Today I would like to talk about a game series that I have always been very fond of. I remember playing it way back in the nineties on an emulator called KGen98. The first two were released on Sega Genesis (or Megadrive if you prefer) and though not being the first in the complete series both were the start for a short lived but great couple of games.
Shining Force I and II both are splendid strategy games. Mixing exploring with turn based battles, a multitude of playable characters and a promotion system that would add to the diversity even more. Some years ago I posted reviews for both games on GameFAQs, if you come across them, do excuse my somewhat simplistic view I had back then.
Being somewhat of a statistics geek myself I enjoy games where you can enhance characters through stats, levelling up and gaining experience (e.g. Final Fantasy). The Shining Force games do just that. I recently got word of the Shining Force SOS through a mention by their twitter account.
This “Save our Series” project, maintained by the famous Shining Force Central admin Moogie, is an initiative to get Sega’s attention and explain them people still love the series. Unfortunately there have been so many “less quality” Shining games over the past few years that the name has slowly become forgotten by the average gamer. The last time a new “Force” game was released was back in 2004, which wasn’t really a new game but rather a polished remake of the original Shining Force for the Gameboy Advance.
It’s a funny coincidence maybe but a few days ago I saw a video of a homemade Shining Force 2 game for the Nintendo DS. It’s been in development for a very long time and I’m not sure if it will ever reach a public version, but if it does I hope a lot of flashcard users will play this gem.
Talking about a homemade Shining Force project reminds me of Bowie Online, which I started a long time ago (probably in 2003 or so) which was going to be an MMORPG with SF2 graphics. Sadly enough I’ve lost all of the source files before being able to make them publicly available for anyone interested.
In the past I’ve tried to “play” Shining Force III, emulating it on a PC. Not owning a Saturn or Genesis forced me to play the games this way, since their prices have gone up quite a bit. But for SF3 there was a big problem: no emulator could run the game without errors at a playable speed. When I got the mention, I looked into the current state of the Saturn emulators and it seems the only active one is SSF. Looking for a bios and the game images wasn’t too hard, just a regular search on Google got me everything I needed.
Shining Force III, as you might know, is cut into three “scenarios”. It is most unfortunate that Sega never localized the second and third part, leaving the English-speaking fans of the series in the dark. But, guess what, there are a bunch of very dedicated folks who have been busy for over five years getting an English version of both games out for the public to enjoy. Although my “to play” list is very long I do hope SSF and the translation patch will continue to improve so once I get to SF3 in my list I’ll be able to play all three games in English the same way Sega wanted it for the Japanese people.
If you ever come across anything related to Shining Force, make sure to stop for a minute and check what’s going on. Just like the Earthbound (Mother) community, the Shining fans are very dedicated people and love the games dearly.
There we go, this rant is my two cents for the Shining Force SOS campaign to raise awareness of the Shining series and its twentieth anniversary.
Update: Right, I forgot to mention you can get Shining Force I and II legally on PC by buying the Sega package on Steam. Maybe if enough people buy the games, that might make Sega reconsider.