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Game Profile
INFO BOX
PLATFORM:
PlayStation 2
PUBLISHER:
Sega
DEVELOPER:
Amusement Vision
GENRE: Action
PLAYERS:   1-2
RELEASE DATE:
March 22, 2005
ESRB RATING:
Teen
IN THE SERIES
Shining in the Darkness

Shining Force

Shining Force EXA

Shining Force Neo

Shining Force: Resurrection of the Dark Dragon

More in this Series
 Written by Ryan Smotherman  on June 09, 2004

First Impressions: Sega ?shines? on.


Sega's Shining series line of games is probably one of the most unappreciated and overlooked in the gaming biz's past and present. There should seriously be some sort of penalty to any gamer who hasn't picked up a Genesis controller and took on the amazing strategy/RPGs Shining Force 1 & 2, or for that matter a Saturn controller with the limited U.S. release of Shining Force 3. They are just incredible, incredible titles that I think are still just as good and compelling as they were when first released years ago. For example, just look at the update of the original Shining Force in the form of Shining Force: Resurrection of the Dark Dragon, set to hit the Game Boy Advance this June. But enough ranting about the quality found within the series. Asides from the recent GBA releases of the action/RPGs Shining Soul 1 & 2, not much has been going on within the long-standing series. But lookie here, just recently Sega announced there are 2 brand spanking new Shining titles set to hit the PlayStation 2 ? Shining Tears, set for release this year, and finally after years of waiting, a brand new Shining Force, set to hit in 2005. But of course, today I'll be talking about Shining Tears, a formidable action/RPG set in the Shining world that has me a little more than excited. Here's my first look.

Having awoken in the castle town of Shildea, Xion, the 17-year-old protagonist of the story, finds he has no recollection of previous events. The only thing he knows is that the residents of the fine community saved him and his job will be to defend it against the invading Rungiest Empire. Thus, we have the beginnings of your typical storyline. However, the gameplay found within the title promises to be a bit atypical. The idea concocted by Amusement Vision producer, Tsuyoshi Sawada, was to create a game where you'll control two different characters at the same time. This set-up promises to be simple, with the computer controlling the secondary character and you controlling the main, but with the added bonus of different attacks and combos that you'll be able to perform with your partner by using the L1 and L2 buttons and the right analog stick. This so-called "Force Link System" should bring some interesting ideas into play. Naturally, there will also be the ability for another player to control a character, but it's still up in the air how this will change the gameplay.

Like in any RPG, there's a various cornucopia of characters you'll encounter and get to play as within the game. These cover all the standard races, classes, and genders. For instance, characters revealed so far include Vog, a 45 year-old wolfman who's proficient in hand-to-hand combat, Ryuna, a 17 year-old priest, and Elwing, a 17 year-old hunter. Each character will of course bring their own unique abilities and story. In fact, a lot of emphasis is put on how the characters react to one another and how the story will unfold, leaving tons of possibilities. The game's experience point system doesn't seem to stray too far from the standard deal we've been accustomed to for years. Experience points are gained by defeating enemies and when at a certain point you'll "level-up", gaining different skills and attacks.

Just take a look at the screenshots on the side bar and you'll notice that gorgeously colorful anime look. The game sports a 2D backdrop, but the striking illustrations reveal that 3D elements aren't always needed to make a game look great. Style is the star of the show here and it can only look better with time.

Final Thoughts
With Sega's Shining Soul 1 & 2 receiving less-than stellar reviews from the gaming media, it will be interesting to see how taking a similar formula and adding a bit of innovation and beauty that only a console powerhouse can give us, will result. I'm very excited about it's potential, and although a stateside release hasn't been made official, I'd say that a release date right around Japan's Fall 2004 is almost a definite. In the mean time, play a few Shining titles to get ready for its release, and for those few Shining fans left out there, prepare to fall in love all over again.


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