My wife and I played the original version of this game, Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals, on the Super Nintendo together. We loved it. The characters were genuine, the plot was excellent, the dialogue was wonderful (although sometimes poorly translated), and the love story was great. At the end of Lufia II, my wife and I were both in tears, it was so moving. Half an hour after starting Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals, we were in tears for another reason. Neither of us wanted to believe the reviews that said the Lufia remake wasn't as good as the first. We hoped that they were overstating their case. In our opinion, they seriously understated it.
We knew that we were in trouble when we started the game and saw that Square-Enix had helped to develop the new version. Square-Enix's work has received...mixed reviews in recent years, and none of their new work has appealed to us. I largely blame Square-Enix for the terrible, terrible way that this game was remade. Let's take the very beginning as an example. Rather than establish any of the characters' personalities or do any world-building, the game starts with the bad guy proclaiming in a loud, 80's-dubbed anime-style voice that he is going to destroy the world. Then you see each of the playable characters, one by one, say things like "I've gotta stop him!", and "Not if I kick your butt!" and so forth. Then the main character charges up to Doom Island to challenge the bad guy, which didn't happen until the very end of the original. At the very beginning, the developers bash the player over the head with the blunt end of the plot, eliminating most of the storytelling elements from the game.
Incidentally, the quotations above are a good example of the character dialogue. It is terrible. The character's attitudes, lines, and personalities have been severely dumbed down from the original game. This fact, primarily, will spoil the game even for people who haven't played the original. You like witty dialogue? Too bad, you get terrible jokes that a ten-year-old couldn't miss. You like character development and exposition? Sorry, kids don't have the patience for that anymore. The authentically-written characters of the original game seem to have been replaced with stock characters from some generic RPG or fantasy book. Even the character designs have been altered almost beyond recognition. Why is the houswife-ish Tia wearing goggles? Why does the mighty Dekar have a tie and pink hair? Why does Guy look like a shaved gorilla?
Other things about the game that could be viewed as positive or negative are the lack of a world map and the new battle system, which other reviewers have described very well. One fact that we hadn't heard before we played the game absolutely stunned us: if you die in battle, you can choose to go back to the last save point...with all of your characters' levels increased by five. For some people, this may be an advantage, but it begs the question: why are you playing an RPG if you're so terrible at them that the game has to help you like this? It's not as if the battles are particularly hard. You just keep pressing the button. The fact that this feature was included in the game felt like it was insulting us.
On a positive note, the graphics in the game are very nice. The dungeons and towns are very well done, although they do have a definite Square-Enix touch (why is there a giant crystal floating above a building in the first town? No idea). The music is also very nice, but it's the same as the first game. I was expecting the developers to make better use of the DS' capabilities; perhaps by using some synthesized instruments. Oh well.
Let's sum it up -
If you did not play the original Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals and you like Square-Enix's games, you may enjoy Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals. If so, good for you.
If you've played the original Lufia II, or if you like classic RPGs, don't take a chance on this game unless you also really, really like the new Square-Enix games (Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles, etc).
If you played the original Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals and like classic RPGs, but don't like the "new" style of RPGs that Square-Enix has made, please learn from our mistake and stay away from this game.