Shining Force EXA Review

The Shining Force series launched in the early nineties with The Legacy of Great Intention for the good ol’ Genesis. Over a decade later, Sega released Shining Force EXA — a single-player roleplaying game that plunges gamers into interactive worlds of swords and sorcery expected from this classic series.

Instead of picking up where the last game in the series left off, Shining Force EXA gives you a brand new storyline. This time, you can choose to play as one of two characters: Toma, a talented sword fighter boy who acts like he knows more than he does, or Cyrille, a cunning female sorceress who knows more than she likes to let on. In the beginning of the game, you are joined by Gadfort, a testosterone oozing centaur/knight and Maebelle, a sassy elf with a severe munchies problem. Together you locate the legendary Shining Force. Rumored to provide its wielder with incredible powers, this magical sword is in high demand, but fate chooses young Toma as heritor of the Shining Force.

Once Toma has the sword, things start getting complicated. Through a freaky dog-like creature named Zenus, Toma learns that being heritor means he’s also master of a castle known as the Geo-Fortress. Irritated about a snotty teenaged boy getting mad power AND a new crib, bitter rivals constantly attack the Geo-Fortress and a couple of large tribes even get so riled up that they go to war against each other. It’s your job to defend the fortress and use the power of the Shining Force to restore order.

A merchant named Bornay and a blacksmith named Gantetsu end up moving into the Geo-Fortress with you and your crew. Bornay sells all sorts of goodies to help you stay protected on your quests. You can get whatever you want as long as you’ve collected enough gold (found in the woods or sometimes left behind when you kill an enemy) or trade-worthy treasures (ditto) to pay for it. Gantetsu will repair any of the weapons you purchase.

Battles become a little easier as you level up and trick out your weapons. If you want to speed the leveling process along, you can go to the Geo-Fortress Training Ground. You have to be careful in EXA because you aren’t just responsible for one character’s attributes. While you always have the ability to switch between playing as Toma or Cyrille, the two of them do not level up simultaneously. Because you will be forced to play as both characters at different points in the story, you need to keep your eye on both of their levels.

Hoping to appeal to action RPG-lovers, the developers integrated more battles in EXA. Unfortunately, the battles totally suck. You get to hit one button: X. That’s pretty much all there is to it. Whether you’re playing as Toma or Cyrille, you only have three attack options: attack (hit X), charge attack (hold X until a power bar fills up and then let go) and the special attack (attack the enemy 3 times, hold X until a power bar fills up and then let go). So basically, if you just keep hitting the X button, you’ll be fine. In most battles, you can pick 2 party members to help you fight the baddies, making combat even simpler.

Not only is combat unchallenging, it’s a visual nightmare. Each monster/enemy has a lifeline over its head and you’ve got a power bar over your head. Sometimes 30 or 40 enemies may confront you. When you’ve got all those lines on the screen, it gets to the point where you can’t even tell where you are. You just mash X and hope for the best. Because this game is rated E, you don’t get any decent gore, either.

I have one word for the sound: horrendous. Let’s just say that the mute button and I got to be real good friends over the past week. You have the option to turn the voiceovers off and read the cutscene text for yourself but there’s nothing to save you from short phrases repeated every time a sword is swung ("LEAVE IT TO ME!"). The music is lacking, too. Four to eight measure pieces will repeat … and repeat … and repeat …

It’s a shame the combat and sound are so bad in this game because it does have some really cool elements. Being able to play as two different types of characters is a nice challenge. And I like that you have the ability to improve not only your characters, but also the castle. PLUS the Geo-Fortress has a cannon and a robot factory. How sweet is that?!

When the Shining Force series started, it was more of a turn-based strategy RPG than the hack and slash action RPG we see with EXA. I think their intentions were good and the game does have really clever elements, but that Sega missed the mark with EXA. This game may appeal to a younger, less experienced crowd, but for veteran players who need more of a challenge EXA just doesn’t cut it.


  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Myspace
  • Google Buzz
  • Reddit
  • Stumnleupon
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • Technorati
Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

Leave A Response

You must be logged in to post a comment.