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Old 02-14-2004, 07:13 PM   #511
Icarus4578
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As with every generation there are good and bad games. Problem is the quality games nowadays are far outweighed by the crap, whereas back in the day you could at least rent a lot of the average games and get your money's worth, and find some gems that were worth owning (that's how I found out about games that didn't get much attention such as Arcana). If I rented Enter the Matrix I'd have to find a way to punish myself. The games that people consider quality now don't exhibit the same special quality of older titles. Even the experience of playing Final Fight CD for the first time beat the first-time experiences that 99% of the new stuff has offered to me. I don't know why and I'm not saying FFCD is better than every one of the newer games. I suppose it's bad when the once-exceptional Final Fantasy series has become commercialized.
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Old 02-15-2004, 06:03 AM   #512
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Atari actually sold a bunch of copies of ET, but when you sell a million and made 3 million, your in trouble. Atari was also losing money like it was going out of style at the time, about a million bucks a day for about four months strait. Cut warehousing costs, write product off as a loss, lay off employees, stop R&D...burry tons of ET carts, do anything you can to stop the bleeding.

I still think there are a bunch of great games out there. Crap licensed games are nothing new....Predator, Rambo, Robocop, Home Alone and many many other crap games found their way to the NES.
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Old 02-15-2004, 08:14 AM   #513
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Home Alone on the SNES was a joke! Anyway, it's pretty impressive how Atari has survived so many perilous downfalls and came right back from the seemingly dead. As for the crap on NES, yes, there's certainly a ton of it. But which of the new systems, by comparison, has had as many memorable titles? ....Exactly -- none of them have. Certainly not in my opinion. Contra, Mega Man, Castlevania, Final Fantasy, Dragon Warrior, Strider, Ghosts 'N Goblins, Rygar, Ninja Gaiden ;), Goonies II, Gradius, Super Mario Bros., Zelda, Metroid, Kid Icarus, (Mike Tyson's) Punch-Out!!, Double Dragon, River City Ransom, and the list goes on and on....

I'll have up a new review soon.
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Old 02-19-2004, 01:00 PM   #514
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Into the night

