RPG Review #82: Shining in the Darkness

NuMetalManiak Well I can definitely say I'm still in business, even after having moved to a brand new location and all for work purposes. Note that I have obviously slowed down in activity on TheTopTens. Looking at recent activity from other users, it seems I'm not the only one who has slowed down. But I'm clearly still alive and trying to give it my all for games such as this one. The actual first game in the Shining series was Shining in the Darkness, a Genesis dungeon-crawler that's about as plain as you might expect for an RPG.

Gameplay: Despite it being completely old-school, it was considerably more fun than I was led to believe. I have associated the older games as being considerably much harder than those that show up on the Playstation. This game is ranked 14th hardest on gamefaqs, above two Phantasy Star games but obviously behind II. Then again, the Genesis wasn't really amazing as far as RPG's go, unless you want to get into Shining Force but GameFAQs considers those to be strategy games.

So I said this was a dungeon-crawler. I maintain my stance, this is a dungeon crawler. In fact, there are only three locations in the game: the castle for gathering info (most of it useless), the town for tavern gossip and RPG amenities (the only town in the game), and the labyrinth where the enemies are and the bulk of time is spent. Remember Phantasy Star I's gameplay? That's here, almost entirely. It's quite immersive, and encounters can be surprising every time. Especially since a few are event monsters who only show up when certain conditions come to play.

Well, battles are the same as you might expect, fully turn-based by speed with some magic in play. The traditional medieval archetype for an RPG. Notable things that make this unique are the limited inventory space (8 items total for 3 characters, and equipment counts as items), cursed items, items that can cast spells (some of which break), and actual spells leveling up. The level curve in this game is also decent, putting it above Dragon Warrior as far as general friendliness to players. While I did grind a lot, it's not as tedious as I would be led to believe. Great job for making an old-school RPG not a grindfest. Grade: B+

Characters: Um, this is quite a low point, especially since the character archetypes here are the exact same as Dragon Warrior II's. There are NPCs but I won't mention them, although there are some who join the party as NPCs and help out in fighting.
Hero: Unlike other games, this guy definitely did not have a default name at all. He's the archetypal son of a powerful disappeared hero and he's the traditional fighter. Not unlike Dragon Warrior II's hero, he's unable to use magic at all, but gets the best equipment.
Milo Brax: This ugly-looking guy is actually a cleric, meaning he'll have the best healing abilities. But he also has some other decent spells and can actually put up some good abilities physically with his stats being the overall best. Unfortunately for him he's really valuable in that he's the only one with revive spells.
Pyra Myst: Traditional hot-headed mage with almost typical mage qualities, low health and attack but decent magic ability and speed. Oddly, her defense actually ends up being the highest.

Grade: C-

Plot: And here's a plot I am pretty sure we've all seen quite a few times already. A medieval setting known as the Thornwood Kingdom, a missing princess, a distraught king, and a son of a hero are all into play here. There's not really much to spoil here because it's stuff you've probably seen already. The first thing to do is for the hero to venture alone in the labyrinth, find the clue for the princess, and leave. Then is when Milo and Pyra join and then we have to do these Trials, because apparently the only way for the hero of the game to even be considered a hero he has to go through "trials". Yeah. Also the rule of four is into effect for these things.

Hmm, I didn't mention who the villain is. Oh wait, it's Dark Sol. He's an archetypal evil sorceror. Yeah. Expect him to be none other than the final boss. Or even better, expect him to be disguised as a kinsman at least after you finish the trials. This stuff I easily predict. Well, after the trials are done, it's actually time to venture all the way through the labyrinth, through the toughest of monsters. And oh wait, is that another cliche I spot? Yes it is! Turns out the hero's father is turned evil, and like any other game I've played so far the only way to proceed is to kill your evil father. How wonderful. But like Darth Vader, his redemption is his death. Anyways, princess rescued, take her back to the king and get her tears because she knows you had to murder your father, and like any fool know, we still have one more "proof" to show the hero is a hero well before we can finally take on Dark Sol and remove the world from this darkness. Ah, cliches everywhere. Grade: C

Music: It's the Genesis, what do you expect. Fast-paced and LOUD. Eventually I get tired of the loudness sometimes, and there's not a whole lot of awesomeness in the music after hearing it so many times. There's only one boss theme for two bosses, and the event monsters share the main battle theme. Only two labyrinth themes, a country bumpkin town theme, and a not-as-regal castle theme. It really could've been a whole lot better. Grade: C

Overall Grade: C+

One of my main focuses in gaming is the gameplay itself, but sometimes that isn't enough to justify much of anything else. Shining in the Darkness proved to be as average as I ended up calling it in this overall grade. It's gameplay although already done quite a few times manages to do much better than others, but everything else is stuff I've already experienced.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Due to having moved to a new location and doing other important things, I am gonna hold off on reviews for quite a while. What I will end up doing in the meantime is creating a new blog for myself on Blogspot. I will eventually send all of my reviews there, and a few other things. Although I do plan to continue reviewing as long as I live, I am of course gonna move some things around and give more in-depth analyses to the games I've already played on Blogspot.