Review: Shining Force Neo (PS2)

Shining Force Neo
Developer: Neverland
Publisher: Sega
Genre: Diablo Clone
Release Date: 10/21/05

Look, if you’ve been a long time reader of 411mania or Insidepulse.com, there’s one thing you know: It’s that I’m a Shining Force-aholic. I own every version of the series, from the original Shining in the Darkness to finally the US version of Shining Force Neo. I managed to get the Shining Force 3 mailaway disc when the offer first occurred by using a friend in Japan’s address to have Sega send it to. My original “Complete History of Shining Force” was popular enough to get kudos from other sites that are bigger and more successful than IP, and that was flattering to me that so many people enjoyed it. If there’s one series besides Megaten and Pokemon I pride myself of having obscure and almost a psychotic level of knowledge about, it’s this series.

That being said, there’s two categories/subgroups within my fellow Shining Fans that annoy me. The first are the people that hate any game outside of the Strategy/Tactical RPG genre with a “Shining” adjective slapped on a game. I hate to break it to you, but the Shining series didn’t start a S-RPG series; it is just the most famous games in the genre are from that. And Shining the Holy Arc is a first person dungeon crawler and comes close to rivaling Shining Force 2 and Shining Force: Final Conflict as the best games in the series.

Hell, since Widro (our owner and dread overlord here at Inside Pulse) freaked about a certain other site reviewing Gunstar Super heroes where the reviewer admitted he never played the original, let me give you a quick history lesson on every Shining Game made and their format? Why? Because I can and then even if you hate my opinion of SFN, you can at least say you learned something. That’s me: Mr. Education

Shining in the Darkness (Sega Genesis): First Person Turn Based Dungeon Crawl. Released in 1991

Shining Force: The Legacy of Great Intention (Sega Genesis): Strategy RPG. Released in 1992/1993 (depending on country)

Shining Force Gaiden (Sega Game gear): Strategy RPG. Released in 1992.

Shining Force Gaiden 2: Sword of Hajya (Sega Game Gear): Strategy RPG. Released in 1994.

Shining Force 2: Ancient Sealing (Sega Genesis): Strategy RPG. Released in 1994.

Shining Force CD (Sega CD): Strategy RPG. Released in 1995 (remakes of the Gaiden games)

Shining Force: Final Conflict (Sega Game Gear): Strategy RPG. Released in 1995. Considered by to be the best of the series and is also the lynchpin connecting most of the games together continuitywise. (I prefer SF2: Ancient Sealing though)

Shining Wisdom (Sega Saturn): Action RPG. Released in 1995-96 (depending on country)

Shining the Holy Ark (Sega Saturn): First Person Turn Based Dungeon Crawler. Released in 1997.

Shining Force 3, Scenario 1: God Warrior of the Kingdom (Sega Saturn): Strategy RPG. Released in 1998.

Shining Force 3, Scenario 2: Target: Child of God (Sega Saturn): Strategy RPG. Released in 1998.

Shining Force 3, Scenario 3: Bulzome Rising (Sega Saturn): Strategy RPG. Released in 1998.

Shining Force 3: Premium (Sega Saturn): Strategy RPG. Released in 1998. (Mail away only)

Shining Soul (GBA): Action RPG. Released in 2002-2003 (Depending on Country)

Shining Soul 2 (GBA): Action RPG. Released in 03-04 (Depending on Country)

Shining Force: The Resurrection of Dark Dragon (GBA): Strategy RPG. Released in 2004. (Remake of Shining Force: The Legacy of Great Intention)

Shining Tears (PS2): Action RPG. Released in 2004-05. (Depending on Country)

Shining Force Neo (PS2): Hack N Slash RPG. Released in 2005.

Shining Road: To the Force (Mobile Phone): Strategy RPG. Released in 2005.

