Saturday, 12 November 2011

Shining Force (Genesis/Mega Drive)

Okay today I'm on the Sega Mega Drive and I'm playing Shining Force... the legacy of great intention? Sounds a bit ominous, maybe. I heard somewhere that roads paved with good intentions can lead to bad places.

Dark Dragon's been defeated already? Well that's one problem I don't have to worry about at least.

Like most ancient evils, the Lord of Darkness brags that he's going to return in exactly 1000 years to resume conquering the world. But how likely is it that's gonna happen?

See, it's a thousand years later and there's no sign of him. The guy's all talk.

Son of a bitch...

Yeah I'm sure it'll be 'an adventure' trying to defeat the ancient Lord of Darkness and his legions of evil. Okay fine, you might as well sign me up for the forces of light.

So that's who I'm playing as is it? That's... interesting hair.

Damn, there's never enough spaces in these name entry screens to put in anything good. Not that I ever think of anything good.

After I agree to help the girl save the world, she basically says 'okay cool, let me know how that goes', and leaves me to it.

Next thing I know I'm dumped here next to some kind of church. Oh, this is going to be one of those rpgs where the characters never stop moving isn't it? Very old school.

Well I'm not sticking around here to get dragged into conversations and cutscenes, I'm making a break for it.

Yeah, retro gaming's not easy. The trick is to... wait, why the fuck am I talking to this guy? He stepped in my way and won't move no matter what I do. All I've done so far is go up the stairs and through the door, and already I'm stuck.

Actually you know what, you just keep standing there mate, and I'll go find another way out.

Damn, I wandered right into a cutscene. Why did I have to step inside, then back outside before this could happen?

Wait... that guy's not actually riding a horse is he? Hey, he's a centaur! I haven't seen many of them around in rpgs.

Amazingly when I went back inside the guy was still there blocking my path, but I eventually got rid of him and made a break for the exit. It seems that I might actually make it out of this village without being sent to visit the king/elder.

This... isn't the way out of town. Turns out I've wandered right into the castle instead. These people have terrible security.

But this may actually work out for the best. I can get this out of the way now, and then I'll be free to go off and find some gameplay.

Usually I hate it when a game uses cryptic icons instead of nice plain obvious text, but these little 'yes/no' icons are too loveable.

I went with no, but the king seemed so disappointed that I only made it halfway out of the castle before I felt guilty and came back to accept the job.

You know, this is the second time someone in game has asked me if I agree to play the game. Surely I answered this question when got it and turned it on.

Hey, I get troops? Maybe this saving the world job isn't so bad after all.

I guess first I have to go find them all though.

Damn Luke, what happened to your nose?

I only made it a few steps down the road from the castle before my troops ran up to join me... from the direction of the castle. And then they told me to return to the king. So in other words, I didn't have to go to town at all, the king just wanted to waste my damn time.

Just like that bastard in the church who wouldn't get out of my way.

Oh don't tell me he's coming too! Every time I try to fight an enemy he'll wander in front of me and block my path. It'll take me two cutscenes to kill anything.

I went back up from the town to the castle and spoke with the king. He told me to go back to the town and get supplies.

I bet when I eventually find this shop they'll tell me that they've already delivered my supplies to the castle.

Oh crap, I think I took a wrong turn somewhere. Because this sure doesn't look like a shop.

It seems my squad has climbed on board a wagon and we're being dragged off to the first dungeon. With no supplies.

Yeah, I'm as surprised as you are mate. I don't suppose you can hang on a bit while I run off back to base and grab some equipment?

Whoa, I didn't see that coming. It's shaking my message box to pieces!

You know, I'm getting the impression that this is actually a strategy rpg like Final Fantasy Tactics.

I was given control of a character to move within a limited range, so I decided to move him up, but not too far from the main group. Now I've got a choice of 'Magic', 'Attack', 'Item' or 'Stay'. It won't let me switch to another character yet, so I'll choose 'Stay' to end my turn.

Seems that my archer's only got a range of about 4 meters, so to get him in a place to do some damage I'll have to get someone else out of the way first.

There doesn't seem to be any obvious clue to which character gets to take a turn next. It could be one of my guys, it could be an enemy, so it's hard to predict what will happen next.

Horse guy STRIKES! Ken rides into battle half-naked to surprise and confuse his enemies.

I like these little pop up battle screens. I'll probably hate them the 50th time they show up, but right now I'm liking them.

5 points of damage doesn't seem like much, but check out how much HP I've got right now. Some characters can die in two attacks. If a unit gets surrounded they could be taken out without even getting to take a turn.

Though sometimes it takes an archer hidden a square away in the back row to finish the job.


Fuck, this is actually fairly tough for a first fight. My hero is one attack away from death, and there's not a damn thing I can do about it because I didn't buy any supplies.