Strider 2 - PlayStation - Rating 7
Ever since Sega managed to cram the arcade Strider onto an 8-MEG cart on Genesis I've been dying for a sequel. It was, after all, one of the most amazing games ever released for the 16-bit generation. Strider first took off on the NES in the late 90's and there was also a version for the SMS as well. Somehow, US Gold/Virgin Interactive Entertainment (now known as Avalon) acquired the rights to the game and released Strider Returns on Genesis - it's like Strider but without the fun. Why did Capcom, masters at action gaming, make the unwise decision to lend out this series? What was wrong with Capcom of Japan?? Oh sure, US Gold published Final Fight on the Commodore 64/128, but that doesn't mean that they and VIE could possibly become Capcom Part 2. Only Capcom can do Capcom games right.
You need no further affirmation of this fact then by playing the power that is Strider 2 on the PlayStation - the true sequel to the Arcade/Genesis classic released a decade later. And for those of you less-fortunate people that have never participated in the fun of the Arcade it's included along with Strider 2, complete with selectable original/arranged soundtracks! Hey, what more can a guy ask for? "Oh... a six-demon bag!" There was actually an arcade of this running on more powerful PS-based architecture which houses twice the RAM as the regular PS system. I find Strider 2 to be a insanely fun experience, effortlessly playable and enduring for all time. Even Gamespot agrees and gave it an 8.0. Yes folks - Hiryu is back!!!
Here's how it goes: take Hiryu and jump, flip, climb, hang, run, blast, and smash your way through five multi-sectioned levels. There's even a hidden level if you've got what it takes, and a hidden playable character known as Strider Hien. The graphics are great in every way except for some slight pixelation on sprites (well, ok.... it's rather noticeable but it's not a big deal to me). The animation is good but could've used a little touching-up. But keep in mind that Capcom is taking a PSone and pushing both Capcom 2D goodness and jolly 3D backgrounds at all times and it's easy to forgive any shortcomings. Besides, the PS does its job well and if you play it on PS2 you can smoothen the game out considerably, and even if you've only got a PSone Strider 2 easily stands head-and-shoulders above most other PS software both in terms of visual splendor and unreleting funfactor.
You begin by selecting from any of the first three stages in the game that you'd like to start at, and as you press forward more stages become available. Every stage has a massive variety of enemies, bosses, and locales for you to check out, yet Strider Hiryu is such a hyper fellow and usually you only get to view each section for a minute or two so you couldn't possibly hope to soak it all up in just one play-through. It's easier to appreciate the spectacle of Strider demolishing massive machines, scientific freakshows, and the elongated Emperor Dragon boss of level 1 by watching somebody else playing it. The reason for this should be obvious -- while playing the game you're usually too busy trying to get from point a to point b and often so fast that you cannot focus on everything that's happening on-screen, though you'll definitely appreciate the majesty of Capcom's artists. The gameplay is always fast and frantic. Hiryu can double-jump and, unlike the original, alter his direction in mid-air to a degree. If you fall into the bottom of the screen Hiryu will not die instantly like in the original but rather will just show up again with one less health. Another new feature is the Boost which allows him to shoot out homing plasma waves whenever he slashes his Cypher (his main weapon). He's also got a new move which is useful but not necessary called a Savage Slash: press down, up + attack while in mid-air. Aside from these features pretty much everything remains as was. Hiryu can now run/dash by double-tapping a direction and holding on the second press, and he'll keep his speed even while jumping and/or attacking. The game plays like a dream. The only issue I have is that sometimes there's some slowdown, but this isn't always a bad thing in my opinion. You are now ranked on each level (and in total) based on your performance (i.e. staying alive instead of just rushing through getting killed constantly). The highest ratings are S and A and the lowest is E. Do good enough and you'll get.....
I must quickly make note of the fact that this game is easy due to the infinite continues, as is the original arcade port. You can select from eight levels of difficulty but since whenever you continue you begin exactly where you were it makes little difference. To be fair about this Capcom makes it so that cautious gamers that try to maintain their health throughout get graded better and are rewarded, so there is an incentive to live after all. Therefore, I will not lower the rating by a point over something so trivial. Besides, everybody that reviews this game and complains about the infinite continues does a 180 degree turn in their heads when they actually play the game. I mean really... do you expect me to believe that these guys die, see the continue screen and go "Damn you Capcom for allowing me to continue my game!"?
Yeah, right.
Strider 2 boasts a great soundtrack that's befitting of the series and adds a measure of excitement to an already-exhilarating game. The sound quality is crisp and clear and the sound effects are awesome, especially on Hiryu. My favorite song is for The High Society Residential Area in Neo Hong Kong City; this is where you fight Tong Poo, the three Chinese girls from the original, except you're fighting while jumping on top of hovering vehicles that are cruising by buildings aglow in the Hong Hong night. This is one of the coolest parts in any action game ever.
If more games displayed half the creativity as Strider 2 then gaming wouldn't be in the slump that it currently is in... or maybe it would. Just look at how Strider 2 was ignored by the general public as a good example of how true gamers are a dying breed and how we've allowed the idiot casual consumer to choose our future for us - a future of commercialism. You have no idea to the extent of just how much that pisses me off. If games like these die I'm going to discontinue purchasing new games out of sheer anger and disappointment.

Here's a guide for Strider 2 ~ http://db.gamefaqs.com/console/psx/file/strider_2.txt
More about this game, including screenshots ~ http://www.gamespot.com/ps/action/strider2/index.html
Another review with some screens ~ http://www.gamecritics.com/review/strider2/main.php
And for a review of Strider on Genesis please look at the bottom of Page #3 in My Personal Ratings.

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Old 02-19-2004, 10:57 PM   #515
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I've never played this. I don't think I ever knew it existed when it was released. Too bad. Sounds great. I remember being pissed at Sega for the Genesis version of Strider since it was noticably inferior to the Japanese Mega Drive version of the game. They took out a lot of sounds and voices for absolutely no reason whatsoever. They could have at least put an option in to select between "superior" and "inferior" with the default set on "inferior" just like Sega of America likes things.
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Old 02-20-2004, 01:18 AM   #516
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That's the first time I've heard of that. Why would they do such an evil thing? SOA was notorious for doing stupid things so I can't say I'm suprised. Either way, the game still rocks.
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Old 02-20-2004, 02:15 AM   #517
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I agree and I still have my US copy with fabulous box art. I have played the Mega Drive version and it does indeed have extra voices. Typical of SOA. Sonic the Hedgehog 1's underwater sequences had line scrolling to simulate a wavy background in Japan whereas the US version did not. They changed the music in the US Sonic CD for absolutely no reason whatsoever. They took the cool sound effects out of the US version of Sol Feace for the Sega CD. They renamed Thunder Force IV to the misspelled "Lightening Force" for absolutely no reason. It goes on and on. I am sad.

