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Shining the Holy Ark (Saturn) artwork

Shining the Holy Ark (Saturn) review

"I don't like to hang onto most games after I've beaten them. While everything loses its luster after time, I have no qualms about keeping nearly every "Shining" game ever made. Shining the Holy Ark is just another example of why I never trade them in for something new and why I continue to play them long after the system is geriatric. Although this game returns to its roots and pits you against monsters in a first person style (Much like shining in the darkness) you won’t find yourself missing t..."

I don't like to hang onto most games after I've beaten them. While everything loses its luster after time, I have no qualms about keeping nearly every "Shining" game ever made. Shining the Holy Ark is just another example of why I never trade them in for something new and why I continue to play them long after the system is geriatric. Although this game returns to its roots and pits you against monsters in a first person style (Much like shining in the darkness) you won’t find yourself missing the strategy part of the Shining series one bit. The story line and the abundance of game play is what help this “sequel” measure up to its predecessors.

Vandals: heartless creatures from another dimension with an insidious plan to resurrect the Thousand Year Kingdom and mold the world into their own macabre vision. You could care less about that, though, you’re a mercenary—paid to hunt down a rogue thief along with your companions Forte and Melody. A foot chase leads you to an abandon mine, where this thief has decided to hide out. Once you battle through the corridors you finally trap the crafty ninja in a one door only room—and the only way out is through you. With a few quips about “spinning the threads of destiny” that make no sense, Rodi (the ninja) engages you and an epic battle commences. Well, not epic exactly seeing as Rodi goes down rather easy. Alas, just as your about to drag him back and claim your reward the whole ground shakes and you can only watch as the rocks crumble in and the floor gives way, plummeting you to the bottom. Your eyes can no longer stay open and the last vision you have is your of friends and the thief taking the fall with you.

You awake in a brightly lit room with nothing gracing the walls and no one in sight, except for Melody and Rodi who seem to be unconscious. Are you dead? The answer that creeps into your head is probably yes, considering after a short time you start seeing things: Alien-resembling creatures with a transparent appearance. Before you say anything, the spirit begins pointing out your friends and explaining their injuries—as well as yours. It offers to help, actually by attaching himself to your spirit and using your body as a vessel. This will heal your wounds, but he is going to ask for something in return: Destroy the Vandals and stop the rising of the Thousand Year kingdom. After you agree, two more spirits appear to take sanction in your friends and once again you find yourself blacking out. You wake up to discover that it wasn’t just a dream, as your companions speak of seeing the same thing. Once again, a simple mission has turned into a globe-spanning epic to save the world. You may not want to chat for too long.

The story aside, this game has several more things that make footing through dungeon after dungeon tolerable. Pre-emptive strikes: Gone. Well, not exactly but this time it takes a bit more then luck to land the first unanswered blow on your opponent. It’s not even you who’s going to be doing them either—lay your hope on the pixies. They’re odd little creatures viewable on the bottom right screen and they play an integral part in the battle and the spoils after words. There are five to choose from: Pixies, Fairies, Succubus, Incubus and Leprechauns. As an enemy approaches, you must quickly highlight one of them by pressing the R and L buttons then press either A or C. Of course it all depends on where the enemy is coming from. Sometimes from directly in front of you, other times the enemies’ come up from the ground. Each pixie attacks something different, if your quick enough they fly in and smack every enemy around, if you’re wrong they buzz right past them. It’s well worth the effort, as they not only do some serious damage after you find a few of them, they also steal extra gold and experience points. They are a bit difficult to find, so unless you’re running short on Ritalin and feel like tapping A at every single wall I would suggest a hint book.

One more thing that makes this First-person RPG easy to stomach is the abundance of different critical hits each one of your characters can perform. It’s the only time you get to see your guys (and girls) in battle but it’s well worth it. It’s always entertaining to see Rodi jump in, grab an enemy and slam him back down, or to see Basso charge in and slam into something like a giant, green mosh-pitter on PCP. While it isn’t reason to run right out and buy the game, it still breaks up the incessant amount of combat that goes on in all RPGs.

The enemies are truly what make this game. The graphics are okay on the world map, and the polygons in the cut-scenes are square even for the Saturn, but the enemies are outstanding. There is no short blurb or flash and then you’re in a battle—this time around you see the enemies coming. Bounding at you from a long hallway or creeping eerily from the ground in a morbid graveyard. This is where the pixies come into play so stay on your guard. The sound is another thing that could be seen as only mediocre if it weren’t for the creatures. The score is lacking a bit, and there isn’t one single voice over but every monster has a unique sound as they approach, and a horrid growl as they dissipate into the ground. The growls, the snarls and hissing make up for an elevator to hell soundtrack. The critical hits as well have their own unique, captivating sound. The controls, oddly enough, fair well. While you would think there are only four things you can do in a first person game, there are a few more. You can dash, sidestep and flip a 180 with ease. These are all imminent to the game, so you better master them as soon as you can. The fun factor works even with no mini-games and no real secrets aside from the pixies. The one thing that’s really going to drive you is having to know how it ends. The replay value is low. Nothing is unlocked after completion, so the only thing that's going to make you sit through it again is watching the story unfold one more time.

First person games bore me; I’m not going to lie. While “Shining in the darkness” was fun at times, it got insanely repetitive. With countless dungeons to explore, fresh new towns and countless enemies lurking under innocent puddles “Shining The Holy Ark” pushes the boundaries of any First-person rpg to the limits. While it may have been a desperate bid from a dying system, it’s still a game that deserves to stand alongside its “Shining” counterparts. The shining series is something I will always love and this game is one reason why.

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Community review by True (May 16, 2005)

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