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Title: Shining Force
Rom Player: Gens
Reviewer: ItalianStereotype

Synopsis: Before I played Shining Force for the first time, I hated strategy. I hated it with a passion. When strategy is combined with an RPG, however, it is a beautiful thing (except for Final Fantasy Tactics, blech.)

Tragically, the Shining series isn't nearly as well known as Final Fantasy or Sega's Phantasy Star group. Over the years it has slowly faded into oblivion as the FF juggernaut continues its inexorable march to RPG monopoly. Anyways, on with the game.

The story behind Shining Force is basically this: you lead a group of inexperienced adventurers to stop the forces of evil that were summoned by your kingdoms enemies. Nothing special for an RPG, but a fine story for a tactical game. What makes it special is that it slowly unfolds over all 30 of your battles with the climax coming in the final epic conflict between good and evil. Of course there are a few masterfully played plot twists thrown in for flavor.

Of course, Shining Force is more about the battles than the story. The battles in this game are of course waged between your forces and those of your enemies. Your "army" is made up of a total of 30 characters, but you can only field 12 characters at a time. You can recruit different types of people, such as barbarians, knights, wizards, mages, werewolves, and healers. You also have your character and 12 hidden characters at your disposal. Your main guy is your most powerful, of course, but if he is slain in battle, you lose. So strategy is DEFINITELY the name of the game. If you simply thrust your characters into battle all at the same time and hope that everything comes out alright, you may win some battles, but it won't be very fun. Developing your tactics is the entire point of this game. Your only real challenge will be your first few battles, then your men will begin to level up, and things will get easier.

Graphically, Shining Force is much like its predecessor, Shining in the Darkness, in that it provides crisp, colorful graphics that were VERY nice in their time. Music and sound effects were merely average, nothing truly stood out when I played this game.

Overall, the only thing that prevented Shining Force from achieving greatness was its over-simplicity and the fact that the game was very short. What we are left with, however, is still a decent game.

Best Cheats: Meh. Nothing worth putting down.

Game Play: 8
Graphics: 8
Music/Sound: 7
Originality: 9
Overall Rating: 8


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