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Vote for SEGA in the 2014 Pocket Gamer Awards!

We are honored to have several nominations in multiple categories in the 2014 Pocket Gamer Awards! Help us out by voting on your favorite SEGA mobile games.

SEGA is nominated for the following awards:


Best Strategy/Simulation Game
Football Manager Handheld 2014


Best Sports/Driving Game
Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed


Best Publisher
SEGA


Vote Now in the 2014 Pocket Gamer Awards!



 
   
   
 

SEGA Puts Regular Prices in Detention with iOS Back to School Sale

back to school ios sale

To help students enjoy the last few weeks of their summer holiday, before heading back to school, SEGA are lowering the price of selected iOS titles. Enjoy discounts on classic games such as Streets of Rage and ChuChu Rocket! Make sure you take advantage of this offer but be quick as it ends on the 29th August.

To put some extra gaming in your backpack, visit the iTunes® App Store and hunt for SEGA.

Sale-priced titles:
Golden Axe™ 2: $0.99/ £0.69 / €0.79/ AUD$0.99 (was $2.99/ £1.99/ €2.39/ AUD$2.99)

Golden Axe™ 3: $0.99/ £0.69 / €0.79 /AUD$0.99 (was $2.99/ £1.99/ €2.39/ AUD$2.99)

Streets of Rage™ 2: $0.99/ £0.69 / €0.79/ AUD$0.99 (was $2.99/ £1.99/ €2.39/ AUD$2.99)

Streets of Rage™ 3: $0.99/ £0.69 / €0.79/ AUD$0.99 (was $2.99/ £1.99/ €2.39/ AUD$2.99)

Gunstar Heroes™: $0.99/ £0.69 / €0.79/ AUD$0.99 (was $2.99/ £1.99/ €2.39/ AUD$2.99)

ChuChu Rocket!™: $0.99/ £0.69 / €0.79/ AUD$0.99 (was $2.99/ £1.99/ €2.39/ AUD$2.99)

ChuChu Rocket!™ HD (iPad): $0.99/ £0.69 / €0.79/ AUD$0.99 (was $4.99/ £2.99/ €3.99 AUD$2.99)

 
   
   
 

Guess Who’s Back?

Dreamcast T-Shirt Our events & media manager Teri, with our Dreamcast Collection shirts from E3 2010

It feels sooooo good to be back! We’ve really missed blogging about all the cool stuff happening here at SEGA, and we’ve really missed reading all your comments, too. There’s lots of content to catch up on, and we’ll be doing just that over the next few weeks. We’ve also got exciting new stuff coming up. But for now, we wanted to catch you up on some of the changes we made while we were away,  so you don’t stub your toe on our new furniture, so to speak.

Blog Merge

Kellie enjoying a post-event drink Kellie (me!) enjoying a post-event drink at Sonic Boom 2011.

As you may know, we’ve maintained a few different blogs under the SEGA umbrella for a while now — the SEGA America blog, the SEGA Europe blog, and the Sonic blog included. What we’ve found is that we’re often posting the same content in multiple places — and this is more work for us and not as much new content for you. So we’ve condensed all of those blogs into one single blog (which  you are now reading). Community managers from both sides of the pond will be updating this new blog, and we hope this makes for a more consistent and unifying experience for everyone. We also promise to be as globally inclusive as we can by remembering to specify when promotions, release dates, etc are only for one country or another. But please be patient with us if we mess up occasionally, as this is a new blogging experience for all of us.

Because of this merge, we have a new URL — http://blogs.sega.com — and you may need to update your RSS feeds (if you read us via RSS) because of this. We have put redirects in place for our old URLs, so hopefully we don’t lose too many of you along the way.

I see some of you Sonic fans out there with pouty faces, because you enjoyed reading a blog that was only about Sonic and not our other titles. Well, first of all, I would suggest that you give reading our entire blog a chance, because  you might find something that you really like. But if you really just want only Sonic, we can help you out! The old Sonic Blognik URL redirects to a space on our blog that aggregates all of the Sonic posts on the blog in one spot. If you want all Sonic and only Sonic, this is the place to go.

New Look

Mark & Judy Mark (Associate Producer) and Judy (Sr. Brand Manager working on Sonic) play bouncer at E3 2011.

