When Sega announced they were going to port Shining Force 3, I was thrilled, but little did I know what Sega of America had planned for this wonderful game. A video game that comes in three parts, what a concept! I was so excited that Sega of America was actually going to do something right (other than racers and Sonic =P). But, sadly Sega of America crushed me by their statement: "We're idiots," oh, wait, I was talking about the other statement, "Shining Force 3: Scenario 1 will be the only of the three to come to the US." WHAT??? Folks, I can't tell you how bad it hurts this game to not have the other 2 games, it's just awful. Let's hear it for Sega of America, our heroes!
Well, I might as well start with the storyline gripes. Most of the story woes are effected by the lack of the other two games. Within the game you meet some people and then never see them again (huh?). And some people kinda die (but you know they didn't), but then you never see them again either (huh?). If you gave this game to a person who didn't know there were two other parts, they would think that the writers were on drugs. Other than all the gaping holes in the story, it was pretty good. I found myself being drawn in nicely, but then distracted by stuff that will happen in the other two games. It kinda ruined the tone, big time. Oh and that blasted little main character, why can't he say anything other than "....."? Geez, who wrote all his lines? I want his autograph *rolls eyes*. Okay, I had better stop talking about the storyline before I go on a killing spree.
Next stop, graphics! The graphics in Shining Force 3 are sweet, very detailed and eye catching. The landscapes are made up of 3D buildings, rivers, trees, etc. (ala Grandia) and are just awesome to look at. I was very impressed with the backgrounds, to say the least. Characters are 2D/3D sprites (yes!) that look perfect, every games' characters should look this way (*cough* FF7,FF8 *cough*). In terms of the overall look to the graphics, they bare a striking resemblance to Grandia in almost every way. However, Grandia's were just a bit sharper. The place where the graphics shine the most is the battle scene graphics, they are just about the best you could do on the Saturn, simply breathtaking and get this, NO LOADING TIME! The lighting and moving of the camera makes the scenes even more awesome, and when you do a magic move, well let's just say get those sunglasses out! The graphics were the best part of Shining Force 3, superb!
Now onto gameplay. This is where SF3 gets killed. Having played many strategy games, I know a good one when I see it and this ain't it. There are lots of minor flaws that all add up to one big one, lousy strategy game. In the early stages the battle maps were very big and I was very pleased, but as the game went on the maps kept getting smaller and smaller. If there's one thing I hate most in a strategy game it's small battle maps. Also, most of the bad guys are too stupid and very easy to predict, which is a major no-no in strategy games. What's worse is, the lack of different baddies. I mean, how many monks can a person kill before they go insane? Geez, couldn't they at least have made some of the monks with different color clothes? Gameplay-wise Shining Force 3 kinda stank something awful. Thank goodness the graphics were as good as they were because I couldn't have stomached the game otherwise. Oh, by the way, did I mention that the main character just says "....." all the time? AHH!!!!
Music and sound are next! It would be impossible to write a whole paragraph on SF3's music and sound, but I'll try. It's average, very average. No track stuck with me throughout the game and there should have been hours of voice acting, but there wasn't. The music was just there, but it didn't bother me so I won't complain about it (but I'm going to praise it either). And where's the voice acting, huh? Nowhere, dangit, nowhere!
In the end, you're left with a few questions. Would you buy a game just to look at its graphics? If the answer is yes, then buy SF3. Would you buy a strategy game, with very little strategy in it? Would you buy only 1/3 of a product? If the answer is yes to a few of those, then buy it by all means, but I warn you it's nowhere near as good as Shining Force 2, or most of the other Shining Force games for that matter. I was a bit disappointed and wouldn't recommend it to any strategy fan (unless you're a Shining Force strategy fan), unless they just wanted to see what the Saturn can really do graphically. Simply stated, this game's name should have been Shining Force 3 1/3, because without the other two, it just isn't a whole game.