That's an awful lot of 8-bit Sega.

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Shining Force Gaiden: Final Conflict

( Some of you may have considered the streak to have ended, but I think I'm still going strong.) Of course, I refer to the streak of modern, more important games that make for blogs that people will actually read. Of course, this game is neither modern nor something that people would read about, so why has the streak not ended? Well, it's a strategy RPG, you dumbass, and in case the fact that 30% of the words I say are "Fire Emblem" hasn't made it clear, I love strategy RPGs. So expect this to be a decent blog, especially since this is actually a pretty cool strategy RPG.
Wait, this is an interquel of the first two Shining Force games? I didn't notice that...mostly. Allow me to explain: the game begins with protagonist Max...talking? You mean he was speaking long before the GBA retcon? Shit! I was so surprised by this minor thing that I forgot what he was doing in the long-ass intro. But that's not important. What is important is that he goes missing and it's up to silent protagonist (it wouldn't be a Shining Force game witho- oh...) Ian to rescue Max and stop demons from resurrecting another demon. Along the way, he'll see a bunch of neat little references to both Shining Force I and II, like Volcannon (the bird thing, right?), some of the gods, about half the soundtrack (I think the other half is from Sword of Hajya, but I'm not entirely sure), and Odd Eye. Wait, Odd Eye? The kid with amnesia at the beginning of the second game? So is it ever explained why he had amnesia? Spoiler: the writers completely forgot that, leaving a pretty big plot hole in its place. So is anything explained? Actually, yes, the game does introduce one new plot point: Max is a fucking asshole. I know that you don't see him for a lot of the game (otherwise, the plot would make absolutely no goddamn sense), but when you do, the first thing he does is insult Ian. And he never fucking stops. What the hell did Ian do? Is he the one who forgot to make this game largely attached to either game world? If so, then fuck that asshole. He deserves all those insults, possibly. Then again, it does hit the right strategy RPG notes, like a dishonorable fighter who fails to hide what a major pussy he is (in fact, I think the character's name is Major Pussy), a badass who fights with honor, and an army whose only purpose seems to be to roam the land and fuck shit up. (You play as them.) So yea, it's a pretty decent story, I guess.
  Also, Max is the most metal goddamn thing I've ever seen.
 Also, Max is the most metal goddamn thing I've ever seen.
Wait, decent!? Didn't I say somewhere else that I think this game is awesome? I did, didn't I? Well, it still is, partly because it's exactly the same as every other Shining Force game. Everything's still a top-down Tactics Ogre wherein you whack enemies about until they die. That may sound simple (even though I compared it to fucking Tactics Ogre), but it does have a good deal of complexity. You have a ton of cool units on both sides, like absolutely fucking awesome ninjas and mummies that give a ton of fucking e....that's Tear Ring Saga, a completely different game. But what I said earlier still holds true. There's still a lot of variety and stuff. Not as much variety as the console installments, but that's perfectly fine. Why? This is a portable game, and holy hell, does it know it. You want towns or sidequests? Piss off back to the Genesis Shining Forces; this is all battles all the time. The closest you get to towns are menu camps, because somebody wanted to make sure that Final Fantasy XIII is not original. So it's two minutes in the towns (at most), and about ten in battle. You know, like how portable games are supposed to be. But that's not he best part. The best part, then? There's actual strategy to be had in these battles. You have to think things through if you want to kill every last thing on screen. No blitzkrieging your way through the Devil Army for you.
Oh, I forgot: that's exactly what you do in this game. Turns out that Shining Force Gaiden is kinda on the easy side, kinda. Like I said, you can just plow through the Devil Army like a mob of Frank Wests. It's usually pretty easy to take the enemies on in one-on-one fights. Part of the problem is that the enemy AI is so ridiculously single-minded that it will attack a full-strength Ian while a near-death healer is sitting right next to him; a larger part is that everybody kicks so much ass. I don't think I've ever seen a crap level up in this game. Sure, I've seen crap characters (my crap gladiator for a bit, then an archer who preferred her slingshot to her bow), but given enough time, they were kicking more ass than a funny thing that kicks a lot of ass. Of course, part of that was the fact that DEATH IS WORTHLESS. All that happens is that you sit out the battle until you get revived. That's it. You don't lose experience or a significant amount of money. I'd say that it can lead to grinding, but I never really needed to grind. I know that other Shining Force games have done this, but that doesn't mean I like it. Then again, I did die quite a bit, so it may not be as easy as I'm making it out to be. It's still pretty easy, though, and very short at....22 battles? Damn. I've finally managed to find a game of healthy length! How long did that take? Oh, and I guess it doesn't hurt that it's a Shining Force game, either.

