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Sonic and Camelot
Sega Saturn
Review : Shining Force 3: Scenario 1
Shining Force III first sparked my interest when I read a special preview in Sega Saturn Magazine, that bastion of journalist prowess from yesteryear. I'd never played a Shining style game before but there was something about this preview that got me interested straight away. From those first screenshots I was hooked, and I read absolutely everything I could find about the game - every single article was devoured voraciously, and my anticipation of the title soon reached fever pitch. I planned writing a diary of my travels - who I met, what I fought. I wanted to savour every detail and record it as a way of securing the game's place in my heart. No other game had every captivated me in such a profound way, and I hadn't even played it yet! As soon as it was released I ordered the game by mail, and the day it arrived my life was changed forever.


Noon is subject to some excellent transparency effects here!


At the very first view of Saraband I was in love. The way the camera swooped over the city just took my breath away, and every motion of the characters, every tiny detail served to stir my loins all the more intensely. The graphics of the game were just so fresh and the atmosphere so beautifully conveyed that I couldn't put the pad down for what seemed like days. I was completely and utterly smitten with this joyous parade of beauty before my eyes, and I played the game in every available moment. Every time I learnt a new spell or special attack my hands itched to use it, and every new graphical trick was a revelation to me - the support spells and their kaleidoscopic cocoon, the vivid carpet of fire for Blaze level 3 - everything took the game to greater heights in my eyes. Suffice to say, as soon as Phoenix and Wendigo came into play swift trips to the bathroom were necessary...


Masquirin causes some damage


But enough about the graphics - we all know how stunning they are, even now. Even if the graphical frippery had been toned down, the gripping plot would still be enough to keep you glued to your seat like the victim of a particularly cruel Bostik-sponsored practical joke. Whilst initially confusing, due to the huge number of power struggles and traitorous Generals from both sides, the plot culminates in spectacular fashion in the game's final chapter and a hugely impressive battle against a... well, I'll let you see. As I said, the plot is sometimes confusing unless you pay particularly close attention [and you'll find it hard not to], but really this just gives you all the more reason to play through again - I must have played it half a dozen times by now and I'm still not completely certain of who does what and when... I think I'll have to play it some more! I've heard that some people have played the game upwards of fifty times... that's an indication of the spectacular drama to be enjoyed.


"Prepare to die!" - Dantares has arguably the coolest voice in the game


Overall I really can't praise Shining Force III enough, it changed my life forever really - I made a load of new friends, got into RPGs big style and joined TSS to become a developer of Shining Online. So all praise be to Camelot for creating one of the most life-changing games I've ever played!

Graphics: 10

A revelation. Each new spell and special attack blew me away, and redefined the Saturn's graphical capabilities. The reason Scenario I scores higher than Scenario II in this regard is due to the fact that Scn. I completely changed my expectations of RPGs with more innovative effects and colour than I had ever imagined. Scenario II improved on the graphics in some places but failed to offer as many new sights as the first instalment.

Music: 9

A rousing symphonic score complements the game's action perfectly, and each town theme encapsulates the atmosphere to such an extent that the first few bars of each tune is enough to send me revelling in fond memories like that smoky old man in the corner of the pub.

Gameplay: 9

Shining Force III manages to enthrall and amaze at every opportunity, surpassing previous games in the series and firmly establishing the Shining battle system as the very best battle system seen. Ever.

Lastability: 10

You'll keep replaying it just to revisit your favourite characters and cut scenes, and if you have the other two scenarios the lastability is enhanced still further, Camelot's Synchronicity system providing unimaginable replay value.

Overall: 10

A truly incredible game that simply must be played, experienced - lived.



Reviewed by: Newts
Date: 2002
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