Shin Force | Sega Saturn Review
Shin Force
Contents | Games | Information | Virtual
Reviews
Saturn | Codes | Previews | Reviews A-M | Reviews N-Z | Strategy

Shin Force ~ Shining Force ~
 Shining Force III ~Scenario 1~
Shinobi
Reviewed
01.18.2001
Publisher
Sega
Developer
Sonic/Camelot
Format
CD
Origin
Import/Domestic
Available
Dec. 11, 1997 (Japan)
Jul. 31, 1998 (USA)
Exclusive
Yes
Difficulty
Adjustable
Dimensions
3D
View
Multi 3rd Person
Genre
Strategy/RPG
Player(s)
1
Options
3D Pad
Backup 223
Requires
n/a
Importable
90%
INTRO:
     > The Shining series has certainly become a benchmark for strategy RPGs, so my expectations for Shining Force III were very high.  When I learned the Saturn iteration would span 3 scenarios, I almost blew a gasket with joy!  I'm glad to report that Shining Force III (SFIII) excels in every way!  The basic game remains the same as the prequels of this elite series (Shining Force, Shining Force CD, etc.). You must search the land for treasure, comrades, and clues, while defending yourself against wave after wave of hideous enemies!  The strategic battles remain turn based, but the graphics have been upgraded entirely to 3D.  In fact, everything about the game cries out, "Sega quality".  Top that off with parallel story lines in Scenarios 2 and 3, and you get one heck of a long, intertwining game!

     > The import version has Japanese text throughout all the conversations, but there's enough English in there for you to navigate, supply, and advance. Of course, Sonic/Camelot's ingenious menu system is icon driven, which makes importing easier.  There are really only a couple spots in the game that would require either luck, trial and error, or a faq to get by (assuming you can't read Japanese).

GRAPHICS: 
         > Sonic/Camelot have done their homework.  To begin with, you're treated to one of the highest quality FMV intros in any Saturn game.  It has been said, and is quite believable, that they have mastered every co-processor in the Saturn.  SFIII features absolutely beautiful locations with 3 main views to choose from, and the ability to rotate your view as well.  The battlefields are medium to large in size and totally 3D now, much as they are in Mystaria (aka Riglord Saga/Blazing Heroes). 

         > The magic features many of the original elemental spells and a host of new ones.  Only now, they're presented in full 3D, animated splendor.  Light source shading, transparency, floating 3D -- you name it... SFIII has it, and it looks sweet!  Another amazing feat is the fact that SFIII flows seamlessly between tactical 3D battlefields and cinematic 3D battle scenes (all with hardly noticeable loading)!

         > Even though the game's polygon generated realms are not a technical benchmark, they get the job done with flying colors and animate ultra smooth at all times.  Finally, the characters are split into various familiar classes: like soldier, knight, mage, monk, etc.  Their on screen representations are sort of super-deformed, while their icons take on much more of a "Marvel" look.

CONTROL: 
         > The basic gameplay hasn't really changed since the first game, and that's a good thing.  Sonic/Camelot chose not to fix what was not broken.  With animated icons to guide you, the menus are a cinch to navigate.  As I mentioned before, the addition of 3D has necessitated the ability to rotate the view on the fly, which is easily handled with your trusty Saturn controller (especially the 3D Pad).

         > The battles are turn based, and full of strategic decisions.  Items must be equipped, priests must be protected, rangers should fire first, topography must be considered, and pulling back is better than death.  You have complete control of your forces.  Once you input a command, it is carried out and the results are viewed.  If you know winning is beyond reality, the means to transport back to the nearest church may be your only viable option.  Your ultimate goal is to win each battle, thereby gaining experience, finding treasure, and earning money.

         >  Between battles, you spend most of your time exploring cities, talking to people, and making the necessary (and affordable) purchases.  It's also a good time to seek characters who would join your force.  Healing, raising the dead, curing the sick, saving, and advancing class are also on the list of non battle activities.

SOUND:
         > Somehow, Motoi Sakuraba (also composed for Shining the Holy Ark) seems to be able to catch the mood of any situation, and compose the proper music to place you into the game.  From joyful to scary, and dull to excited, every mood is set perfectly.  This is why I had to find and own the official Shining Force III ost

         > The sound effects are excellent too, with some old ones and many new ones.  There is some speech in the game, which is used during certain spells and techniques.  Of course, the import version's speech is in high quality Japanese, while the US version utilizes mainly sub par voice acting.  Oh well, at least SFIII was released here.

FUN:
         > Are you kidding?  This game defines the word "fun"!  For me, strategy RPGs have great replay value, and are simply unbeatable the first time through.  SFIII has many hours of strategic bliss, all kinds of characters to join your force, plus awesome magic to behold.  It's a dream come true!  The coolest thing is that the decisions you make, and people you save (or don't save) have a direct effect on what happens and who is available to join Medion in Scenario 2!
BOTTOM LINE:
     > This is what I'd call an uber-worthy sequel.  A top notch strategy/RPG in all respects, straight from the company that made them popular on consoles, Sega.  Thank God it made the trip across the Pacific to the USA, so that savvy Saturn owners can enjoy it.  It's a must buy, either Import or Domestic.  Don't miss out on the latest benchmark for strategy/RPGs...
Overall: 9.7 | Graphics: 9.6 | Control: 9.6 | Sound: 10 | Fun: 9.6
~ Shinobi ~


[PIX >>]