Shining Force Chronicle (Mobile Phone): Strategy RPG. Released in 2005 (Remake of the Shining Force Gaiden)

Shining Force Chronicle II (mobile Phone): Strategy RPG. Released in 2005. (Remake of Shining Force Gaiden 2)

The second thing is blind loyalty. “OMG! New Shining game! Let’s give it a high score because it’s obscure and cult cool.” Sorry. If a game sucks, it sucks. And guess what kids? Shining Force Neo…it sucks. It sucks hard. I’ve been dreading this review for many months now. When Bebito Jackson asked me if he should pick up Shining Force Neo, knowing I had just beaten the Japanese Import version the hardest thing was to tell him, “Go play through Record of Lodoss War on your Dreamcast instead. You’ll get it cheaper, and you’ll get more enjoyment out of it.” Whether I love a series or not, I can step outside my fanboy-ness and look at a game critically. And what I have to say here is that since Camelot and Sega parted ways, the Shining Series has taken a massive downturn. Shining Soul was an enjoyable action RPG and was even more fun with multiplayer mode. Shining Soul 2 was boring as it was basically the same game with a few tiny adjustments made. Shining Tears is up there with Shining Wisdom as games Shining Fans like to pretend do not exist. And Shining Force Neo is better, but not by much.

Look, I’ll be honest, Shining Force Neo is a second rate Hack N Slash action RPG game. You want better games with more customization that you can get for cheaper? Here’s a lovely list:

Neverwinter Nights
Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance
Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance 2
Record of Lodoss War
Diablo
Diablo 2
The Bard’s Tale
Gauntlet Legends
Gauntlet: Dark Legacy
Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel (This should tell you something)

And on and on. I wanted to like this game. I wanted to LOVE this game. I was thoroughly impressed with Neverland’s Record of Lodoss War. But I can’t. The Japanese version was average, and the US version with horrible voice acting and a badly translated story makes is all the more painful. The game feels like Neverland just went back to a game they made 4-5 years ago and removed all the things that really made it stand out from being a Diablo Clone, and then added some very vague Shining references and Sega plopped on a 50$ price tag. Go blind consumerism go.

Look, before I get into the actual review, I’m just going to say this. A review’s an opinion. For every person that agrees with the stuff I spew out on to your computer screen, there’s most likely one who doesn’t. I think Shining Force Neo + Shining tears = GIVE THE BLOODY LICENSE TO CAMELOT INSTEAD OF CRAPPING ON ITS LEGACY SAMMYSEGA. But then I’m an opinionated bastard. Read the review. See my problems with it, and then decide for yourself. Don’t let some guy on a website or in a magazine tell you what to like. For me, it’s not that Shining Force Neo sucks because it doesn’t fit the Shining mold. It sucks simply because it’s a boring, easy, and vapid game. Now…

Let’s Review

1. Story!

Okay. It’s massive cliche time. The main character is Max, who is named after (and slightly resembles) the original hero from Shining Force: The Legacy of Great Intention, except this Max actually talks. But trust me, you’ll soon be wishing he didn’t.

Max is training with a Centaur named Varios Graham who has spent two years training Max to reach his potential as a warrior. Max desperately wants to be a Force, which in SFNeo is a gifted warrior that can control a Force Frame. A Force Frame channels various powers through the Warrior and allows them to use magic.

Suddenly, during a training session, Max’s base is attacked by monsters. Graham and his legions drive the monsters off and Graham ends up sending Max home, ready to take the trial of the Force. Which Max’s father, uber super warrior Gaia (Why does he have a feminine name?), doesn’t want Max to take part in.

From here we meet Max’s love interest/adopted sister (yay for second degree incest) and that she’s been training to become a magician. We also learn at this point of the “Cult of the Moon” and how it was defeated many years ago and thank goodness it’s never coming back. Any other longtime Shining fans thinking “Runefaust?” I know I sure was.

And look! Out of nowhere, the long petrified remains of the cult’s Legions (icky bug monsters) come to life and it’s time to save the world again!

I’ve just summed up the first few hours of the game. But it doesn’t get that much more in depth from here. Max and galpal Meryl make new friends, get their force frames, and discover what has caused the re-emergence of the Cult of the Moon. Friends die, angst galore occurs, and eventually Good beats Evil, thus defying Dark Helmet’s belief that “Good is Dumb.” SFNeo recycles every piece of claptrap most gamers can recite ad nauseam because they’re the tricks of the trade when you’re down and out in regards to original thought.

