The last game in the Wonder Boy series sees it dropping the ‘Boy’ and focussing instead on a female protagonist named Asha. Luckily the ‘Monster World’ title still very much applies and the game manages to pay fitting tribute to the legacy of the series whilst doing a few of its own things.
The Sega Megadrive didn’t have a massive amount of RPGs available to its users. In fact once you’d completed the Phantasy Star and Shining Force series you’d be hard pressed to find another genuinely brilliant franchise. This is where the Monster World series steps in, bringing with it a rarer take on the concept of an RPG, the RPG/Platformer fusion.
With Valkyria Chronicles Sega takes back the medal for best in field Tactical RPG that it lost to Final Fantasy Tactics sometime after Shining Force 3 and which Disgaea had been prancing about the Playstation 2 and 3 era landscape wearing like a badge of honour. Valkyria Chronicles is the natural evolution of the Tactical RPG, integrating real-time elements and a few shooter mechanics to the core concept to produce a unique experience that’s not been topped since.
Credited for launching Sega’s successful Shining Force series but usually ignored and representing a play-style that although great would be cast aside for the series until ‘Shining the Holy Ark’ appeared some time later on the Saturn. Shining in the Darkness is an intense first person dungeon-crawling experience on the Megadrive that rivals the D&D classic ‘Eye of the Beholder’ and genuinely deserves more love than is usually receives from series fans.
The sequel to Sega’s dungeon crawler ‘Shining in the Darkness’ took a radical departure from the foundations set down by the first game in the series, throwing a lot away and keeping the setting. What they produced in Shining Force was a game that aimed to further the relatively new Tactical RPG genre in a way that hadn’t been done before.
Whilst the Grandia series has won a lot of respect for its excellent (and often replicated) battle system, the individual game titles are somewhat forgotten gems on the Playstation systems. Solid and well-made RPGs in their own right, the original had the misfortune of launching on the Sega Saturn just as Final Fantasy VII was launching on the PSOne and garnering a lot of attention, despite receiving excellent reviews at the time. The original Grandia is a 2-Disc epic that manages to mix action and adventure with the spirit of fun.
Shining Force II is the third game in Sega’s ‘Shining’ series that started with dungeon crawler Shining in the Darkness on the Megadrive and continued into Tactical RPG territory in Shining Force. Logic would dictate that the first game I reviewed would be one of these two titles, however Shining Force II has a special place in my heart and I felt it was only fitting that it be the first game reviewed on this new site.