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Shining Force II: The Sword of Hajya (1994)      

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Your Reviews

(Anonymous) (Game Gear review)   27th Mar 2012 10:29

"A Shining game with a few flaws"

The Shining Series is perhaps the most unknown and underrated series in the past decade. It has spanned several games on half a dozen systems. The Sega Game Gear was fortunate enough to be blessed with a few of the Shining Games. Shining Force II: Sword of Hajya was the only one to be released in English, as far as I know.

The game itself is similar to most of the other mid 1990s Shining games in its format. Sword of Hajya consists of twenty four battles fought in a turn based strategy format. The characters range from physical fighters, to pure spell casters, to combinations of each and healers. Each spell caster in the Shining Force seems to be specialized in one elemental spell, though most of them learn at least two elements of spells. A battle is won when the all of the enemies, or their leader if applicable, are defeated.

There are 18 characters whom can join the Shining Force throughout the game, though only twelve can be in the party at any time. Deanna is the leader of the Shining Force, which means he is always in it. It seems a bit odd how a character found at the beginning of the game, whom no one else knows, emerges as the leader of the team, but, whatever. If Deanna is defeated, so is everyone else. My largest complaint with the characters in Sword of Hajya, unlike many other Shining games, is the similarity with the physical attackers. There are only a few differences; how much damage they can do and how much damage they can take. While on the outside, it seems as though this is true of all physical attackers in all games, it is especially true in this one with a fairly limited array of weapons.

Sword of Hajya, like many of the early Shining games uses a chapter system, as the game is a "story" being told by a young girl. This can be annoying at times. The main reason it is annoying is because it leaves no over world which a player may explore. There is also no going back for something you missed, though most items which can be missed will appear in the deals menu of shopkeepers. Because of this, gameplay is limited to shopping and battles.

Sword of Hajya has several unbalanced components to it, along with a major glitch. Casters do not have a great deal of MP compared to the cost of the spells they cast. This is very apparent in the later battles, when some enemies can withstand multiple castings of the most powerful spells. Healing characters get it even worse, as the boosting spells cost an insane amount of MP and last but a short time.

Characters level up fairly rapidly and most of them are able to be promoted into another class. Promotions can be done at level ten, but can be done as late as level twenty. In most Shining games, one can power level her or his characters by doing a late promotion, however, the stats gained per level after ten in this game are quite minimal. The same is true of the promoted class, as stats have a huge drop off and stop entirely by level 20.

Imbalances come in the methods of leveling up. Physical attackers get experience from hurting and defeating enemies. However, as their level becomes higher than that of the enemy, the experience becomes lower and lower, until it is but a point. Healers on the other hand can get 10 experience every turn for casting heal, 25 experiences for Aura and Boost, and a great deal from Quick. This can put them several levels ahead of your party if all you do is cast them and then retreat.

These problems themselves exist in most of the series though; Sword of Hajya has one huge problem to it, Freeze 3. This spell has the largest range and area of effect in the game, tied with several others. Unlike the other spells, it does an insane amount of damage, more than any member of your teams' HP when you first encounter it, most likely. The spell is not supposed to do this much, but it does the damage of Freeze 4, thanks to an error... oops. It's fortunate not many enemies can cast this spell and those who can a very limited amount of times. However, it is quite potent and will alter any gamer's strategy. Personally, I kind of like the fact the spell does way too much damage, as I am often needing to find an unorthodox way of winning, but the first time I played. Ugh, forget about it!

The AI is not so hot either. Enemies will often attack a character with high defense, to whom they will do one damage to, when there is a nearby weak character with limited life and defense. Likewise, they will sometimes cast weak spells when their attacks would do far more damage. They will go after Deanna, the leader, but in the late game he has so much HP and Defense it is a wasted effort.

Sword of Hajya has a very limited amount of special weapons and secondary equipment, which is another large grip of mine, considering how many of the characters use the same types of weapons, such as swords. There is also only one shop per chapter, which means using the same weapon for a very long amount of time.

Sword of Hajya has a very nice stand alone story, but does not link up too well with any of the other Shining games. For a Game Gear game, it has a fairly decent amount of text, though most of it is just chatter as a battle is starting or ending; thus a bit repetitive.

The graphics are great when you consider the system and timeframe of the game. All of the characters and important enemies have portraits as well as sprites. My complaint here is that some enemies look identical to others, with the exception of a different color skin or clothing.

The musical score is excellent as well, though there are not a great deal many songs. Also, some of the later songs get way up in pitch and being to sound similar to shrieks. The sound effects are not too bad either. Most actions have their own sound effect.

Scores: For those who prefer numeric data.

Music: 8/10
Sound: 6/10
Graphics: 9/10
Control: 7/10
Gameplay: 6/10 - This low score is due to the game literally being 24 straight battles separated by a short visit in a "town".
Story: 8/10
Replay Value: 8/10
Overall Score: 8/10

Buy? Rent? - The game is quite rare and costs a lot of money in most cases. I doubt you could still rent it anywhere. Hell, did anywhere ever let you rent Game Gear games?

Reviewer's Score: 8/10, Originally Posted: 02/07/05

(Anonymous) (Unknown)   27th Mar 2012 10:29

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This title was first added on 3rd October 2006
This title was most recently updated on 27th March 2012

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