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Matters of Import: Shining Force Gaiden: Final Conflict Joins The 3DS Library

Posted by Kerry Brunskill

Like a light Shining in the Darkness

Thanks to Sega’s continuing support of the 3DS Virtual Console service we now have all three Game Gear Shining Force games available to buy on Nintendo’s much loved handheld — in Japan, at least.

The emulation is so consistently brilliant on the 3DS it’s hardly worth mentioning these days: we’ll simply say that the only thing this new digital release is missing is a beautiful box and manual, as well as the constant gnawing fear that your Game Gear batteries will die at any moment.

Instead of continuing the story told in the previous two Gaiden games, Final Conflict sets itself a far more ambitious challenge – to bridge the gap between Mega Drive RPGs Shining Force I and II as well as telling the story of its own protagonist, Ian (you can change the name if you wish), at the same time. Fans of the Mega Drive classics will be in their element here with characters from both games popping up all over the place and the designers kindly putting faces to a few people previously only mentioned by name in the console games.

Those not familiar with the series shouldn't feel excluded though – this is an excellent SRPG by any measure and the decision to focus on a mostly-new team means that even a total newcomer to the series isn't going to feel left out of the action. The game is balanced like any other entry, with your small rag-tag team of young fighters starting off against nothing more than a few easy enemies before taking on more challenging landscapes and tougher foes as the game goes on. The strict streamlining means that you’re always progressing no matter how limited your Japanese skills may be, and the simplified camp screen makes getting your team ready for battle quick and straightforward.

Streamlining doesn't mean the game is only worth a single play through, though. Even though this is a handheld RPG from almost two decades ago there are two secret characters to find and most battles will have don’t-check-and-you’ll-miss-them-forever chests tucked away in a corner, always containing a special item or powerful piece of equipment inside. It’s even worth being methodical with enemies too: apart from the obvious experience boost some enemies will drop unique weapons when defeated, meaning careful players are rewarded for their efforts and those that prefer to charge through as fast as possible have something to search for next time around.

It’s easy to throw old handheld RPGs a slightly condescending “good for the system” bone but Final Conflict is truly as worthy of the Shining Force title as any other game in the series. Fans of Team Sonic’s / Camelot’s RPG series — as well as those that missed out first time around — will find an admittedly simplistic but very enjoyable SRPG here that is more than worth the current eBay asking prices, never mind the lowly ¥500 (around £2.90/ €3.50/$4.80USD) Sega are charging for the eShop release. If you have the means to play this then you really should do so at the earliest opportunity.

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User Comments (19)

SuperMalleo

#1

SuperMalleo said:

To play the game:

Get $500
Order a Japanese 3DS
Go to Japan and get some ¥ Yen
Come back home
Purchase the game
Done.

Ninjuggernaut

#2

Ninjuggernaut said:

I only wish more of the original shining force titles made it over from the east. I've only played the first 2 for the genesis, but from what I've seen from videos the later entries really missed the mark.

Such a shame too. Shining Force II is still one of my favorite games ever and it would have been nice to see the series evolve to say, where FE Awakening is now. Hopefully these releases will get plenty coverage on the Japan Eshop

Anguspuss

#3

Anguspuss said:

Loved the shining force games on both the mega drive & game gear. Would love to see sega bring it back

DamoAdmin

#6

Damo said:

@Kawaii_Neko You can purchase games on the Japanese eShop using a US or EU credit card, actually. And Japanese 3DS consoles don't cost $500.

Aloth

#7

Aloth said:

Kerry, I've got a japanese 3ds. Is it really possible to play without any knowledge of japanese?

Tsuchinoko

#10

Tsuchinoko said:

@SMEXIZELDAMAN these games didnt leave japan the first time around. Its a rare thing to translate a game just for the sake of something like the virtual console. Itd be an investment the would likely not profit much from

ravens326

#11

ravens326 said:

Please release this in the United States. Shining Force is one of the best RPG franchises ever and Americans need to know it.