The original structure of our blog is still the same — a 3 column layout with categories on the left and other fun stuff on the right. But we’ve made a few updates and hope you’ll take advantage of them!

First, you might have noticed our new banner, featuring Sonic. A lot of the characters in our old banner were a bit dated, so we’ve changed to a fresh look. Along with the new banner, you may notice that the splotchy background (or blue circles, if you are used to the Sonic blog) is gone and has been replaced with a clean, white background. We also placed links to our social media sites in the banner for easy access. (For ESRB reasons, the Flickr and YouTube point to the SegaAmerica accounts, but the Sega Europe Flickr and YouTube accounts are still active!)

The category list is still on the left, and still takes you directly to any specific game or event you want to see all of our blog entries on. We moved it up the page to make it more prominent and accessible, to help you find what you’re looking for more quickly. We also kept the calendar on the upper right side of the blog, in case you prefer to search for an entry by date instead of subject.

We put some new stuff on the right side, too. We added a Twitter widget, which shows the most recent tweets from the SEGA account. We also added a Facebook friend box for the SEGA page, so you can “like” us right from the blog.

Our final big change, and one that we are all VERY excited about, is the addition of social media sharing buttons on every blog entry. Now you can “like” and share our content on Facebook, give us a +1 on Google+, submit our article to StumbleUpon, or tweet a link to our article on your Twitter. We hope this helps you share our content with your friends and help us spread the SEGA love all around the interwebs!

Welcome Back!

Matt and Julian at Gamespot Matt (Associate Producer) and Julian (Clumsyorchid, Community Manager) at San Diego Comic Con 2011

We also made some more minor updates while we were away, like upgrading to a new version of WordPress. We think we’ve got all the bugs ironed out, but if you see something you think shouldn’t be happening (or don’t see something you think should be happening) please let us know in the comments.

What hasn’t changed is our commitment to bringing you all the best SEGA-related news and awesome stuff from around the web. And as you’ve seen in this entry, we like to highlight the people who work here at SEGA. We want you to know that there are real people on this end that are just as passionate about our games and our company as you are. We also love to highlight our fans, because you guys make awesome fan art, come to conventions in amazing costumes, and are just all-around the best fans ever.

We’re thrilled to welcome you back to the new and hopefully improved SEGA blog! Let us know what  you think in the comments. And don’t forget to like/+1/submit/tweet about us on your way down to the comment box.

 
   
   
 

A Host of Classics on Wii Virtual Console

Three new classic SEGA games have recently made their way to the Wii Virtual Console and are available now–Galaxy Force II, Space Harrier, and Fantasy Zone II. Galaxy Force II and Fantasy Zone II are from the Genesis and Master System, respectively, and Space Harrier is the original arcade version.

Let’s start with Space Harrier: This is a near perfect example of everything that made SEGA unique in the field of arcade games back in the 80s. Nothing else has ever looked quite like Space Harrier. It has the straight-ahead fighter style of games like After Burner, but replacing the ship/plane with a flying guy holding a laser cannon who navigates alien worlds, thusly:

Space Harrier - Virtual Console

This is the epitome of quarter-eating obsessive arcade action. The Wii version has the bonus that, by simply clicking the trigger button the Wii remote, you can add “quarters” to the game–meaning you can gut your way through no matter how many times you die. And unless you are a highly skilled twitch-gamer already adept at bullet-curtain style shooters, you will die plenty of times.

Zardoz!

Considering the difficulty of the game, that’s not a bad move–and yet, there’s still a great deal of challenge in the game for anyone who wants to try to finish with the more traditional 3 lives. Or, if you’re really hard-core & old-school: get a stack of your laundry money and give a quarter away for every extra life you get. Be warned that Space Harrier is a difficult enough game that this approach may leave you quite rank after a while, which may help add to the nostalgia factor of playing this game in dark, seedy arcades.

If you want to see the dizzying maneuvers put on by a pro at Space Harrier, check out this video of someone playing the last 3 levels of the game.

