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Review - Shining Force I+II (Genesis)

Started by Nightcrawler, September 01, 2014, 12:35:27 PM

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I recently played through both Shining Force I and II. In a nutshell - Boo Shining Force I! Yay Shining Force II!

Shining Force I

I choose to play the Genesis original, rather than the GBA remake. In hindsight, that was a big mistake. I didn't realize what an unbalanced, clunky, broken game it was. I choose the Genesis version because of the higher resolution, better graphics, and cleaner sound. I would have much rather traded those in for better translation, improved menu navigation, and inventory improvements after having played the game. Doh! If you've never played Shining Force before, do yourself a favor and choose the GBA remake. It was enjoyable in the beginning. The game's major flaws take awhile to set in when things are still simple and there are few characters. I enjoyed the game up decently until that ridiculous boss fight with Mishaela. Even after fighting the battle near 10 times and leveling up, it was ridiculous hard with the auto HP regeneration every turn. The game was all downhill from there in the fun department too. Since it was a short game, I continued on. Had it been a longer game, I would have quit at that point.


Graphics were bright, colorful, and had a nice detailed drawing style. This was especially true in battle. Unfortunately, the game was so basic in presentation overall, that there was virtually no animation or effects to be found anywhere in the game, sans the battle animations. It was on the Genesis, but it played more along the lines of early NES RPG that were devoid of life. That really brought it down quite a bit, and left the game feeling more lifeless than it should have been.

The music was decent, with some tunes like the town theme being very catchy. Once again, due to the basic nature of the game, there just weren't many tracks at all. They were all  very basic with not much going on instrumentally. I've heard more musical variety in NES games. You're going to start getting annoyed at the repetitiveness of the tracks too, even if they are fairly good. 

The story in the game was also nearly non-existent. I guess the GBA port expanded upon that a bit.


I'd call the gameplay broken. I think most of these were all fixed in the GBA remake (and even Shining Force II on Genesis) unknowingly to me! Here are all the problems.

  • Too Random. I had many level ups resulting in absolutely no stat increases. Leveling up wasn't even effective option to progress.
  • The Inventory system was ridiculous. You were constantly shuffling things around as each person could only hold 4 times, and 2 of those were typically equipped items. It made opening treasure chests plain silly as you practically had to shuffle inventory around every time you wanted to open one.
  • The menu system was extremely kludgey. It was very hard to navigate and do what you wanted to do without going through many extraneous button presses and choices.
  • The miss rate was incredibly high to the point it threw the entire game off. There were times I would choose to attack a monster, surround it with 4-6 of my party members, then astonishingly all 4-6 would MISS! Naturally, then the monster would counter with a large group spell obliterating my group and ultimately causing a battle loss, when otherwise it would have been a win. The monsters only missed an attack on me about three times the entire play through, and only early on in the first few battles.
  • Some characters, such as the healers and mages, were just so pathetically weak that I could never level them up. They didn't get enough experience to get very far hiding in the back, and any effort to get them close enough to attack usually resulting in them dying in a single hit. The more the game went on, the more behind they fell, and as a result the more difficult the game became. There just didn't seem like anything I could do about it. This was aside from the fact that typically leveling up resulted in absolutely no gains anyway! ARG!! FRUSTRATION!
  • There were too many characters and they kept coming right on up till the end of the game. There weren't enough battles in the game to play with, explore abilities, or level up most of them. Obviously you could repeat battles, but since I couldn't even level up characters I had for the whole game, it was just impractical to repeat a battle 75 times for the others. It was also strange to get new characters right up to the end with limited skills. How can you be expected to level them up to get new skills (of which they are useless without them) with only 2 battles left?
Shining Force II

Shining Force II, much to my surprise, fixed nearly every single problem I had with the original game! It was much more fun and enjoyable, and improved upon all aspects of the original. I can't find too many things wrong with it. My only gripes were that it still gave you too many useless characters and had abnormal difficulty ramps at that chess battle and towards the final few battles on Granseal Island. Even with my character stats maxed out, it was still very hard all of the sudden (on normal difficulty mind you). It also got annoying that there were no in-game item or magic descriptions. I was constantly referring to other sources to know what half the items in the game did. Overall though, Shining Force 2 was a good game.


Graphics were the same in style of Shining Force 1, but upgraded all-around. Animation and effects were added to the graphics bringing cut-scenes and characters to life a bit more.

The story was greatly expanded upon over the first game. Many little things were going on and several characters were focused on for periods of the game. With a cast of characters so large though, most of your playable characters didn't get much screen-time to develop. I guess that's a Strategy vs. RPG difference for you.

The music was expanded upon both in the number of tracks as well as the instrumental variation within the tracks. It was nicely done. They did it again with another very catchy town theme too!


The gameplay at it's core was exactly the same, however the details were immensely improved upon. The result was a game that played infinitely better!

  • Although still somewhat random, base stats were now given for each level-up eliminating useless level-ups and unfair difficulty.
  • Miss and double attack rates were rebalanced, and quicker level-ups occurred.
  • The menu system was heavily overhauled to eliminate unnecessary button presses and improve all aspects of member, equipment, and inventory management. Although, with so many characters, toward the end of the game inventory management was still a bit tricky shuffling things around often.
The gamplay overall was totally rebalanced from characters to enemies, to levels. All for the better I must say. The difficulty curve was gradually progressive and most battles were satisfyingly challenging, and not too frustrating aside from a few select ones.

It was like Shining Force I was a prototype and Shining Force II got all the bugs worked out! - The central hub of the ROM hacking community.


Your points pretty much are in the same line of what I'd say. I never managed to finish SF1. Waaay too little rewarding and superficial for my taste.

SF2, however, was a great improvement and a very enjoable game. This was actually my favorite, after Sonic series, on the Mega Drive as a young man. I sold my console some years back, but I still have my Saturn and the SF3 Scenario 1.

This was again another improvement; SF3 is a great strategy/RPG. Such a pitty we only got the first episode localized...