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Sonic and Camelot
Sega Saturn
Review : Shining Force 3: Scenario 3

The final instalment in the epic Shining Force III trilogy came towards the very end of the Saturn's life in the fickle world of videogames, and cements the machine's place as one of the true under-rated greats. Scenario III is incredible.

Scenario III is unique when compared to the other two scenarios, with an incredible array of brand new characters, spells and gameplay ideas that manage to lift the game even higher above the plague of Final Fantasy games. There are character types and ranks that have never been seen before, and for Scenario I players the third disc offers far more by way of innovation and new sights than Scenario II. You get to control a dragon tamer, a Unicorn, a lionman and even an awesome dragon. The best thing about Scenario III is undoubtedly the sheer imagination put into the design of every character, town and weapon - it's absolute beauty in video game format!


Julian wanders around the republican town of Baersol


The gameplay, you'll be pleased to know, remains firmly rooted in the battle-oriented format established by the previous games. You control Julian, a swordsman from Enrich seeking vengeance for the brutal murder of his father by everybody's favourite Vandal, Galm. If you've played the first Scenario, which you almost undoubtedly have, this should all seem in order. For those whose Shining history stretches a little further back, Julian was a young boy in the town of Enrich in Shining the Holy Ark - and my, hasn't he grown? By his side is Gracia, the young child of Elbesem whose destiny is to save the world from the resurrection of Bulzome. The sheer scale of the plot really hits home in the third Scenario, as the countless hours spent building up to the final climactic battle pay their dividends.


The attention to detail in all the character design is quite good!


The main reason to play Scenario III for Scenario I vets is not necessarily to see what happens in the end. For the very last chapter, "Shining Force forever!", you take control of all three squads and train them separately, in preparation for the amazing three way battle. When your characters reach level 20 they can then receive a blessing and will be promoted to a super-powerful rank, usually along the lines of "Saint" or "Holy Knight", or even "Lightbearer". Once again, Scenario III proves that persistence and patience really does pay off, and seeing all your characters gain new portraits and battle animations is a beautiful sight, in some cases even enough to make grown men weep.


Another close-up, this time of the axe-wielding Leon


As far as I can see, there are no faults with this game. Whilst Scenario II was perhaps guilty of playing it safe and being too similar to the first disc, no such accusations could be levelled at Scenario III - it introduces more new spells, characters, levels and ideas than I could ever have imagined, yet the structure and simple delight the game brings remains wholly intact.

Shining Force III deserves an immortal place in gaming's great echelon as not only a superb trilogy but as three truly life-changing games. Played individually the stories remain self-contained, and completing each scenario will take many hours of patient battling and exploring. Combine the three, however, and the epic plot that sweeps through the series reveals itself in its entirety, with more amazing twists and touches than I could ever adequately describe. In short, you should buy any of these three games without a moment of hesitation, as each has captured a piece of my heart and imagination in a way I never dreamt possible. I'm sure they would do the same to you.

Graphics - 10. More mind-blowing Summons spells than ever, and seeing the final promotions for each characters calls plenty of Kleenex to be handy.

Sounds - 9. Scenario I veterans will be pleased to know that the cast speaks in their Japanese voices, so no silly-sounding cries of "Raaaain thunder!" to be embarrassed by. The music and arrangement remains top-notch.

Gameplay - 10. Untouchable.

Lastability - 10. As with the other two games, there is always another reason to play through again, and to get the best out of it you'll need to play the other two Scenarios religiously to get every team member, a mammoth task in itself.

Overall - 10. Well, it was never going to be anything else, really, was it? All the superlatives this side of the Great Wall don't do this game justice, nor the series - BUY THEM ALL NOW!



Reviewed by: Newts
Date: 2002
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