Review by bearsman6

"One of the two reasons i still have my Genesis..."

...and the other reason is Shining Force I.

A darkened game screen pops up as three thieves enter a temple long forgotten, and long sealed. One, a rat named Slade, one of the best thieves in the world, wonders about the temple, searching... Then, when he finally comes across a door, a seal, he knows he has found what he desired, but when he opens it...

The seal of the Ancients placed on the mystical Tower of the Ancients has been broken, and creatures from the other realm are beginning to spew forth from this breach and destroy this new realm. You are charged with a epic mission, to close the seal once again and fight back the evil demons and beasts, led by their supreme leader (a really bad guy), Zeon. Are you up to the challenge? Then form your own band of unique, and very customizable, warriors and prepare to embark on the quest of your lives.

When you first pop in this cartridge (or rom, depending on how legally correct you are), you don’t really notice much out of the ordinary. You read through introductory credits maybe, just as you might have above, or you could skip them and write them off as boring and out of place. However, it isn’t even until you really start playing this game that you notice something: the game itself could easily rival any RPG from the SNES or Square at the time, in sheer fluid motion, in creativity of the battle plans, or just in the ability to customize your own characters as you see fit. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves...

Shining Force 2 is the fitting sequel to a game that, personally, made the Genesis worthwhile. Yes, I know there were some other great titles out there, like Vectorman and its sequel, but they were not RPG’s. At this time in gaming history, if you wanted a quality RPG, you went to Nintendo. Well, not this time. Many times I have heard this game actually overlooked, especially when compared to its prequel, but that is not fair, to the game or to the gamer. Though the original Shining Force is a classic, this game has JUST as much merit, and, in all honesty, a better engine, greatly enhanced graphics and fluidity, and overall a better feel to it.

Gameplay: 10/10 What can I say about the gameplay? The battle system is spectacular, and especially thought provoking when it comes to tactics, which is probably the main reason that anyone plays this game, and there are lots of us still out there. The overall system is also much smoother now, as the graphics have been refined and the addition of the C button as JUST talking or searching is a VERY wise move! I hated navigating through a window just to say ‘hi’ in the previous game! This game also went away from the annoying “chapter” format of the prequel. This basically means that you can navigate the entire world map at any time, which makes it possible for some very nonlinear gameplay should you desire this (and often you will, since this leads to secret characters, hidden items, and all sorts of other goodies). This game may well be where the ideas behind later strategy games like Tactics Ogre and Final Fantasy Tactics came from, and it shares a wonderful system with them. Nothing I could say about the Gameplay of this game would be high enough praise!

Graphics: 9/10 With the original Shining Force, the graphics were not that spectacular, but the gameplay overcompensated for it. In this game, the graphics are MUCH better, and the gameplay STILL overcompensates, and thus the entire gaming experience is greatly enhanced. Sure there are not that many 3-D elements... at all... but that doesn’t make this game any less fun, or wonderful. The graphics were also very good for the 16 and 32 bit era, and they only help in boosting the game above its original: a task that I would have thought hard to do by any other game.

Sound: 8/10 True, like the predecessor, this game suffers from long battles with music that loops over and over again, but it always seems to be up-beat and strangely appropriate. I often times catch myself singing along (of course, I have heard the songs so many times now that I would know them even without the game playing them). Not great, especially when compared to the ‘orchestral masterpieces’ that populate today’s games, but for its time, and for its style, this game has great sound.

Overall: 9/10 This game is one of the two reasons that I can name off the top of my head why I kept my Genesis. You know what the other was? Shining Force I. Both of these games are classics, and nothing will ever come close to the immense pleasure I felt when I beat them. They play so well, require so much thought and planning, and just entrap you in their time and story lines so completely that you almost don’t want to stop playing... ever in my case. ^_^ I literally go back and play this game about once ever two or three months, just to remember the glory days of the Genesis. This game was, in my opinion, one of their best, and I will continue to play it until I either lose, break, or move away from my Genesis. But even then, I suppose I will have to find some way to play the game. And yes, this game and its predecessor are the only games I would ever get a Genesis emulator for. They are just that good.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 10/13/01, Updated 10/13/01

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