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Shining Force 3 - Saturn
Fighting a dragon Reviewed By
Reviewed by JediMaster
In the battlefield
Shining Force 3 was planned to be released in three parts (or chapters). Each part was a CD and they would be released with three months of delay between them (in order to give enough time for the player to finish one part before moving on to the next). You had to buy three different games in order to play one RPG, but it could be considered a good idea. Just imagine the time you would take to complete the story! This was all good and nice in Japan, where the three parts were released as scheduled. But in the rest of the world, those who bought the game weren't so lucky. SEGA had plans for Dreamcast and simply abandoned Saturn, so the games weren't released. This left all of those who bought the game without any chances to fully play what could have been the best "Shining Force" ever. And guess who was caught in this situation? Yap, me. So I'll review what I have, the first chapter of the game. Is it worth the money?
After inserting the CD in the console, you'll watch what I think is one of the best intros for SEGA Saturn (only Fighting Vipers has a better one, in my opinion). This really sets the mood for a great game, with those cool effects and the music stopping you from hitting the "Start" button. Then comes the game. A decent 3D isometric view, which you can rotate with the Shifts. The graphics are quite reasonable and the musics are good. The story looks interesting... You were caught in the middle of the peace conferences between the Empire and the Republic. But they wouldn't be successful, because an evil sect decides to sabotage them. A bit of this, a bit of that, and you're fighting against the Empire, trying to reach your hometown. It'll be an interesting journey, where you'll visit some nice towns and even ride a train! Seems great, eh? The playability is also good. The controls are similar to those present in the previous games so, if you've already played any of them, you'll feel at home. The battles are strategic and turn-based, but they're not too difficult. The enemies are a bit on the stupid side and the only problem you'll have is represented by their numerical advantage (usually, you fight in a 2 to 1 or 3 to 1 basis).
The only serious problem this game has is the liberty of movement. Instead of doing it like Shining Force 2, where the player has a complete liberty, they've made it like Shining Force 1. The player kind of moves from battle to battle, not having to move around the map. This takes a lot of fun away from the game, although it makes it easier for the beginners.
What makes me mad is that this could have been a great game if it wasn't for SEGA's lame attitude. You'll finish the game in 20 to 25 hours (and not the 50+ that the game's box mentions). The game has it all: a good story, decent graphics, great musics, reasonable playability... it could have been a hit. If you don't mind to buy only a part of the game or if SEGA eventually decides to release the remaining parts, this is a good option. But if you aren't interested in buying an incomplete game or in paying money for what can be considered as a shareware version (or a big demo), then choose Shining the Holy Ark instead.

Score: 83%