1997, one year after the North American version. Both the European and Australian releases of the game were titled "Lufia", not "Lufia 2", and included no subtitles because Lufia & the Fortress of Doom was never released in Europe and Australia.
The game was met with positive reviews upon its release and its reputation has continued to grow throughout the years. It currently has an aggregate review score of 87% on GameRankings. Upon its original Japanese release, Famitsu gave the game a score of 30 out of 40, while it received a perfect score of 10 out of 10 in their Reader Cross Review. Upon its North American release in 1996, GameFan magazine gave it a score of 90 out of 100, describing it as "one of Japan's favorite RPGs for over a year! The music, puzzles (which are most intriguing), storyline and anything else you can think of are all new and improved. (Lufia II) is put together very well."
An action-RPG remake of Lufia II for the Nintendo DS was developed by Neverland, with much of the staff of Lufia II involved in the project, and released in 2010. As in the original game, it features dungeons that focus heavily on puzzle-solving, but unlike the original, the gameplay is now oriented towards action, with the player controlling Maxim directly in battle and switching between characters by tapping his or her portrait on the bottom screen. The story also differs heavily in many points and received several additions.