"I've never been much of a fan of the Shining Series. I was playing games like Final Fantasy II and III while other kids, I'm led to believe, were playing Shining Force I and II. Admittedly, I owned a Genesis before I owned a Super Nintendo, but the Super Nintendo was just better, and it knew it. It was stylish and confident, like a quiet, attractive girl who reads books written by smart people and listens to classical music. The Genesis, on the contrary, was that chic who hung onto the outer..."
I've never been much of a fan of the Shining Series. I was playing games like Final Fantasy II and III while other kids, I'm led to believe, were playing Shining Force I and II. Admittedly, I owned a Genesis before I owned a Super Nintendo, but the Super Nintendo was just better, and it knew it. It was stylish and confident, like a quiet, attractive girl who reads books written by smart people and listens to classical music. The Genesis, on the contrary, was that chic who hung onto the outer ring of the popular girls and tried to hide her insecurities by being in your face with pseudo attitude. Nintendo was uncool when video games were uncool, which in essence, made them cool.
Personal differences aside, curiousity forced me to try the Shining Series post-parent console mortem, and I can proudly claim I never even finished half of one game. Heck, in Shining Force III getting out of the initial city into some actual action was such a painstaking excursion I shut off the game in disgust before completing the said objective. Shining Tears, however, was different, it was an Action/Rpg, those rock, and it was 2D, I love that dimension; I will like this game.
And I did, or at least I forced myself to as mission after mission in this game made me wonder why I even play games anymore when the ones I consider good are comparable to the smartest kids in the remedial classes. I can accept the story and characters are Japanese Rpg cliche, that's a given. Even the fact that the action consists of incessant button-mashing didn't derail my excitement, but just stupid, pointless annoyances have no place in things that are supposed to be "fun".
Take for instance, load times. I realize disc-based games require them, but this is just deplorable. Every battle takes 30 seconds to load, and that's after you navigate through 5 redundant screens to get to that point. This is taken to the extreme when you lose a battle, which happens often given the cheap nature of a number of bosses unless you're some power-leveling weirdo, only to wait 15 seconds for the game to load so you can wait another 30 seconds to be able to restart the battle. On the bright side, when you resart mission, you're started exactly where you died, making the whole, strainuous process COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY POINTLESS. An option to simply "continue" in-battle seems like a much more sensible idea.
Besides the fact that I'm impatient and load times are the worst thing to ever happen to video games, in this game, even something as simple as equipping armor becomes a calculus problem. Reason being, in order to equip strong armor, your abilities (Strength, agility, intelligence, etc.) have to be high enough to handle the equipment. So for instance, say you want to equip a Righteous Mail, your strength needs to be 67 and your agility needs to 56, but you're only at 45 and 43 respectively. In order to raise these stats you can distribute points that are gained when you level-up, kind of strange, but doable, right? Up until you realize every piece of equipment requires different stats and every character starts at a different level for each category. Of course as soon as you find a piece of equipment you know want to equip and you work towards it, a better piece comes along requiring something almost completely different.
This aspect was almost as frustrating as finishing a mission, and then not being able to play the next one. When every character you talk to keeps making the same idiotic statement, no matter how many optional battles you fight or where you go, nothing changes. This is most apparent after mission 11 when the game comes to a crashing halt and you're left wondering if your copy of the game is defective. To save you from wanting to kick some fool at Sega in the crotch, the secret is to level-up a supporting character to at least level 20, either that or after talking to everyone 17 times finally made a difference.
Clearly I've harked on the bad, but there was some good. The art was certainly nice as the game featured big, detailed images of the characters during story interactions as well as lush environments that mimick oil paintings. Another nice feature is the ability for a second player to control your supporting character (i.e. Seiken Densetsu games). What isn't nice is the fact that utilizing this aspect is essentially a requirement since your secondary character tends act mentally deficient and as a single player you can only control their movement, using the right analog stick, while you're supposed to be controling your own character, using the left analog stick, while you're trying to attack and dodge, nice.
It's a good thing I like 2D games and Action/Rpgs, seeing as if I didn't, I would probably have turned off this game before I got out of the first city. Of course, investing any substantial amount of time into a game and not finishing is worse than forcing yourself to finish it, even if it feels like you should be getting a pay check at the end of the week. Unless you have too much time on your hands and a friend who is equally weighed-down by an overabundace of time, your better off doing something constructive, like getting a job that pays you rather than one you have to pay for.
Community review by nemo (April 03, 2006)
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