Developer: Sega
Price: $2.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.0
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 3G, iPad

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★½☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★½
Replay Value Rating: ★★★☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Sega has taken to unleashing their back catalog of Genesis classics on to the App Store, and they’ve now unleashed their strategy RPG progenitor Shining Force onto the App Store. It sometimes shows its age, but also holds up remarkably well to this day. The story is a typical ‘young warrior leaves home, leads ragtag band of adventurers on quest to destroy ancient evil’ one, but the game is all about relatively uncomplicated strategy-RPG gameplay. You have your hero unit that you must keep alive at all costs, archers who can attack from ranged distances, magicians with powerful spells, centaur paladins who can cover great units (the benefit of being half-man, half-horse), among other standard RPG units. Shining Force lacks not for standard RPG tropes, but don’t let my seeming lackadaisical attitude towards them dissuade you – the game lays a great foundation of strategy RPG gameplay without making things too complicated or difficult for non-RPG diehards to enjoy.

While Sega’s Genesis emulator can occasionally stutter on less powerful devices, Shining Force’s turn-based nature makes the performance hit largely irrelevant – if you can put up with the reduced framerate, the game is absolutely playable on whatever iOS device you can install it on. The game is also a fantastic value – there’s hours of gameplay in this $2.99 package, and the game still holds up really well, 17 years after its original release. It doesn’t have the complexity of some other games in the strategy RPG genre, but it’s easy to get into and enjoy, with the ability to resume from wherever you leave off when you quit the app.

Sadly, there are some dated quirks with the interface. For example, in scenes after battles where you can find objects laying around the battlefield: walk on every square, hit A to call up the menu, select the examine option, and click through a text prompt telling you what if anything you found. Talking to people is similarly tedious. These kinds of interface issues were fixed in the GBA remake of the game, but this app (and Sega’s other Genesis games) are just about presenting the original experience as best as they can on the iOS. This isn’t a bad thing, especially to the purist, but could be a deal breaker for the uninitiated.

Shining Force is an underappreciated classic, and while its age sometimes shows, it is a good port by Sega to iOS, and a great representation of a strategy RPG worth checking out to this day, at a fair price.

Posted in: Games, iPhone Apps and Games, Reviews

Tagged with: , , , , ,