Sunday, March 20, 2011

My Favorite Video Game Music, #27: The Fortress of Doom

#27: The Fortress of Doom
Lufia II

Lufia II's debut entry on this list is a spectacular one.

Lufia II (and its little brother, Lufia I) was lost in the shuffle of the great RPGs of the mid-1990s, mostly because Taito/Natsume distributed very few copies of the game in the United States. But Lufia II was a tremendous game fully worthy of placement alongside Square's masterpieces. It was unique and different. It somehow pulled the simultaneous feats of presenting a tremendously epic story alongside a maddeningly endless string of fetch quests for a plotline. Seriously, the entire game was fetch quest, story, fetch quest, story, fetch quest, story, fetch quest, story, until you're done. But the story is really phenomenal--even better if, like me, you manage to play Lufia II FIRST and then the original Lufia after.

As for the gameplay, well, it couldn't be farther from Lufia I. The first Lufia was the most grinding-intensive RPG ever created Lufia 2 focuses very little on grinding, and instead borrows some roguelike elements--enemies appear onscreen rather than random battles, and move only when you do--and presents probably the closest thing to Zelda gameplay in the RPG realm. Every dungeon presents unique puzzles to solve in between your battles, which you frequently need the aid of your bag of tools to conquer. Sound familiar?

Now, this track is a very strong contender in two categories: "Most awesome opening riff"--it really might be the most awesome opening riff ever--and "best video game music for a fighter to play while he walks to the ring".

But, and this is a little weird, this track is misnamed. The Fortress of Doom is in fact the Very Definitely Final Dungeon in both of the original Lufia games--in fact, the full title of the first game is "Lufia and the Fortress of Doom"--and it has its own unique theme music.

This is not the Fortress of Doom's theme music.

Seriously. That's a different (and inferior) item on the Lufia 2 soundtrack. In fact this supremely awesome music, among the very best ever produced by video game composers, is used in only two spots in the entire game, one of which has LOL glitched graphics, like someone used a game genie and messed up, and the other of which is optional, EXTREMELY difficult to reach and most players never go there. That would be the Submarine Shrine, where you first find the legendary Dual Blade, and the bottom level of the Ancient Cave. (The Ancient Cave is a full-on roguelike sidegame which can easily take as long as the entire normal game to complete. And you can't save without leaving and starting over.)

Anyway, it's weird, and it's unprecedented for such an awesome track to be tucked away in a secret compartment. But it's here for you to enjoy nonetheless.

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