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A shining star
A mix of the strategy and RPG genres, the Shining Force series is another one of those sets of games which really found its home on the Mega Drive/Genesis and stands alongside King's Bounty and Phantasy Star IV as a must-have for the system. This one combines simple but elegant gameplay with charming visuals and an engaging storyline to create a compelling and enjoyable experience that is perfect for gamers who like to kick it old-school. The story here is your usual 90s fantasy console foolishness, with a bold hero who has to go out and complete a number of challenging quests, like saving the princess, saving the locals from evil and finally taking down the big bad guy. The gameplay too is familiar stuff, with two main modes, the first being exploration where you wander around in RPG fashion talking to people, and the second being the turn-based combat. You've got plenty of characters to meet along the way, many of whom can join your party while there are also side-quests, leveling up, and all the other sorts of things you find in these games. Although Shining Force 2 might not sound terribly imaginative, in reality it's a great little game. The storyline is simple but manages to throw in some genuine surprises which give it a hidden depth while exploring the game world is an equally enthralling experience. The mix of strategy and narrative is near perfectly handled, with several clever ideas that are well implemented while the visuals are charming and brimming with personality. Sure, there might be a few faults but this is one of those games which still stands up well today.