KimimiStaff

#12

Kimimi said:

@Aloth You'll struggle with item equipping and obviously the plot but other than that you should be fine, and there are FAQs out there if you're not :)

KnightRider666

#13

KnightRider666 said:

Insta-buy if they come to NA! Speaking of Game Gear VC, does anybody know what happened to Mega Man? There was talks of Capcom bringing that to us a while back.

Metafalica

#14

Metafalica said:

Shining force II on the megadrive, such memories. Btw was it shining I and II that was released as a typ of special pack for the dreamcast later on? Or was it on 360 and ps3? Like some smashpack series or whatnot.

Pokefanmum82

#15

Pokefanmum82 said:

@Tsuchinoko shining force 1 & 2 was released in NA, EU and Japan both on Sega Mega Drive, Virtual Console, XBox 360, PS3 and Steam. so what you said isn't exactly true....this game may not of been released here but the first & second shining force most definitely was.

AtlanteanMan

#16

AtlanteanMan said:

Only a few days ago I made a post at IGN (on the article about the "10 Greatest RPG Storylines") regarding Shining Force III for the Saturn. Here is a copy/paste of that post (with a tad of additional information):

Shining Force III is almost unknown to RPG fans here because A) it was released on the (woefully underrated) Sega Saturn and B) only one of three interconnected Scenarios (including Saves that transfer over to the next Scenario), all of which combined to make a giant cohesive storyline, made it here to the West. While the two Shining Force games for the Genesis are beloved for their unforgiving tactical gameplay and those (at the time revolutionary) battle cinematics, they were both light on story aside from each dialogue pretty much leading into the next battle. Shining Force III upped the ante with three-dimensional, rotatable maps (with which chests and even characters might be discovered; this would make it an AWESOME candidate for the 3DS) and an amazingly cerebral storyline full of political intrigue, diabolical manipulation, and even villains whose characters were given some degree of color.

As anyone who played the first two Shining Force titles on Genesis will recall, there were some very specific conditions to be met to acquire certain characters for your army; if you missed them there was no way to go back and get them; you'd simply have to replay the whole thing. SFIII took that concept and built upon it with its three-Scenario system; because the overall Save file transferred over, what you did in each of the first two Scenarios affected which characters you could find and recruit in the others. Kill a certain enemy instead of sparing his/her life in one Scenario and you couldn't recruit them (or another character) in a later Scenario. And what made the choices so difficult is that SFIII's total storyline can take upwards of 170-200 hours to properly play through and find everything/everyone...and there is NO WAY to recruit every possible character in a single playthrough! To experience the alternate possibilities and dialogue from the other characters you'd have to play through everything all over again and make different choices.

The maps on which you fight throughout the story of SFIII deserve a special mention as well; the flat, top-down environments of the Genesis titles are replaced by fully three-dimensional (and again, rotatable) battlefields and rooms where your armies can find themselves fighting on different levels (flying characters can actually fly across chasms) and in several instances on multiple, separate AREAS to achieve an objective.

And to make things even more interesting, each chapter (several in each Scenario) contains at least one optional dungeon/temple/tomb on the battle map where weapons and items that can't be obtained anywhere else are hidden. While the rest of your army continues the battle outside (and DON'T make the mistake of beating the last enemy before recovering everything inside or you lose it FOREVER; you only have a SINGLE opportunity to go into the temple even if you Egress back to the last Church where you saved), whichever character(s) you send in must A) open every chest they can (and some...even certain CHARACTERS...are hidden in these areas and you must end your turn on a specific square to find them similarly to Fire Emblem!) and B) prevent thieves (which always run into the site ahead of your character(s) from opening the chests themselves and absconding with your loot).

Scenario 1 put you in charge of Synbios and his Republican Army, whose country had split from the Empire years ealier. When at the beginning of the game the Emperor himself is kidnapped at a peace conference with the Republic in an Imperial city, Synbios and his crew must get out of hostile territory while trying to find the truth about what happened and clear their country's responsibility.

