Shining Force 3
by Sonic Team
As reported last month in EGM, Seqa of Japan is putting the finishing touches on the latest Installment of the popular Shining Force series-Shining Force III for the Saturn.
Shining Force III, like its predecessors, is a simulation-RPG. This time, however, the entire game takes place in a gorgeous 3-D world with incredibly animated polygonal battles. The basic style of play remains the same though-battles play out on gridded battlefields (similar to Vandal Hearts or Tactics Ogre), while an epic story unfolds as you journey from area to area. The most excitlnq part of Shlntnq Force III however, is that the game is split up into three scenarios that will be separately released In Japan.
Scenario 1 (shown here) is due out in December, while Scenarios 2 and 3 are slated for release sometime next year. Each scenario is expected to have gameplay that lasts up to 30 hours or more, and will provide three separate perspectives on one huge story, allowing the gamer to see things from every side before ultimately reaching the conclusion.
Sega's Shining Force series was the first 16-Bit strategy/RPG series to really take off in the U.S. After a three-year hiatus, the latest addition to the series, Shining Force III, is finally on the way.
Shining Force III is actually just the first part of a three-disc story. In Japan, this one is known as Scenario 1 (which was just released in December), and once you finish it (it's as long as your average one-disc game, which is a big plus), you'll be able to move on to Scenario 2 which is due out in Japan in the spring. The unique method of storytelling is dubbed the "Synchronicity System," where each Scenario will take place during the same time period, but from different sides of the same large story. Sounds very cool to us. Unfortunately, only the first Scenario is scheduled for U.S. release right now (too bad, since Europe is getting all three in one package), but there's stilt a chance we'll get lucky and see the whole thing. Shining Force III improves upon its predecessors in many ways. First and foremost, the entire game world is constructed of polygons for a completely 3-D environment. The result is stunning. You can rotate the camera 360 degrees in either direction using the L and R buttons, and there are three viewpoints you can choose from as well (near, medium and far). The ability to move the camera around is great when looking for hidden treasures and characters that you might not have normally seen. Game characters are still 2-D (don't worry, it mixes well), but when the game switches to the up-close battle sequences (for which previous Shining Force games were very popular), everything changes to a completely 3-D polygonal environment with gorgeous animation and special effects, lust as the old 2-D battles were a marvel for the Genesis, such is the case now with these new 3-D battles on the Saturn. Impressive.
There's also new types of spells (like ones that summon monsters), new battle techniques (in particular, the ability to develop stronger friendships with certain characters, thus increasing battle abilities when the two are near, is very cool) and even analog control.
Saturn fans may not have as many games to look forward to this year as they'd have hoped, but Shining Force III is certainly going to be one to watch for. It's currently due out in May, and we'll be back with a review when we receive a finished version of this very promising game.
MANUFACTURER - Sonic Software
THEME - Srniulation/RPG
NUMBER OF PLAYERS - 1
Assuming the ever-delayed Magic Knight Rayearth doesn't fall past its latest ship date, Shining Force III may well be the last Saturn RPG to be released in the U.S. when it hits stores in late May. Fortunately for RPG fans, this is a great way to go out.
Shining Force III continues the grand tradition of its Genesis (and Sega CD) predecessors by offering strategy-based battles with fancy graphics, RPG-like spells and level building and a great story line that progresses gradually after each battle. Like many strategy RPGs (such as Vandal-Hearts or Final Fantasy Tactics), the heart of the game lies in battle. Yet in Shining Force these battles are more simplified than the aforementioned two titles and, quite frankly, more fun. That's not to say they're not improved from past SF games; there are many new types of spells (including monster-summoning spells), and you can "bond" with other party members throughout the game to create teamwork, and thus an edge in battle.
Since the entire game is in a gorgeous 3D environment, you can rotate the playfield completely in either direction at any time using the L and R buttons. You can also zoom in and out with the X button. This makes it easier to find hidden items that are concealed behind walls and other hard-to-see spots--especially useful when exploring towns and castles (which, by the way, is a major part of SFIII, unlike in the last game in the series. Shining Force CD).
But best of all (and possibly worst of all--read on). Shining Force III incorporates a new concept called the "Synchronicity System," where the game is actually spread out over three discs. Each disc (which, in Japan at least, is being released about three months after the previous one) lets you play out a different side of the same large story--a very cool, innovative approach to RPG gaming. That's the best part. The worst part is we're likely to see only the first disc in the U.S., so how the whole story pans out may never be revealed here in the States. That pretty much sucks, but hey--beggars can't be choosers. At least we're getting a part of the trilogy. Perhaps Sega will release the remaining two CDs as a final "thank you" to Saturn fans who've stuck with the system until the end.
2016-09-15 Shining Force 3 game added.