The Shining series is one of Sega’s high quality role playing games. Dating back to the 16-bit days of the Sega Genesis, the Shining series consisted of different games that featured different gameplay mechanics. Shining Force focused on tactical strategy, and Shining Soul was a more action-oriented game worthy of the name ‘dungeon-crawler.’ Shining Force is noteworthy for being one of the first games to make use of a tactical strategy battle system—a turn-based battle system in which your party members, or army units, can move from space to space engaging in a war on the opponent. It is said that games like Final Fantasy Tactics and Ogre Battle are based upon this system. The series currently consists with three games, two being on the Genesis and Shining Force 3 on the Saturn. Resurrection of the Dark Dragon is Sega’s GBA remake of the Genesis classic being published by Atlus. The game includes an array of new options, a few new characters, improved audio and visuals, and a slew of other new elements to make gamers unfortunate enough to play the first experience how great this masterpiece still is. The game begins with a bored child talking to a woman with a book. This is where the game tells you to start the game and where all your information is kept. As she reads the story of the Shining Force, the game begins. You’re put in the footsteps of a young warrior named Max, who you’ll be able to rename, in the village of Guardiana. Under the care of a monk named Varios, Max learns how to hone his skills with a sword—a talent he’s always had. The whereabouts of Max’s birth are unknown at the time, but he ended up in Guardiana by being washed ashore at the local beach. Since the accident, he’s been suffering from amnesia and doesn’t know about his past. Meanwhile, at the king’s palace, a dark mage named Darksol interrogates the king asking him about the Gate of the Ancients. With this knowledge, Max sets off on a journey to calm the disturbance at the gate and perhaps find the secrets about his past along the way. Though you can actively control Max throughout the non-battle gameplay in the game, Shining Force doesn’t really have much of an exploring factor like most other role-playing games do. To progress through the game, you’re going to have to communicate with other people around you and hope to gain some friends. Like most RPG’s, you can’t travel alone. So out of the people you talk to, some will hope to join your cause and bring peace back to the world. Then if you want to continue progressing through the game, you’ll have to fight your way out of every situation. As you leave town to work on the king’s assignment, before your first battle, you’ll meet the first of three new characters in the game. The wizard called Mawlock likes to speak with rhyme to our hero, and he says something about cards. Cards play a big factor to the game later on. Resurrection of the Dark Dragon consists of eight chapters; roughly four or five battles in each one. After each chapter, you enter a prologue where you get more depth upon two of the new (and more important) characters in the game named Zuika and Narsha. Narsha is the daughter of King Ramladu that’s being brainwashed and possessed by Darksol—the main villain in the game. As the only one aware of this action, Narsha pleads with her father to try and snap him out of it, only to be sent to her room. In her room, Darksol sends two of his magic servants to murder Narsha. Suddenly she’s teleported out of there leaving the two goons dazed, and Narsha meets up with Mawlock. Mawlock tells Narsha to meet with the Shining Force if she hopes to get her father back, and reluctant with this info, Narsha sets off. As she escapes, guards search for her only to be destroyed by Zuika. These prologues are basically just battles that Narsha and Zuika have to get through with Mawlock’s vague assistance. As stated before, the battle system makes use of tactical strategy. The first six consists of Max, as a swordsman then there’s a healer, an archer, a horseman, a magician, and a brute fighter. Each member of the Shining Force has his or her own strengths, weaknesses, and the amount of the space each one can travel may vary. (Of course, flyers or people on horseback naturally have a larger movement rank.) The battle system works by moving a character to one space and calling a command; Attack, Magic, Item/Equip, or Defend. To attack, the active character must be adjacent to an opponent or two spaces towards the character if you’re in control of a magician or archer. Magicians vary with their magic, but their spells possess a lot more power than regular, physical attacks. When an enemy is defeated, experience points (points that are used to determine the amount of experience you need to enhance your stats by gaining a level) and coins are gained along with the occasional item drop here and there. Winning a battle usually requires every man of the opposite army dead, but there are exceptions. The rules, requirements, and bonus requirements for the battle are shown during the command army options before the start of the battle. Some of them are just requirements are just to beat the leader and end the war within a limited amount of turns or to just move your character to the next town, so you don’t always have to overkill to end a battle. Another one of the new elements to the game is with the battle system. Now special cards can be used to enhance or just change the tide of battle. The cards offer a lot of different types of abilities, including the ability to clone a slightly weaker copy of another character. There are loads of different cards in the game, but you can only use each one once. The game looks a lot like its Genesis counterpart did except with a few enhancements here and there. The characters look good, but some just don’t match well with the world map, making them look like giants on the field. The backgrounds on the battle screens look good, and the sprites used in battle are also a nice touch. The battles themselves look a bit like Golden Sun because Shining Force was one of Camelot’s first games. Overall, the game looks nice, but nothing extraordinary or totally out of line. Resurrection of the Dark Dragon doesn’t offer a lot of diversity in its soundtrack, but the tracks sound good nonetheless. The sound itself doesn’t offer much either. Other than sprucing up the sound quality, Sega hasn’t done anything to make any of the game’s sound memorable. Shining Force: Resurrection of the Dark Dragon is just as memorable as the Genesis classic and holds its own against the many strategy games already available for the GBA. With nice looking visuals and outstanding gameplay, Sega went ahead and added enough depth to the game to call it a handheld sleeper, and if you haven’t played the original; this remake is worth picking up. Perhaps we’ll see the second game on the GBA, and it is quite possible Sega can remake the underrated, Saturn classic, Shining Force 3 for the handheld as well. Anything is worth a try, and Shining Force: Resurrection of the Dark Dragon is one of those things.
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