In the same vein as Space Harrier is Galaxy Force II, which is a little more like After Burner in space. This is another trippy-looking game, with a unique targeting system that causes each shot to home in on multiple enemies at once, provided you can wait for them to be targeted. The game is based around your fuel gauge and your ability to speed up & slow down, and the need to get through each stage before running out of fuel. All the elements work together quite nicely, and this is a great example of the basic engine behind After Burner being expanded upon and given a unique look and feel.

Galaxy Force II - Virtual Console

Galaxy Force II - Virtual Console

I’ve saved my favorite game of this bunch for last, though. Although I certainly have fond memories of Space Harrier (the Master System version, even!), it’s Fantasy Zone II that is the strangest, most psychedelic game of this trio of incredibly psychedelic games. I covered, in a retro/nostalgia piece a while back, the original Fantasy Zone for the Master System, and this sequel (still from the Master System) basically improves on everything from the original.

Fantasy Zone II - Virtual Console

It’s a side-scrolling shooter, replete with whimsically designed enemies and stages that look like they’re made out of sentient blocks of candy. The music is inspired and the gameplay, which involves deft weaving in and out of swarming mobs of pastel and technicolor bad guys, is oddly hypnotic.

Fantasy Zone II - Virtual Console

The full title of the game is Fantasy Zone II: The Tears of Opa-Opa, which is a reference to the ending of the original game. A quick refresher, for those of you not up on your SEGA history: Opa-Opa is the title character, and was actually the official mascott of SEGA up until a blast-processing-powered Erinaceinae took that title.

At the end of the plot of the first Fantasy Zone, Opa-Opa defeats the leader of the invading force only to find out that it’s his father (an enormous version of Opa-Opa himself), who, filled with regret over leading an invading force of flying cupcakes against the peace-loving Fantasy Zone, sheds a single tear before dying.

Fantasy Zone II - Virtual Console

Last note on Fantasy Zone II: This game looks really good, with (almost alarmingly) bright colors and crisp sprites. The Master System may have been dwarfed in terms of sheer numbers by the NES, but boy howdy, it had incredible color and sound.

All three of these games have a very through-the-rabbit-hole aesthetic. They go nicely with some other recent Virtual Console releases, which I can’t help but highlight here:

Wonderboy III: Monster Lair

The Wonderboy games were always a kind of neat hybrid of side-scrolling action with odd little RPG elements — collecting items and upgrading weapons and armor — thrown in. One can think of Wonderboy as the more naturalistic (naked) cousin of Alex Kidd.

Wonder Boy III - Virtual Console


Clay Fighter

One can safely call Clay Fighter a visual feast. A fighting game with a fine sense of humor that squeezed everything it could out of the Genesis.

Clay Fighter - Virtual Console

All of these games are available now for the Virtual Console!

 
   
   
 

Free Stuff Friday: May 15th, 2009

Up for Grabs 5/15/09

We’ve got some great stuff up for grabs in our Free Stuff Friday giveaway tomorrow (May 15th, 2009)! Everyone is eligible to win any prize this week. I’ve got all the details on our prizes below, and if you need a starter (or a refresher) about how to enter the contest via Twitter, that information is at the bottom of the post.

On the Block This Week

Item 1: Happy Tree Friends “Do It Yourself” shirt

Happy Tree Friends T-Shirt -- "Do it yourself" size child's XL

This is a yellow American Apparel shirt. The label says XL, but it appears best suited for a large child or small adult.

Congrats to @computim, who won this item!

Item 2: Viking: The Battle for Asgard Mug


Viking: The Battle for Asgard mug

This is a mug/stein with the Viking and SEGA logos on it. Press the tail of the lid at the edge of the handle to open the top.

Congrats to @lgladdy, who won this item!

Item 3: The Conduit Shirt

The Conduit T-Shirt -- Size L

This shirt has the All Seeing Eye on the front. “The Conduit”, along with the SEGA and High Voltage Software logos are on the back. The size of the shirt is unmarked, but we think it’s a large.

Congrats to @lothusmarque, who won this item!

Item 4: Sonic X Space Fighters Knuckles Figurine — New In Box


Sonic X Space Fighters -- Knuckles Figurine

This is new in the box, and in great condition.

Congrats to @NazcatheMad, who won this item!

