- Turn type: Speed-based system, although each unit only acts once in a round.
- Maps: Medium. There is terrain that gives bonuses.
- Character Customization: Promotion of units at level 20.
- Character Development: Standard XP level system.
- Party Size: 14 on a map.
- Equipment: 4 items for each character, one equippable weapon, one equippable ring.
- Game Flow: 44 story battles; some can be repeated, and I think there may be a bit of freedom in certain parts.
- Saving: Only outside of battle.
- Death: Revive units at churches; very affordable.
This is the fourth Shining Force game I’ve played so far on this blog, so it’s possible I’m getting a little tired of it, but I was rather disappointed in this game.
As I said throughout my posts, this game is much heavier on the RPG elements than the previous entries. The storyline and setup is more about the normal RPG-style quests and not kingdoms battling each other or someone leading an army. There’s a lot more exploration on the world map, and more battles that feel like they could be normal RPG battles if they were just swapped out for random encounters.
And maybe that’s what caused my biggest problem with it — too many of the maps involve generic enemies, on a fairly generic battlefield, with no real purpose or story to the battle other than “this is who we fought on our way to the next place”. Unique enemies don’t start showing up regularly until near the end of the game.
That being said, this is not a bad game by any means. It fixed one of the major problems I had with SF1 in that units no longer lose stats on promotion, and the stat gains also aren’t as wildly random as they were in SF1.
The story is longer and more detailed than SF1 as well, but does trend towards a standard RPG storyline than what I am used to seeing out of a strategy RPG.
Finally, I thought there were some balance issues in the later part of the game. Too many grunt enemies were doing 1/2-2/3 of the HP of some of my characters, which meant that any double attack (or two enemies attacking one guy) meant death for the unit. I had a few characters that did not take this much damage, and they formed the backbone of my fighting force — that was almost the sole deciding factor in who I used. It actually turned out that the archer I accidentally promoted to the armored vehicle was one of my best units because of that.
I know that a lot of people name this as their favorite Shining Force game, but it just didn’t draw me in.
Next up is Dark Wizard, another game for the Sega CD.