Shining Force: Resurrection of the Dark Dragon (Game Boy Advance) Review

By Adam Riley 21.07.2004

Review for Shining Force: Resurrection of the Dark Dragon on Game Boy Advance

SEGA has two main role playing series that used to have strong followings in the heyday of the Master System, Mega Drive and, to a lesser extent, the Saturn and Phantasy Star. However, nowadays all that people seem to focus on is the latter series and its ‘Online’ iterations. Thankfully, SEGA has decided to take the original in the Shining series, The Legacy of Great Intention, and revamped it for the GBA. But does its age-old gameplay remain fresh today or have things gone completely stale? Read on and all will be revealed…

You might think that since this is indeed a 16bit remake, and that the storyline remains intact from what was one of the first ever console turn-based strategy RPGs, everything is quite simple in nature and terribly formulaic. However, this is far from the correct viewpoint. You start out with a lead character that has total memory loss and thus has no recollection of his past. However, he is partnered up with several other fighters and they set of in search of the malicious fool that is attempting to awaken the ‘Dark Dragon’ that has been sleeping for many a year; a beast so powerful that the whole world would be at jeopardy should somebody take control of it and use its powers for their own gain.

What starts off as merely a very limited band of troops quickly becomes larger and far stronger as the journey progresses, and so their reputation is enhanced and they earn the title of the ‘Shining Force’, expanding further upon meeting others wishing to fight for the cause – each with their own background that helps to develop the story even further. This is an epic eight chapter tale and you will be hooked until the final head rolls…

If you are reading this here RPG review then you are most likely a Game Boy Advance owner with a penchant for the genre (if not, then why? Why?!) and since you are fond of tinkering with your handheld pal you will no doubt have laid your eyes on the likes of Golden Sun. Looking at the screens here then I am assuming you are not really too impressed. Now, what you must remember is that this is basically the original Shining Force title from many aeons ago…or so it seems to me…and the graphics have actually been touched up quite significantly, despite not really pushing the GBA to its limits.

You have got nice large and chunky character sprites that, whilst lacking in amazing detail on the overhead maps, look decidedly impressive in their larger ‘hand-drawn-esque’ appearance during main conversations. The battlefields, thanks to the larger than normal characters and enemies, are quite simple to traverse with getting confused and yet are, at the same time, never too cluttered as to warrant frustration on the part of the player. ‘Run of the mill’ would be the best phrase to sum things up, with the game’s workman-like backgrounds as well, however this being firmly in the 16-bit territory as opposed to a new adventure like SEGA’s recent Shining Soul II release works in the game’s favour and the fact that all slowdown has been removed leaves you feeling quite perplexed. It looks dated…yet for some reason you cannot really criticise it. Clever stuff from Amusement Vision!

Some will be quick to write the soundtrack off completely as being too ‘twee’ for the liking of mainstream gamers. The thing is that this is in no way aimed at that particular market, thus the chirpy village tunes, marching over-world anthem, the stirring battle overture and the two invigorating themes for fighting man-to-man are perfectly accepted and even welcomed by seasoned gamers looking to reminisce in the wonders of 16-bit role-playing and strategic planning. There are various different tunes to suit the appropriate occasion, which is far more than can be said for many of the so-called next generation products out there.

But, to get the most out of the game you will certainly require a pair of earphones, headphones or some snazzy wiring to hook your humble GBA up to an external speaker system as otherwise you will be missing out on some superb orchestral pieces. Yes, buried away underneath that weak old sorry excuse for a speaker on the GBA itself is a wealth of instruments just waiting to be set free via the headphone jack! Stick those babies in and the magic of the Shining Force will blast through into your brain…

Okay, perhaps I was only going for the cheap pun there and Shining Force: Resurrection of the Dark Dragon is not a complete reworking on the 16bit original.. But there have been changes worthy of mentioning. However, those can wait for the moment. First let me explain what happens in the adventure. You start off with your small band of warriors, wizards, archers and miscellaneous creatures and move around towns as you would normally do in any of your everyday RPG quests. But once you have talked to enough people, or just a specific key person depending on the situation at hand, departing from the village will throw you straight into a battle on the over world map (usually this is the case, although sometimes you can fight in castles, the villages themselves or even at the docks). Then the action switches from free overhead control to turn-based action on a grid format.

