Shining Force (Mega Drive)

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Shining Force (Mega Drive)

Postby TheEagleXIII » December 23rd, 2019, 9:46 pm

Hey all, figured this is a good place for a first post. I'm a retro gamer (mainly Mega Drive, PS1 and SNES) and been lurking around the main site for a while and figured I'd join the forums :)

Since getting my hands on the Mega Drive Mini, Shining Force is the one I've been most drawn to playing. Definitely one that I'd never heard of before and, even if I had heard of it, it's totally not the style of game I would have played when I was a kid anyway. RPGs and/or fantasy themes never really appealed to me then. But I'm older and more open minded now, so I'm looking to change that, but RPGs still need to kinda win me over.

This one did. A tactical RPG is right up my street. I love this game, it really does feel like a free roaming form of chess mixed with an RPG. It's so much more interesting and challenging having to plan your moves and attacks, rather than just waiting your turn and attacking - which always seems a bit rinse and repeat. The freedom you have picking your team is cool, as is having 12 members per battle, and a large variety of classes make almost all the characters feel unique in some form. I went into many battles expecting my top levelled guys to handle it easy only to have to rethink my strategy and mix things up a bit and utilise different strengths, and it's so satisfying when it all comes together.

That said, it does get a little frustrating at times. Classes that can attack from more than 1 square away tend to have low defence and HP, which is a double whammy – sometimes there's only so much you can do to protect them and keep them away from the front lines, and one-hit kills on them are a little over common, which makes it harder to gain EXP to rectify this (triple whammy?). Bosses get to recover health after a certain number of moves and sometimes dodge multiple attacks in a row, which feels a tad more cheap than challenging. It's not overly clear which weapons certain classes can use and when. Magic spells aren't explained enough and it takes a bit of experimenting to see what they do and if they're worth it - and even then, if they repeatedly failed I would tend to avoid using them altogether – throughout the entire game I only used about a quarter of the spells available, if that. The menu requires too many button presses to get things done, and things that should be simple like checking multiple character's stats or swapping multiple items require going through the menus several times.

The story is engaging enough but pretty simple. I know RPGs tend to be story driven, but this feels like the story exists to drive the gameplay, rather than the other way around - another aspect I liked. But it also does a good job of making bosses seem like threats and adding tension to the battles. The music is good but a little repetitive after a while, especially when having to redo several fights, but is catchy and memorable.

Overall the negatives weren't enough to put me off. They weren't that big of a deal. I've still got through the game without too much trouble, but it still made me feel like I earned it at the same time and that my decisions in battle really affected the outcome. As a first game in the series (of this genre) and an early tactical RPG, I can appreciate there would still be some flaws to be ironed out. I've heard even better things about Shining Force 2, so I'm presuming most of this gets addressed in some form. Can't wait to check that out when the Mini is capable of adding new games and check out more tactical RPGs down the line :)

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Re: Shining Force (Mega Drive)

Postby VideoGameCritic » December 24th, 2019, 10:30 am

Welcome aboard Eagle!
I've had Shining Force on my shelf for quite a while, and this makes me want to play it!

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