Ten years ago, on June 25, 1993, Never-Land Company and Taito quietly released an RPG known as Estpolis Denki for the Super Famicom. Estpolis made its overseas debut that same year under the title Lufia & the Fortress of Doom and began one of the most highly-praised RPG sagas on the Super NES, considered by many fans to rival the legendary Final Fantasy series. Ten years and three sequels later, the series has appeared on two —although almost five—other platforms and still enjoys a wildly-loyal fanbase.
In 1993, the original Lufia & the Fortress of Doom offered a fresh spin on the then-obscure RPG genre, with an entertaining story filled with countless twists, bright, vivid graphics and an exceptional soundtrack. Most important, though, were the many memorable characters encountered along the way, including the eccentric Dr. Shaia, the infamous tetrad of Sinistrals, and of course, the mysterious Lufia herself. The player even had the opportunity to control the four legendary heroes of the Lufia world in their battle against the four Sinistrals in an appropriately heroic opening to the series. The game was popular enough for Taito to consider bringing it to the Sega Genesis, although the port was eventually canceled.
Several years later, Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals returned players to the Lufia world in the time of the hero, Maxim, to tell the story of his rise to glory and the appearance of the Sinistrals. Lufia II was well-received and featured a number of gameplay additions that have become series traditions, such as the capsule pets and the seemingly-bottomless Ancient Cave. Lufia II's ending, widely considered to be one of the most emotional in RPG history, left a heavy impression on its fans, who eagerly awaited a sequel.
Never-Land Company answered those calls with the announcement of Lufia III: Ruins Chasers for the Sony PlayStation in 1998. Unfortunately, financial difficulties with publisher Nihon-Flex led to what became another, albeit unofficial, series tradition: delays. After changing its name to the simpler Lufia: Ruins Chaser and moving to the Gameboy Color handheld, the third game in the Lufia series was finally canceled in 2000.
...Only to reemerge in the form of a completely new game, Lufia: The Legend Returns. Taking place 100 years after the original Lufia, The Legend Returns told the story of one of Maxim's descendants and his battle against the returning Sinistrals. Although also hampered by delays, the third game in the Lufia series brought back the Ancient Cave and featured randomized dungeons and the innovative Wave Matrix system, adding a strategic element to its turn-based battles.
Most recently, even though it had already been out for a year in Japan, Atlus published Lufia: The Ruins of Lore for the American Gameboy Advance. A vast graphical improvement over its Gameboy Color predecessor, The Ruins of Lore is much closer to Lufia II in its presentation, and features an expanded capsule monster breeding system and allows players to assign jobs to the main characters. This fourth game in the series also includes multiplayer support, finally allowing Lufia fans to collaborate in their conquest of the Ancient Cave.
Although there has been no announcement of any new Lufia games, fans are already speculating on what the future could hold. The most popular ideas involve a Lufia game on one of the current console systems such as Sony's PlayStation 2 or the Nintendo Gamecube, done in the style of one of the recent Final Fantasy games, in full 3D and featuring epic CG movies. Although no one knows what Never-Land Company has in store for its clamoring fans as of yet, hopefully it won't be another ten years before Lufia graces gamers' screens everywhere.