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Shining Tears (PlayStation 2) artwork

Shining Tears (PlayStation 2) review


"It's like a 2D mission-based Dynasty Warriors. From your headquarters, you'll pick a new objective then run out onto a hand-painted map and button-mash to kill all the orcs, skeletons, and whatnot in sight. There are some skills that you can use, but for the most part you'll be tapping a single button over and over. Unfortunately, Shining Tears lacks most of the things that made Dynasty Warriors famous."



For a very brief moment, I'm going to assume that you're deeply familiar with the other Shining games.

Shining Tears is nothing like the other Shining games.

With that out of the way, I'll tell you what Shining Tears is like: it's like a 2D mission-based Dynasty Warriors. From your headquarters, you'll pick a new objective then run out onto a hand-painted map and button-mash to kill all the orcs, skeletons, and whatnot in sight. There are some skills that you can use, but for the most part you'll be tapping a single button over and over. Unfortunately, Shining Tears lacks most of the things that made Dynasty Warriors famous:

  • In-your-face throngs of enemy opposition

  • Sprawling maps and elaborate 3D environments

  • Horseback and elephant riding

  • Gameplay-altering triggered events

  • 40 selectable characters

  • A sense of epic importance on every mission

  • Chinese guys with funny hats

  • Pretty much anything else advertised on the back of Koei's boxes

Although mashing one button over and over can be kind of fun, Shining Tears tries to add variety by offering an assortment of mission objectives. It doesn't work. The first mission requires you to collect a flower. After you've killed enough monsters, a white flag appears. Touch the flag to get the flower and end the mission. Another mission requires you to kill all the monsters in a cave. After you've killed enough monsters, a white flag appears. Touch the flag to end the mission. Another mission requires you to protect a potential party member. After you've killed enough monsters, a white flag appears. Touch the flag to successfully defend the girl and end the mission.

If you play one mission per night, you might not mind the repetition... but there are plenty of better games on the market that don't demand that kind of counter-intuitive restraint.

On the plus side, Shining Tears does feature some attractive character designs by doujinshi artist Tony Taka, who's done some great fan illustrations of Gundam Seed and Fate/Stay Night characters. In this game, he's drawn some cute but blatantly Lodoss-inspired designs.

The main character is Xion, a brown-haired swordsman, kind of like Parn from Record of Lodoss War. But this isn't Parn. This is Xion, swordsman with a mysterious past. To separate itself from Lodoss, Shining Tears gives its protagonist an additional, unexpected twist... he's an AMNESIAC! That's right, Xion washed up ashore and doesn't remember his past. This lame plot twist allows for some completely predictable scenarios such as:

  • Xion agonizing over not remembering his past.

  • Xion struggling to remember his past.

  • Other people feeling bad about Xion not remembering his past.

  • Other people trying to help Xion remember his past.

Xion is taken in by Pios, a "Doc Ido" type who, like Battle Angel's gentle doctor, has gone from the heights of nobility to helping peasants in need. Heck, he even looks like Ido, with a sharp chin and stylish spectacles. But this isn't Ido. This is Pios, gentle bespectacled doctor.

When Xion is found unconscious by the river bank, Pios treats his wounds and searches his pockets for valuables (the game never provides a reasonable explanation for why he would do this). In Xion's pockets are two rings -- the rings provide the big focal point for the plot. For each mission, you can choose a partner -- each character wears a ring. One ring is "yin" and one is "yang". Whenever he wears the "yin" ring, Xion transforms from a quivering puss ("I'm scared!"), into a ruthless murderer ("Heh heh heh. I'll show these animals the meaning of pain!").

So basically, Xion is either a sissy or a miscreant. Way to build character empathy, Sega. On the off chance that you might not already hate the guy, Sega also made Xion look like an idiot.

The Setting: Everyone is signing up to join Volg's Weissritter Brigade to defend their homeland from an invading army.

Wolfman Volg (to Xion): "that makes five of us. What about you, Xion?"

Xion: "Huh?"

...

Xion's favorite word is "Huh?" He says it whenever anyone addresses him. Then they rephrase the question/request in totally blunt terms, because XION IS A MORON. And the other characters aren't any brighter.

Once fully assembled, your party visits the King to ask for help defending the nation from an invading army. Wolfman Volg (the "leader" of your group) demands that the King send his personal bodyguards to fight at the front lines. The King, although stunned by this absurd request, actually offers to consider it. Displeased by the King's (understandable) reluctance, Volg immediately calls the King a "bastard" and a "pompous windbag" to his face.

...the request is denied.

The worst part is that the game clearly expects players to actually agree with the moronic main characters. The schizophrenic translation doesn't help matters. Characters at times deliver lines such as "Wherefore have they come to attack us" (does that even make sense?). Later, they'll demand, "Whaddya want?" The dialogue is incredibly uneven and often stilted.

But at least Shining Tears has Elwyn. She's a sexy elf with blonde hair and forest green garb, kind of like Deedlit from Record of Lodoss War. But this isn't Deedlit. This is Elwyn, the sexy elf. Sega even made an action figure of her as part of their Sega Gals collection. Removing the action figure's skirt reveals an interesting sociocultural detail; elves wear panties. They're white.

As for the game, it's only fun insofar as mindlessly killing things is fun... and even that's hampered by the excruciating load times and boring town scenes.

Shining Tears is nothing like the other Shining games. The other Shining games are good.

//Zig

Rating: 3/10

zigfried's avatar
Staff review by Zigfried (January 17, 2006)

Zigfried likes writing about whales and angry seamen, and often does so at the local pub.

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