Shining Force EXA(Ikusa) Impressions

#1
Here's a quick impression on Shining Force EXA; also my pre-order came with an episode 0 short novel that was less then 200-pages long, without reading it you kinda miss out on how the characters met; its not important for the game, but I would have preferred story telling that could have avoided the short novel all together.

Famitsu Cross Review gave it a 9,9,8,9 which was shown on another thread, so I had somewhat high hopes for this game. The game itself is a classic hack-and-slash ARPG, the game revolves around two characters Toma who uses a sword and Cyril who uses a magic book/bowgun. This game is centered around the "Geo Fort" which is your home-base, you can go out to new areas and fight new enemies, and return to the Geo Fort for upgrades etc. Also, the Geo Fort can be attacked while you are in the dungeon, in which case you will control your other party member that you are not using and protect the base.

The you can upgrade the Geo Fort with canons that can attack enemies from afar. There are also cool Geo Fort upgrades like "Training Facility" and most interesting a "Robot Factory" which allows you to make custom robots that can do everything from help you in battle to maintain the Geo Fort. There are other features like radars, barries, repair systems, etc that are part of the Geo Fort.

The game itself seems to have been designed for the average gamer so most battles aren't very difficult and there are an ass load of save points. Also, the game takes several hours before it gets remotely interesting, since you will need to obtain and get all the features of the Geo Fort.


Positives:

- the game is full voice and the cut scenes are very well done.

- fantastic character designs and strong attempts in character development

- minimal load time.

- the character actually changes their appearance based on the what you have equipped on them. For this reason its a lot more enjoyable to get cool equipment


- there is actually a story, but I wouldn't call it particularly fantastic.



Negatives:


- battles are very easy and many times aren't even a challenge. Button mashing will get you far

- graphics aren't anything to write home about.

- picking up items isn't automatic, you have to press a button

- the dungeon maps itself are linear and uncreative

- control for Cyril's bowgun is very poor, its hard to aim and the animation is terrible; her melee attacks themselves are more frustrating then challenging.



http://shining-force.jp/exa/

Making of Video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wTOYTOv_ut0













 
#4
I like the graphic style, but I honestly don't see whats so special about the character designs... they look like you standard anime fare.

The real downer is the combat and dungeon design. These are still hack and slash RPGs right? They should at least attempt to get the two key aspects down.
 
#5
The impression I get from playing through this game is that it was designed for casual gamers. For that reason its very accessible, but the difficulty suffers. Many times there are multiple save points and healing points scattered in the dungeon. The game takes around 35 hours to beat, but there is quite a bit of extras that can be achieved.

The fact that the character changes appearance based on equipment really does make getting items fun. Especially since the customization can get pretty detailed, it isn't just an issue of one costume item. Also, the Geo Fort does breakup the normally repetitive gameplay of hack-and-slash RPGs.







 
#6
It looks good to me, doesn't seem very Shining Force but interesting RPG nontheless.

They only negative I worry about is the dungeon maps being linear and uncreative...

Thanks for the impressions! :)
 
#7
Now I'm interested. I thought Neo was all right, but what killed it was the crazy difficulty and "Hot Stuff Coming Your Way". I'm going to definitely get this.:)
 
#8
Thanks! I think I'll pick it up--sounds like fun.

Normally I'd wait for the US version for a game like this, but didn't someone here say the US voices in the previous two Shining PS2 games were horrible? That worries me a bit, if there's as much voice acting in EXA as you say.
 

sprsk

force push the doodoo rock
#9
I've been playing this as well.

My main complaint is that THERE AREN'T ENOUGH UNIQUE ITEMS. For the first 6 hours of the game I felt like I was getting the same 4 items over and over.
 
#10
It looks good to me, doesn't seem very Shining Force but interesting RPG nontheless.

They only negative I worry about is the dungeon maps being linear and uncreative...

Thanks for the impressions!
I guess to a certain extent my criticisms towards the map design may be unjust. For the type of game this is ; the level design is flat but they do make an attempt in putting the feel of elevation differences. They do also put effort into certain areas involving the story and towns and villages. There are some dungeons in this game that are randomly-generated (including the training facility in Geo Fort)

Mana Knight said:
Now I'm interested. I thought Neo was all right, but what killed it was the crazy difficulty and "Hot Stuff Coming Your Way". I'm going to definitely get this.:)
To be honest, there are some enemies that are pretty hard in this game, I might have made its sound like the game was too easy, and there are one-hit-insta-kill enemies as well. Also, the last boss is disproportionately strong in this game; actually a real challenge.


john tv said:
Thanks! I think I'll pick it up--sounds like fun.

Normally I'd wait for the US version for a game like this, but didn't someone here say the US voices in the previous two Shining PS2 games were horrible? That worries me a bit, if there's as much voice acting in EXA as you say.
The voice acting and the quantity of voices in this game is pretty solid, pretty much any story element in this game is acted out. I haven't played the US version so I really can't comment on that, but the voices in the Japanese version are very solid.

sp0rsk said:
I've been playing this as well.

