JPN - August 5, 2004
USA - June 8, 2004
EUR - April 30, 2004
A while ago I picked up the GBA port of the Genesis strategy game Shining Force. Yesterday, on a 6-hour car trip to a North Carolina ski resort, I finally sat down and beat the game. Simply put, this game was a straight up strategy game that got to the roots of what strategy games are all about: strategy.
The game follows Max, the game’s silent protagonist (think Link, Isaac from Golden Sun) and his comrades, who are trying to stop Dark Dragon from taking over the world. As you progress, you can pick up new characters to join you in battle. A total of 30 characters are available, 12 of which you can take into battle with you.
For fans of the Genesis, the fact that this is a ported Genesis game should be reason enough to buy it. But nostalgia aside, is Shining Force a good strategy game worth your time?
Like I said before, Shining Force is the epitome of a strategy game. There aren’t any frills or fancy concepts thrown in. The new card system is the only aspect that deviates from the usual formula. And while it is something a little different, I couldn’t get into it much.
For master of the strategy genre, Shining Force might not pose enough of a challenge. While you’ll most likely finish the game pretty quickly (even if you aren’t a strategy guru) that doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy it. The game gets down to the bare essentials of the genre and offers a nice escape from the (sometimes overly) complicated strategy games of today.
This isn’t Halo 3. This isn’t even Golden Sun, really. But it isn’t supposed to be. While the graphics have come a long way from the original (check that screenshot on the left), they stay true to the Genesis feeling. Updating the graphics to their full potential would have ruined the distinct feeling that old games, whether you played them the first time around or not, have. So why the graphics aren’t mind-blowing, it’s not like they make the game bad. If anything, it makes it feel more like a classic game.
The sound and music in Shining Force aren’t anything worth blasting. Unchanged from the original, there’s little variety here. Not a deal breaker though. Just turn down the volume.
One of the best features of Shining Force is the characters. With 30 to “collect”, 3 of which are new, you have tons of options when it comes to leveling up characters. Battle is only lost when Max loses all his HP. The only penalty for losing characters in battle is a fee you must pay a priest to revive them. Each one of the characters you can join ranks with has its own distinct personality. So unlike games where minor characters and ambiguous and bland, every character in Shining Force is given a back story. The shear possibilities when it comes to building your army and the impressive characters themselves make the game a whole lot more enjoyable.
Strategy games usually make for long lasting, replayed games and Shining Force is no exception. While the story isn’t anything new and interesting (although it was back in the day) you can play through battles over and over with different “teams”. And if you happen to like the card system, exploring the full game environment for cards will last a long time. While it’s not as replayable as Advance Wars or similar strategy games, it won’t be a game you beat and never pick up again.
Overall Score (8.5)
Shining Force: Resurrection of the Dark Dragon is a great, classic strategy game for any fan of the genre looking o get back to its roots or for newcomers wanting to test the waters. You can find it cheap and its definitely worth it. Don’t let the old school looks and gameplay turn you off.
If You Like It Try…
- The Fire Emblem series
- Final Fantasy Tactics Advance
- The Advance Wars series
- Tactics Ogre