Review Synopsis

  • Never before have I seen an interquel so detached from the games that it's trying to bridge.
  • However, I do know that I've seen this game before, and it was just as awesome when it was on the Sega CD.
  • Sadly, it's a bit on the easy side.
Wow. This time, his face really was asking. Shit!


( And this is where the blog comes to a screeching halt, eyes melting away because of the sparks flying off the tracks.) (Man, I chased that metaphor as far as I fucking could, didn't I?) Now keep in mind that I'm not calling this game bad. Then again, I'm not calling it good, either. It's average. Very average. Painfully average. So unbearably average that I fail to see how this will make for a decent blog (at least while writing it).
First up, that title. What's going on there? Did Seiken Densetsu get really drunk one night? Actually (and I just looked this up), it means "Legend of the Sword Master." What is his legend, again? Well, he has to go around Japan and beat demons up. So just like Muramasa, but not really as memorable, even if it does have just as much Japanese. Obviously, they couldn't fit that into voice acting (knowing the era, that would have made for a blog about 20 times more interesting), so they just stuffed it into the level names. Yea, that makes it really easy to figure out where I need to go in this game. Then again, you are traveling through Japan, so maybe the writers just wanted to be several layers of asshole. Wait, let's rewind a sentence. What was that about figuring out where I need to go? I should probably mention that you can choose which levels to go to. I'd complain about being able to blast through this game rather quickly (because that's totally possible), but there's a good enough reason to explore the levels. You can find some decent power-ups and abilities, wait, that's pretty much it.
  It was 1988. This shouldn't be surprising.
 It was 1988. This shouldn't be surprising.
But what about the levels themselves? They're....just there. I'm not sure how to describe it in a way that doesn't make me sound like a dumbass, but I'll try. They can vary from straight lines to things that actually require some platforming to navigate, and they can vary from very short to very long. Again, not much to say about them. Oh, and I should have mentioned that this is a platformer. That probably would have helped. That means two things: first, you jump a lot. Unfortunately, it's the really stiff Castlevania type of jumping. I'd complain about that, but remember what I said about straight lines? It's hard to die when straight lines are involved. That's probably why there are a ton of enemies in this game. If there is not an enemy immediately in front of you, then the game will be happy to spawn one. Most games have the courtesy to wait for you to look away to spawn enemies, but Kenseiden knows that you have shit to do, so it'll spawn enemies while you're still on screen. They're cheaper than Team Fortress 2, but they're not the main source of difficulty in this game.
That belongs to the bosses. OK, to be fair, some of the bosses in this game are pretty easy, like the first boss, and the final boss. Those guys can just be mindlessly slashed up and stuff. But then there are those other bosses, like the second boss and the final boss. (There are about four bosses in this game.) Those guys can be pretty hard, but I'm not sure if I like that difficulty. OK, so there's a lot you have to manage, and that's usually a fair way to handle difficulty, but these guys have one bullshit move: I can't figure out where to hit them. I don't know if it's because of small hit boxes or timing or because it's never really clear in any way (how am I to guess that the boss's knee is vulnerable?), but I generally didn't like some of the bosses.  Fortunately, they only make up almost exactly half the bosses in the game, so it doesn't really hurt the overall (very short) experience. Now do you see why I was dreading this game a few paragraphs ago? Did you see how little I had to say on the game? I hate how completely average and nondescript it is! Wait, how can I hate something I find to be neutral? Hate's a confusing state of mind. Maybe I should write a blog on it. It'd certainly make for better material than Kenseiden.

Review Synopsis

  • You can choose levels and get special power-ups and stuff. Yay.
  • It's a platformer. You jump around and kill things, although it's one of those platformers where you don't necessarily do both at once.
  • The bosses range from OK to a tad too hard.