Review by Rygo

Reviewed: 02/17/03 | Updated: 02/17/03

A Great, Simple Hack 'N Slash RPG

Looking for a stylish Action RPG with a great character development system and not a whole lot else? Then look no further than Shining Force for the Gameboy Advance!

This is definetly one area where the game excels. The graphics are crisp, colorful, and well drawn. Shining Soul utilizes a Japanese hand-drawn super-deformed character style that is both functional and pleasing to the eye. Each of the four characters has their own neat style and look well defined. There are only about six or seven different enemies, with them gradually changing colors. Some of the bosses are quite large and exciting, and the Soul Artifact effects are very neat.

There isn't a whole lot of variety in this department. When your character gets hit, they squeal a bit, or when you use your weapon, a small sound pangs off. Minimalistic, but does the trick.
The music that plays while you're in a dungeon is pretty slow and creepy and fits the scene properly. Overall, the music isn't something that you'll remember about this game.

This is where Shining Soul really shines. First off, there's the great leveling system. When you gain a level, you are attributed points to allocate into both your stats and a skill. I think this is a really innovative system, as it allows a high level of character customization. That's one of the things that I really enjoy about this game: as time goes on, your character becomes more unique and refined.
The items setup is pretty much like Diablo. You pop open a chest or kill a monster and a randomly generated item is created. Every once in a while you will find an item with a ''?'' on it that will need to be identified. These items possess special stats and abilities. You can also find rare items like the Mythril metal and the Shinobi suit. The collection aspect is quite fun.
The game also features multiplayer, from two to four players. I have not yet been able to try out this feature, but it would definetly be a lot of fun to romp through the dungeons with a few friends.

Shining Soul will probably last you quite a while. Once you beat the game the first time, you can play again in Advance mode, a much harder version of the original game (but chock full of better items!). If you ever get bored of playing your character, you can always play a different one of a different class that plays in a whole new way. The two to four player multiplayer will last you years if you can find someone to play it with you.

VALUE: 9/10

Looking to buy this game? Unfortunately, the translated version is only available in Europe for some reason. Importing will cost upwards of $40 US. Hopefully this game will be released stateside sooner rather than later (or never).

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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