The first game I will review is
It was released in Japan in 1992, and in America and Europe in 1993.
Shining Force is a turn based Tactical Role Playing Game, which means, the fighting is done on a map that is divided in squares and every unit occupies one of these squares. On their turns, units can do various things: they can move a certain amount of squares based on their Movement speed (a unit with Movement 6 can go further than units with Movement 4) and depending from the Terrain (units move further on a road than in the woods). They can attack, when they are in range to an enemy, use spells, use items, search the area when in range to a treasure chest, equip another weapon to use distant attacks or simply do nothing and wait. Each of these actions will end the turn of this unit and the next one can act. When a unit can act is determined by the Agility a unit has. Every action is presented in beautiful little cut scene.
Units get Experience Points (Exp) for hitting or killing enemies and healing or boosting allies. If a unit has collected 100 Exp it gains a Level Up increasing the Statistics (Stats) of this unit. A Level 10 unit can be promoted to a higher class in a church (an archer becomes a sniper for example). The promotion grants this unit better bonuses at a Level Up and the use of stronger weapons.
The goal of a fight is usually killing all enemies or one special enemy unit.
If one of the players units is killed, it can be resurrected in a church for a small amount of money. However, if the main character is killed, the player starts again in the last town he visited, loses half his money and has to do the whole fight again he died in.
When there is no fighting to do, the player explores various towns and settlements, where he can buy items and weapons and recruit new units.
The story starts in the town of Guardiana, which gets invaded and destroyed by the armies of Runefaust. The protagonist (his name is Max, but the player can rename him at the beginning of the game) is sent on a mission to defeat the evil Darksol who wants to open the Shining Path to resurrect Dark Dragon and destroy everything. He can’t do this alone, so he gathers many allies and forms the Shining Force to complete his task.
Shining Force was the first RPG I ever played and up until today it is one of the best. Even though the menus are a little bit confusing sometimes, the shopping is complicated because the game doesn’t show if the weapon you want to buy is stronger than the one you have, and the Level Ups are very unbalanced and random (sometimes you get 5 points on every stat, sometimes you just gain a Level but with no improvement whatsoever), the game is really fun to play. Once started you don’t want to stop until you see the ending. In my opinion, that’s because of the very different and loveable characters (there is a giant human armadill in a steam powered knight armor, how cool is that?! :)) and the really well told story. The battle system works great and the animations when a unit performs an action are just stunning, even today.
I highly recommend this game to everyone who likes tactical RPGs or RPGs at all. And even if you don’t, give it a chance, you won’t regret it.
The original Genesis/Mega Drive cartridge is pretty hard to get, but the game can be found on the SEGA Genesis Ultimate Collection for X-Box 360, you can also download it on Nintendos Wii or get the remake for Game Boy Advance.
Rating & Summary:
Graphics: 8 – Battlegraphics were awesome at the time but the overworldgraphics could have been better.
Sound: 8 – Typical Midi-songs, nothing special but not annoying.
Gameplay: 7 – Menus were too confusing and useless Level-Ups were annoying.
Story: 9 – The story itself is very nice written but it’s the characters that make this game special.
Overall: 8 – Very nice and enjoyable game with some gameplay issues.
I hope this review was helpful to you.
Keep playing 🙂