Shining Soul II - Review  

hordes of enemies billowing out of tiny doorways
by ATG

Easy to Normal
10 to 30 hours


Rating definitions 

   The Shining Soul series (Shining Soul, Shining Soul 2, and Shining Tears), though they may sound like the shining force series and are produced by Sega, THEY ARE NOT THE SAME THING. People who are expecting something to be even slightly reminiscent of Shining Force are guaranteed to be disappointed. This game, and this series of games, are action RPGs, much like Zelda. Shining Soul 2 in particular, when compared to the standard of other Action RPGs, is actually quite good.

   The battle system is blindingly simple. As with most 'Hack and Slash' gaming, hordes of enemies come billowing out of tiny doorways just waiting to be struck down. This hack and slash, however, has 9 different main characters to choose, each with a different set of techniques and equipable weapons. This adds to replay value of the game, and also gives some variation in difficulty. The game itself doesn't have a constantly evolving battle system, but each playthough can have something new or different.

First you Hack, <i>then</i> you Slash First you Hack, then you Slash

   The interactivity for this game is rather complex for a GBA game. There are loads of items, each with the potential for different characteristics, advantages or disadvantages, similar to Shining Tears. Unlike shining tears, however, each of these characteristics have to be countermeasured with item "sets", a group of items that, when equipped, give an additional bonus. Sometimes completing the set is worth another run through the dungeon. This game also features a blacksmithing system which unfortunately is way too difficult and a bit too random to really use effectively before finishing the game.

   Shining Soul II has few new concepts at all. I would contend that every single one of the quirks found in this game, such as items with unique characteristics, hacking and slashing, and a weak contrived story are found in countless other games, often with better graphics. Despite that, the graphics of this game do not take away from the what this game has to offer. This game, unlike many others, comes together as a great adventure, despite its complete lack of originality. This game also isn't a direct sequel, because even that would inherently imply there was some semblance of a "story". Like I said before, this isn't a story driven tactical RPG like Shining Force, it's 100% an action RPG adventure. It has the potential to be very fun if you know what to expect from it.

First Boss divulging 15% of the entire story First Boss divulging 15% of the entire story

   The initial challenge of the game is rather difficult because money is hard to come by, but this levels off once you spend some time running through old dungeons for items. Also, once you beat the game the first time, the "advance mode", also found in shining tears, becomes available. This mode adds increasingly more effective equipment and increasingly stronger monsters.

   Finishing this game all the way through advance mode with one character takes roughly 20 hours, depending on how lucky you get with equipment and whatnot. Personally, when I travel with my GBA, I always take this game. The maps aren't constantly changing, but every playthrough can be something different and new. That quirk makes Shining Soul 2, and more generally this series of games, appealing enough to keep playing. Within the vein of Action RPGs this is a very good game.

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