Game Reviews
Shining Force Gaiden: Final Conflict
Score: 4/5
Gameplay
The only real gameplay in Shining Force Gaiden Final Conflict is the battle mode. As with the other Force games in the Shining series, the battle mode in Shining Force Gaiden Final Conflict is not based on random encounters, but large, pre-set tactical battles instead. Viewed from above, you control a Force of up to 12 characters in battle. The characters themselves vary in weapons and abilities, some being magic users, others being archers, swordsmen, centaur knights and more.

The battles are turn-based, with characters and enemies moving in order of agility. A turn is in two parts, movement and action. Movement ranges will vary based on the terrain and on the character type and are displayed as a flashing grid of squares, to incidate spaces accessable by the character whose turn it is. After movement, the character can opt to: attack (if there is an enemy within the range of their weapon); cast a spell (if there is an enemy within range of their attack spell, or an ally in range of their defensive/supportive spells); use, give, equip or drop an item (you may equip, and then attack); or hold their position. Likewise, enemies may make the same moves. Actions are selected and confirmed via a series of blue and yellow on-screen menus.

Being a role-playing game, statistics play a vital part in battles, to determine movements, and effects of actions. If during a battle, a characters HP (hit points) reaches 0, they are exhaused and retire from the battle. To bring them back, a fee must be paid to the church in the next town to restore the character. Statistics increase with level-ups, which happen as a result of experience being gained from battling and defeating enemies. When an enemy is defeated, you'll also be given some gold, which is necessary to purchase items and weapons.

Shining Force Gaiden Final Conflict is missing an area which I really used to enjoy in Shining Force and Shining Force II - the towns. Instead of wandering around towns between battles, and talking to residents, there is a simple screen showing a shop, and HQ. At HQ you can do all the things you'd normally do in a church or at HQ (ie, swap your team around, revive people, promote etc). At the shop, you can purchase items and weapons. Before or after you reach this screen, there may be a cut scene, that is a pre-animated sequence of the characters in a town or area of the map, having a conversation to move on with the story. Thankfully, though there's no searching in towns (because there are none), you are able to search in battle, an option I missed in Shining Force II. There are usually some items to find in battle, and even some hidden characters.

Though most RPGs have some kind of puzzle element, there really aren't any in Shining Force Gaiden Final Conflict. The game is just a lot of battles, with cutscenes to join them up.

In terms of gameplay, there's only one addition in terms of gameplay, and that's the option to set members of your Force to be controlled by the console.

The gameplay is very easy to get the hang of, and the control method is straightforward too. It is, of course, wonderful to be able to play a Shining game on the move, even if it is in Japanese!

Score: 5/5
Storyline
With the exception of Shining Force III, Final Conflict's storyline is perhaps the most detailed and chronologically important in the series.

As usual, the basic story is that an evil is threatening the world, and it must be stopped. But, there's more to it than just that in Final Conflict. The game picks up where Shining Force left off, and we finally get to see what happened to Max. Many shocking revelations are made, as you'll see in the storyline summary. The game ties up the stories of Shining Force and Shining Force II beatifully, giving us a selection of characters from both, an ending for Shining Force and an introduction (in a way) for Force II.

It's a real shame that Sega didn't translate this game and release it outside of Japan. I hope my translation helps fans to appreciate the enormous importance of this game in the series timeline.

As with the other games in the series, Shining Force Gaiden Final Conflict is set in a fantasy world of of swords and sorcery, goblins and dragons. It takes place across Grans Island and Parmecia, as in Shining Force II.

The storyline of Final Conflict makes it easily one of my favourites in the series!

Score: 4/5
Longevity
Though I considered the lack of towns something of a let down, I have to say that I think it increases the lifespan of the game - if you want to play it again, you don't need to worry about searching towns or finding particular items. The story progresses for you, and you can sit back and enjoy battle after battle with little in the way of interruptions.

There are of course some secret characters you might miss during your first play of the game. Some of the battles are particularly enjoyable, but not overly challenging.

Of course, you can still play through it in different ways, like never reviving a fallen character, trying to get the highest levels etc. All of these ways add new life to an old game :)

Score: 3/5
Difficulty
Without any puzzles, and since you're automatically taken to the next battle without a need to find your way around anywhere, the game is fairly easy. With the exception of the final battles, the adventure isn't especially challenging.
Score: 5/5
Graphics
Bearing in mind this is a Game Gear game, and thus very limited in both screen size available and colours, the game is extemely well put together graphically. Depiste the tiny size, character icons are easily distinguishable, and any unecessary graphics have been removed (for example, weapon, item and spell icons are replaced with just words) to optimise on the room available, keeping the screen as clear and uncluttered as possible.

The graphics in Final Conflict are much better than in the previous Game Gear Shining releases, really making the most of the Game Gear's capabilities.

The character designs are also better than in the other Gaidens, IMHO, and even the scenery is better drawn.

Score: 4/5
Sound
Ah, the classic tunes of Shining Force II! At least, that's what a lot of the tracks are - cut down versions of some well loved existing Shining music. Of course, it makes sense that this music would be used, since the game is set in the same lands as Shining Force II. The music not only fits well, but is also not far from the original version, despite the Game Gear's limitations. Very nice!
Pros
  • Play Shining Force on the move!!
  • Very easy to get into and play
  • The plot is amazing, so much is explained from other games!
  • Addition of computer controlled members
  • Uses some classic Shining Force II music
  • Clear, fairly uncluttered graphics on the small screen
  • Translated script available
  • Cons
  • No towns or wandering around :(
  • Only available in Japanese
  • Overall Score: 5/5
    Summary
    Without a doubt, this is one of my favourite games in the series, and certainly the best of the Gaidens. It may not be much of a challenge to play, but the storyline is just superb, and the graphics are impressive for a Game Gear game. Add characters you know and love from Shining Force and Shining Force II to the ability to play a Shining game on the move, and you've got yourself one incredible game! Play it!
    Review by: Moogie