Your aim is to highlight the relevant allies, one-by-one, and move their behinds to within reach of an enemy (normally adjacent to one, although with spell users, archers and horse-back Knights with projectile weapons this can be increased to two places away or more), and the KILL! Action switches to a battle scene when fighting actually occurs and you are treated to a lovely newly added animation scene, rather in the vein of Golden Sun’s summon scenes. Of course, being strategic through and through there are various things to take into consideration. Be it the terrain you are battling on or the resistance of certain creatures to either magic or specific weaponry, you will always be kept on your toes and if your concentration slips for just one second, it can mean that the whole battle suddenly starts to spiral out of control and you will probably end up with Max being slaughtered and having to restart from the last save point (the local Church, where the Priests are ever so friendly).

You do not merely have to rely on your attacking magic, strong axes, swords and clubs or Lowe, Khris or Narsha’s reviving spells as Amusement Vision has thrown in a special card aspect that you can utilise to make battles much simpler. Now whilst this is not necessary to complete the game – I never once used a card’s power in my first run through the game – it is fun to go round trying to find and obtain the different cards throughout. But gaining cards is not just as easy as ‘Oh look, a card!’, you really have to work at getting them – either by having certain characters deliver the final blow to particular enemies, searching around villages or just making sure that you become good friends with each of your team members (by including them in as many battles as possible, ensuring that they do not die…sorry, ‘become exhausted’…very often and talking to them after each victory has been sealed). The depth to be found in Resurrection of the Dark Dragon is truly surprising.

Yes, there are a few drawbacks, like perhaps the selection and trading of items could have been a little less ‘clunky’, but with a lead character that is really fast and easy to control, thirty characters to hunt down and convince to join the Shining Force in a way that is very reminiscent of the superb Suikoden RPG series, the ability to promote your characters once they reach Level 10 in experience, giving them greater abilities and the chance to wield far stronger weapons, the removal of the ‘Talk’ menu from the original Mega Drive game to a simple press of the ‘A’ button now and three extra characters thrown in for this Century’s update, I think a few minor quibbles can be ignored…Kudos to Amusement Vision for bringing us a worthy update. Now, how about those other Shining Force games, please?

When it comes to RPGs today, especially recent SRPG outings, you come to expect somewhere between fifty to one hundred hours of gameplay, side-quests and character development. However, this is exactly why there are still hordes of people that stay well clear of the addictive, life-sapping genre. But Shining Force, being of the older generation where people thought arcade titles were sufficiently long (!), is a tasty morsel of a game in comparison to the likes of Disgaea on the PS2 or even Final Fantasy Tactics Advance on the humble GBA. You see, this SRPG can be completed in ‘just’ twenty-thirty hours on its first play through.

The battles themselves are pleasantly taxing, but thankfully not so ultimately frustrating that you end up bald by the time the credits are rolling. Then there are the various characters’ background stories to uncover, which never grows tiresome due to the concise bites of information that they throw in your direction. Plus, should you feel it necessary, you can play through the game again, retaining any of the special cards you collect first time round, trying to obtain the remaining elusive cards to complete your collection and thus access a nice little surprise, and using various different characters in your team, as well as differing tactics so that you unlock the backgrounds of everyone in your outfit. So there is plenty to do and easily enough value for money. Can you really ask for more?

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

Who said that classics were not acceptable today? Nintendo has proved that gamers still love retro titles by launching the mightily successful Classic NES range and SEGA proves here that one of the very first ever strategy RPGs can hold its own surprisingly well against the strong competition of Nintendo’s very own Fire Emblem and the heavyweight Final Fantasy Tactics Advance from Square Enix. Find this for the low price of






Turn Based RPG



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (2 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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