Shifting focus to an older game this week, the Shining Force series has been around in Arcades over in Japan for quite some time, even though this release is over 4 years old and is it self an update to an Arcade game released in 2009. Which is terms of Japanese arcade games is ancient, with very few having the staying power to still exist after that amount of time.
The first thing to notice about Shining Force is the general cheapness of the game itself. As the typical 100 yen coin here counts as double, and with just 300 yen you can play for well over an hour, which is a bargain by any standard.
To get into more detail about the game itself though, its first and foremost an Action RPG, similar in style to Phantasy Star Online or Monster Hunter, and features online coop for quests as well as various events that the game features over time. Though being as old as it is it can be difficult to find machines in the various arcades, both Sega Gigo and Club Sega Akihabara Shinkan offer several within Akihabara itself.
Using an IC card system that predates either Aime or Banapass to save character data, when a new player first starts they are taken to the character creation screen and given the choice of 5 different races with different stats, they are pretty standard choices such as Humans and Elves and even the demons who are just named “Dark Race”.. maybe there’s an in-world explanation for it in the Shining Force series… or they just thought that it sounded cool.
After settling on a character and class for them, both of which can be changed at any time, from the menu, your given the option to pay for GP which is essentially the points you have to spend to go on quests and participate in events and those familiar with other Sega titles such as Kantai Collection or Code of Joker will be more than at home with how the gp system works, but in simple it slowly counts down while your browsing the menus and then you spend a large chunk to go on a quest or mission. In this case about 300 for a quest which can last up to 10 minutes. and for 300 yen you can buy more than 2500 gp allowing for a very long play session.
The game does strongly recommend that new players go into the tutorial at the start, and its well worth it as it does a good job explaining how the command system works. as it uses a hybrid between a Joystick and 5 button layout as well as a touch screen. When entering the game it does show its age graphically as it looks about something you would see on a Playstation 2, but it does play very quick and fluidly which is what matters most.
There are quite a few commands available for use from the limited amount of buttons, as different combinations enact differing attacks. For basics there’s a Jump button, an attack, a force button, which sadly is just a stronger attack and no Jedi powers, and a camera button. The largest button is the item use and skill use button which is controlled via the touch screen. By using buttons together you can do things just as a dodge roll, a dashing attack and various other attacks that the game does a solid job of introducing.
The quests themselves offer some fairly high paced dungeon crawling and multiple pathways which can lead into enemy trap rooms such as the one pictured above… they are usually easy to spot with the large blue altars that inhabit them. By moving through and clearing there’s rooms in the dungeon various chests and items can drop and offer gear and restorative items as their prizes.
After completing a quest your taken to the customization screen where you can view the loot that you acquired as well as skill settings, all of which can be changed to the players liking or to suit the situation that calls for it. The equipment menu is pretty self explanatory and functions through drag and drop as well as it will show you stat previews beforehand as well, though the amount of time you have to spend in here is limited, and you should watch your time. Although you do get the opportunity to change your load-out when you start a quest as well.
While I didn’t have the opportunity to try the game out where I think it would really shine in co op multiplayer quests, the general game play still holds up very well even if graphically its a bit dated. It is interesting to see though what is probably a precursor to the standard Aime Touch Screen cabinet that most of the popular Sega titles use these days and just how far they have come. If something along these lines could have been made 7 years ago, I wonder how a modern version would fare.