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Matters Of Import: Shining Force Feather

Posted by Kerry Brunskill

We take a look at Sega's Japan-only DS strategy RPG

Sega's Shining Force series is still well thought of, even if the PS2 instalments arguably got off on the wrong foot by drastically rewriting series canon and deviating from the strategic gameplay found in older titles. Evidently someone was buying these games anyway, as after four entries on the PS2, Sega finally turned its attention to the DS and released Shining Force Feather in 2009.

Development was handled by Flight Plan, a company with a long history and a lot of experience in creating SRPGs, such as their Summon Night and Black/Matrix series. While Feather may not have been a return to exact same SRPG style of the "classic" trilogy, it was certainly the closest the series had come to that since the GBA remake of the original Shining Force game.

The general flow of the game follows a set pattern — import-friendly plot scene, back to hub ship to prepare, go out to battle, repeat — and helpfully the game differentiates between main plot-progressing events, sub events and optional battles with “M”, “S” and crossed sword icons. Even for those that can read the language, this streamlining helps a portable game immensely, leaving the option of barging straight through the story or meandering around and taking in every last optional conversation and hidden treasure entirely in the player’s hands.

The battles themselves are a rather quirky take on the SRPG style, with the relatively traditional movement phases giving way to the timed button presses of the actual attacks. A handy descriptive shorthand for these attack segments would be “like Project X Zone”, although that game wouldn’t turn up for another three years. By default, characters attack and defend alone, although if party members are physically close to each other on the battlefield, or if their turns fall next to each other, they can use the “Union” or “Connect” commands to leap in and assist their allies in battle.

Timing is just as important in defence as it is when attacking, as skilled players can recover a small amount of HP or all-important Force energy when hit if their reactions are spot on. This simple mechanic goes a long way to avoiding something that happens all too often in SRPGs – that awful feeling that battle animations are nothing more than a waste of the player’s time. In Feather not only are they worth watching, but the player has an active role in deciding their outcome, too.

The plot that ties this all together isn’t going to win any awards or break any genre clichés, but it’s a solid enough creation from Aki Takashi, a name that has graced the credits of Suikoden II, Final Fantasy V, Super Mario RPG and plenty more high-quality RPGs. Player preference again comes to the fore here, as anyone not enamoured with Jin, Alfin, Vale and co. can whiz through these scenes simply by holding down the B button, and thanks to the clearly marked event/sub event options mentioned earlier there’s no need to worry about getting lost.

While the game is the sole DS entry in the series, it did well enough to receive a good selection of figures, art books and CD merchandise — as well as a respectable 8/8/8/8 score in Japanese magazine Famitsu. It could be argued that the positive reception to this entry is what helped mould the PSP trilogy into similar "SRPG-but-not-quite" games too, finally giving the series a sense of direction the previous PS2 titles lacked.

This is not the greatest SRPG that has ever graced the DS, but it is interesting, relatively import-friendly, cheap and readily available online. For gamers who want to try something different without feeling totally lost or leaving a hole in their wallet, Shining Force Feather is a solid and rewarding choice.

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User Comments (47)

Blast

#1

Blast said:

Just another bitter reminder why region-locking sucks.... The DS isn't region locked but my good ol' 3DS is....

CanisWolfred

#2

CanisWolfred said:

I actually found this to be a terrible game, personally. I thought the movement and battles weren't very fun at all.

Mrclaycoat

#4

Mrclaycoat said:

I still pick up my Shining Force 3 for the Sega Saturn every couple of years and give it another go, man I love that game!

Chomposaur

#9

Chomposaur said:

i miss shining force, the series fell apart after SF3 :-(

i hated the fact that SF3 Scenario 2 and 3 never got translated due to the saturns poor sales and problems with Camelot

I just hope ATLUS could take over the SF franchise and bring it back to glory :-)

Einherjar

#11

Einherjar said:

@Blastoise-san As far as i know, the DS part of the 3DS isnt region locked. I have a EU 3DS and an US copy of the MegaMan Zero Collection and it runs just fine.

AVahne

#12

AVahne said:

Guess I'll put this on my import list once I finish Soma Bringer. Hopefully this isn't another one of those damned "DSi-enhanced" games. I already have to make plans to find and purchase a DS Lite in good condition just so I can play Fire Emblem 12.

AVahne

#13

AVahne said:

@Einherjar
Most DS games are region-free. However, if it is "DSi-enhanced", then it'll be region-locked when played on a DSi or 3DS. The original DS and the DS Lite are excluded, as they don't have system-level region encoding, I think.

