Sega has lifted the curtain on the newest entry in the Shining Force series. Shining Force Neo for the PlayStation 2 is a real-time action RPG. This is a dramatic departure from the turn-based simulation format of its predecessors.
Producer Youichi Shimosato told Famitsu magazine that the game was originally intended to be a simulation RPG, like the classic Shining Force games. However, the team felt that it wasn't enough to simply take the original gameplay systems and make the jump to 3-D visuals. They considered adding realtime simulation elements, but decided that this wouldn't work well with the home market. This ultimately led to Shining Force Neo becoming an action RPG.
The player will form a party of up to three, choosing from a number of allies, and then heading out into battle. The player will control Max, the main character, directly, while the rest of the party will move on its own via the game's AI. Max can be equipped with four types of weapons: single-handed swords, two-handed swords, bows and arrows, and staffs. Max's role in battle will change depending on which weapon he has equipped.
In addition to the standard experience and level-up systems, Max is equipped with a Force Frame, which attaches to a weapon to give it added abilities. The player sets the Force Frame to have certain powers by equipping it with Force Art symbols. These Arts can be powered up by collecting Force Energy from defeated enemies and distributing it.
It appears that there will be a large number of event scenes, with Sega having hired a talented voice acting staff for all roles; however, the flow of the game seems to focus on battle. While in town, the player can obtain and strengthen weapons. The player's characters stay in a base, where the player can edit his/her party of three before heading out into battle. Clearing a battle field entails defeating all the enemies, then destroying the Monster Gate from which they emerge.
Two months before Shining Force Neo's release, Kodansha's monthly Magazine Z will begin publishing a manga based on the game. The manga will be based on the same world and characters, but will follow its own storyline. Shining Force Neo is scheduled for release in Japan on March 24, 2005.