The English translation is abominable. I’ve read gloomy high school poetry that has better alliteration than this game. When Max is spewing lines like “You’re really ticking me off old man!” you have to sit there and wonder if there’s not a better choice for Sega’s localization staff. The dialogue is cheesy and mimics in no way, shape or form, the actual speech patterns of real human conversation. I’m sitting here looking at chunks of conversation going “It was said better in the Japanese Version.” And I’m one of those people who HATES when a person goes “The Japanese version is superior because its Japanese.” But really, the translation here is not good. The gist of what is said is on the US screens, but the emotion and actual depth of the words has been replaced by the writing I’d see in fanfic, not something of quality.

Now it’s spoiler time. Skip ahead if you don’t want to see.
Okay. Things that piss me off that show the utter lack of originality of this game.

So many aspects of the original SF game have been repeated here. But without any of the love of attention to detail the original games displayed. The Max/Kaine thing has been recycled from Shining Force: Final Conflict and Shining Force: Resurrection of the Dark Dragon. But between the manual and the way the game is written here, the big reveal might has well be written in 20 foot high glowing neon words compared to the Biz Markie “OH SNAP!” reaction you got in SF: FC. I mean, it’s called subtlety and foreshadowing, not treating your audience like retards who have never played a video game before.

You’ve got a rehashed “Hero is trained by a Centaur.” You have the “Evil army returns after a long silence.” You’ve got the “Let’s make a character really emo by killing a parent.” And on and on. And wheras the original SF game actually developed these aspects and lines between characters, SF Neo shoves just these few things I’ve spoiled together in the first TWO HOURS. So not only is the game badly translated, but to be honest, the story was poorly conceived even when I originally imported this. I could keep going but I don’t want to ruin the whole damn game for those of you inclined to buy it. But I honestly expected Dark Sol to show up with a certain 3 headed Dragon God in tow.

Shining Force Neo basically takes the aspects of the original Shining Force game and doesn’t get that 15 years ago, these plot bits were original and new and captivating. But now they’ve been hammered into the ground and retread so many times, it’s just eye-rollingly bad. There is nothing in this game plot wise that begins to resemble a breath of fresh air. You know that whole “NEO” thing really should apply to more than just the genre of the game.

Shining Force Neo gives you nothing interesting or captivating plot wise, and the dialogue is so poorly written, it drags the story down even more. And since most people play RPG’s for, well, the bloody story, that’s a bad sign indeed. The only thing that’s going to possibly irritate me more than the Shining Force Neo plot is if the next Pokemon game is “Small child collects 8 badges and stops a sinister terrorist organization determined to rule the world on the way to become the greatest trainer ever, and all before puberty sets in!”

Story Rating: 3/10

2. Graphics

Wave good bye to the wonderful character designs and portraits by Yoshitaka Tamaki. Well, in truth, they’ve been gone since Shining Soul, but at least the non Camelot designed games still paid tribute to the portrait style of the Shining Games, giving them one constant throughout all the genres and title. Say hello to Yuriko Nishiyama who designed the characters for Shining Force Neo.

Comparing these two is like comparing apples and rabid monkeys. They have their own styles, strengths, and weaknesses. And I’m not an art critic. I will say Mariel slightly resembles Mae, and Baron is a quasi-looking Xylo, but aside from that, the art really doesn’t harken much back to the original games. I’m not a fan of most of the character or monster designs in Shining Force Neo, but the ones I do enjoy are very well done. However, that being said, this game has more in common with the Shining Soul/Tears games graphic style wise than with the Camelot Shining games. The graphics aren’t the best on the PS2 that you’ll find, with a lot of characters lacking physical depth, like the Cyclopi standing out as a strong example of what I’m talking about. In fact, by eschewing the classic Shining graphical series, Shining Force Neo looks and feels far more like a generic action RPG than having any roots in a 15 year fan favorite gaming series. Nothing stands out as memorable or original, which is a consistent problem through all aspects of Shining Force Neo.

