Nov 12, 2011

Revisiting Shining Force with RacketBoy

Together Retro Game Club: Shining Force

There's a great retro-gaming blogger I've been following off and on for the last half-decade or so named RacketBoy. He's been able to attract a bit of help over the years, and consequently, his blog has grown to span a variety topics which can easily gobble a few hours out of the average retro-enthusiast's day.

The site is a fantastic resource for those new to retro-game collecting. The "guides" section chronicles essential games to get your started in your quest to experience an older console.

The site even offers direct sales for obscure cables required to mate older consoles with newer displays.

One of my favorite pieces on the site is the "Together Retro" section, which chooses one retro game per month for participants to revisit together, sharing their play-experiences over the forum.

Many of the games selected for this feature will be a re-tread down memory lane for old gamers like myself. In other cases, the exercise provides an excuse to tackle an old game missed over the years.

November's selection for me proved the latter.

Shining Force is an old Sega title which has languished on my backlog list for years. Check the link for a decent synopsis, but very quickly, it was Sega's answer to Fire Emblem, or the Tactics Ogre, and Final Fantasy Tactics which came along much later. All of these Strategy RPG games provided prototypical material for the modern Blizzard powerhouses: StarCraft, and earlier versions of WarCraft, which popularized the real-time strategy games which had existed for years on the PC.

It's great to go back and check out some of the early console versions of this genre. Shining Force had a number of re-releases on later consoles. The Gameboy Advance version is widely considered a quality remake, with brushed up graphics, and some nice extras. I haven't got a copy of the cartridge, and not wanting to spend any time re-learning how to enable the save feature on my old SuperCard, decided to go with the emulated XBox 360 version included on my Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection disc. This release includes a handy autosave feature which is a handy tool when revisiting older titles.

Finished off the first chapter: Runefaust Invasion last night. I was surprised at how well the game has aged. No matter how pretty the battle animations were in any of the old SRPG's, inevitably, they become repetitive and long, and I find myself disabling them in favour of expediency. This has been my universal experience with every Fire Emblem release I've played (my favourite series of the genre.) My 360 version of Shining Force doesn't have this disable feature, but the transitions are quick, and the animations brief enough that it hasn't yet become an issue. We'll see how long that lasts.

On to Chapter 2!
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