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   Shining Force II - Staff Retroview  

Hidden Shining Light
by Michael "Macstorm" Cunningham

BATTLE SYSTEM
INTERACTION
ORIGINALITY
STORY
MUSIC & SOUND
VISUALS
CHALLENGE
Easy to Moderate
COMPLETION TIME
40-50 Hours
OVERALL

4.0/5

Rating definitions 

   Shining Force II is a rare gem for the Sega Genesis. It is a tactical RPG that expands upon the successes of the original, though released in limited quantities in North America; it didn't receive near the exposure that it deserves. While it might not be leaps and bounds above the first Shining Force, it offers a slightly deeper story, heavier exploration, smoother gameplay, and tons more options. For its time, Shining Force II is an impressive package.

   The story features Bowie, a young swordsman from the kingdom of Granseal. One night a group of thieves raided an ancient shrine stealing the legendary jewels. The events of that night unleashed an ancient evil to wreak havoc across the land. Bowie, only commissioned to complete a simple task for the king, winds up leading an army against the evil rising in the land. The plot is not horrid, just decidedly mediocre. Plot twists are obvious, characters have personality, though little extra is done with them, and the villains are mostly uninspired. On a positive note, the dialogue was fairly well done, containing a bit of humor from time to time. While Shining Force II is far from being an epic, the story does in no way hinder the game.

   The true joy of Shining Force II is the battle system. Unlike the original, this title offers an explorable world, but the game still progresses through battles. Featuring thirty playable characters of all different job classes, variety is the key to success for this game. Not only do most characters have the option of promotion, but many will have more than one option. Thanks to the addition of special promotion items, jobs like Knights are no longer limited to just becoming Paladins. They can now change to flying Pegasus Knights. Archers, Mages, Warriors, and Priests all have new upgrades available adding to the ever growing list of jobs found in Shining Force II. This diverse selection of jobs comes in handy when picking a balanced party of up to twelve characters.

Late Night He was up all night checking his My Space.

   Combat is well-balanced and very enjoyable. When characters die in combat, they are out of the battle, but can be revived later on. Battles are only lost when Bowie is defeated; and at that point the party will find themselves at a nearby abbey with a little less gold. Some of the tougher battles come later in the game and might take a few tries to conquer. Using Bowie's Egress spell to retreat and regroup can help, as experience and levels gained are retained, making the next attempt that much more manageable.

   Shining Force II's interface is simple, not containing a ton of options, but that's the beauty of it. Its quick and easy menus allow for unencumbered control of characters both in and out of battle. During combat, it is easy to attack, cast spells, or move characters. For a tactical RPG, commanding characters should be painless and these basic controls are enough to keep things moving along at a fast pace. One minor issue comes from the freedom given in exploration. Sometimes this freedom can make it difficult to determine where to venture to next. Thankfully, the world map is not large enough to cause that much confusion.

Level Up Don't fall in the glass hole.

   For a Sega Genesis title, Shining Force II is visually impressive. The nicest visual aspect comes in the form of battle animations, which have a nice artistic style to them unlike the typical 8-bit look of the rest of the game. Sound is also a mixed bag, as the game has its ups and downs. First, the background music is rather enjoyable, though not very memorable. The worst part is with the sound effects, mainly the annoying, repetitive sound clip that plays whenever dialogue boxes appear for different characters. With a game heavy with dialogue, this constant sound can become irritating very quickly.

   Though Shining Force II looks and operates very similar to its predecessor, the fact that it is not the most original game doesn't cause any problems. The gameplay, mostly combat, feels much smoother with the game containing much more depth. Shining Force II may not have had the most successful run due to limited production, but it was still a very enjoyable experience. With remakes and classic games reappearing all over the place, hopefully more people will get the opportunity to play it some day in the future.

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