On the plus side, Studio 4C, once part of Studio Ghibli has become part of the game, providing Shining Force Neo with some amazing cut scenes that make up for the generic blandness of the main game graphics. Ghibli is the Japanese Disney, and 4C’s employees show their lineage by providing some of the best cell based animation I’ve ever seen in a video game. A lot of it is simply breathtaking, and it is by far the best part of SF Neo as a whole.

Yes, the in-game graphics are blase and forgettable, but they are well done. They’re just generic and don’t stand out. But combined with the amazing animation Studio Ghibli has provided us with, the game becomes a good visual fest, if not a great one.

Graphics Rating: 7/10

3. Sound

If there is one thing I’ve noticed that even fans of the US version of Shining Force Neo loathe, it’s the horrible voice acting. Not only are the actors bereft of emotion and sound woodier than a cricket loving puppet, but the voices chosen assault the ears like an army whose gear consists only of chalkboards and fingernails. It is that terrible people. Especially Max. But ESPECIALLY MERYL. I don’t know WHO chose the voice actors, but that person needs to be drug out into the street and then shot.

What’s worse is they say the same annoying lines throughout the game while in combat. Again and again. It’s enough to turn you into a serial killer every time someone says “Hot stuff coming through!” Oh my god, the hate. THE HATE.

Thankfully you have the ability to turn off the voice acting (and you will). But we are reviewing sound right now, so trust me when I say, it’s hard to think of a game with WORSE voice acting in recent times.

Musically, Shining Force Neo again plummets into the depth of Genericville. The music is not bad, but it’s mediocre at best. Generally Shining games are well known for their musical scores and soundtracks. The Shining Force 3 soundtrack is considered one of the best ever made. Even Shining Tears had good music. But Shining Force Neo? It lacks the heart and soul put into the other games bearing “Shining” in their title.

Mediocre music + voice acting that makes one think Van Gogh had the right idea: mute the damn game and put in one of the soundtracks from the other Shining games. If there’s any category where Shining Force Neo is a big snot filled loogie to the face of the long time Shining fans, or hell, video game fans in general, it’s right here.

Sound Rating: 2/10

4. Control and Gameplay

The gameplay of Shining Force Neo is tight. But then, it’s a basic clone of Neverland’s superior Record of Lodoss War, so fans of that game shouldn’t be surprised. But there is some big negatives, and lets get that out of the way so I can say something decently positive about the game.

I will say the default controls (O = Attack, X = pick up stuff, Triangle = Spell, Square = use item) is not instinctive at all, but they have provided you with the ability to change the set up. I guess I’m so used to X always being the attack button, that the first few battles seemed unwieldy to me with the usual “Cancel” button being an attack here.

One thing that is time consuming and will get you killed on occasion is the spell attack/spell and/or item selection menus. You have to monkey with these while playing and you must use the D pad to select items. If you’re not quick enough, or the attack you want is a few down from what you have, it may hurt you big time. Up and down controls the special moves, while left and right controls the items. Again, this is not instinctive at first, but you do get used to it. It does suck however when you’re trying to get over to the Return spell and well, you just don’t quite make it in time.

Other than these issues, the Controls of SF Neo are well done. Max can use 4 different weapons: one handed swords, two handed swords, wands, and bows. Each has their advantage. Wands allow you to cast magic spells, bows allow you to attack from a distance and rapidly, and swords allow you to do a lot of damage, at the cost of getting up close. Each weapon has their own personal special magic spell with my preference being “Sneak Shot” with certain bows. The worst is “Meditation,” especially if you accidentally select it when rummaging through your list with the D pad. Hello suckerpunch!

My personal choice were bows and magic simply as the AI of SF Neo is pretty bad and if you choose distance, you’re not going to get hurt very often. It’s just magic spell after magic spell, and when you run out of Magic Points, you switch to the bow until you have replenished your stock and repeat. But we’ll get into AI in a further section.

The only real distinctive thing about Shining Force Neo is the Force Frame. You can collect Force Arts from fallen enemies. Bring back Force Arts to the town of Greensleeves, and Zoe will add them to your potential upgrade selections.