I do want to try and get my hands on Strider 2, though. Sounds fun and should be selling for $2 in the bargain bin at my local GameSquirt!
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Old 02-20-2004, 12:49 PM   #518
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Quote:
Originally posted by Joe Redifer
I do want to try and get my hands on Strider 2, though. Sounds fun and should be selling for $2 in the bargain bin at my local GameSquirt!

Joe, you did play Strider 2! AT MY HOUSE!! WITH MY COPY OF IT!! As I recall you thought nothing of it.

I enjoyed the game although it was very easy. But still fun.
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Old 02-20-2004, 03:25 PM   #519
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I must have thought nothing of it... literally! Because I don't remember it one bit. I enjoy the Strider gameplay style so I should have enjoyed Strider 2. The graphics don't seem at all familiar to me.
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Old 02-23-2004, 02:09 PM   #520
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Save the world.... again....

Dragon Force - Saturn - Rating 7
It managed to steal my attention from Metroid ~ Zero Mission and had holding interest for the duration of my quest with Junon (one of the eight chosen warriors who you can play as). Developed by Sega and distributed in the US by Working Designs, Dragon Force is considered by many the pinnacle of the Sega Saturn library, but what makes this strongly held belief more provocative is the fact that it's a strategy/RPG which is in heavy contrast with most of the other software on the platform notably dominated by (2D) action & fighting games. And then there's those fortunate souls who grabbed the Japanese-only sequel and, mostly, claim it to be even better. I had said in my MZM review that Dragon Force was a better game, and that's true in many ways. What DF has that MZM (and most other recent games) don't is longevity and value. I play it for hours on end, turn it off, but it just keeps sucking me back in....
And this is its greatest drawback. For the more I am forced to play it the more predictable it becomes. DF isn't your typical strategy game. You begin by selecting from one of six generals (the other two open up only after you complete the game once). Once you've made your selection the game goes to the opening for that particular character and then you go into the domestic affairs section. This is where you can plan your next move(s), find/give/use/equip items, fortify your castles, hold audiences with either your generals or captives, save your journey, etc. etc. At the start you won't have much to do and so you'll set out onto the world map and make your moves throughout a week-long period. You can deploy generals to go from location to location, recruit for your armies (of up to 100 people or other - I'll get into the fighting aspect later), raid castles or attack generals while they're on foot, or be attacked yourself. Characters transverse the map slowly and you can always pause it and move around to see who's going where if you'd like to prepare for/check on something without having time pass you by. The more fortified your castles are the easier it is to recruit more soldiers/others, and raise your defenses. Also, castles fortify automatically as time passes by (so long as you have generals kept within them -- castles don't build themselves).
As you progress and storm enemy castles new events will occur, and there's much ground to be covered. There's castles and towns, shrines and temples to be checked out. If you search all the towns and other out of the way places you'll eventually find hidden characters who you can do battle with in order to have them join your party, such as Vlad the vampire who resides in one of the temples. You can only fight him alone with your lead general, and he uses zombies which are good at killing most other types of armies (plus he can resurrect the zombies) so you'll have to figure out which type of army will be most effective and which is the best strategy to use. In this case, mages work wonders and can decimate zombies without any difficulty, particularly when you make them standby so they just stand there throwing fire spells.
Battling is the name of the game. You can have wars of 100 on 100 on-screen at once (mostly), and there's rarely slowdown. Each general can have any sort of army you'd like granted you find the appropriate crest from searching your castles when domestic affairs occur at the conclusion of each week. In order to increase the size of each particular army you must hand out awards to those whom you deem deserving. Be sure you award those with merits (or, those that win battles) to keep them happy. Each general has a distinct personality. Scar loves fighting and will often ask to do battle so you should let him. Others don't mind just settling down and living the easy way. And some characters should have gifts given to them in order to keep them happy. Otherwise you could lose some of them and they'll just take off. I never found this to be a problem though. You could say this game is part Dead or Alive ~ XBV from the way things work, but I wouldn't say it's anything like Tokimeki Memorial because it's not that in-depth.
When you battle you take the right side and the opponent is on the left. You can order your army to do different things, take specific formations, or just melee. Beware, however, that when you use melee you can no longer give orders 'till the battle's ended. During the time the armies are battling you can use your general to use special attacks/magic to devastate the opposing army and/or general depending on your options, and in order to use special attacks you must have both the MP to do so and your Charge Meter built. Some generals are adept at magic attacks while others work best with fighting tactics. Be weary of the fact that whenever either you or the enemy does a special attack the fighting stops, even though the army movement continues, except for the mages & archers who can freely continue their assault while the special attack is being carried out. At anytime you can retreat if need be except for if you get hit by Ensnare which will freeze your Charge Meter as well. Not good. If the armies are depleted completely you'll have the choice of entering or retreating from a duel you cannot actually control. Sometimes it pays to make risks but otherwise you should know who is stronger than the other, check the energy, and make your judgement from there. The game is dripping with depth and intrigue. Even PC strategy lovers will find much to love here.
The graphics are great but don't match up to the sequel, although I've only seen screenshots. But I can assure you it looks improved. Nevertheless it's cool watching massive armies take on one another and after the 100th battle I was still coming back for more. Character sprites in battle are detailed well but don't stand out in any particular way. You can freely move the camera around with the D-pad in battle and there's a small chart which you can toggle on the left side of the screen which shows the locations of every character at all times on the battlefield. The map looks 16-bit and is rather plain, so that's a negative. However, the cinemas are detailed and often showcase great artwork. What sucks are the FMV cinemas, particularly right before the final battle, during the final battle, and after the final battle (the ending). These are grainy and are rather terrible to watch (and very predictable), plus the outtakes Working Designs is so infamous for are quite stupid.

