Monday, May 11, 2015

Nostalgia is great. Thinking back to your favourite games as a kid and the sepia toned, rose-tinted memories of the many hours spent playing them makes it seem like a good idea to go back and play them again.

Shining Force II framed A3 box art hanging in my home.
I recently brought Shining Force II for the Sega MegaDrive. I picked it up from a car-boot sale for £1.50 along with a few other MegaDrive games. Its a steal considering they're going for £20-50 on eBay.

I loved Shining Force I and II so much as a kid, I probably played it more than Bubble Bobble (Which I played a lot!). I have a framed poster of the box art hanging on my wall!

There have been over 20 games in the Shining Series now, but none of them have been as good as Shining Force I or II, or Shining in the Darkness. They perfectly take the top down RPG mechanics of the era (think Phantasy Star, early Final Fantasy) such as towns, story focus, and exploration and match it with tactical strategy games mechanics with squad based battle systems like Advance Wars. 

The story of the games itself are fairly unoriginal. You play as a young boy, who for some reason is the only person who can defeat the recently awoken ultimate evil but only after searching the land for the mythical weapon that is the one thing capable of defeating him. Although unoriginal, the way the story is told and the fictional world created by the games still stands strong and has plenty of lore to explore.

The story is only the trimmings to these games though, the real filling is the battles. These are turn-based tactical combat encounters. The team is made up from characters who join the force as the game progresses and, since the limit is 12 characters, you can switch them out between battles. 

The wonderfully designed characters all had their own personalities and qualities in terms of story and fighting style. I still think Peter the phoenix was OP, yogurt was cute and funny, and Sarah is a kick ass character. 

These characters were split into classes of the usual RPG variety; Knight, Swordsmen, Monk, Mage etc. which meant they also fulfilled different roles in combat and equipped different weapons. With over 25 characters in each game it allowed for different team make-ups and strategy which adds to the replayability.  

I loved these games, and playing Shining Force II again made me remember how good it is. Does it hold up? Well RPG mechanics have come a long way since the early 90s and most games now have some sort of HP/EXP/Stats thing going on, but I have to say "YES!" These games really do stand up today and it's still immensely fun to play through. 

Shining Force II cart. £1 from a Car boot sale.

What are your favourite memories of Shining Force series? let me know in the comments or @lanerobertlane on Twitter.


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