Lufia & the Fortress of Doom was developed by Neverland Co., Ltd. and published by Taito Corporation for the SNES in December 1993. It was the very first installment in the Lufia series. The game follows the traditional role-playing game formula of the era and contains a lot of basic RPG elements. Lufia & the Fortress of Doom wasn't groundbreaking nor was it considered the best in the series; however, it gathered enough of a loyal following to warrant the production of more sequels.
The story begins with a prologue centering around a time in which four evil Sinistrals named Daos, Amon, Erim, and Gades plan on spreading terror and chaos throughout the world. The Sinistrals were located on a floating island called the Fortress of Doom which more or less served as their headquarters. During that time, four brave souls became the world's last ray of hope and accepted the challenge of trying to stop the Sinistals; these heroes were known as Maxim, Selan, Artea, and Guy. The heroes ventured forth to the Fortress of Doom to attempt to defeat the evil Sinistrals and eventually succeeded. After the Sinistrals were defeated, the floating island started to collapse. Weak from the battle, Selan didn't have enough strength to walk, and Maxim refused to leave her side. Artea and Guy became separated from them and escaped just before the island collapsed; however, Maxim and Selan weren't so lucky and perished.
Fast-forward into the future and we are introduced to a mysterious girl named Lufia, as well as the nameless Hero of the story who also happens to be a descendant of Maxim. The two grow up with each other in the small town of Alekia, and become close childhood friends. After ninety-nine years of peace, the nearby kingdom of Sheran is viciously attack by monsters. As events begin to unfold, a rumor springs forth that the commander of the monstrous army who ordered the attack fits the description of the late Sinistral, Gades.
Being a descendant from the great Maxim, the hero takes it upon himself to investigate the attack in Sheran to confirm the validity of the rumors. Gades was indeed behind the attack and is still in Sheran where the Hero meets and confronts him. The Hero engages in a fierce battle with the Sinistral, is easily defeated, and barely survives. Knowing the Sinistrals are still alive, the Hero sets out on a long journey to rid the world once again of the evil Sinistrals. He is joined by Lufia, whose mysterious past begins to unfold as the story progresses, and two others named Aguro and Jerin who he meets along the way.
- The Hero - The main protagonist in the story and a descendant of the great Maxim who defeated the Sinistrals long ago. He is a skilled swordsman who grew up in Alekia with his childhood friend Lufia.
- Lufia - She came to Alekia at a young age not knowing anything about her past or who her parents were. She became very close friends with the Hero; so close she would do anything for him. She has a very mysterious background that no one knows about.
- Aguro - He is the commander of the Lorbenian army. He meets the Hero and Lufia during their journey and eventually decides to join them in their quest to save the world from the evil Sinistrals.
- Jerin - A young half-elf who was about to be sacraficed when she was saved by the Hero and the rest of his party. She later decides to join them in their quest to save the world.
- Gades - The Sinistral of Destruction. He has a penchant for destroying everything in his path.
- Amon - The Sinistral of Terror. His purpose is to instill fear into those who cross his path. In later games, Amon is referred to as the Sinistral of Chaos.
- Erim - The Sinistral of Death. She controls life and death, and has the ability to resurrect the other Sinistrals. As long as she lives, the other Sinistrals can always be brought back to life.
- Daos - The Sinistral of Chaos. He is the leader of the four Sinistrals. In later games, Daos is referred to as the Sinistral of Terror.
- Guard Daos - A powerful, mutated creature that is the result of Gades, Amon, and Daos combining forces to become one entity. Erim is excluded from the mix.
This game is pretty straightforward and contains many traditional RPG elements. You move your characters around a world map entering towns and other various places where you talk to people, collect items, buy equipment, and perform tasks to aid you in your overall mission of saving the world. Characters become stronger by levelling up when they earn enough experience through winning battles, which in turn unlocks new abilities and boosts several attributes.
Battles occur randomly in hostile areas or in certain situations where it's part of the story such as encountering a boss. When a battle does occur, you are taken to a turn-based battle screen where you have several options to choose from: attack, magic, item, defend, and run. Battles are similar to traditional RPG games; however, there is an actual strategy involved where you must keep track of enemy hit points because if you don't you may end up wasting turns doing an “overkill”. For instance, if an enemy dies at the hands of Aguro and is still targeted that same turn by Lufia, Lufia still attacks that spot even though the enemy is dead, resulting in a miss.
Other than that, this game plays very similarly to any other RPG just with a few minor differences.