Scenario 2 places you in charge of Medion's army; he is the youngest (and illegitimate) son of the Emperor and the least favored among the three princes. His trek will involve encountering conspiracies and trying to protect a special child from the elite forces of his own Empire: the Rainbloods. And the sheer, diabolical manipulations of the Emperor (including Medion and even his own kidnappers!) and what he's willing to sacrifice for his own gain are absolutely astounding; the guy seriously deserves mention alongside the likes of Kefka and Sephiroth as an all-time great RPG villain (and to think he isn't even the MAIN bad guy). As with Scenario 1, Scenario 2 ends with a cliffhanger where Medion and Synbios are facing off at the bridge leading into the Republic capital, about to be forced to fight a duel neither of them wants but neither seemingly can avoid.

Scenario 3 continues with Julian, who's in essence the "core" hero of the story. He's a monster hunter who's on the trail of the demons who slaughtered his village and family when he was a boy (you actually encounter the young Julian as a young child in that same village in Shining the Holy Ark!). He joins both Synbios' and Medions' armies in Scenarios 1 and 2 and leaves them at certain points. Julian's force is by far the most diversified (and frankly the most powerful as well, by far): you'll have a Lion-Man, a Dragon-Man, a Fairy, a Witch, a Unicorn, a Goblin who rides the back of a giant Troll, and even a huge DRAGON join you along the way. And in the end all three armies of the Shining Force will converge to fight the "Ultimate Evil", Bulzome, in the frozen wastes far to the north. That battle alone (and an optional one near the end where you can level-up your weaker troops) can take upwards of 2 hours to finish. Yeah, EPIC.

All told, Shining Force III is 190 HOURS' worth of incredible and surprisingly cerebral storyline filled with political intrigue, betrayals, and difficult decisions that affect which characters you may recruit in later Scenarios (again, you can easily miss many of them completely). It's simply sad that more gamers haven't been able to experience it so far. Made by Team Camelot, it stands easily beside Valkyria Chronicles as two of the greatest SRPGs of all time. A 3DS version of SFIII would be a system-seller; a high-res WiiU version seriously might just save even that struggling console. It's THAT good.

One would think (and hope) that the recent success of Fire Emblem on the 3DS would encourage a return of the (proper, turn-based SRPG) Shining Force series here in the West. Unfortunately, the single biggest obstacle to that happening seems to be Sega themselves. Their falling out with Team Camelot was only one of many (in my humble opinion) gross mishandlings of their properties before and since. No offline, story-based Phantasy Star since the Genesis, the incredible, system-pushing Dragon Force for the Saturn had to be localized by Working Designs (as did Magic Knight RayEarth), and its sequel was never brought here. Panzer Dragoon Saga, a 4-disc epic Saturn RPG with some of the most unique battle mechanics and (despite the badly pixelated first-gen polygons) amazing sense of atmosphere that was one of the most ambitious to that point in videogame history, only saw 3,000 copies released in the entire US market. Skies of Arcadia for the Dreamcast, while having a slightly superior remake on GameCube, hasn't had a proper sequel since despite fans clamoring for one. And Valkyria Chronicles, my personal favorite game of this entire past console generation, was sadly one most fans had to learn about from word-of-mouth as Sega scarcely bothered to promote it (and its two sequels were relegated to the PSP; Sega has not only shown disinterest in bringing the third installment here; they've refused to allow any localization companies to do so, which is baffling).

It amazes me to no end how a company responsible for so many of the BEST memories I've ever had as a gaming enthusiast seems to have so little regard for such fantastic games (and apparently the teams who put in the effort to make them) or the gamers who cherish them and want to play MORE. Sega can't seem to ever see beyond their next Sonic title, sadly (and this should be a lesson to anyone who's wanting Nintendo to go third-party). They're a cautionary tale of just how far centering around profit as opposed to sheer creativity and originality can take even the greatest videogame company down from greatness.

Metafalica

#17

Metafalica said:

@AtlanteanMan And that "wall" of text was worth it. I enjoyed reading it and too see what u think about it all. I have totally missed out on SH3 but will try and get a hold of it (if it's possible) and play it for sure.

Joygame51

#18

Joygame51 said:

I am playing Shining Force Sword of Hajya for the first time . Love the Shining Force games. PRE- Fire Emblem SRPG. Super. Would love this SFG game ! YEAH

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