I decided to start Shining Force: The Legacy of Great Intention, the Genesis’s flagship SRPG, as part of my Summer Gaming Challenge. I tried playing it in the past, but only got to the end of Chapter I before getting distracted, which really is unfortunate. This is a solid game, though being the first of a new IP really seems to show through at points.
Battles play well enough, similar to most SRPGs: You move characters around on a grid in a turn based fashion, beating up foes and gaining levels. One thing I immediately noticed that was different, and made me have to rethink strategies, is that combatants don’t actually exchange blows; they simply attack. So, if Max went up and hit a Goblin, that’d be it… no counter attack, and the same happens when the enemy’s turn comes up. It’s really not even a big change, but when you’re mainly used to Fire Emblem, the change can really make you think differently about approaching certain scenarios.
Also, some things seem a little unbalanced. Magic seems incredibly overpowered on both sides of the field, allowing my mage to decimate everyone, but at the same time an enemy mage almost completely cuts down my multiple of meatiest troops in a single hit. It seems that the physical classes will never catch up to that level of destruction. Some enemy AI seems off, too; I can’t fathom some of the reasons enemies will go and attack other units instead of getting an easy kill, while at other times I’m surprised at how well the AI worked into destroying the full-health main character and forcing me to restart the battle. Good thing there’s no permadeath!
I find other small grievances, but I can’t blame the game; little things like having to access the menu and select things like ‘talk’ and ‘search’ are archaic mechanics found in a lot of RPGs during this time. The inventory system is also a pain, if only for the reason that if Max is full, I can’t loot chests, making it annoying to always micromanage who has what items. Why couldn’t it move to the next person in line?
I’m excited to be able to promote units (like in Fire Emblem, you can promote as soon as level 10, but it’s always best to wait until you reach the cap at 20 and have 10 extra levels to grow into), it’s neat that stat levels up are somewhat randomized (Ken even got an empty level!), and just playing the game is pretty fun. Despite my complaints, I’m having some fun with this title, and I’m expecting it to get even better once I have some more cool party members.