With Force Frames you will be collecting “Energy.” Energy is like the Magic Experience you collected in Lunar: Eternal Blue on the Sega CD. Energy is basically experience points for your Force Frame while XP is experience for your um…levels. You can raise your magic damage, your weapon damage, become resistant to critical hits or knockdowns, get more hit points, etc etc. There’s a lot of options here. Again, my preference was to go for magic, protect, and health to make you a pretty unstoppable juggernaut, but Magic costs a great deal of energy to enhance. So play what works best for you.

For all the bitching I’ve done about SFN over the past 8 pages, one thing remains in the game’s favour: it’s that it’s somewhat fun to play. The engine is well built, and you have a decent amount of customization. It’s still shallow compared to, say, Dark Alliance 2, but it has a flavour all its own.

Control & Gameplay Rating: 7/10

5. Replayability

And we’re back to why this game’s a pile of fecal matter. Shining Force Neo is HIGHLY linear, almost reinforcing that you must go in one specific path by putting much harder monsters up against you if you remotely stray. And considering how large the various maps you’ll be playing on are, it’s almost a guarantee this will happen several dozen times to you. However, there are several spin off dungeons you can locate and play through, but it adds nothing to the story. It’s just more button mashing and more experience gained so you can kill the already easy enemies even quicker.

The ending of the game is not rewarding in and of itself. The ability to switch between 9 playable allies is not a reward in itself, as over half the characters available to you stink. Especially with the craptastical AI. Here’s a hint: use Chiquitita as soon as she is available to you, because you will need her healing spells. Oh, not for you. For your idiotic teammates.

Even with the Force Arts, after playing the game for half an hour (once they are available to you that is), you’ll quickly figure out which Force Arts are there just to sucker you into putting points into, and which are actually, well, useful. And if you’re going to replay a 35 hour button masher simply to put points into fire attacks instead of lightning attacks well, hey, that’s your choice, but that puts you in the minority my friend. Especially when there are much better games out there.

Definitely not worth a second play-through, and the only reason I did (besides that I must be some sort of masochist) is I needed to go through the English version. And with a fifty dollar price tag, that makes it all the more painful for the consumer. Especially the diehard Shining fan who will basically be let down by this game.

This game is a rental only. Or something to borrow from your friends who never sell or trade in games.

Replayability Rating: 3/10

6. Balance

Not only is the AI of the enemies mind numbingly bad, but the same holds true for your allies! Watch as your allies that have distance attacks but low hit points get right in the face of giant monsters who can kill them in 1-2 hits! Thrill to you having to waste your healing potions on your allies because they don’t have the sense to RUN FROM A HORDE OF MONSTERS. Really, your allies might as well wear a big target on their backs or a red shirt and a classic Star Trek symbol.

And like I said, the enemy AI is too easy to beat. They attack consistently with the same patterns. Every enemy in the entire bloody game. You can run circles around them. In fact, the only time you will take damage or die is if you get into an intersection where you become surrounded by monsters who are huge in size and numerous in amount. That’s it. 75% of the game I was taking single digits of damage. And you’ve got over 100 hit points at level ONE! Could this game be any easier?

Well, yes. It could. See, because the game has those would be roadblocks set up. You know, where if you go off the main path you have to deal with much harder enemies? Well the thing is, those “difficult” enemies are actually just the same monsters you would fight normally but with more hit points and that do more damage. But they have the SAME EXACT AI. It may take longer, but you can still slaughter them. And then you get a lot of XP for destroying their monster gates. Before you know it you can have two force arts maxed out before you deliver your first letter (This sentence will make sense once you’ve played the game)!

And then there’s the most insipid aspect of the game at all. Something that probably sounded good on paper, but that ended up making the game lack any aspect of challenge whatsoever. It’s the combination of being able to immediately teleport from a battle to your home base and then return to the exact spot you left off mixed with UNLIMITED HEALING POTIONS! Sure, you can only carry a few at a time, but it is free to refill them. Think about this long and hard my readers. You teleport and slay things much harder than you while taking some damage. Use your healing potions that instantly restore your entire health bar and bring any fallen comrades back to life, then teleport back home, refill your potions and look, enemies are exactly where you left them!