Item 5: Happy Tree Friends “Shifty” Shirt

Happy Tree Friends T-Shirt -- "Shifty" size XL

This shirt is olive green and a size XL.

Congrats to @larryoji, who won this item.

How it Works

  1. You must be following us on Twitter to be eligible. (If you don’t have a Twitter account, you can create one by going to http://www.twitter.com and click the green “get started — join!” button in the center of the page.)
  2. At random times on Friday, we will announce the prize we are giving away. The first person to send us a direct message (DM) via Twitter will win the prize. (@ replies do not count as entries!)
  3. All followers are eligible to win all prizes, unless a restriction is noted. Restrictions are usually due to the prize being region-locked. For example, US games that won’t work on UK gaming systems.  There may also be age restrictions due to the rating of the game.
  4. We will announce the winner on our Twitter feed once eligibility is confirmed.

Make Sure We’re Following You on Twitter

If you are currently following us on Twitter, please be sure that we are following you as well. You can do this by making sure that SEGA is in your “followers” list, or by going to DoesFollow and typing SEGA in the first blank, your Twitter username in the second, and pressing the “check” button. You can reverse this to be sure that you are following us. If you are following us, but we’re not following  you, please send a message to @SEGA and we will follow you. This is important, because only people we follow can send us direct messages (DMs), and DMs are the only way to enter the giveaways.

How to Send Direct Messages on Twitter

There are a few ways to send us a Direct Message on Twitter. The easiest way is to go to our Twitter page and select “message” under the “Actions” heading in the side bar. If you do not see “message”, this means that we are not following you. Please send a message to @sega to let us know, and we will follow you. When you click “message” you will be taken to a window where you can type a message and press send.

You may also select the “direct messages” tab from your Twitter homepage, and select SEGA from the drop-down menu at the top of the page. Again, if you don’t see our name there, it’s probably because we’re not following you. Let us know, and we’ll follow you.

There are also many Twitter clients that you can use instead of using the website. These include TweetDeck, Twitteriffic, Tweetie, and Twhirl. Each of these programs works differently, so you’ll want to figure out how to send a direct message on the program you use. If you want to send us a test message, we’ll let you know if we received it or not.

 
   
   
 

We’re Now @Sega on Twitter

twitter logo

We’ve been tweeting under the Twitter username @SegaAmerica for the past few months, and our European colleagues have been tweeting under @Sega_Europe.  We recently decided that we’d like to tweet as one, and the kind folks at Twitter have released the username @Sega to us. I’ve re-registered @SegaAmerica and set it up with a “we’ve moved” message.

If you were already following @SegaAmerica, you’ve been automatically transferred over and don’t need to take any further action.

If you were following @Sega_Europe but not @SegaAmerica, please go to our new page and follow @Sega.

If you were never following us, but would like to, please go to our new page and click “Follow”. You’ll need to sign up for a Twitter account if you don’t have one already.

If you’re new to Twitter and don’t understand what it is, here’s a great video from CommonCraft.

YouTube Preview Image

Please help us spread the word about this change. We’ve been fortunate enough to be listed on a few “best of twitter” blog posts, and we still want people to easily find us.

Follow @Sega on Twitter now!

 
   
   
 

iPhone 3.0 Software Brings New Possibilities for Games

Like a lot of people, I’m crazy about my iPhone. So many people at SEGA have them, that when we all get invited to a meeting, there’s a flurry of calendar alert sounds from everyone’s phones. I’ve had my phone since the first day they were sold (yes, I was one of those people waiting in line outside the mall. Yes, it was worth it.) and I’ve eagerly followed the evolution of both the hardware and the software. So I was really excited to hear what would be announced at Apple’s iPhone OS 3.0 event this past Tuesday.

There are over 100 new features, and although I’m happy to talk about them all, you’re probably wondering what this has to do with SEGA. Apple has made some revisions in the software development kit for applications, and opened up some new functions for applications. These changes bring some incredible opportunities for both application makers and application users.

Perhaps the biggest change to the applications is that makers can now sell content from within the app. This is great for magazine, newspaper, and e-book distributors, because now they can make one app and sell subscriptions from within the app to load new content. But it’s also great for game developers like us, because we can sell additional levels, additional weapons, and additional content from within the game. It opens up an entire world of possibilities that weren’t there before.

