Sunday, May 26, 2013

Shining Force II

Shining Force
GENRE: Tactical Roleplaying Game
PC (Steam or via, originally on Sega Megadrive/Genesis
1993 Sonic! Software Planning, Sega

Manufacturer Product Description:
As a student of Astral the wizard, you and your friends study all the usual subjects: reading, writing, and sword fighting.

As your time at school draws to an end, dark events are taking place on the island of Grans. The two Jewels which seal the Door to Darkness have been stolen, allowing a creature of awesome power to be unleashed. Finding where the Jewels were taken, and why, is a task only the bravest of adventurers can undertake.

Minimum Specifications:
OS: Win 7, Vista and XP
Processor: 1.6 HGz Intel Pentium 4
Hard Drive: 50 MB
Video Card: 32 MB or greater
Additional Info: Unknown

Shining Force II
All other Shining Force titles

Gender stereotypes broken. >>> by skysenshi
Shortly after enjoying a bit of nostalgia from the first Shining Force, I was gifted with Shining Force II. In terms of overall look and feel, there is not much difference between the two games, although there were a few improvements on this one. Let's start with the basics.

Story and Characters
I'm not sure if it's just me but I find a lot of Shining Force II's humor mature, yet no less hilarious than its predecessor. It's a bit strange to see them uttered by cutesy little sprites that look like they belonged to a children's game. Then again, it may only be just me re-imagining the dialogues in such a colorful manner.

The story is basically as common as the first Shining Force's: world in trouble because of a dangerous, otherworldly adversary so hero collects party members and save the day. This time around, though, I noticed that they gave this a romantic spin. Or tried to. Mostly, the romantic part just came as a surprise at the end because there weren't really any meaningful conversations throughout the game that would actually hint that there should be any romantic developments whatsoever. But then, my feelings over this could probably be attributed to the fact that I grew up on Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy VIII plot devices where hints are not at all subtle. I should be reminding myself that this game lived in an era where we had barely scratched the surface of Super Mario's relationship with Princess Peach/Toadstool.

Speaking of characters...

Gameplay and Battle System
Shining Force II is a dream game for anyone who loves monks as much as I do. One development that I truly appreciated here was that there are alternate second jobs. To me, this translated as the ability for my healers to become master monks instead of just higher leveled non-offensive clerics. The bonus? ALL my master monks are female, so I had 4 healers where the master monks are female and the vicar is male. I am not sure what the designers were thinking back then but I was just so glad to see an old game where gender stereotypes got broken. And as a female gamer who likes to kick ass once in a while, this meant a lot to me.

Below is a photo of the main character. It was very easy to forget that he's male, which gives Shining Force II a sort of androgynous quality to it. Heck, even my most powerful wizard/sorcerer looked prettier than my female monks.

Those who played the first Shining Force would notice a small difference (but considered a huge improvement) in the inventory system, which I previously whined about. In Shining Force II, if the main character's inventory is full and he opens a treasure chest, the item is automatically transferred to anyone with inventory space. Thank goodness they fixed it. You'll also acquire an added storage midway through the game, which is good because unlike the the first Shining Force, the designers here suddenly became fond of chained battles.

There's an improvement in the portrait characters in terms of detail and texture but they still maintained their old school quirkiness. What they have not improved yet is the collision detection, because I found myself still walking over beds and mountains...

The sounds are forgettable at best. I was still humming Shining Force I's background music all the way till the end of this game. I can still hum it now. I can't say the same for Shining Force II.

Replay Value
Considering there were interesting characters that I never got to use (i.e. one of the last few ones you can pick up on the way to the final battle), the replayability of this game is very high. If I had more free time, I'd definitely replay this game for the LOLz.

COMPLETION TIME: 30:24:58 (end of credits)
HIGHEST LEVEL ACHIEVED: Hero 26 Sarah 28 Jaha 28 May 25 Sheela 25 Frayja 27 Gerhalt 20 Kazin 28 Chester 29 Peter 29 Jaro 26 Karna 15
RATINGS: Gameplay 8; Battle 10; Story 8; Visuals 10; Characters 8; Sounds 6; Replay Value 9

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