Honestly, now that you know this, if you die at all in this game past your fifth hour playing it, hang your head in shame. It is so easy a comatose billy goat could beat it.

There’s no excuse for AI this shotty or an amazingly accessible out that might as well equate to an invincibility code in a game. Shining Force Neo has both. Way to go, Poindexters.

Balance Rating: 1/10

7. Originality

Well…the Force Art thing is original!

Other than that? Yeesh. I can’t really think of much here that is. SFN’s a Frankenstein’s Monster of recycled plot cliches. It has pretty generic graphics and music. It clones chunks of Shining Force 1 scripting wise and manages to utterly burninate them. The gameplay is right out of any Diablo clone you can think of. There’s nothing here except second rate mimicry of a lot of other, better games.

Still, that Force Art. Yeah. That’s new. What do you want from me people??? We’re ten pages in. I’m running out of venom here! I’m not some limitless hate monger!

Originality Rating: 2/10

8. Addictiveness

Despite all the massive flaws that make this game something to be avoided like a leper with herpes, Shining Force Neo is shockingly…addictive. But that’s inherent to all beat ’em ups. There’s something about this style of gameplay that makes it hard to put the controller down. It’s also where people get confused, and sadly this includes reviewers. Just because a game is addictive, does not mean it is good. Gamers like to kill things. Not in the way Jack Thompson seems to think, but it is part of gaming. Double Dragon, Battletoads, Streets of Rage, Final Fight. All those games involve one or two characters slaughtering thousands of opponents. And is there a human being alive that dares to show disdain for BATTLETOADS? Let them speak now, so that virtual rocks can be hurtled across them through the internet. Woe to thee who takes the name of BATTLETOADS in vain for God himself shall smite thee!

Whoops. Someone got off topic…

What I’m saying is that this simple “Kill things dead repeatedly” aspect of gaming is amazingly addictive, The problem is that the Hack N Slash RPG’s I mentioned in the preamble, and the above beat ’em ups all do this better than Shining Force Neo. A LOT better. But the fact remains that you can get into Shining Force Neo easily.

If they just removed the voice actors (preferably by painful death), made the story less inane and somewhat original, and upped the AI of the CPU monsters, you might have a well made game here. Instead we’ve got something that appeals simply to the lowest common denominator. Go Team Minimal Effort!

But it is quite hard to put the controller down and something awful siren-like about “Only 1500 for Energy points and I’ve maxed out Bolt magic!”

Addictiveness Rating: 7/10

9. Appeal Factor

Well, Sega’s marketing campaign has basically been “Screw the old Shining Force! This is the new Shining Force! OMGWTFLOL! It’s soooo much better and cooler and darker and the old Shining Force is poop compared to it.” So good job there Sega on pissing off your ENTIRE TARGET AUDIENCE. Read the reactions from the diehard Shining fans on Shining based websites, forums, and newsboards, and how they use lovely phrases like “Sega’s crapped on the old Shining Force games.” Or “They shoved their heads up their asses on this one.”

So what happens when you make a niche game and then totally insult the niche audience that would buy this? Why, you get two extremes reviewing this game. One has a massive blitz talking about how wonderful this game and does a five part feature of how totally cool and awesome this SNF is, and how the super high score has nothing to do with the feature and are not in bed with Neverland in any way. Really. Honest. Total coincidence. And then there’s us, who are stingy when it comes to giving out high scores, are elitist pretenious jerks, who like to review the obscure shit other sites don’t cover as quickly, and who a third of you will be introduced to our site for the first time by angry fanboys linking this review on message boards saying stuff like, “This arrogant jerk thinks Shining Force Neo sucks! What a horrible reviewer! How dare he have an opinion different from mine even though he’s articulated it to the point where my only response can involve writing an email filled with profanity and retarded name calling instead of an actual debate or well-formed contradictory commentary on why I disagree.” So thanks for visiting Inside Pulse, newcomers! Might I suggest our enjoyable feature on the Sega Dreamcast, or my amusing and silly review of I-Ninja? And thank you easily offended immature angry person! Without your belligerent rage, we wouldn’t have that shiny new link somewhere on the Internet.