Einherjar

#14

Einherjar said:

@AVahne Honestly, i cant remember any "DSi enhanced" game from the top of my head. And i dont think that this one is one of them, but im not really sure. But the standad DS library is completely fine, that im pretty sure of :)

AVahne

#15

AVahne said:

@Einherjar
Yeah there aren't too many, but the fact that Nintendo's own Fire Emblem Shin Monshou no Nazo Hikari to Kage no Eiyuu is one of them DSi-enhanced games and thus region-locked continues to irk me (even more than the fact that they never localized it).

kurtasbestos

#21

kurtasbestos said:

I picked this game up for 1000 Yen (around $10) a while back and keep forgetting to play it... probably because I'd rather just re-play Shining Force III for the millionth time. But it's next on my list, especially since SFIII will be much harder to play on the train during my daily commute.

vonseux

#22

vonseux said:

wasnt aware of this; is it anything like the genesis games? didnt undestood that

Morph

#23

Morph said:

I think shining force 3 is probably my favourite game of all time, im waiting patiently for the fan translations of scenarios 2 and 3 so that i can finally complete the trilogy.

I wish sega would work with camelot again to bring us a proper shining force 4, but i guess our best shot it that atlus give the series a go. I just hope they can stay true to the series cannon if they do, for me the story of the vandals

Marioman64

#25

Marioman64 said:

@Blastoise-san it wouldn't help me anyway, I don't know japanese

although daigasso band brothers dx is very playable on my 3ds, and I don't need to know any japanese, I just guess the menu buttons by position and then rest is a music game :D

Nomad

#26

Nomad said:

I wanted this game but it didn't come to the west because most western gamers prefer to play dull coloured army men games, where you play as an army mans gun, shooting other army men with guns, in a dull coloured war setting between groups of army men.

GreatPlayer

#27

GreatPlayer said:

@Morph lol... I am lucky enough to play all three. I did not understand the Japanese but just played it. The graphics and design were both amazing for this game.

Excep7ional

#28

Excep7ional said:

@Nomad

Don't forget fighting games, sports games, shooters, shooters , western RPG's, MMO's, shooters, Adventure games, shooters, and MOBA's, Action games.

Did I mention shooters? Can't hate on it man. Shooters are fun, there is a reason why the genre has such a big following. Lol

Seriously though, I don't think Games like this make it out west because of the Aesthetics. It's too "Japanese" for some people. Someone might take one look at this game and think "LMAO only weeaboos play crap like this". It's a shame, because a lot of good games get looked over, but hey it is what it is.

Nomad

#29

Nomad said:

@Excep7ional yeah, it seems most western gamers prefer games with more realistic graphics and settings in those genres that you mentioned. Japanese games tend more towards colourful fantasy settings. That's why games like Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto don't really appeal to me. I get enough of the real world living in it. If I want to see war and crime I'll tune in to the 6 o'clock news. Give me a game like Shining Force, with a cool fantasy setting any day over some realistic gritty war game.
Cool avatar btw. Guts right?

retro_player_22

#30

retro_player_22 said:

A very enjoyable game which sadly never came to the west. Glad I got it but sad to those that never got a chance to play this epic strategy RPG. Hopefully there's a remake of this game for console in the near future as this is the only newer Shining Force game that still had gameplay similar to those of the main ones in the Genesis/Saturn days.

Excep7ional

#31

Excep7ional said:

@Nomad

Yeah I can see where you're coming from. The Japanese developers cater to what the Japanese audience likes, which is what you said: Colorful, fantasy like settings, and sometimes over the top content. Things like that don't really appeal to the west because it's a completely different demographic and vice versa (Which is why the Xbox is doing poorly in Japan.)

My forte is fighting games, so I know this to be true. Games like Blazblue, Guilty Gear, and Persona 4 Arena are doing horribly in the fighting game scene in the West because of their design (Skinny guys, little girls that can fight aka loli characters, and things like that.) Although they are great fighting games, nobody over here will give them a chance which sucks. When it all boils down though, it's all about preference. Two completely different styles, but both very fun and rewarding. Subjectively speaking, of course.

Also, thanks lol. Yeah it's Guts. One of my favorite anime Characters.

element187

#35

element187 said:

@Tsuzura fair point. These region locking screams sound just as bad as the pedantic port begging of Nintendo exclusives. You want to play like a Japanese gamer, pay the tax. Nintendo region locks for business reasons, and anytime you explain these reasons to gamers they get angry and tell you that you are wrong (could be denial, not sure why they don't accept it and move on)

element187

#36

element187 said:

@ShadowFox254 Sega is making a business decision. They don't believe the sales would pay for the localization. They might be right. Very few JRPG's sell in the west. Fire Emblem did great, Xenoblade did great, Final Fantasy series usually does great(not sure if that's true anymore, the last couple reviewed poorly). Most sell just a few hundred thousand. If JRPG's performed better on a regular basis we would be flooded with them right now..... Take Shin Megami Tensei IV. I absolutely adore it, it's been locked in my 3DS since it was released, and sadly it sold 140k copies in North America.. Atlus knew it wouldn't sell very well here and they were right to jack the price up to $50 to try and make just a little more money back for giving the very few SMT fans a chance to play it.