But you might not be as enthusiastic about this. Some people think it’s just a way for app makers to squeeze more money out of customers — to nickel and dime them to death or to charge them more money for content that should have just been there at the original price. And I can definitely see how unscrupulous app makers could attempt such a thing. I’d like to think that most app makers respect their customers more than that, and that customers would be quick to call out any app maker that excessively and unfairly charged customers.

I think this allows games to be more expandable and longer-lasting. Under the old model, you buy a game like Super Monkey Ball (for example), play it, finish it, and are done with it. You can play it again if you want, but it is what it is, and you’ve already been through it all. A lot of people won’t go back and play a game, so they end up pushing the app to a back page and ignoring it. But under this new model, game makers can keep adding interesting content, potentially making a game new and interesting (and engaging) for months or even years. If you like Super Monkey Ball enough to want more, you can get more in a seamless continuation of the original app. If not, then you don’t have to.

It will also be interesting to see if the pricing schemes for games change to be less money upfront, but more add-ins. Although this may also feel like nickel-and-diming, it may work out better for everyone. Game makers may sell more initial installs because there’s less risk due to the lower pricing. And gamers get to try a game out without throwing down too much money. If they don’t like it, it’s not a huge loss. If they do, they can pay to keep going.

Is this something you’re looking forward to, or something you’re dreading?

 
   
   
 

SEGA (and Sonic) at Video Games Live!

Just over a week ago, Video Games Live made its way here to the Bay Area – if you’re unaware of what VGL is, think of all that awesome music you know and love from video games – oldschool and new – and imagine it with a live professional orchestra in a concert hall, complete with flashy lights and a MASSIVE screen above stage with gameplay movies to go with the music.

SEGA at Video Games Live

A shot of the orchestra and the screen – told you it was big!

One of our web producers and I went down to the Fox Theatre in Oakland to check it out – and were in for a very sweet surprise, to the tune (literally) of the original Sonic the Hedgehog ending credits, fully orchestrated. Awesome. Also among the show were oldschool Nintendo and Arcade classics, Starcraft II (yes, two), the music from Halo, Chrono Trigger, and more. We recorded some parts of the Sonic special and I spliced them together for YouTube – check it out below:

YouTube Preview Image

Overall, a very awesome performance. Our thanks and kudos to all the guys behind the show, and to Ray for hooking us up with some backstage passes!

 
   
   
 

Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection: Yes, It Has Sonic Games Too

Sonic is nearly 20 years old now, and he’s made appearances in nearly every conceivable type of game–side-scrolling, 3D-action, racing, sports, action/adventure, really weird 3D, puzzle, more racing, and even RPG. One might say he is a well-traveled hedgehog. 

Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection releases today, and lest we forget, this is Sonic’s ultimate Genesis Collection: Although he’s usually out-of-office here at Sega HQ, his office (which by the way is filled with rings) is equipped with every Sega system all the way back to the SG-1000. I think he has Tails (currently VP of Hovering and Market Research) spearheading a port of Sonic R for it (rumors that the Tails Doll from that game was hard-coded into the motherboard of the SG-1000 years before the release of the first Sonic game are totally unsubstantiated). So his presence here at Sega is what one might call significant.

The point is, Sonic owns these games. There’s a reason so many collections have pulled together Sonic games, especially the original three (and Sonic & Knuckles). I’ll leave the original two Sonic games out of this blog–there’s not exactly a dearth of info on these games, and many of us know the levels by heart–but this is Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection (did I mention that?), and I thought it would be fun to take a look at the last of the side-scrolling Sonic games that came out for the Genesis.

Sonic 3′s design isn’t a lot different from Sonic 2, at least not as dramatically as Sonic 2 was an upgrade of the first Sonic. There’s a lot in the details, though–level design is at a pinnacle for Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles, and the simple addition of different shield types added a huge amount to the games. If you think that all Sonic needs is a pair of sneakers, you’ve obviously never tried the bubble shield. And as in Sonic 2, the work-to-payoff ratio of taking the time to collect all the Chaos Emeralds in the bonus stages to become Super Sonic is one of the most awesomely satisfying payoffs in all of video games.

