Have you ever considered how unrealistic it is when we see games where a small group of heroes somehow topple gods and save the world? I mean, a group of four or six teenagers or young adults managing to do it all? It could be considered quite a stretch. Some games acknowledge this by offering a larger party to make their premise more plausible, but it is Lufia: The Legend Returns that goes above and beyond to present a solid cast. This game’s 12 heroes and heroines come together to strike down the Sinistrals in a way that makes a bit more sense.
Yes, there are 12 party members in Lufia: The Legend Returns. As you go through the Game Boy Color game, you will find a number of allies from all walks of life along the way. Each one bolsters your ranks. We start with some of the staples, of course. Wain is the default descendant of Maxim that we come to expect from every Lufia game. Seena is the blue-haired young woman with magical power who helps send him on his way. Both of these characters are the ones you expect from every entry. But the other people who come along provide additional substance to a series where we have previously tended to rely on parties with a man from the legendary line, a magical woman with blue hair, a strong best friend and an elf.
Lufia: The Legend Returns is gives us a group of people of various ages from all sorts of backgrounds. Each of them could use their life experiences and knowledge to impact the quest in a way a group of similar folks in each entry couldn’t. Wain, Seena and Dei come across as the youngest in the group, as the first two are a young adventurer and fortune teller and Dei is a thief who gives everything he steals to help others. Melphis is a young princess who uses spells and blunt-damage weapons like maces and staves. Her guard, Randolph, is an old man and knight who has been fighting enemies for years. There is an inventor named Isaac, a doctor named Yurist, a gambler named Ruby and a pirate named Deckard. Special attention also has to be paid to Aima, a woman of color and Master of the Fist who joins Wain’s crew after her master is killed. We even see Artea’s sister, Milka the elf, again and she finally joins the party.
Think about how all these roles can help and impact an adventure. In previous Lufia games, we have people with rather typical positions. The hero is always some sort of adventurer. One woman serves as a mage, perhaps after previously being a mysterious figure or head of an army. We have the muscle, occasionally a member of a royal family and an elf. But here, the additional roles each have skills that could help with a journey. A pirate, like Deckard, could make it possible to travel to new areas with his contacts. A doctor, like Yurist, can keep the party healed. An inventor, like Isaac, could provide new equipment. Even a gambler like Ruby has her uses, as I would imagine such a person would know quite a bit of gossip from time in bars and casinos. And an elderly knight, like Randolph, is going to know all about fighting opponents throughout the world. So much more is being brought to the table.
Especially since almost everyone is fighting at once. You don’t just have a party of four in Lufia: The Legend Returns. When you head into a fight, nine people are all fighting at once. They are divided evenly into three rows, with positioning having an effect on the amount of damage they deal or their defense stats. Even this makes more sense. After all, we see JRPGs with large parties all the time, but somehow only three or four folks are actually fighting at once. Having nine of the 12 total people out and attacking makes much more sense. Yes, three fighters are on the side, but maybe they are resting or acting as reserve members. Having such a force when going against possibly unreasonable odds works. Would you take 12 people along and then not use most of them?
By having such a large fighting force in Lufia: The Legend Returns, we have a game where things feel more plausible and realistic. If the Sinistrals, a group of malevolent gods, are going to truly be defeated, you will need a large and diverse army to go against them. The game gives us exactly that. There are people of all ages from all walks of life, fighting as a huge group in each battle. You have all this experience on your side. It helps make things feel richer.