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Shining Force II: Sword of Hajya

Publisher: Sega Developer: Sonic Software Planning
Reviewer: Silverwolf X Released: 1995
Gameplay: 80% Control: 85%
Graphics: 80% Sound/Music: 70%
Story: 90% Overall: 81%


Shining Force 2: The Sword of Hajya for the Game Gear is simply a direct port of the second story from Sega CD's Shining Force CD. The game's story, characters and battlefields all remain the same with the exception of less spectacular graphics.The game begins with Prince Nick, whose right arm was turned to stone after the final battle in the previous story. Prince Nick has finally reclaimed Cypress Castle and is beginning his march towards Iom Castle, unaware of the traps set for him by the evil King Iom and his followers. On the way out, however, an injured boy by the name of Deanna (and hero of this story) is brought in for treatment. Some time passes and Deanna has recovered and is diligently doing guard duty with the rest of his friends, though the only person he had opened up to is the young mage girl, Natasha. Soon after, the castle is attacked and the Sword of Hajya is stolen and Deanna and his friends set out to retrieve the sword and thus begins a great journey to Iom Castle.

The game, like all other Shining Force games, utilizes well-drawn sprites and large, detailed battlefields. The character animation in battle is not anime-esque as is the animation in Shining Force 2. Instead, we see a return to the old, medieval style designs used in the very first Shining Force. The character portraits, however, still retain some sort of an anime touch. Spells are all well animated and sprites are detailed and well colored. Some battle backgrounds have been removed, such as the forest background with large trees and rays of sunlight shining through them, due to the fact the Game Gear probably cannot produce the high quality backgrounds which people who have played the Sega CD version are aware of. Overall, however, the battlefields and character sprites all look similar to the Sega CD version, with only some enemy sprites having undergone more changes.

Unlike the Sega Genesis and Saturn versions of Shining Force, Shining Force 2: The Sword of Hajya is a game told out battle after battle, with the purchasing of items and the presence of headquarters all on a single screen. Gone is the chance to walk around towns and exploring the world like in Shining Force 2. Characters automatically join with the computer doing most of the work, and this time secret characters are simply found on the battlefield.

Another thing to note is the sheer difficulty of the game: in later parts, enemies posses high-level spells that your characters may not even have enough HP to survive! Expect to see large groups of your characters being wiped out in a single blast if you screw up your battle plan! This can really be frustrating but it really also adds to the importance of strategy and planning and really gives the game some depth.

Promotions all require a minimum of Level 10 like the first Shining Force game and there are no alternate promotions like Shining Force 2.

The music in the game is the typical military fare. There are several familiar tunes, but, in my opinion, the music is fairly average and if you've played as many Shining Force games as I have, you'll have this 'I've heard this tune so many times before that I'm sick of it!' attitude.

The sounds are almost the same as those in any Shining Force game. Spells like Bolt utilize crackling thunder and Blaze uses the sounds of fireballs raining on enemies, your typical Shining Force sound effects, that's for sure (though I admit their animation is still impressive nonetheless.)

For those who want a choice, the Sega CD version is much better, but for the sake of portability, and if you don't have a Sega CD, I guess this Game Gear port will have to do. And, since the story is the story is the same as the Sega CD version, it would be a pitiful waste of time for those who had already played the Sega CD version which was released slightly earlier than this Game Gear port.

Silverwolf
X

The story picks up right where the first game left off.

The battle system is the same as the Genesis versions, but this time there is no chance for exploration.







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