Time for a rant. Ready?

I'm getting sick and tired of hearing the same voice actors from the Sega CD days do the voices on literally every Working Designs game. Have you ever seen these people!? Victor Ireland has some audacity to try and sell the idea to people that his voice acting 'talent' is something truly special that stands above the rest of the pack. I know this because I own both Lunars for PS and there's "making of" discs which I watched in horror as the voice actors all come out of their burrows to scare me further by trying to pretend they're great actors. I'm telling you IT SUCKS and I have heard better Saturday morning cartoon voice acting on many an occasion. If this is what takes WD so long to localize their products then perhaps it's time they pay somebody else to do the voice acting for them. I didn't need to suffer through arduous, meaningless delays just to hear some lame voice acting that makes me want to mute my stereo. You know where the voice acting was good? Popful Mail on Sega CD. That's it.

Spoiler alert (not really -- everybody knows the routine by now...)

---On a seperate issue, I'm getting a little tired of how most every RPG ends with the usual "We gods/deities are no longer necessary, so we'll leave the world to you. The future is yours to create." Yeah, yeah. Spare me the lame tripe about how self-sufficient people are --- we destroy one another constantly and ruin the planet. We always build things that break, find 'cures' to diseases with nasty side-effects (and create more diseases), and generally drive each other insane. So all this predictable nonsense that ends most RPGs needs to go away. It's like every RPG is written by the same people. Why can't they ever come up with an awesome ending to these games?? How about having the dark god Madruk decimate the planet and the game ends with the destruction of the world? That would at least be unpredictable. I don't really want to play all these RPGs only to come to the exact same conclusion where I'm giving the usual pep-talk about life and how the future is mine to create. "I believe in the power of humanity!" I GET IT! ENOUGH ALREADY!! Get a life you losers!!!

