Saturday, September 11, 2010

Retro Review--Shining Force (Sega Genesis)

I started playing the Sega Genesis classic “Shining Force” on the recommendation of a friend this week, and I'm really glad he turned me on to it. I actually owned its dungeon-crawling predecessor “Shining in the Darkness,” but I had never tried the sequel.

The story involves your character assembling a group of adventurers and trying to stop the forces of darkness from resurrecting a powerful evil being. The opening hour is pretty cool, as you are sent out of town on an adventure, and the kingdom is invaded in your absence. You actually fight your way back in time to see the bad guy make his escape.

What stood out to me immediately about “Shining Force” is that you have a huge party. You can control up to 12 characters, and recruit even more. That's substantially more than most JRPGs (at least that I've played), and it gives a lot of depth to the turn-based combat. Because each class has it's own movement speed, and different attacks have different ranges, there are lots of ways you can approach a battle. I almost felt like I was playing chess when facing off against larger groups of enemies, and much like chess, you can make a few ill-advised moves and find yourself quickly outmatched. When your main character dies, you resurrect in the town church, having lost half of your money. You do keep all earned experience though, so even in losing battles you are grinding levels.

I'm only a few hours in, but I am already hooked on the battle system and the old-school storyline. I'd highly recommend checking this one out. I'm playing “Shinging Force” as part of “Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection” for the PS3, but you can get it on the GameBoy Advance, the Wii Virtual Console, and even the iPhone or iPad (for a ridiculously cheap $3).

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