Review by aetherspoon
"Shining Force II- Utter Perfection?"
A thousand years ago the land was saved by a Shining Force led by Max (hero of Shining Force 1 coincidentally). Now, the Earth is doomed by yet another evil. this time in the form of the greatest evil of all- Zeon. He is reviving and gaining power, can you stop him?
This game is THE classic Sega Genesis RPG (although some would argue Phantasy Star III is, I disagree whole heartedly), with everything you normally find in a Strategy-RPG and more. You are BOWIE (or whatever you name the hero. The Shining Force naming convention states that all playable characters are in caps), the strong silent SDMN (all classes are 3 or 4 uppercase characters in a row as an abbreviation- in this case, it is Swordsman, a human with the gift of using EGRESS, an escape spell, and a sword).
As a young kid (you look around 9 or 10 years old), you go to school under the guidance of Sir Astral (older then dirt), and have SARAH the PRST (Priest, a young person, often a female elf, gifted in the powers that be- fights with a staff), CHESTER the KNTE (Knight, a young male centaur that can use a spear or javelin as a weapon), and JAHA the WARR (Warrior, a worthy male dwarf that uses an ax). Eventually, you get caught up in the battle against evil when you find out that the THIF (Thief, a rat (yes, a rat) that steals from the rich to give to the poor. Robin Hood, eat your heart out- uses a dagger) SLADE steals the Jewels of Light and Darkness, setting forth the cataclysm of Grans Island- your home. Along your journeys, you get to meet unique characters such as KIWI (actually, you name him) the TORT (Tortoise, a pet- his protective helm is his weapon), MAY the RNGR (Ranger, a female centaur that wishes to fight and is gifted with the ability to use a bow and arrow), ELRIC the ACHR (Archer, an elf that uses a bow- the only class that you can have both male AND female characters), PETER the PHNK (Phoenik. don't ask. this is a young and untrained Phoenix that is in the service of a god and has a high pitched scream as his weapon), LUKE the BDMN (Birdman, a defender of the bird city Bedoe, and the only unpromoted character other then BOWIE that can use a sword... even though they suck), KAZIN the MAGE (Gee, what is that? :P A male elf gifted with the powers of offensive magic, uses a staff for a weapon), and even ZYNK the RBT (one look and you know he is a robot, an ancient relic from an ancient time, also an unpromotable class- he uses either his robotic hand or a laser as a weapon), Geralt the WFMN (Wolfman. uses fists and envies the hairy guys) and CLAUDE the GLM (Golem, a creation of man by magic, the other unpromotable class- he smashes things). Eventually, you can ''promote'' most of your characters (some come already promoted). A PRST (Priest) can promote to a VICR (Vicar, one that speaks with the gods themselves, uses a staff), or a MMNK (Master Monk, considered the best class in Shining Force 1 (and some in Shining Force II, myself not included), and the best looking. These are female warriors that are blessed with the gift of magic at the same time- a deadly combination. They fight with their fists.).
A KNTE can promote to a PLDN (Paladin, a noble and wise male centaur that still uses spear or javelin) or a PGNT (Pegasus Knight, aka the funny looking male centaur with wings.. again, don't ask. Also still uses a spear of javelin). The THIF promotes to the super cool looking NINJ (Ninja, a highly intelligent thief that eventually becomes wise in the ways of powerful elemental magic- uses a dagger, sword, or katana as a weapon, including the mighty Gisarme, the only weapon that can do an instant kill in the game.), the MAGE can promote to either a WIZ (Wizard, a male blessed in the ways of elemental and status magic- uses a staff), or a SORC (Sorcerer, an elf that can summon mysterious gods to aid in battle- still uses a staff), our hero the SDMN becomes a HERO (Hero. yes, it is a class. This is a noble human that can EGRESS, use some lightning magic, and looks really cool in his hero swords), our pet TORT becomes a MNST Monster (able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, breathe fire, and roll up in a ball. I kid you not. Too bad his HP is crap), the PHNK becomes a PHNX (True Phoenix. uses whirlwinds to attack enemies and can revive after any battle w/o need of a resurrection), WARRs become either GLDTs (Gladiators, powerful dwarves that use axes), or BRNs (I still don't get this transformation. One dwarf becomes REALLY tall and can use a sword in addition to an ax. ah well. There is also a special BRN that is titled RBRN. I won't give details for fear of spoiling, but he can revive himself just like PETER the PHNX, and is human), our BDMN becomes a BDBT (Bird Brain. er. Bird Baron. Doesn't matter the name, they still suck with a sword), RNGRs become BWNTs (Bow Knights, they are female centaurs that use bows still. not much difference), and finally, ACHRs become either SNIPs (heh, that abbreviation fits JANET rather well :P They are Snipers, excellent with a bow) or BRGN (Brass Gunners.. aka cannoneers, they use a shot to fire a projectile at a foe. slower then SNIPs, but stronger).
Talk about involved. Anyways, at the end, the hero saves the world and gets the princess, who was trapped for many years inside (spoiler), and didn't age (for BOWIE is 21 at this point somehow. I think they just didn't want to get into statutory rape). in fact, the last scene is the couple kissing (not a spoiler, if you don't know the plot of this story, you should be shot).
Perhaps the weakest point in Shining Force 2- there are very few musical masterpieces in this game, and often the music gets annoying fast.
Considering the time frame, these graphics were not outstanding, but definitely served its purpose, as you can easily distinguish all forms of NPCs, characters, objects, and monsters.
Ah, the heart of Shining Force II. The gameplay exceeds most other RPGs, even today. In fact, it is considered to be by some, including myself, to be the best gameplay of any RPG of all time- including the Final Fantasies, Diablos, and Dragon Warriors of the gaming history. Its class system carried over from Shining Force I, and in fact is almost identical except for the ''secret promotions''. Besides, what other game could a healer be more powerful then the hero?
Shining Force II has four difficulty modes, but in actuality these modes are strikingly similar- the only difference is in the amount of enemies you face and their AI script. However, this is not where the replay ability comes in. The trick is to create new ways to hinder yourself to become a Shining Force II master. One of these ways is the ''One life to live'' rule. This is if a character dies, you no longer can play with this character. This makes the beginning of the game a nightmare, and since you no longer use those characters, it makes the rest of the game hard as well.
If ''Bowie'' dies, you must delete your save- a challenge indeed!
These guys do the classic ''rescue the princess'' bit perfectly, and even add in two separate major spoilers to boot! Heck, the first time I played it, I cried at the death of (MAJOR SPOILER).
This is the best game known to mankind.
Average Score: 29.2/10, but reduced down to 10 for simplicity sake.
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 08/01/01, Updated 08/01/01
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