Lufia & the Fortress of Doom—possibly the most “anime” RPG on the SNES. It holds true for the story and the art, and also for the music. Seriously, go listen to the file menu music and tell me it doesn’t sound like they wanted to make an anime opening.
There’s always been a certain quality about the game that’s made Lufia stand apart for me despite its mediocre story and repetitive gameplay. Certain details, like the layout of the battle screen or the odd name choices for the spells, give the game a unique feel, and the music is definitely a big part of that. It’s not just that it had a different, more pop-y sort of style from the music of, say, Final Fantasy or Dragon Warrior games of the era. The music had a different feel. Something about the instruments used gave the music a warm, full feeling to it. It makes the game very welcoming, making you want to just hang around town and listen to the music while you walk through the flower beds looking for random items.
Aside from just randomly getting the battle theme stuck in my head sometimes, there’s something that’s caught my attention about the Lufia soundtrack recently. As I try to teach myself some music composition (always something handy as an indie developer), I often listen to classic game music that I want to emulate and try to play along. Sometimes it’ll take me a bit to figure out what key a song is in, but I usually get it after goofing around for a while and sort of see what the composer was doing.
But, there’s something strange about the Lufia soundtrack. I know I’m the literal definition of “amateur” when it comes to music composition, if I can even say that much, but it just seems like the songs are off-key. The instruments are out of tune. It’s fine to listen to, but playing along is basically impossible as I end up landing between notes. Maybe it’d be fine to find the key, record the actual notes played, and play them separately…but the sound as it is heard from the game itself seems to be weirdly out of tune.
Off-key instrumentation aside, I still enjoy the Lufia soundtrack. If you’re interested in hearing more, someone put up all the songs on YouTube over here. Whether you pick the overworld theme of the shop theme, there’s bound to be a winner in there somewhere.