Home > Chronological Challenge, Clearing The Backlog > Clearing The Backlog: Chronological Game Challenge Pt 7

Clearing The Backlog: Chronological Game Challenge Pt 7

Oh hi, long time no see. I’ve been away for a few weeks since my last update on my challenge, but I’m sure you’re all dying to see where this goes next. Last time we did most of 1993, but I skipped a game because I was in the middle of it and wasn’t going to get close to finishing it before I went away, so I decided I’d finish it later.

So this week’s a little short on games, since I’ve mostly been focused on trying to finish Shining Force II, and then I only played one other game after that, but it’s a game that takes us neatly into 1994.

And seriously, I’m excited for 1994. You’ll see.

But anyway, here are my thoughts on the last game of 1993 and the first game of 1994. Enjoy!

Shining Force II

Publisher: Sega | Developer: Camelot Software Planning | Year: 1993 (Japanese release)
Original System: Sega Mega Drive
Played on: PS3 (part of the Sega Mega Drive Ultimate Collection)

Goal: Defeat Zeon

Actual Outcome: Returned to Grans Island and gave up

Opinion: While you can name the protagonist of Shining Force II whatever you wish, his official name is Bowie. There are some obvious jokes here, but I’m going to do my best to avoid them. So let’s talk about the game. Sordid details following.

Shining Force II is, of course, the sequel to Shining Force. Developed by some cat from Japan, this is seemingly set many years after the events of the previous game, long after Max and crew took down Darksol. In the intro, a thief is shown breaking a seal and unleashing evil on the world. This dark force, known as Zeon, would like to come and meet us, because he thinks he’d blow our mind. After some shenanigans, the king’s advisor asks one of his pupils, Bowie, to be a hero, just for one day. And so the game begins.

Shining Force II is pretty much more of the same of what the first game offered up. However, there are a few things that are different – first of all, the travel between battles now takes place in a large, sprawling world you can explore mostly independently. The problem is, this means that a ton of stuff has been hidden in weird places somewhere the world, and sometimes it’s stuff that’s semi-essential. The game doesn’t give you any clues for this stuff either, and at times it becomes maddening.

But it’s a godawful small affair, because the main problem I have with Shining Force II is that there are no ch-ch-ch-changes to the issues I had with the first game. The difficulty spikes unnecessarily about two-thirds into the game, with the various scary monsters and super creeps become frustratingly stronger than you for no reason. And, once again, there’s nowhere to really train up your diamond dogs short of the tedious task of quitting out of every battle and replaying them about four times. This is not a fun way to play through a game.

And on top of that, the game is hitting an all-time low in regards to weirdness. The plot was completely incomprehensible for the most part, with lots of stuff happening but no logic to any of it. Usually a plot is driven by the terror of knowing what this world is about, but I simply cannot figure out why suddenly I’m on a chessboard, oh now I’m in an ancient bird ship, oh now I have a weird hermit crab caravan. I’m fine with weird stuff in games, but this goes way too far.

I want to like this game more, but I was a little disappointed. That said, maybe I’ll return to it someday and try and take it in a little better. It has potential, and for that, I’m happy, and I hope you’re happy too.

Our hero

Sonic 3

Publisher: Sega | Developer: Sonic Team | Year: 1994
Original System: Sega Mega Drive
Played on: PS3 (part of the Sega Mega Drive Ultimate Collection)

Goal: Collect all the Chaos Emeralds and defeat Dr Robotnik

Actual Outcome: All Emeralds GET!

Opinion: Ah, Sonic, we meet again. It’s almost like you never went away.

So, we’re on the third official game in the Sonic series, and it’s back business as usual with none of those silly pinball or Puyo Pop antics. You’re Sonic, you’re a hedgehog in snazzy trainers, and you run really, really fast due to BLAST PROCESSING.

It’s difficult to know what to say about Sonic 3 that I haven’t already said. It retains the high level of quality seen in Sonic 2 and Chilli Dog, and the level design is some of the most memorable in the series (personal favourites include Ice Cap and Carnival Night). Gameplay generally feels faster too, with awkward bottleneck platforming sections largely taken out.

In other areas, Sonic 3 continues to excel, bettering its predecessors while offering very little in the way of new features. Graphically, the sprites have more life to them and the Mega Drive appears to have been pushed to its limits on creating special effects. And musically, well, whether or not Michael Jackson actually did compose music for the game, it sounds like him at his late-eighties-early-nineties best, and that’s why it’s so damn good.

I think my only real comment about Sonic 3 is that it feels unfinished. Admittedly, it is, since it’s only half a game, and we’ll be covering the other half very soon, but the ending does come very abruptly, which is a shame.

That said, while Sonic 3 does very little that’s new or inventive, it’s still definitely Sonic at the peak of his game. Let’s see how long this lasts…

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