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Written by  :  MasterMegid (902)
Written on  :  Feb 29, 2008
Rating  :  4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars

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Quite Possibly The Best Game In The Series.

The Good

Released in 1998, in many ways, Shining Force III, was a swan song for the Sega Saturn. It was one of the last games released for the Saturn outside Japan. It is certainly the most ambitious of the series, planned as a trilogy. With three scenarios each as a standalone game, but with an epic plot that arcs, and ties all the plots together. This would prove to be both a good and a bad thing.

In Shining Force III, you are cast as Synbios. He arrives at the free city of Saraband. Filling in for his father, the young nobleman, has come here as have other members of the Republic and the Empire. The purpose of this meeting is to have peace talks and quell the possibility of war. You see, the Republic was once part of the Empire, they broke off, and the Empire is still a little ticked off about this.

From here you are introduced to some of the comrades, that will make up the bulk of the force. Dantares, the knight, and Synbios’ body guard. Masqurin, the court mage, and fine elf-chick. And Grace, the kind hearted, priestess, her healing will often save your arse in difficult battles.

Aside from great playable characters, Shining Force III, also has a good supporting cast. Including your advisor, the wise king, Benetram, and the despicable, emperor Dominic.

Back to the plot, at the height of the peace talks, The Emperor is abducted, The Republic is immediately blamed. Synbios and his force most give chase, and clear the name of the Republic, before it is too late.

The story is very well written, and has an impeccable English translation. And the plot is presented in such as manner, that keeps things interesting. I found myself playing for hours on end just to see what the next revelation would bring. Enemies become allies, traitors are reveled, and an even more sinister threat to the world is unveiled.

Now allow me, to talk more about the awesome characters. I common critique of the Shining Force series, has always been, that the characters are not very well developed. I always thought, that, this was a stupid complaint, seeing as most Shining games, have 30+ characters. And it would be nearly impossible to present them all in great detail. However, Shining Force III, does a lot the rectify this.

There is lots of dialogue between characters. Be it during cut scenes, or when chatting with your allies, in your H.Q. They all have distinct personalities, either in the way they speak, or how they act. From the noble Dantares, the mischievous Masqurin, or the badass dwarf Horst.

Now what would a strategy RPG be with out a good combat system? Anyone who has played a Shining Force game before will have no problem getting into the battles. You pick 12 combatants, out of a pool of 27. And you place your troops on the field. Once you close in on an enemy. The game presents the attack with fully 3D characters, that look great, more on that later. However you cannot just run into battle willy-nilly. You need to have a plan. It is sort of like playing a huge chess game. As you have to think ahead. If you move a fighter in to finish off a foe, you have to consider, that you may be rushed by other near by enemies and therefore may get your character killed.

You also have to consider land effects. Some of your friends and foes, have trouble moving through certain types of terrain. New to Shining Force III, is a weapon system reminiscent of Fire Emblem. For example a sword is strong vs. and axe. But weak vs. a spear, it adds a bit more strategy to the battles. You soldiers can now also learn skills for use in battle. They learn them one of two ways, either by level, or by equipping a certain weapon. Once in battle, the skills will be used randomly. These are among some of the most powerful attacks of the game. For example Synbios, has an ultra skill called, “Mirage Dance”. Not only does it inflict major damage, but the animation is incredibly cool as well. The summon magic of Shining Force II is back, This time as a skill learned from equipping certain weapons. There are all new to Shining Force III, that is to say no repeats from Shining Force II. And they provide quite a bit of eye-candy as well.

Also new to Shining Force III, are support effects. By pairing up two characters, they will become friends. This will enable them to offer stat boosts to one another. The closer the characters become, the better the boost gets.

Battles are huge in Shining Force III, and can take an hour or more to complete. They truly are epic. (And I hate using that word, as it is often thrown around.-MM-)

There is a lot to do in Shining Force III. Aside from the main quest. There are lots of side quests and the like. They range form scouring an area for secret items, unlocking extra characters. To side battles you can fight. Most of which require you to find a map, before you can participate in them.

Shining Force III, impresses with its graphics as well. Towns and world map areas are fully 3D. And look great.(Who says that, The Saturn could not do 3D?-MM-) The characters are composed of 2D sprites. That actually fit well into the game. In battle however the sprite is transformed into, a huge polygonal model. And unlike many RPGS the character looks the same be it in 2D, 3D, or even CGI. There is however only one CG video in the entire game, its really sweet however.

The music is great. I really enjoyed the score. As I expected from the other Shining Force games. The sound effects follow suit. Except for the lame voices, more on that later.

The Bad

Some battles can be difficult, but not how they should be. It is not due to the fact that the enemies are skilled. Which would not bother me. What often makes them difficult, is that later in the game, enemies often re-spawn. If your are not careful you can be overwhelmed. This annoyed the hell out of me.

The voice clips in the game range from normal, to horrific. I suspect that Sega just rounded up people from the street, and asked if they wanted a job. Voices, however are scarce. And can be turned off in the menu.

The games ambition hurt it in the end. Seeing as you should play all three scenarios, but they were never released outside of Japan. I have heard of a way to patch in an English translation, if you have the ISO. And I am looking into it. Because I would like to play the remaining scenarios.

The Bottom Line

In the end, Shining Force III, is and excellent game. With it’s epic plot and great gameplay, Scenario I does end, and as a standalone game is great, but complete would be better. Despite that, I can say that I think that Shining Force III, is my favorite entry into the series, a tough call considering the excellence of the franchise.