All sarcasm and (possibly) failed attempt at humour aside, you basically make your title certain to fail. Congrats, Sega. You know what might be a smart idea? Now granted I’ve only worked for Tabletop RPG companies, so I may be a bit off here, but just listen to this wild outside the box idea. What if you, you know, ACTUALLY FOLLOWED THE RECIPE FOR SUCCESS CAMELOT MADE FOR YOU? Let’s take a look at scores via Gamerankings for all Shining titles released this generation as of this writing.

Shining Force Neo? 70.8%
Shining Tears? 58.1%
Shining Soul? 56.1%
Shining Force: RotDD? 75.7%

Why, what title has the highest overall ranking? Oh my god! It’s the remake of the original S-RPG! You know, the game Atlus had to port over because you were too bloody thick to bring to the States yourself? I mean I’m all for expaninding and trying new things, but when Soul, Tears, and now Neo haven’t worked, maybe you’re going down the wrong path.

Wake the hell up SammySega. You’re pulling a 32X level faux pas with your Shining fanbase. This series used to be your most consistent series regarding quality. Now where is it? Existing with only a fraction of the fans it what has and a track record of several crappy games in a row. Good job there. And what’s worst of all? Is that you haven’t made a bad Shining game. You’ve just simply made a crappy game that few will be able to enjoy. What company wants that? Okay, Namco’s Nightmare of Druaga. That was obviously made to drive gamers to kill themselves. But that’s the exception to the rule!

Hey, if you’re in the market to blow $50 on a mindless repetitive button masher whose best qualities can be summed up as “average” and whose worst qualities make you wish you were deaf, that brother, this is the game for you.

Now that’s a long angry rant!

Appeal Factor: 3/10

Miscellaneous

Wow. You get a free artbook that shows one drawing of each playable character! Excellent freebie. Especially compared to that Tales of Symphonia art book that was given away by one of your rivals! Man, you can certainly tell that yours wasn’t slapped together at the last minute like that one was.

/Sarcasm

Shining Force Neo offers no extra, no incentives to replay the game, and very little reward save from generating a Pavlovian response to button pushing. The music and graphics are never going to wow anyone, and the voice acting is so bad it will actually ruin the game for some. The AI is retarded, the game is far too easy to beat and it makes me wince to see what the Shining series has been reduced to. The only real quantity that make this game salvageable is some excellent animated cut scenes and a decently solid engine. And then the best compliment I can give to the mechanics is DECENT, that’s a pretty big red flag there.

Decidely not one of Neverland’s best moments, and yet another massive blunder by post Dreamcast Sega.

You know, when we all complained there hadn’t been any Shining games in years, we never in a million years dreamt Sega’s response would be to make us hope there wouldn’t be any ever again. I shudder at what brainstorm comes next bearing the word “shining” in the title.

Miscellaneous Rating: 3/10

The Scores:

Story: 3/10
Graphics: 7/10
Sound: 2/10
Control and Gameplay: 7/10
Replayability: 3/10
Balance: 1/10
Originality: 2/10
Addictiveness: 7/10
Appeal Factor: 3/10
Miscellaneous: 3/10

Overall Score: 38/100
FINAL SCORE: 4.0 (POOR)

Short Attention Span Summary
Guess what? I really don’t like this game! I bet that was hard to get out of this review, but it’s the truth! I wouldn’t recommend this game to anyone except people who have the worst luck playing video games. Give it to your girlfriend or little brother or someone else who is not the best at gaming, and just as you’ve raised their confidence in regards to their skill level, take them on in a game of King of Fighters 2002 after you’ve memorized Geese’s frame rate and all possible combos and watch them cry or write emo poetry that they will then post on their Internet Diary. Seriously though, the game sucks. At least in my opinion. And that’s all it is. One guy’s opinion. Take this review as gospel truth, flame it in some community, or enjoy the sarcasm and comedy intermingling with me dissecting the game. Or just go read one of the more positive reviews out there and go with that reviewer’s opinion. It’s all good. Just remember that if you don’t listen to me and then you end up regretting spending 50$ on this game, that it just means you should treat everything I say from then on as the word of God himself. And God would like money. Money and hookers. NOW!