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janus
08-17-13 12:08 AM
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thephantombrain
08-18-13 08:12 AM
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Still shining after all those years

 
Game's Ratings
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Sound
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Average User Score
9.2
9.7
9
9.7
9.3
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6.3
janus's Score
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08-17-13 12:08 AM
janus is Offline
Link | ID: 868235 | 1345 Words

janus
Level: 115

POSTS: 230/4761
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LVL EXP: 16502288
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It was just supposed to be a routine theft for Slade, the greatest thief of the land. Accompanied by two other people, he went to an ancient, remote cave where it was rumored that two very precious stones were kept. And indeed he found them! But little did he know that those two jewels were in fact the Jewel of Light and the Jewel of Darkness, which were used to seal an ancient evil. And now, it is free to roam again...

You play Bowie, a young swordsman attending Sir Astral's class with Chester the centaur knight, Jaha the warrior dwarf and Sarah the elven priest in the Kingdom of Grandseal. As you make your way to school, you teacher seems upset. And he was right to be: right as he is about to start class, a soldier from the castle comes to fetch him, as the King is very ill. He leaves class for the castle, but Chester and Sarah want to follow.
Once they reach King Grandseal's room, Astral is unpleasantly surprised to seem his pupils. Fortunately, since the Groundseal appears to have been disturbed, Astral summons your party to investigate the place. Once there, he finds an evil Gizmo, a ghost that possesses people. Once you dispose of his spawns, it runs back to the castle and possess the King. Sir Astral exorcises it, but faints after giving such a big effort.
Because of all the problems, King Grandseal summons your party to go look for sir Hawel, a renowned historian, to learn more about the Groundseal, whose history has been lost with time. But once you reach him, soldiers from the Kingdom of Galam were torturing him in order to learn about the Groundseal too. Before he dies, he tells you that Grandseal is doomed; the sacred barrier from the Groundseal has been broken and all hell will soon break loose. But as you make your way outside his house, Galam soldiers capture you and send you to jail. As you wake up, your party confronts Slade, who had been jailed and whose jewels were taken away. As Sarah learns it, she gets mad at him and tries to escape. But Slade knows better and helps you escape the jail. On your way out, you catch King Galam ordering the invasion of Grandseal, since his messenger did not return, lead by red Baron Lemon. Before you exist the castle, you are able to get the Jewel of Light... which mysteriously fuses to your neck.
Unfortunately, as you reach Grandseal, Galam forces had already struck and destroyed the village. As you reach the castle, Lemon is on the verge to kill everyone with his Dark sword, but Astral is able to reason him, as Princess Ellis is captured and lead to the Groundseal. As you reach its depth, you notice that King Galam has.. Changed. After fighting his minions, he brings the princess with him to the World of Darkness with the Jewel of Evil. But fortunately, he fails, as you are able to snatch the jewel out of his hands. But as Galam disappears, the ground starts shaking violently; this is the doom predicted by Howel! You quickly flee to the port, and everyone (at least, those who didn't perish in the chasms everywhere) narrowly escapes the total collapse of Grandseal, leaving a gaping hole in the ground.
What will happen to the citizens of Grandseal? Will they be able to sail safely to Parmecia, on the other side of the sea? Will they be able to return to their continent? Will they be able to destroy evil once again?

Graphics: 10/10
Dating from 1994, Shining Force II has very impressive graphics and is quite an improvement from Shining Force I. Characters move quickly and fluidly (and sometimes quicker than the screen can follow). The overworld map is HUGE, and after some time, you can come back whenever you want to past cities. It is nicely drawn, just like the characters and enemies, which are numerous and not simply pallet swaps. You will fight in towers, dungeons, caves (which are realistically dark, making it harder to plan a strategy), cities, on a chessboard... all of which are also nicely drawn. Unfortunately however, you cannot open treasure chests during battles in the US version.
One down point: there are only two slots. It was quite a fight between me and my brother to share it, as the other one was taken by our father

Sound: 8/10
When I first played the game, I was so addicted to the music. It is more varied than its predecessor (there are several battle themes) and matches well whatever situation. The Boss music is especially good and dramatic; the Flying music sounds magical, the Castle music sounds... majestic and the overworld theme sounds epic
However, since I discovered the Symphonic Suite of the soundtrack, I have to admit that the original one sounds... primitive. Even though most people claim it is not real instruments, it is excellent nonetheless. I got fooled by the dwarven theme; I really thought it was the music from the game when I first listened to it! The bests from the Symphony are Princess Ellis (Mitula from the original version), very beautifully played by a real flute (you can even hear his/her breathing) and Wings, which I think about every time I take the plane (the piano is the acceleration phase, and the explosion is when the plane takes off).

Story: 9/10
It's a classical story of a fight between good and evil. It's not every original on that aspect, but the way it's lead is excellent. There are very interesting twists in the story that seem to come out of nowhere. Also, once you accomplish what looks like a simple mission, you are almost left hopeless with the event that unfolds. Also, some triggers can be hard to find, making you wonder around for some time.

Addictiveness: 9/10
This is the greatest strength of the game: there is a TON of things to do! To start with, you can have some extra promotions; with a specific object, warriors can become barons (instead of gladiators) and therefore wield swords as well. Priest can become master monks and wield gloves, which are much stronger than staves. Wizards can become sorcerers, which makes them lose all their spells, but give them much, much stronger ones (although the damage is divided among all targets). Knights can become Pegasus knights instead of paladins; with this ability to fly, they can reach much farther and even fly over mountains. Finally, archers can become brass gunners, which give more defense but less movement range. A trick: you can get promoted at level 40. The more you wait, the stronger your characters will be once promoted. But be aware that they will be barred from using stronger weapons until they get promoted...
There are also tons of hidden, sometimes very strong characters. Open your eyes, and some are fairly hard to spot.
There is even a secret stage I just found while playing online!  Your goal is to kill all the enemies on the screen (some are well-hidden). I was able to do it in 1:20.
There are (very-well) hidden pieces of mithril hidden everywhere (I do mean everywhere) on the planet. If you can find them, and if you can find the secret dwarven forest, you will be able to have the strongest weapons of the game made up for you.

Difficulty: 5/10
This one is hard to rate. Three of the four difficulty levels are rather similar and offer progressively increasing difficulty. The super level, however, would deserve a 10/10, as
every enemy has a 25% increase of their basic attack rate, even with the very first battle. This might incite you to fight enemies until they only yield one experience point...

In conclusion, this game should be played by everyone that loves RPGs. The story is well managed, the music is addictive, it is well-drawn and there are tons of secrets everywhere. Get hooked up today!
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08-18-13 08:12 AM
thephantombrain is Offline
Link | ID: 868853 | 75 Words

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This is a thorough review. I especially like the symphonic suite part but it would have been nice to know where you found it. I could do a google search I suppose. I also liked the part about the secret stage. I played the game in the late 90's and I don't remember the stage but it was a looooong time ago. I would like to see more of your reviews in the future. Thanks!
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