My main complaint is that THERE AREN'T ENOUGH UNIQUE ITEMS. For the first 6 hours of the game I felt like I was getting the same 4 items over and over.
Yeah that's a very legitimate criticism; I would also take issue with the lack of variety of enemies as well. Personally, the game for me was a mixed bag, at times in this game I had trouble finding motivation to continue playing, and there is a certain repetitiveness that would be expected from a game like this, but the game does pick up towards the end.
 
#14
PepsimanVsJoe said:
Is this by the same team that did Shining Force Neo?
(The guys that did Record of Lodoss War DC btw)
Yes (a company called Neverland).

I loved Record of Lodoss War.

God I hated Shining Force Neo.

I don't know what to do about this one.
 
#17
Did anyone get the novel that was the first-press bonus? Kind of curious about that since it's such an odd pack-in. Is it substantial? Does it look like it's worth reading?
 
#18
MoxManiac said:
And the entire game was ruined by this one sentence :(

Dammit...
Like I said in my previous post, there are difficult points in the game; I don't want to come off like the game is too easy. However, the controls for Cyril are much to be desired, the magic projectiles and the bowgun are hard to aim; she does have spells that are pretty effective, but overall I don't enjoy playing her personally.

Takuhi said:
Did anyone get the novel that was the first-press bonus? Kind of curious about that since it's such an odd pack-in. Is it substantial? Does it look like it's worth reading?
Yeah, I got it and read through the novel. Its 189 pages long, it goes into a lot of the detail of the four characters at the beginning of the game and how they met(Gadfort, Cyril, Toma and Mabel). Since the game begins all four of them all knowing each other. The book does a lot of character development, and if you're interested with the characters its worth the read, but if you think the story isn't all that great you can skip it without missing much.
 
#19
Is the author of the novel listed on the cover? I couldn't find that anywhere...
I only care because the game's scenario was written by Takashi(?) Hino (火野峻志) of Lunar/Grandia fame. If he wrote the book...Well, who am I kidding, I won't read it. But I may regret not having read it.

But the story isn't that great anyway, huh?
 
#20
Takuhi said:
Is the author of the novel listed on the cover? I couldn't find that anywhere...
I only care because the game's scenario was written by Takashi(?) Hino (火野峻志) of Lunar/Grandia fame. If he wrote the book...Well, who am I kidding, I won't read it. But I may regret not having read it.

But the story isn't that great anyway, huh?
Yep its Takashi Hino (and 峻志 is Takashi), personally the first time I read anything from him, the writing isn't anything hateful. I really like Pako's chracter designs for the villians, and I feel that they genuinely put effort to make a decent story for the game. But its kinda predictable and really not my cup of tea. However some people may appreciate it.
 
#23
This is not a real Shining Force game. I am displeased.

I'll buy it anyway :(

EDIT: Also, as a long time SF fan who has missed out on... everything since the Genesis/Sega CD/Game Gear titles, which games are worth picked up? (Aside from SF3, I know I need that.) Is Shining Tears really as bad as people say?
 
#28
sp0rsk said:
Also, I've found magic to be pretty useless. The Bow gun seems so much more effective at killing mobs from afar.
There are some decent spells later in the game, but the melee attack of the magic books are pretty cumbersome. I don't enjoy playing Cyril to much in general.
 
#29
That making of video is amazing. The cg Appleseed creators should have taken a cue from the EXA developers. The character designs are transferred to 3d pretty faithfully. I would have loved to see Masamune Shirow's designs produced a little more faithfully in 3D. Does anyone know where I can find more of these "making of..." videos? I've seen the little clip of the FF XIII one, but this one was much more interesting/educational.
 
#35
john tv said:
Thanks! I think I'll pick it up--sounds like fun.

Normally I'd wait for the US version for a game like this, but didn't someone here say the US voices in the previous two Shining PS2 games were horrible? That worries me a bit, if there's as much voice acting in EXA as you say.
It couldn't have been worse if they had hired old hobos to do the VA. The cut-scenes could be skipped in Neo though. Since it's the same engine, probably true of EXA.
 
#37
For you whiners of voice acting, you must have forgotten the atrocity that is Shining Force III English version. I swear Sega was intentionally trying to sabotage it.
 
#38
Thanks for the impressions! - It started great and I was getting more and more excited as you made your initial description and started listing the good stuff - but then it all went downhill.

I have no problem with easy games, giving you lots of checkpoints etc., but button-mashing and boring combat is a no-go. :(
 
#40
Mejilan said:
I really dug Shining Force Neo. I hope this one hits here as well. Thanks for the impressions, folks.
Uh, it's out here next month. We've known this for a long time.

VicAlpha said:
...this game looks a lot like PSO
What? :lol I've dropped over three thousand hours on various incarnations of PSO/U, and not sure where that's coming from, other than it's an action-RPG.