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Old 10-03-2007, 07:19 PM   #1319
Joe Redifer
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Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Denver, Colorado
Posts: 20,149
Shining Force
Sega Genesis

The artwork, while cool, definitely does not fit the game.

I can't believe I overlooked how good this game was when it originally came out. I rented it and I'm sure my thoughts upon entering the first battle were "WTF is this shit? I have to think? Screw that, I hate thinking!" I never really gave it a chance, and it certainly wasn't anything like Shining in the Darkness which was released two years prior. However, that is a really, really good thing. Shining in the Darkness was just a dungeon crawler, and although it did have some of the cool things that exist in the Shining world, it was kind of lacking in my opinion. But with Shining Force they decided that Strategy RPGs would be a great new genre!

The game uses the Genesis' amazing shadow and highlight function
to mark where you can move on the map. 12 MEGA POWER!

Story: 7/10
The game is divided into 8 chapters which span the story. That's more chapters than I've ever read in any book in my life. The story is your typical medievil-ish storyline with the big bad guy whom you must defeat before he accomplishes his goal. There is nothing revolutionary in this area, but the characters really stand out. You may even remember some of their names up to a week after you've beaten the game... they're that memorable, and that's pretty rare.

Graphics: 6/10
The graphics here really aren't anything special. The towns are all very simple looking with very few colors and very little detail. On top of that, the towns all look pretty much the same. Nothing will harm your eyes in the town as things are drawn well, but it looks pretty flat and a bit boring. The battle maps, on the other hand, look a little better. Again they are nothing truly special. The battle scenes themselves look really cool with nicely animated characters on both sides and cool backgrounds. There is some flicker of the menus during heavy magic attacks, and the Genesis' second background layer is never used at all. I think they could have done a little better, but overall you'll be too busy playing to be stressin' about eye candy.

The backgrounds change often during battles, yo.

Sound: 6/10
There really aren't any bad musical passages here, but what brings things down is the repetition, especially in the towns. The music rarely changes and when you're busy passing items from character to character just so one person can equip a certain weapon, it can get very annoying. I often pressed the MUTE button when I was in towns. The battle theme also never ever changes, and you'll hear it A LOT. After the battle ends, the overhead map music starts back over at the beginning which makes things even more repetitive! I often pressed the MUTE button when fighting as well. If it weren't for this problem, I'd really enjoy most of the music.

This game kicks ass. A must play!

Gameplay: 9/10
Ah yes, a strategy RPG. At first I didn't think I'd be too interested, but once I figured out how the game works, which doesn't take very long, I was completely hooked. I really like the icon system that Sonic Software Planning and Climax came up with for the series, although it can make things a little tedious when you're just trying to talk to someone in a town. You can get over 20 members in your party if you can find them all, but you can only choose 11 members besides yourself at any one time. If you leave someone behind, they won't level up, making htem more and more useless as time goes on and it's hard to tell who will be a powerhouse after lots of fighting. There are plenty of characters you probably won't mind leaving behind, though, like Bleu the dragon. The game allows you to promote characters after they reach level 10 or higher, but they don't get any paid vacations, higher salary or other perks that usually come with promotions. I noticed that my characters started sucking ass when I promoted them, they'd always miss enemies in battle. If I ever promoted an employee and their performance became immediately worse in all areas, they would be fired and then receive a severe beating! But once their levels started rising again, they became super power houses. It does take lots of patience, but leveling up the characters in this game is really fun, at least it was for me. It's certainly nowhere as tedious as leveling up in regular RPGs. There are only 30 battles in the game, but it seems like much more as the battles are usually fairly big and you'll be doing many more than once since you'll want to "egress" back to towns in order to survive. There's a lot of detail I won't go into like how different characters have different ranges, spells and all of that crap. Just know that there's plenty of variety and if you don't like this game, you are dead to me.

See??!! I told you the backgrounds change often!
(Really, they do!)

Wrap up:
While it likely isn't the first console game in the Strategy RPG genre, it definitely was the first good one. I played this game for 9 days, only skipping one day due to having a semi-life, before I finally beat it. It doesn't have a timer so I don't know how many hours it took. Oh well, I'd rather not rush through the game to get the lowest time possible. This game is not extremely rare nor ultra common, but it is definitely worth having. I was sad when the game was over because there were no more battles to fight, but really happy at the same time since now I can play Shining Force 2!
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