Sega - Tested on the Sega Genesis by Kyle Swiston in 2001, reworked in 2019.
It's no small secret that Strategy-Rpg's have never been the most popular sub-genre in America or Europe. Maybe it's because they are a little more sophisticated gameplay wise than your average traditional rpg.... maybe most kids nowadays don't have the patience to spend up to an hour fighting a single battle.
But I've wasted your time long enough. In the two minutes it's taken you to read these few paragraphs you could have downloaded the Sega Genesis classic collection on consoles or Steam and found out yourself. So, if you find yourself out of playing material (which would be pretty sad indeed) and are looking for a bit of a laugh, check this Rpg granddaddy out! What do you have to lose other than a few hours? And hey, lets face it, you have nothing better to do ;)
Anyway, for those of you unfamiliar with the Shining Force series, this is indeed a strategy RPG, yet you're allowed to explore a more open world map similar to the ones you would find in a traditional RPG. There are also tons of little secrets throughout the many towns as you would see in a traditional Rpg. Its really the best of both worlds, and a perfect jumping on point for any person new to the strategy rpg ring.
Another wonderful thing about this game is the simple yet effective menu system. By minimizing the time it takes to get the hang of the magic and battle system you are able to enjoy the game from the get go. Hyper management is not everyone's cup of tea, and while I simply actually enjoyed running around in circles for hours in F8 waiting for draw points to replenish in order to make my ultimate character, a lot of people couldn't stand it.
But don't get me wrong... this game is not completely simple, it will take awhile to get the hang of the experience system, there are secret classes to discover, and there are well over 20 different characters to make up your force. Each one is different and most have their benefits if you're patient enough to discover them.
My only real gripe is that some parts in the game are very unbalanced. Hands up for all of you who were taken to school the first few times by the Kraken. When exiting and restarting a battle is the only real (yes there are places where you can get into random battles but they are few and far between) way to gain extra experience on it would have paid to make the game a bit more even. But aside from those few battles there are no real drawbacks.... though the music gets repetitive :)
So if you're thinking of trying the strategy rpg genre for the first time, or just looking for something fun to play, definitely give Shining Force II a try. I can almost guarantee you won't be disappointed! :)
I had to do some changes on this review before publishing ist - first of all, back in 2000 it was common to just download old games as ROMs and play them on a emulator - but nowadays, there are great Genesis / Mega Drive classic collections out there that include the game, so there's no need to pirate it. You could even play it on one of the new hardware consoles that output HDMI and play the game from cartridge - the choice is yours.
Other than that, I wholeheartedly agree with this review. And it's a pity that in 2019, more than 25 years after the original release of Shining Force II, there is no other such game available. Well, there is / was Shining Force III on the Sega Saturn, but after this, the series died out. Well, you could count the new Shining Force games, but they don't have anything to do with Shining Force at all.
If you feel motivated to try out Shining Force 2 based on Kyle's great review and you don't want to be frustrated in the mentioned "Kraken" or "Chess Board" battles, be sure to check out rpg-o-mania's Shining Force Strategy Guide!