A "gamer" since way before the term was coined, I have been playing video games in one form or another since the 1980s.
The Force Keeps Shining Brightly With This Classic RPG
Hey, gamers and geeks of all ages, let's take a journey in the way back machine—way back to the 16-bit generation with a review of the classic Shining Force video game.
A lot of gamers will remember playing Shining Force when we were younger. Most of us will remember having a ton of fun with it as well.
The story is simple: stop the evil Dark Sol from reviving Dark Dragon and save the world from his tyranny. You traverse many different lands in search of a way to stop him and make several friends along the way.
Have we heard this story before? I thought we did: in pretty much every RPG ever made.
Nevertheless, I still love this classic game and will explain why.
A Classic Storyline for a Classic Game
Shining Force is actually an SRPG, which is an RPG with a strategy element.
The fact that this story is just like every other saga in most RPGs is a completely different tale in and of itself. The story in Shining Force is certainly not going to blow anyone's mind anytime soon. You'll never catch yourself saying "Wow, that story in Shining Force is the best I've ever heard!" Probably because you've heard it before. But I digress.
The characters in this game are actually pretty interesting. You get ninjas, a samurai, and even a magical jellyfish that cast ice magic. Yes, I'm talking about Domingo. If there's one reason to play this game it's that cute little guy. He kicks so much but it's not even funny. It's downright hilarious.
Shining Force Does Have Its Flaws
As is normal with the limitations of technology in the golden age of 16 bits, when placed side by side with today's games, Shining Force comes up short in a lot of areas that might turn off a large section of today's gaming audience.
The gameplay is rather simplistic, the storyline somewhat transparent, and the graphics are quite obviously out of date.
Shining Force has a few more flaws to contend with as well. The menus can be somewhat clunky to navigate and character stat growths are very inconsistent (especially after promotion). The game also suffers from a rather uninspiring cast of enemies. Regardless, these are the flaws that most serious gamers can get past.
Once you advance further into the game you'll find that the terrain restricts your movement to two spaces in almost every map, and the realization that some enemies have such high evade capability that it's almost impossible to dispose of them without using magic, you might be ready to come back down to earth.
Not to worry, as the game is somewhat easy to master, and after a few times beating the game you can blow through it in one session if you have the desire to do so.
Where Can I Find the Original Shining Force?
While you may get lucky and find one of the original game cartridges in a used game bin somewhere, or even run across one at a yard sale, chances of that are pretty slim these days.
Not to worry, there are a few options out there to fill your need to Shine.
If you are familiar with the gaming platform Steam, you can find it there.
If you still have the original console, you can find a used game cartridge online. If not, you have a couple of other options left to explore.
You can still find the original, used consoles at auction sites and the like, or you can purchase one of the new game consoles with the classics already loaded up and ready to play.
My personal findings are that you can buy one of the newer game consoles with a lot of classic games (including the Shining Force series) included at about the same price as a used game cartridge.
Just keep in mind that you don't know how many more hours of gameplay are left on a used cartridge.
Because of its impact, this game is widely regarded as a classic. Back in the day (1992) this game was garnering 9 out of 10's and almost perfect reviews. When you think about the games that were out back then, it's easy to see why.
If Shining Force were released today, there might be some who would still play it, but for the most part, you'd be searching for this in bargain bins at your local Gamestop.
It is a decent game, but most of its value today comes from its nostalgia factor. If you played it when you were a kid or are a just fan of SRPGs, definitely give Shining Force a playthrough or two. Otherwise, stick to games that come out of the current era.
Gamers who can appreciate good gameplay in spite of dated graphics and minor flaws will get the most out of this one.
Shining Force garners a 7 out of 10 - good enough to have a fan base, but flawed enough that some people won't give it the time of day.
How Would You Rate Shining Force?
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© 2012 Hal Gall