Review by Mephantis
"A Great RPG Overlooked"
The Shining Force Series is a great series not recognized by many. Shining Force was better known with its Genesis counterparts. Not many people knew about the GameGear versions or the Sega CD version. I am here to write a review on this great game, Shining Force Gaiden: Final Conflict, to hope that more people will recognize it.
Gameplay - 9/10
The game was fun to play through. The game mechanics are very similar to other Shining Forces on Genesis and Sega CD. A major difference was that it did not include any town roaming like it had in Shining Force on Genesis. This took out some of the fun factor, but it's still interesting. As in the Shining Forces on Genesis, there's not much you could do by roaming the towns anyway, as there were no sidequests.
Since the game was on a handheld console, they had limitations as, there are no pictures shown when you view or select the items or weapons. This may not sound like a big deal, but since the game only has a Japanese version, this will stomp on the gameplay for non-Japanese speakers. It will be hard to know what item you are equipping or using.
One other major difference in this game, as well as in the other two Gaiden games for GameGear and Shining Force CD for Sega CD, there is a cap of levels when you stop gaining stats. After level 20 promotions, you will not gain much of any stats after leveling. In other words, getting to level 99 is pointless even though there is a way to. I've tested this by saving before a character levels, and resetting the game for countless times, and the largest stat gain I received was a +1 to one of the attributes.
This feature has upsides and downsides to it. The upside is that it puts some challenge into the game, as you cannot get infinitely strong as in Shining Force for Genesis. For the ones on Genesis, it was easy to even solo the final battles with any one of the characters, given that you managed to get that character to an extremely high level. In this case, however, it will be hard to do, while still possible.
The downside of this, however, is that if the player promotes the characters at level 20 instead of level 10, the characters from the beginning will be easily stronger than the characters who join later. This makes the choices of whom to use very limited, as the later characters will obviously not have as high potential.
Aside from that, the controls are easy once the player gets use to the game, and the game is fun to go through.
Story - 9/10
The story of Final Conflict brings in elements of other Shining Forces, and makes some of the characters that appeared in other Shining Forces playable. This easily makes the story much more interesting if the player has played other games in the series. This is quite unprecedented, as no other Shining Force game has made reference to other Shining Forces, except for Shining Force Gaiden I and II, which are direct sequels.
Big set back on the story because it is in Japanese, although this is not a fault within the game itself. Other than that, the story is very interesting. I'm rating the game based on the game itself, so I give the story a 9 even though many players won't be able to understand the story.
Audio - 8/10
The music is decent, while I enjoyed tracks from other Shining Forces more. The music is not irritating such as in Paladin's Quest, but it is not the best.
Graphics - 8/10
Being on GameGear, the graphics is not too bad. Considering that this game is a bit old, the graphics are much better than other handheld console games at its time. The animation graphics looks decent even though it is not 3D.
Replayability - 7/10
This game is simple and fun. The story is relatively short and quick to get through. Since there is no point of getting the characters above level 20 promoted, the game should not take too long to beat even if the player wants to level up to the strongest point. These factors make the game have great replayability, simply because it is not a tedious task to play through again. However, the little variations of the game may lessen the replay ability, as it is not as interesting to play it the third or forth time with the same party and end up with similar stats for the characters.
In conclusion, this is a great game. People who do speak Japanese should definitely get a hold of this game. As for people who don't, I believe there are translations of the scripts online, which will help in progressing through the game. The language barrier is always a downside, but this is a great game never less.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 10/10/02, Updated 12/20/02
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