Shining Force Review by Genesaturn
Main Battle Map
Synopsis: The Continent of Rune has slumbered in peace for 50 generations. A horde of invaders swarm across the border, while a dragon that has slept for centuries stirs in its tomb. Only the king's youngest swordsman and his war party and defy the Dark Dragons evil power and crush the mighty army! - As stated on the back of the game box.
Plot: So the main plot of the game isn't something we haven't seen before, but when the game came out it was pretty unique. For the most part the story is simple and you generally know how it will play out from the first few minutes in the game. It's not bad, just pretty basic, but this isn't a game I would recommend just for its plot line anyways. The game never strays from the main story as being one of the first RPG's of its time, it had no need to and it is short compared to modern RPG's.
Overall Plot Score: 7 out of 10
Game Play: Gameplay is really where the game shines. Its very fun and requires some amount of strategy, as it is a strategy RPG. There is no "world map" like in a lot of RPG's. You pretty much travel from town A to town B, but there are no random encounters or anything of that kind. While in town you can buy/sell items from merchants, save your game, and talk to town folk. Combat is pretty engaging. You can control up to 10 troops in battle at one time. So towards the end of the game when you have way more than 10, you really need to choose your party carefully. In combat you will be on a map and when you select one of your units, a highlighted are will come up to show where they can move. This is where you need to think out your strategy. Running in guns blazing is not a tactic that will work in this game. Overall the combat is fun and pretty time consuming. I've found myself in a single battle for over an hour. It's not overly difficult, but does offer up a challenge and there is a wealth of different types of characters to keep your party fresh if you decide to go back through more than once.
Overall Gameplay Score: 9 out of 10
Graphics: Gauging graphics on a game from 1993 is hard to do when we have such beautiful games out today. So when looking at the graphics, I compare them to other games from the same time and system. While the Genesis may not exactly have the lively color palette the SNES does, it still has its share of very pretty games. Shining Force has great graphics for its time period. The colors darker and more rugged to fit in with story which is also dark and rugged. In combat especially the characters are done very well and with quite a bit of detail. The brightest spot though would have to be the magic spells and battle animations. All of them are done very well. There are some really ugly games on the Genesis, but this isn't one of them. Shining Force is by far one of the prettier games on the system.
Overall Graphics Score: 9 out of 10
Music: The music in Shining Force is your standard JRPG music. It's nothing outstanding, but nothing that would make you want to mute the game while you play. I'd have to say though compared to how fun the game is, the music is one of its weaker points. It's fairly repetitive and doesn't change depending on where you are. All towns have the same music as does the battles or dungeon type areas. The sound effects however are top notch. There is quite an array of sound effects for magic spells especially. So again, the music doesn't deter from the game, I personally just wish there was more of it and less repetitiveness.
Overall Music Score: 7 out of 10
Overall Score: 8 out of 10
Final Thoughts: If your a fan of RPG's then this is a must play. Shining Force was one of the first of its kind. At the same time Nintendo had Fire Emblem, but Shining Force is a much more engaging game. You actually get to explore and talk to people. It's more open. I loved the game back in 1993 and I still love it just as much now. It is a solid RPG with a fair amount of replay-ability. Great gameplay and beautiful 16-bit graphics make this a gem in any Genesis collectors collection. If you don't have it...a complete copy will probably set you back about $25 bucks. Well worth the money. It's not perfect, and will probably frustrate you a few times, but in the end..more than worth it! Go pick it up and play!!!