Anyway, the soundtrack is uber-joy and you should take the time to examine it more thoroughly while you play because there's no sound test, unfortunately. Hey, Shining Wisdom not only had a complete sound test right from the beginning but you could change any song in the game if you weren't happy with it. How cool was that? Each lead general has their own theme for when you're on the overworld map, so check them all out. Also, when you do battle in specific locations you can hear different songs. For example, if you enter battle in Magicka you'll hear a different song than usual. Sega does a stellar job here, but the credits theme is one done by (GASP!) Working Designs. Why can't they frigging leave these games ALONE!?!?!? Sound effects are generally weak on armies but pretty good when a general does a special attack. Aside from in the FMV cinemas you won't find voice acting anywhere else. Thank God.
To be fair, WD did add some useful features to the game that weren't readily present in the Japanese version, such as using special attacks with the tap of a button rather than having to open the menu to select them. The game is great fun and harbors some decent challenges every now and then to keep you coming back to try again ("If I only had 10 more dragons, I'd kick his sorry ass!") and there's a lot to love about this game. However, after I completed it with Junon I didn't really feel like playing through it again with anybody else because they all lead inevitably to the very same conclusion and much of the game remains largely the same. One oddity in my opinion is the fact that when you play as Reinhart and about three weeks passes by you get a cinema depicting the succubus Uryll seated on his bed (he's like 12 years old) and she's, ahem, scantily clad. You can see her breasts (but no nipples). So you're wondering what's so odd about that? Only the fact that this game is Rated E as in "Everybody's Invited to Play". How did that one happen? I don't know, and I don't really care -- I just thought I'd bring it up for your interest.
And there you have it. Nothing else to say about the game. Hmmm.... What to say.... Sure is a nice day. ....I like good music. :bigsmile: Ummmm............. uuuuuuhhh.... So yeah.

Here's a walkthrough ~ http://db.gamefaqs.com/console/satur...on_force_c.txt
Here's some screenshots (including the Uryll shot brought into question). WARNING - Contains the ending for Reinhart (like I'm sure you care) ~ http://membres.lycos.fr/sladechaos/D.../Reinhart.html
Here's more screenshots, this time more in-game stuff, plus more ~ http://www.rpgamer.com/games/other/s...ce/dforce.html
Shots from Dragon Force 2 ~ http://www.sega-saturn.com/saturn/dforce2.htm
More DF2 ~ http://secretsephiroth.tripod.com/es...astle/id9.html