Also: We’ve gotten comments & questions from die-hard Sonic fans about this collection, and whether Sonic 3 + Knuckles would be included, or just the separate games. For those who don’t know: the original games were intended to be part of the same cart, and Sonic & Knuckles was eventually released as a “lock-on” cartridge, that could be locked-on to Sonic 3 and Sonic 2 so that Knuckles would be playable in those games. Locking Sonic & Knuckles into any other Sega Genesis game allows access to the game Blue Sphere, based on the Sonic bonus levels.

This ‘Sonic 3 + Knuckles’ feature wasn’t included for Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection. I spoke with the producer for Sonic’s UGC, Ethan Einhorn, who definitely understands the nature of hard-core Sonic fandom. We had a good conversation about the game, and I got Ethan’s official explanation for why Sonic 3 + Knuckles wasn’t included: “To shore up the development time necessary to get “Lock-On” to work in Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection, we would have had to drop all of the bonus games from the disc. Faced with an either/or scenario, we chose to retain our title lineup in its entirety.”

SUGC - Sonic 3 04SUGC - Sonic 3 03

In other words, that would have meant losing the Sega Master System ports (Phantasy Star and Golden Axe Warrior) and all of the arcade ports. Just throwing an old ROM into a game is one thing, but combining lots of different types of ROM technology (arcade, Genesis, Master System) and making them all work together is another, and to get the game out with this lineup, that’s what needed to happen.

Lock-on was a cool feature but I love seeing the games here regardless; the levels for Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles are fantastic, definitely at the height of game design for side-scrolling action games. These games were made near the end of the Genesis’ heyday, and showcase the best combination of speed, sound, graphics, and gameplay available for the system. This collection has a lot of terrific games from all over Sega history, and they’re all worth investigating in their own way–but it’s always nice to revisit the best that a beloved system was capable of.

 

 
   
   
 

Shining Force I & II: The Legacy Of Tactical Awesomeness

Favorite games are like favorite books or movies or anything else—it’s fun to make lists, but the things we enjoy that much aren’t really about hierarchy, and picking a “favorite”—especially when it’s a game that’s more than a few years old—is mostly about the nostalgia of remembering fond, fond hours spent playing through a game from a now-extinct genre. Well, nuts to all that: Shining Force and Shining Force II are two of my favorite games of all time, up high on my mental top-10 list. Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection comes out tomorrow (February 10th!), and contains dozens of classic gems, but it would be worth the price of admission for the two Shining Force games alone.

There have been a total of twenty-one (!) games in the “Shining” series, from 1991′s Shining in the Darkness up through 2007′s Shining Wind and this year’s Shining Force Feather, set for release in Japan. Shining Force 3 was released on three separate discs for the Saturn and there have been a number of remakes & re-releases. The first two Shining Force games, however, perfectly blend RPG and tactical strategy gaming: Shining Force I & II are something like spiritual ancestors to Valkyria Chronicles, only Shining Force unfurls more like the early Final Fantasy games in the way you move around the game world and add members to your team while the story unfolds.

The story for the two games is not what one would call staggeringly original (ultimate evil returned after 1,000 years of exile, powerful enemy leader who is actually a good guy at heart, young swordsman protagonist who must seek out an ancient weapon rumored to be the only thing capable of stopping the evil, etc). But as with any good RPG it’s less the uniqueness of the story than the execution, and I recall these two games having significant pathos in how the stories were told.

The meat of the games, though, was the tactical, turn-based squad combat, and the team-building. I loved the “headquarters” in the two games, where you could freely wander and talk to everyone on your force, and put your group together. The characters are wonderfully designed, too: check out this terrific fan page for a list of all the characters from the first game. Here’s one for Shining Force II, from the same site. Actually, let’s put a link to the main page of this site here because it’s an excellent guide to the game & characters with lots of great fan stuff. There’s other pages like it around too, and a lot of great guides to the game, including information on when to promote your characters: in-game, “promoting” your characters at the right point gives them a special class and access to better spells, and with 30 unique playable characters in each game and a variety of different character classes and abilities, there’s a load of depth to the gameplay & strategy.