I wish it wasn't so, RPG's are my absolute favorite genre. But our markets are completely dominated by hyper violent action shooters, sadly.

element187

#37

element187 said:

@Excep7ional why do shooters bomb in Japan? I'm looking at the charts of all the call of duty's and none of them get over 500k sales.. In fact a lot failed to get over 20k. The big following of shooters is isolated in the west. Japan and countries not named USA, Canada and UK don't purchase many shooters.

Gamers in the west have no variety. E3 Titanfall and Destiny were getting people to cheer and I'm looking at a very generic space marine shooter wondering why people want play this so bad. Total head scratcher. There was far more interesting/unique games at e3 but almost none were talked about in big numbers like the generic shooters. Seems like western gamers just want shooters, everything else gets overlooked. It's the most overexposed genre in gaming. There is going to be a huge collapse in this genre. It's just so saturated with publishers chasing that call of duty money, that gamers will eventually get fatigued. I know I did a few years ago...

I have been a PC gamer since 92. The shooter genre was going on for over 15 years on PC's before finally becoming popular on consoles in 2007. So I'm figuring console gamers are still in the year 2000 of where PC gamers were with shooters. Eventually the fatigue will set in. There is definitely a collapse in new ideas with the genre. Maybe Killzones poor review scores has more to do with that fatigue than anything else.

The genre needs new ideas, stat.

element187

#38

element187 said:

@rjejr those purple hair anime girls will lead your kids to a lifetime addiction of the JRPG genre. It all starts with that clock.

Excep7ional

#39

Excep7ional said:

@element187

Shooters bomb in Japan because it doesn't appeal to them. Much like JRPG's don't appeal to the people in the West. Like I said in my earlier post, Japan and the U.S have two very different taste in gaming. I wouldn't say the West have a lack of variety because other genre's get a lot of play too, but it's just that everyone else are more diverse. I guess you can blame Bungie for the success of shooters. Socom 1 & 2 were the most popular games being played online back in the Ps2 days, and Halo revolutionized the genre in a whole. People loved Halo 2 in the West because the Multiplayer was so fantastic. Then that's when tournaments started to grow. Esports helped it grow even more because of the tournament hype and money pay outs. A lot of shooters had this before Halo, but Halo had a certain charm to it.

I'm not going to lie, when I saw Destiny, I had a major nerdgasm. I was looking at the" 9 reasons why we're hyped for Destiny" video on IGN and I see a lot more than just an generic space marine shooter. It's like an MMO with a lot to explore, the character designs look cool, the customization is going to be amazing, the gameplay looks promising, etc. On top of that, it's being made by Bungie, the people responsible for revolutionizing the genre and taking it to places people never thought it was going to go. Plus, its setting is in outer space. I'm a sucker for Sci-fi mixed with mythical elements so I want to explore every single thing and place in this game with my friends and have an epic adventure. Also, anything can happen anytime (literally. You could be walking and out of nowhere a fleet of ships could warp right in front of you, the game will be very dynamic.) It's getting a lot of hype because of all of the things I stated. Bungie is also innovative, so the fps might get a breath of fresh air when the game comes out like all of the fans hoped for.

I'm looking forward for TitanFall too, because it's being made by the people who made the first Modern Warfare (regarded the best in the series by literally every COD fan). The reason why people buy COD now is because they foolishly think that it will be like the first Modern Warfare, so they go out and buy it, get frustrated and trade it back in, etc. I like TitanFall but I'm looking forward to Destiny a whole lot more.

All in all though, shooters are popular, but I say MOBA's and MMO's blow it out the water. Hell the most played game right now is League of Legends, and pretty soon everyone will be jumping on that new Wild Star game. I do agree with you though, developers are looking for that Bungie/COD success so they will keep coming out with shooters, so it's getting really stale. One of the reasons why I stopped playing shooters for a while.

Excep7ional

#40

Excep7ional said:

I also want to note that I know Bungie didn't make Socom 1& 2. My post makes it seem like I think they did because of how I typed it.

vonseux

#42

vonseux said:

@Morph Fan translation for SF III already avaliable. ;)

And to anyone missing the strategic series, search no longer than Fire Emblem

retro_player_22

#44

retro_player_22 said:

@ecco6t9 Not only that but they also gave us Phantasy Star Zero, Sonic Chronicles, and Infinite Space. I say they already got us pretty much covered in terms of RPGs, though it would had been really nice to have Shining Force Feather here too for the strategy crave gamers. Kinda surprising how none of the other localization publishers (Atlus, XSeed, NISA, Ignition Entertainment, etc.) didn't pick this game up for NA though. Usually XSeed and Atlus don't have problem picking up RPGs for localization unless they felt it's worthless.

Morph

#45

Morph said:

@vonseux i'm waiting for the on disc translation, i tried using the aspinia translation but i just couldnt get into it that way

CanisWolfred

#47

CanisWolfred said:

@Melkaticox By learning Japanese or reading a translated guide? And if you can't do those, Considering the amount of Strategy involved in Strategy RPGs often amounts to "kill everything" in most situations...it's actually not that hard. I do it all the time and rarely have a problem.

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