See if you can find the allusion to a popular Al Franken sketch from his SNL days in the game if you can. :cool guy:
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Old 02-23-2004, 05:03 PM   #521
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Icarus, you ever think about indexing your reviews?
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Old 02-23-2004, 06:17 PM   #522
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I've thought of it and certainly shall in the near future. I've gotta make it easier for people to find reviews of the games that they want to read about. I'll do it in a seperate forum that I'll make so that it doesn't get lost within all these pages of reviews eventually because as my section grows things become harder to locate.
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Old 02-25-2004, 01:29 AM   #523
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I DO NOT agree with your MOTW review.
Tomarrow, I think I will start my own review thread.
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Old 02-25-2004, 02:26 AM   #524
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If you start your own review thread, please keep your username the same. This thread would be weird if Icarus changed his name a lot. I would have a hard time remembering who it belonged to.
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Old 02-28-2004, 08:24 PM   #525
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Shining the Holy Ark - Saturn - Rating 8
I think it's obvious that I've been playing a lot more Saturn as of late. Two reasons: 1) It's a damn good system, and 2) I'm buying time before major titles like Ninja Gaiden are released. And boy is it time well spent. Sega adventurers are very familiar with the Shining series, and for those of you who have experienced Shining in the Darkness this is a very similar encounter, except there's a lot more adventuring involved instead of it just being one huge dungeon, one town, and one castle. Now there's multiple locations, and, frankly, more bang for your buck. Pretty much everything that was good in SITD is present here in spades. If, like myself, you've been wondering what would be a worthwhile game to spend some time with I'd recommend Shining the Holy Ark.
The biggest change is the transfer from hand-drawn artwork to digitized renders of all the characters and enemies (which all animate) and the fully 3D locations. Does it look good? Certainly, especially for a Saturn. But other 3D games like Panzer Dragoon 2 blow this out of the water. Of course PD2 didn't have to account for both 3D textured environments and CG-rendered characters/enemies. Take it or leave it. It looks befitting of the series, and there's even some FMV cutscenes to help flesh out the game. The business of any good adventure/RPG is in keeping you interested with interesting gameplay and an at least decent story. STHA has both of these and then some. It also has a lot of leveling-up to be done, but more than compensates for this because of the sheer scope and breadth of the various areas in which you encounter baddies. To make a long story short, expect to fight... a lot.
I've spoken a bit of the graphics but haven't detailed it all for you. As in SITD, when you enter a house or keep you'll be able to view your immediate surroundings and engage in conversation with anybody on-screen. And whenever you're in battle the enemies come on-screen with opening animations and have various attacks, all of which have seperate animations, which is a big improvement over SITD in which the only animation enemies would give is by 'turning' the actual sprite. Also, whenever your teammates attack they come out from 'behind the sides of the screen' and perform their actions, but when you personally attack you don't actually see yourself come out -- you are the screen. That's supposed to be your viewpoint. What can be a tad annoying is how in certain areas you'll encounter slowdown in battle, but I got over it. Locations are just begging for you to investigate every nook and cranny in order to find hidden items and little helpers like pixies, succubuses, and leprechauns which can be used before a battle begins to do some preemptive damage to the foes. Once you have more than one type you can select between them with the L and R buttons and (quickly) make a decision before the enemy is ready to fight which you will send. If you send the wrong type it will just pass by the enemy. Also, you can have multiple of each type at your disposal, so it's a good idea to investigate all locations to find as many of them as possible.
(A quick note about searching areas -- when you are searching for things the obvious suspects are the ends of narrow passageways, anything that is sitting in the middle of a larger section such as trees, columns, etc. - and be sure to search every angle[!], and objects.)
Controls are simple. You have menus to navigate that are pretty much the same as in SITD. You can look/talk, check out items (each character has their own inventory), cast magic, etc. When in battle you select all of the character's actions and then watch the action play itself out until everybody has gotten their turn in and then start over. Again, it's all the same ground covered before. What makes battling so invigorating is that the game is littered with tons of enemies, and one thing I noticed is that whenever you encounter an enemy of one type or another in one specific area you can keep fighting the same enemy (or enemies) over and over again by constantly moving back and forth to that specific area. One thing I don't like is how you cannot select which enemy you'd like each person to attack at will -- you can only select by group. Nevertheless, at least once you've killed one enemy it will transfer all subsequent attacks over to another. Enemies are often hardy and the bosses are usually something else. That's the strife between games like these and the typical easy RPG (insert name here ____).
So, loads of (huge) areas to cover, tons of baddies, items, equipment, spells, etc. Oh yes, the story is quite good. You are a mercenary named Arthur who is ordered by the king of Enrich to go to the caves of Desire Mountain to capture a ninja called Rodi. You will accompany two others, Melody and Forte, who are both adept in the skills of magic. After succeeding the cavernous mountain you finally come face-to-face with Rodi and then do battle. But something terrible happens after you've defeated him: there's a sudden quake which sends you all (including Rodi) tumbling down hard along with boulders from above. Unsettling things occur while you're all unconscious, and then you all awake later only to learn that Rodi seems to be suffering from amnesia and Forte has vanished! This is just a small morsel of what's to come and doesn't really explain the actual plot too much, but that's all I'm telling you.
You wanna hear a good soundtrack? Check this game out. It may not be Redbook Audio but it is just as well composed as most of the best of the 32-bit RPG crowd. Then again, Shining Force games always tend to have an affectionate, enduring soundtrack, so it's only natural. The enemy groans, explosive sound effects, and that infamous dialogue noise when different characters are speaking is all here. (I know; I don't know what it's called. So what? )
The quest is looooooooong and the game continues to become more and more fascinating and doesn't let-up until you've finished your quest. Sonic Software Planning/Camelot is to be commended for their fine effort. There may be one or two other things that scratched me in the wrong way but that would just be nit-picking on my part. I had a great time with this game and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anybody who owns a Saturn. There's also the import Shining Force 3 for those of you who cannot get enough of the Shining series.
Why is the Saturn alone (not even including PSone and N64) far better than all of the new systems? Oops, I promised myself I wouldn't quibble and complain in this review, so I'll end it on that (dissonant) note.

Tons of screenshots ~ http://www.geocities.com/up_00/sha/sha.html
Probably the definitive online source for Shining games ~ http://www.shiningforcecentral.com/d...e_holy_ark.php
More STHA goodness ~ http://www.rpgdreamer.com/stha/
Can't get enough yet? ~ http://www.rpgamer.com/games/shin/sha/sha.html
Here's a walkthrough ~ http://www.gamefaqs.com/console/saturn/game/21922.html

Tofu baby. Tofu.
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Last edited by Icarus4578; 03-14-2004 at 12:15 AM.
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