Right now I'm stuck controlling the guy who blocked my path in the church all those many minutes ago. And he's about as good in combat as he is at getting the fuck out of my way.

He's got a suspiciously high amount of MP though...

He's a healer! Oh thank fuck he's a healer!

My hero gets a full tank of health and I am back in the game. Lowe, you're awesome. I'm sorry about all those bad things I said about you and will keep saying about you.

My mage Tao lays some additional smackdown upon my foes. There doesn't seem to be any elemental weaknesses or charge times to complicate things, so magic's pretty straightforward. Though at 2 mp a shot, she's only good for 2 more attacks in this battle.


I'm a hair's breadth away from victory now. There are only three enemies left on the field, and I'm in attacking range of all of them.

Alas, my hero falls. But it's not a huge problem at this point. All I have left to do is kill the last couple of enemies and the day will have been saved.

Wait, WHAT? If my hero dies I lose the battle? And some of my cash too?

Well that makes things a lot trickier. I can't just keep the guy out of the fighting because then he'll never level up, but if he's ever surrounded then I've pretty much lost the fight.

At least it seems that I've kept the levels I gained in that last battle, and I can resurrect my team. So next time I'll be stronger.

And next time I'll also be better prepared, because I'm actually buying some supplies. I don't know what an angel wing does, but I'll grab one anyway.

I'm not a fan of this shopping menu. I have to buy each object individually, and then select what character gets to hold on to it. Each of my team has 4 inventory slots, with 1 taken up by their weapon, so buying healing items for everyone would take more time than I can be bothered to waste here.

I'm bringing two healing items and that's it. My team will just have to get better at not being hit.

No wagon this time, I have to travel all the way back to the fight on foot.


SON OF A BITCH! He was the last enemy, the very last enemy... why the hell did he get to attack me twice in one turn? How is that in any way fair?

Right... okay then. Let's try this a third time.


With the battle won, my troops return to the world map. For some reason they're all scattered across the mountains for this cutscene.

Damn, they've really got a lot of troops roaming the overworld. I hope each group isn't a separate mandatory battle.

Hang on... we're actually fighting on the overworld this time!

Or at least I'm trying to. Most of my team don't have the range to get anywhere on these mountains until the people at the front get their turn and can move out of the way. So I'm mostly skipping turns, then waiting for all the enemy units to have their turn.

I lost my mage on the last fight, and I'd really like her around if possible so I'm going to see if this Angel Wing has any, uh, resurrecturative properties.

Okay, the Angel Wing brought me out of the battle to some guy's house. Not exactly what I was expecting, but the guy healed my mage and let me save, so it actually worked out well for me.

Now I just need to figure out where I am and which way the battle is.

Whoa, sometimes chatting to random NPCs on a whim actually does pay off!

And sometimes chatting to random NPCs gets me into conversations like this.

This guy just repeats the same line over and over again, so I gave him a shove and watched him fall down the... actually no I just walked away and left him. There is no 'shove' button, I checked.


The overworld battle has come down to this. Seven men on my side of the bridge, and three on theirs.

And they don't have any ranged attackers, so I can just sit here in safety, using my mage and archer to attack their troops from across the river.

The battle was won, but it seems like they really wrecked my town while I was out.

I should probably get back out there and put a stop to the Lord of Darkness. And maybe this time we'll find a way to do it that doesn't wear off after a thousand years.

Annoyingly, the road to the next town is beset with giant bats. These things are far more annoying than anything else I've faced so far because they just refuse to get hit.

Plus they send my units to sleep. To be honest, I think that's a little unfair, but whatever.

Oh by the way there are two new characters I picked up from the ruined town. I've got 9 soldiers on the field now, which is definitely handy. Maybe one of them will actually be fast enough to hit these bats.


So here I am at the end of the battle. I have six units, and they have seven, but my forces are in better shape and I have healers. If I can just stay alive a little longer I think I have a real chance of winning this fight.

You son of a bitch... They had three units left, and none of them were bats. I could have taken them! But it's like chess, once the king is taken it's all over.

I respawn back at the church again with a chunk of my cash missing and half my team awaiting resurrection, but I think I'm done with this for now. Maybe I'll give it another shot later, a couple of my troops got a level up so it might go differently next time. Who knows.

Way to go mysterious girl, you suckered the poor gullible hero into your cause and got him killed three times. "It'll be an adventure!" ...yeah.

I have to admit, I like this one. The gameplay seems a bit basic compared to modern games in the genre, but it's likeable enough. It's got charm to it.

In fact I'll give it a shiny star.
That's the official seal of me approving of a game just enough to maybe want to play it some more later. Few game awards are as prestigious or desirable.


  1. Game competes with Planescape: Torment for favorite game of all time. Simple and enjoyable, with interesting characters, a good story (especially for a JRPG), and an awesome setting with everything from knights to robots.

  2. I love this game. It really pulls you into the world and the gameplay is fun.


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