Friday, April 23, 2021

Deep Look - Shining Force CD


A Collection with Both Shine and Tarnish

Once upon a time, videogame corporation Sega piously proclaimed that they did “what Nintendon’t,” which was true to some extent, given their color-screened portable Game Gear and the Genesis’ reception of a compact disc add-on, with the CD medium allowing for greater freedom in terms of things such as adding voices and even cinematics to games. The Sega CD would receive a few RPGs, notably the Lunar games, not to mention the anthology Shining Force CD, consisting of remakes of the first two Shining Force Gaiden games for the Game Gear, not to mention two chapters occurring chronologically afterward in continuation of the central storyline. The collection is easily one of the best titles to appear on Sega’s ill-fated system, but does that mean it’s any good?

Shining Force CD is divided into four books, the first of which is a remake of the original Shining Force Gaiden that initially appeared on the Game Gear, remaining untranslated, and taking place twenty years after the events of the first tactical entry of the Shining series. Ambassadors from the Kingdom of Cypress cast a curse upon Queen Anri of Guardiana (translated in the Sega CD version as Gardiana), with a new Shining Force led by Nick and scion of characters from The Legacy of Great Intention tasked with dispelling it. The first book is generally a good continuation of the events from the original Shining Force, and doesn’t become too fatigued with playable characters, although most allies lack development.

The second book continues the first game’s story, focusing on the enigmatic Deanna that sets off with his own Shining Force in pursuit of Nick, who fails to return after leaving for some time. The narrative is easily a step down from the first game’s, given the similarities to the original Shining Force, given the mysterious protagonist and the attempts at reviving a sinister god, with little development for any among the main cast aside from Deanna. As in the first Gaiden, however, the sequel doesn’t become too bogged down by playable characters, with a few battles occurring with the player having a divided party, and unlike its predecessor, the absolute final battle doesn’t necessitate repetition of the one before should one egress back to camp.

A third book continues the storyline from the Gaiden games, being several battles shorter, and allowing the player to use the playable casts from its precursors, which consequentially can make for difficult decisions of whom to bring into combat, given the limit of twelve characters versus the enemy. The narrative focuses on Nick’s trials to become King of Cypress, with several oriental-esque villains coming in his way, and several musical tracks, such as a remix of the collection’s central theme, having an Asian milieu. Given the need to grind and the tendency of a few fights to drag out, particularly the final one, book three is a step down from its precursors, although it decently wraps up its precursors’ story.

With a secret ticket acquired a few battles into the second book, the player can unlock a fourth chapter, where a fixed party led by Nick squares off against every boss unit from the preceding subdivisions, with no opportunity to grind, given that egressing necessitates that players restart the battle from scratch. I found myself unable to finish this fight, with little to no walkthroughs on the internet providing strategies on how to do so, although fortunately, the ending isn’t of critical narrative importance, with the third book being the “official” conclusion to the first two Gaiden games’ plotline.

Despite its flaws, Shining Force CD is in the end a half-decent collection that starts off good, given the first Gaiden’s continuation of the original game’s storyline, although it somewhat suffers from a bit of sequel slump, given the step down of the story in the second book and especially the third and potentially-impossible fourth chapter. The anthology, however, is easily one of the better titles on the Sega CD system (I personally enjoyed it more than the Lunar games, especially the second in that particular series, given Working Designs’ gameplay “enhancements), although while it’s worth a look from those who enjoyed the first tactical offering of the Shining series, it’s certainly by no means a bucket list collection.


No comments:

Post a Comment