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The Force is strong with this one
The Super Nintendo might have got the lion's share of classic RPGs but the Mega Drive/Genesis didn't actually do all that badly either, what with titles like Beyond Oasis and Phantasy Star IV and of course, this little cracker. It looks a bit over familiar now but if you remember this originally came out in 1992 when the genre was still being defined, it holds up remarkably well and remains a first-class adventure. This one takes place in a fantastical world where the legends of the dread master Dark Dragon and his plans for domination are now returning to the peaceful land but who must be stopped by that classic video game fallback, the small band of bold heroes. What follows is a tactical RPG, featuring the genre staples of overworld exploration, an ever growing group of roguish characters and of course, lots of turn-based combat. Each character who joins your party has their own strengths and weaknesses, making clever choices vital if you want to succeed, while there's also the usual range of weapons and other items to discover in order to aid in your quest. Shining Force, and its sequel, Shining Force 2, really are superb examples of this much-loved genre and if you have any interest in such things, you need to have them both in your collection. This one does look and feel a bit twee now, with some overly cheerful music that lessens the atmosphere a bit, while the art is a little exaggerated but the core gameplay remains as compelling as ever and there really is a corking adventure to discover here, mostly thanks to the sheer depth on display.