Shining Force review - Sega Megadrive

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Shining Force box artGuardiana, a picturesque outpost in the land of Rune, is home to a race of people known as the 'Ancients'. For the past ten centuries these people have guarded the 'Gate of Ancients', a prison to the mighty Dark Dragon, also known as the 'Lord of Darkness'.

A thousand years has faded the memory of the events that placed this beast in such a place and so the Ancients are now enjoying a time of peace and prosperity. Yet somewhere in the darkest corner of Rune an evil soul named Dark Sol is plotting to make a mess of everything by freeing this dreaded beast. He's amassed an army of hellish creatures for the task - the dreaded Runefaust! Now this is all well and good, at least it is from a distance.

However, as the hero of Rune, it is your task to come and sort this mess out before the situation becomes too scary. The king of Guardiana requests that you assemble an army of warriors. A 'Shining Force' to combat the darkness that threatens. From this point onwards many long journeys await and all are loaded with the thread of battle. The people of Rune await their hero and, believe it or not, this could be you!

What the Mean Machines staff thought


" I haven't been so glued to a game since the time when I first bought my Megadrive almost four years ago! Everything that I look for in a game - stylish graphics, great music, atmosphere and irresistible playability are all present here. The situation is made all the more outstanding for me because Shining Force is an RPG and I usually shy away from such games as they are often too long-winded and very tedious to watch. What makes the game so extra special is that there is a real sense of control over the combat sections. Consequently I find myself wincing at every blow that my comrades take and cheering heartily at every fallen foe. It sounds crazy but then play the game for yourself and see if you don't do the same! Though the graphics appear quite basic at first they certainly improve as the Shining Force progress and earn themselves promotions. Every member of the team is a true individual and have their own trademark methods of attack. As the characters' skills advance so their moves become more intricate making it all the more entertaining as a hero pirouettes then swipes an enemy out of action with just one blow! Exploration of the towns is very compelling too and often very funny - some of the locals who live in these places are flipping mental! As the game is divided into chapters this prevents the story from becoming stale, especially when the presentation helps tie the ends up so well. With the cart boasting 12 megs of swordplay and adventure I have no doubt in recommending this to anyone, and that's coming from one of the converted too, so bear that in mind! Go for it! Definitely! "

" In the ancient land of the Megadrive, the tribe of Sega had been long in wait for a new RPG. And then cam Shining Force, and there was much joy! This is fab stuff: the sort of game to make you stay up way past bed time, just to get to the next town, or learn a new spell. It works because it's perfect blend of strategy and adventuring. Instead of stupid 'random encounters' that make most RPGs a chore to play, you are allowed to see your enemies in advance, and devise battle tactics using all of your band. Combat becomes as interesting as the moseying round cities. The adventuring is just as much fun, with a brilliant plot, cleverly unraveled, and some killer punchlines delivered by some of the in-game characters. Playing it for the second and third time reveals secrets missed on previous occasions. There's just something about Shining Force that makes it a classic game. Perhaps it's the excellent standard of graphics and the sensible presentation. Whatever it is, it makes it a highly desirable purchase. "


Overall Score91%

Retrospective comments


After the false-start that was Shining and the Darkness, Shining Force struck me as a massive improvement.

The same excellent art style remains, but in place of the awkward combat found in SitD there's fantastic grid-based RPG action. The visual style is very basic in places, but in others it's stunning - the 'battle' cutscenes never fail to impress.

The game provides weeks of enjoyment and once you start playing it's hard to stop - there's always another mission to complete, or another character to level up and promote. The 'town' sections inbetween missions are nice, but to be perfectly honest they slow things down and Shining Force is about combat, not exploration.

This was recently updated for the Gameboy Advance, and as good as the conversion is they've messed around with the original game to a degree and as a result the Megadrive version remains the one to play.

IRA - 09 Apr 2008, 16:23 GMT

It is a great game

Hiro Judgement - 28 May 2008, 23:19 GMT

Good lord, this game is truely amazing. Ever since I played it when it was originally released, it's remained as one of my favourite games of all time.

BegemoT - 25 Aug 2008, 20:42 GMT

Best RPG (and probably any) game I ever played.
Recently I came up with an idea of creating Shining Force Flash,
after becoming a developer with the years. Wonder where it would take me...

Dan - 29 Apr 2009, 10:41 GMT

This was just sooooo engrossing and lavish that it pulled you right in and hooked you from start to finish. What a mint game, must have played it through 30 odd times over the years. By far and away one of the best Megadrive games ever, and RPGs ever for that matter, 95%+ for me.

Codi - 16 May 2009, 17:13 GMT

I bought this game against many odds not long after it could be found in Australia, It brought a whole new world of imagination and creativity to my heart, and i've been a fan of rpg's ever since, still my favourite game of all time.

michael - 07 Jun 2009, 15:01 GMT

man ive been wanting to play this game since i first read the review in sega pro all those years ago.. 1993 i believe. this game would definetly be in my top 5 video games of all time. finally got to play it in hd no less on 360 megadrive collection!

Mudknyo - 15 Sep 2009, 07:43 GMT

excelent huge grate than good, i feel so proud because i played this game

Tom Maddison - 29 Sep 2009, 13:02 GMT

i love this game it is beast

Moogie - 16 Sep 2010, 12:33 GMT

And this is what started it all for me. I happened to buy this issue because of the gift that came with it, and some months later was looking through it for inspiration for a birthday pressie. I spotted Shining Force and proceeded to spend months tracking it down (it became rare pretty quickly!). My love of the Shining series has never dwindled - as you can probably tell somewhat from my website ;) So, thanks to MMS for this review. It changed my life! I still have the original mag around here somewhere too.

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