Sega's CD console never made much of an impact in its day, but it did have its fair share of stellar titles. Shining Force CD is a great candidate for the system, being an engrossing and well-loved game among fans. Sadly, many people never got a chance to play the game since the Sega CD never sold well.
The game's story takes place about 20 years after the 1st Shining Force and tells the tales of Prince Nick and Deanna. The game is a port of 2 Game Gear games, the 1st never released stateside while the 2nd became known as Shining Force 2: Sword of Hajya. The Sega CD version offers improved graphics and 2 new games, making the game span 4 books altogether!
The 1st story begins in Guardiana. Queen Anri is attacked and placed under a sleep spell by Woldol, Archbishop of Cypress. Guardiana sends their best warriors to Cypress to save their queen, but none return. When all hope is almost lost, the descendants and relatives of the heroes in the 1st game come forth to offer their help and are led by a quiet young boy named Nick. Nick's identity as Prince of Cypress is soon revealed and the real reasons why Cypress is under tyranny are revealed. The 1st quest thus begins in earnest as the new Shining Force begins their journey spanning 4 Chapters.
The 2nd story begins a few months after Nick has restored Cypress. As he sets of for an attack against the evil Iom Empire, Natasha and her friends bring in a young injured boy, Deanna. Soon, he recovers and gets along well with Natasha. Things go awry when the castle is attacked and the Sword of Hajya is stolen. Thus, he and Natasha lead a new band of warriors to retrieve the sword. Upon doing so, they learn that Nick's campaign has failed and that he was captured. Thus the 2nd story goes into full swing as our heroes thrust deeper into the Iom Empire in a race against time to save their Prince and to also stop an ancient Evil from awakening in another 4 Chapters of gaming goodness.
The 3rd story is just an expansion of the 2nd, taking place in a large Eastern mansion. The 3rd story spans only a single chapter, but adds a great deal of challenge and light-hearted humor, making it all worthwhile nonetheless. It also concludes the game with a bang. The 4th story is just a bonus and I won't spoil anything, just that a certain item is needed from the 2nd story to unlock it.
Battles in the game take a top-down view. Characters move according to their speed and along a certain area. They can then search for items, attack, cast spells, or give/equip items. The battles can be hard as well, requiring quite a bit of strategy instead of just charging forward like crazy. Doing so would be an easy way to a defeat since you lose if you main character croaks. The game's story is told battle after battle, so there is no free-roaming to speak of. Buying new equipment, Saving, Promoting and other tasks Shining Force fans know of are done on the Camp Screen, so the game is extremely linear and easy to get into.
Control for it is simple enough and isn't much of a hassle. All you'll find yourself doing is moving characters in battle and moving through menus, so there isn't much of a learning curve in the control department.
The graphics are pretty good and colorful, no doubt a capability of the sorely overlooked Sega CD. Character sprites are crisp and well colored, portraits are well done, battle scenes offer crisp, fluid animations, and spell animations have been improved quite a bit. The backgrounds are just as impressive as well, making this Strategy/RPG quite a visual treat back in its day.
The music in the game is a thrill to listen to; from light-hearted themes to themes that give players a sense of being in a heroic battle of sorts, it's a pretty good accompaniment for this game, story and all. There is also much variety in boss music as well, making battle that much more pleasant overall.
The sounds for normal attacks are simple enough. Spell sounds fare better, from cracking bolts of electricity to falling fireballs. A simple sound system is enough to make it quite a listening experience.
Shining Force CD is a must have for series fans as well as those who need a good Strategy/RPG fix. The game itself is quite a collector's item in it's own right, so finding a near mint original copy may very well be an expensive experience.