There are battles from Shining Force that I still remember playing the first time through: a robotic laser-eye cannon sits on the opposite side of a bridge in one battle and obliterates anyone who gets in the way, so you have to be careful about sending your troops across the bridge and past enemies to disable it. There’s a “chessboard” battle in Shining Force II that’s both incredibly difficult and incredibly fun. Oh–and jeez, I almost forgot–in the first Shining Force there’s a town you visit where everything seems a little . . . off. The townsmen start following you around, saying the same cryptic things over and over again, until eventually you wander into a church . . . and they all follow you in and block the entrance. Then they turn into evil zombies. For a game with such a cartoony look & feel, it’s an unnervingly creepy moment.

I loved the original Shining Force, and Shining Force II was essentially the same formula, only bigger in almost every respect, with a larger game world, far more battles, and a more expansive story with some nice twists and turns along the way. The original carts for this game are actually fairly rare, especially Shining Force II. I paid something like 60 or 70 dollars for it back in the day, one of the rare cases I’ve dropped that much cash for a game and not regretted it at all.

I said in another post that the original Phantasy Star stands up well even today, and someone challenged me on that in a response to the blog–well, they’re partially right, I think: the RPG genre has advanced and changed so much that it’s hard to compare the games from 20 years ago, and even beautiful & elegant RPGs from that era require loads more patience once you’ve played through some of today’s games.

An RPG from 1986 or 1990 is a totally different beast than one from 2005 or 2009, so maybe you can’t even really compare them . . . but, in my opinion, the Shining Force games really do stand up well today, and the battles are still a ton of fun to play through, and the animation and characters still look beautifully designed–and the music, by the way, is still awesome.

To close, I’ll post some of my favorite characters from SF1&2–stay tuned for tomorrow’s post, on a game staring some sort of sneaker-wearing hedgehog or something, which sounds crazy, but who knows, maybe it will work out.

This is Zylo from Shining Force I. Zylo is part-man, part-wolf, and all awesome. You get him fairly early on and he tears through enemies. I have fond memories of the aforementioned laser-gun battle because I plotted very carefully to send Zylo here over the bridge and shred that stupid laser gun into a million pieces. Zylo is your go-to front-line guy for Shining Force 1.


I <3 Gong. A somewhat sketchy feature of Shining Force 1 & 2 is that your healers gain experience whenever they heal–regardless of whether or not the character they’re healing has any damage on them. That means that Gong, who you get very early in Shining Force 1, can gain a great deal of experience just from repeating a battle a few times and healing over and over again. When Gong is promoted to Master Monk, he becomes a kind of Bruce Lee with healing spells.

This is Jogurt, a secret character from Shining Force 1. Jogurt is, um, completely useless. If you’re foolhardy enough to bring him into battle, you will find that he has 1 HP and does 1 damage. However, if you use him to fight, you do get the “Jogurt Ring”, which changes the appearance for anyone who uses it into . . . Jogurt. The only proper word for an army of Jogurts is chilling.


My avatar on the Sega forums! Musashi is named after legendary real-life swordsman Miyamoto Musashi, a warrior from 16th Century Feudal Japan. He joins fairly late in Shining Force 1 but he is the strongest character in the game. A quote attributed to the real life Muashi, according to his wikipedia page: “When I apply the principle of strategy to the ways of different arts and crafts, I no longer have need for a teacher in any domain.” In Shining Force though, his main role is vivisecting bad guys.

This is Peter, a phoenix. He follows you around for a while in Shining Force 2, and eventually becomes a full member of your party. Peter’s only real downfall is that he is ugly as sin. In his pre-premotion form (seen above), he looks like a fat, ugly turkey. After you promote him he looks like a skinny, ugly peacock. However: Peter is easily the most powerful character in the game, and he automatically resurrects if he’s killed in combat.

Okay, while not technically a character, the Running Pimento makes good characters into awesome characters. This item boosts your characters movement rate. Just make sure to wait till after a character is promoted to use it–all character upgrades are reset after promotion! The item is worth hanging onto: it turns a character like Peter who already has good range, into a freakish death-dealing machine, and it can make characters like Zync or Claude, who have abysmal movement rates, into competent death-dealing machines.

-Ed

 
   
   
 


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