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Shining Force II (Genesis) artwork

Shining Force II (Genesis) review

"Shining Force 2 is one of the best roleplaying games for the Genesis, in the upper echelon with the Phantasy Star games."

Shining Force 2 is a rarity on the Genesis - part roleplaying, part war strategy, it features fairly original gameplay only matched by the original. Shining Force 2 is one of the best roleplaying games for the Genesis, in the upper echelon with the Phantasy Star games.

In Shining Force 2, you play the totally original role of a hero out to save the kingdom! Wow! It's a plot never before seen in the history of humankind! Well, not exactly, but since so many other games feature the same plot, you can't really fault this one for taking the same cop out. The character development in Shining Force 2 is fairly good, but not great. It can't hold a candle to the best on the Super Nintendo, but it's rather good for a Genesis game.

The gameplay is where Shining Force 2 seperates itself from almost every other roleplaying game ever made, excluding its predecessor. Characters are put onto a map, a good distance away from all their enemies; random encounters are done away with. You must strategically move your characters around the map, taking into account their attack and defense power, plus the attack and defense of your enemies.

Your characters range in appearance from traditional heroes to centaurs to beserk wolfmen; however, the classes are the standard roleplaying types, such as knights, warriors, healers, and wizards. Adding longevity to the game is the promotion system. Once you gain twenty levels in your basic class, you can be promoted up to a higher level class. These new classes are radically more powerful than the older classes. They do level up a bit slower, but the tradeoff in new abilities is well worth it.

The difficulty of the game can be adjusted (a rarity for an RPG) but even on the easiest setting, Shining Force 2 is not for novice gamers. It takes a fair amount of planning and strategy to win battles. It's also not for the impatient, as a single battle can take over two hours to win. Seriously.

As a result, the pace can be ploddingly slow sometimes. The story, while traditional, helps to lift it out of these doldrums. Also, characters gain experience and levels by their direct actions in battle. Experience is specifically performance-based, meaning that it's not shared, you have to do something to earn it. This can make it difficult to level up with some classes (specifically the magic classes) since the majority of experience comes from killing enemies. But it doesn't seriously detract from the fun factor of the game.

Graphically, Shining Force 2 features bright, pretty graphics. They do the job for most of the game. The game also employs the method of showing small character pictures complete with moving lips for conversations. This is a welcome feature, and it gives character to what is usually mundane interaction in other roleplaying games.

Musically, Shining Force 2 isn't too bad. That also means that it isn't too good. Nothing in the game really stands out from the pack of Genesis games in my mind. This is the only blemish on an otherwise excellent game. However, it's not a huge factor, as long as your television has a volume button.

Overall, Shining Force 2 is an excellent roleplaying game, and it or another game in the Shining Force series should be played at least once by roleplaying game fans. Its war game elements aren't everyone's cup of tea, but a try is necessary before you judge it.

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Community review by sgreenwell (Date unavailable)

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