Review by BlooditeDrakan
"The shining light that inevidbley faded"
Right, I haven't played many Diablo-like games, mainly the Diablo series, Balder's Gate on the Cube and PS2, and Shining Soul for the GBA. How does it fare up against the other, more well-known titles? Read on.
Story. I should just end it with the word blah, but ok I'll explain it. It's just your run of the mill "Oh noes, bad guy is taking over, someone stop him!" And of course, off goes the wannabe hero. So, this menacing bad guy called "The Dark Dragon"(Gee, that's original) basically wants to rise up and take over the land whatever it's called, which he is in the middle of doing. So you pick your hero, you have a weapon, and off you go! Now remember all the interesting forwarding plots behind your missions in the Diablo series? In Diablo, you had to save the Town's water Supply. And In Diablo 2 for example, you had to try and beat Diablo to the tombs in the desert or else the war would side in his favor. Now where the hell is all that in Shining Soul? Well, one that I remember, where you had to stop the development of the Titan machine or it'd turn the war's favor over to the Dark Dragon. Other than that, you just simply talk to people who say typical things like "Save the land, I want to go exploring!" Or "We have been in this war and seen many die". Yeah ok, duh. Along with a couple of robots who offer tips on the game and beating your upcoming General of the Dark Dragon. In conclusion, boring.
Graphics. A bit of a mix here. The sprites are well drawn and animate nicely, and are a mix of charismatic or dull. The world however? Absolutely stagnant. Even Diablo 2 had more architecture than this. And nothing moves in 3D either, making me feel like I'm walking across a piece of paper than a real world. The worlds look absolutely bland too. Places like crypts simply get the job done, the forest looked okay, while places like some water world was just god awful. Monsters are typical of course. Golems, spirits with spell powers, contours, cavemen. Nothing to interesting or even frightening really. At least they're varied.
Sound. No better really. First of all, the Music is bland. No scratch that, it's grating. I've heard MUCH better from the likes of Castlevania's Aria of Sorrow and Golden sun, whose sounds and music really made use of the GBA's engine. Shining soul has some of the lousiest pieces of music I've heard and on top of that are downright repetitive. Turn it off if you're gonna play this, at least. Sounds are so and so. The weapon sounds from my Dragonute class were fitting. To bad his pain sound never varied and uh... where's his "I died" sound that should be there? Enemies don't even have any sounds! They just make some Scrambled I-don't-even-know-how-to-describe-it sound. That's just rather slack. In short, nothing memorable.
Gameplay. Of course all the above could be forgivable if the Game play was good right? Well, it's not buggy and horrible, but nothing great either.
Ok, this is based on the Dragonute class. I never played another class after that. He primarily used a ball and chain and an axe. Now then... we're at the village. Scattered around are mostly tents for buildings (literally), some few villagers, and in the top corner, your comrades and their two robots (Funny thing to have for a medieval themed game). So up to our comrades we go. We have a human-centour like guy, who encourages you and heals you if you come back from a mission with less than full health, and the combat hardened woman who says forgettable things. And like I mentioned, the robots who give you tips on the game and the generals, although sometimes I find the tips come after I've already figured said tip out. haha. Mind you, the one who gives advice on the generals sort of helps.
So... we have our axe, we leave the village, and off we go! Now, when you exit the village, you see the world map, and an area above your village to choose from - Beast Mountain. See here's how it works - You pick the next mission, fight through ten stages in it, beat the boss, and then come back to the village through the opened up teloporter. Then exit the village again and go to mission two. Rinse and repeat until Dark Dragon is dead. And each one basically has the same mission. Go through ten levels of this area you're in, and after the tenth one, kill the boss. Not very exciting.
Of course, you have the RPG system to build up your strength. Fortunately, this is one of the better parts of the game. There's so many enemies on each level of your mission that you'll at LEAST level up twice. So of course, up Goes your Strength, Dexterity and Mana (If your character does magic). Now let's see... what did My Dragonute class (now I remember) have for... what do they call it? I'll just call them his abilities. He can strengthen up his Axe and Flail power, Break an opponent's defense - Break Armor, Emit, which is basically his fiery breath he uses to counter counter-attack. Quite effective too. he also has Defense Build up, Undead attack (you know, more damage dealt to zombies and such), and flame and lightening resistance. Hang on, no cold resistance? The hell? Ok anyway. So these abilities sound dandy and are. So what's the problem here? Well... when you first level one of them up, you become a level 2 axe for instance. Wanna be a level 3 now? Tough luck, cause in order to do that, you then have to level it up twice before you become a level 3. Then 3 times to become a level 4. See where it's going? It gets grating doesn't it? Of course, you also have power ups to aid you in battle. Herbs, Healing drops, healing water and mushrooms will be there to keep your health in check. You also can use Angel Wings to teleport you back to the village should things start to go out of control when you have low supplies. And the great thing is that you can hot key 3 of them in 3 slots on the right shoulder button, along with 3 different weapons on the left. The B button is for consuming a selected health item or angel wing. As if that's not enough, did you pick up a flail you're too weak to use? Take it to the locker storage! Up to 5 lockers that can hold 15 items each just for you. And it costs NOTHING! Of course you've also got the standard mystery items and armor that can be uncovered at the valuer's shop.
Right... onto the battle field, Wannabe! Now I've explained most of the other things that happens here so I won't bore you again. 10 levels per mission then kill the boss. Ok ok. So what about the battles during these missions. Enemies of course, are plentiful, so expect much leveling up. Sadly, the enemies, unless overpowering with spells (mostly the spirits and mages) just can't fight worth a damn. They're slow all in body and brain, and on top of that, if they bail you up in a corner, you can just walk right through them! Battling a group mostly consists of charging up the Dragonute's weapon up to his reached level, and then belting it into the entire group. Not hard, really. The Boss Generals are good though. They're tough and relentless, but not in-frigging-possible to beat. But hard enough that you'll be whacked dead if you're not smart and are low on supplies. The levels are randomly generated, but linear too. Oh well, it's not about level design anyway. Mind you, one thing unique about battling these monsters is that if one of them drops their soul, you can equip it. Kill enough enemies and you can put it to use, taking out whatever monsters are in sight. Fun!
On top of it all, it gets REAL rough when you start a second run (You can start from scratch with where your level is.) So that kind of put me off. Better done with Multi-player i guess. Yeah, gameplay is a mixed bag of crap and fun. I'm sure it's fun with multiplayer, but I don't think I'll find out anytime soon.
So gameplay? 5/10
Control - The best part of the game. for a Diablo RTS game, it's surprisingly fluid. Using items and swapping weapons is a breeze. The controls respond well. Trouble is, no pause what so ever. Yeah, try leveling up while you're being attacked.
Replay value. If you want to, go for it. Personally I got bored of it halfway through the second run. Maybe with Multiplayer?
Replay Value? Single Player Mode 1/10 Multiplayer ?/10
So, what's the overall rating? Well I finished it folks, and felt done after that. So I'll give it a 5/10 There. Done.
Reviewer's Score: 5/10 | Originally Posted: 01/18/06
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