One of the best known Strategy RPG series ever. The Shining Force series has never ceased to amaze me with their diverse characters, stories and battles. Sega brought over Scenario 1 of Shining Force III and the first Scenario is more than enough to blow any Strategy RPG lover to the land of bliss.
The Republic and the Empire had gathered in the neutral city of Saraband to commence a peace treaty that would end a brutal war. In Scenario 1, players play the game in the perspective of Synbios, son of General Conrad of the Republic. Events begin to unfold when the Bulzome sect butt in and kidnap the Emperor of the Empire and things get really out of hand when the blame is shifted to the Republic. In this scenario, Synbios must lead a small force to help escort the King of the Republic and escape from the Imperial troops. Soon friendships are made between Synbios and Medion, the youngest Prince of the Empire and later the Mercenary Julian who are the main characters for Scenario 2 and 3 respectively. With their aid, Synbios learns of the Bulzome Sect and their goal of resurrecting the Vandal Bulzome and the Thousand Year Kingdom. As the game and story progresses, more plot twists and mysteries are revealed and this makes the story of the game even more engrossing than it already is.
The game plays out like all the previous Shining Force games with your main character and a total of 11 others battling against enemies on maps of varied sizes and layout. This time however, there are more objectives to complete in battle other than killing all enemies or the leader. They include things like rescuing a character, protecting a character, not killing a certain enemy, retreating to a specific location, raiding ruins within certain maps or even using a certain item on an enemy to defeat them. These objectives also affect which characters you can recruit in the other scenarios and how the other scenarios play out! In between the lengthy battles, players can explore large towns and villages, search for items and talk to fellow comrades at headquarters. There is also a new friendship system that allows characters with close affinity for each other to boost each other’s status, adding to the overall strategy of the game.
The graphics in the game are spectacular and have made the jump from 2D sprites to 3D polygons. Characters are all rendered in full 3D glory, though they tend to be a bit blocky, and the maps are all 3D and can be rotated around. Spell effects almost push the Saturn to its limit with their fluid animation and spectacular lighting effects. The only time I can seriously say that the graphics have been pushed to the limits is in Scenario 3, but that’s a different review all together. Basically saying, even though the jump to 3D is good, I still miss the traditional 2D sprites from the previous Shining Force games.
The music is awesome and atmospheric, not to mention inspirational. All the tunes in Shining Force III are impressive and enjoyable to say the least and varied as well but most of the better tunes start playing much later in the game. The sound effects are good, from the charging of specials to the fury of the spells, all sounds are crisp and clear and enjoyable. The voice acting is… Yech! If you compare the voice acting between the Japanese and English version of this game, you’d hoped they kept the voices Japanese! The voice acting done by Sega is a plain INSULT to this splendid game. From the geeky voice of Synbios to the monotonous “I’m going to kill you!” from General Spiriel, you’d either be hurling blood or laughing all over the floor. I’m starting to notice a pattern here, when official companies do the voice acting for games, they never tend to be good.
The other major flaw to this game is the fact that without Scenario 2 and 3, this game is just not complete. Curse Sega for not bringing over the other two Scenarios, as you’ll find out that the ending in Scenario 1 will leave you hanging. So the only other solution is to import the other Scenarios. Sega made a serious mistake when they refused to bring over the other 2 Scenarios as many angry fans of Sega jumped ship to Sony which, until then, had brought over many RPGs Sega was too ignorant to port.
So if you want to play 1/3 of a great RPG, by all means play Shining Force III as the only way you’ll ever see the real ending is if you’ve played through Scenario 2 and 3. To Sega, the day they refused Scenario 2 and 3 was the day they lost many avid RPG players.