CGR Undertow – SHINING FORCE: THE SWORD OF HAJYA review for Game Gear
CGR Undertow – SHINING FORCE: THE SWORD OF HAJYA review for Game Gear

When I learned that Sega would be releasing
a slew of new Game Gear titles for the 3DS Virtual Console, I figured we�d be seeing
the usual suspects: Sonic, maybe some Mean Beans, y�know. And then I saw the actual
list, and was met by my two favorite words in all of gaming: SHINING FORCE. Or as you
might call it, Sega�s answer to Fire Emblem. Of course, here in the States, we never actually
got to play Fire Emblem until Smash Bros. players around the country raised the question,
�Who are these jerks?� Not to say Shining Force is perfect in that regard, though; we
famously only got a third of Shining Force III, and even this release, subtitled �The
Sword of Hajya,� misrepresents itself a bit. It used to be known as Shining Force
Gaiden II, the sequel to the first Game Gear Shining Force title what they�re presuming
we don�t know about. And that�s disappointing, because even scaled down, operating on effectively
Sega Master System-grade hardware, and obscure as all hell, it�s still unmistakably Shining
Force. And that�s tough to beat. I mean, seriously. The game opens with a human
sacrifice. Tough to beat. The evil Iom Kingdom has designs to steal the Sword of Hajya, which
is terribly important. So important, in fact, that Prince Nick of Cypress (no, not that
Cypress) storms off to war, leaving defense of the sword up to his longtime companion
Mayfair and a band of rookie guards. Then one jackass gets the wise idea to open his
mouth and say those fateful words, �Nothing is going to happen, anyway.� BAM. Invasion,
and while said rookies are battling back goblins and Skaven – I�m sorry, Scaben, hopefully
Games Workshop doesn�t bring the Warhammer of Copyright Law down upon us – some schmoe
infiltrates the castle, absconds with the sword, and you�ve gotta chase him through
battle after battle. Expect plot twists. Expect the stakes to raise by about 2 new, dangerous
enemy units in each confrontation. Expect to spend inordinate effort leaving enemies
at one and two HP, just so your slow-to-get-started Monk can sweep in for killsh… wait, I know
that name! Luke�s a Warrior, not a Monk! You�re thinking of Gong! And the hell�s
up with Slade being a healer and not an anthropomorphic rat ninja? The world�s gone topsy-turvy! Fortunately, even if the names are confusing
to longtime fans of the series, the gameplay is as good as you�ve come to expect. That
is, if you don�t mind the occasional AI brain fart. You�re still battling over hill
and dale, maneuvering your troops around the field of combat, exploiting terrain for defensive
purposes, castin� spells, promoting units for exemplary performance… Really, just
take Fire Emblem and remove weapon durability and permanent death, and you�ve got the
core Shining Force experience. Primary difference is, Shining Force wasn�t afraid to rock
the technicolor-hair anime aesthetic in character portraits in 1993. And those portraits, along
with the series-hallmark battle scenes, have passed through the shrink ray and come out
on the Game Gear looking pretty darn respectable. The one thing that didn�t make it, though,
are the cities full of NPCs to interrogate, burgle, and nearly run over with a pushcart.
Instead, you get a generic camp screen with the Force�s headquarters on one side, a
shop on the other, and Mayfair herself filling the role of Priest to raise the dead or promote
units. So that�s why she�s not on the front lines. While the Game Gear put up a fight against
the Game Boy back in the day, I can�t say I�m too eager to try to play an RPG on one.
We know how that thing ate batteries. But now, with this 3DS virtual console version,
that trepidation is gone in favor of savestates (because, this being a direct emulation of
the US version, the inexplicable overpowering of 3rd-tier magic is still an thing) and close-it-and-go
game suspension. If you�re interesting in playing a remade, less broken version though,
the first two Shining Force Gaiden games were compiled into Shining Force CD for the Sega
CD. You just need to, y�know, find a copy, and a working Sega CD, and a RAM cart. I�ll
take this for the time being.

40 thoughts on “CGR Undertow – SHINING FORCE: THE SWORD OF HAJYA review for Game Gear”

  1. JuanitoShet says:

    I have an actual cartridge copy of this game for my Game Gear, but unfortunately, it doesn't seem to work. I'm going to give a try cleaning it with a cotton swab & alcohol to see if that changes anything.

    Either way, this looks REALLY good! I expected a 2D sidescrolling beat 'em up or something. But I'm not familiar with this series, so don't hit me. :V

  2. jackal27 says:

    Rad avatar. I just started playing this game last weekend.

  3. Jake Murrin says:

    Actually, the Game Gear has a longer battery life than the 3DS.

  4. Megaman _D! says:

    *Ahem* Kega Fusion *cough!*

  5. Jake Murrin says:

    Yeah, I think so, too

  6. Rakiarmas says:

    I haven't played Shining Force series that much.
    Last time I played seriously Shining Force 1 & 2 on Sega Genesis was few years ago.
    Should I go back to this series & start playing them again?

  7. Just another ghost says:

    But does it have 2 player link play for Game Gear games?

  8. bbutters2 says:

    You mean you were the first one to comment?

  9. bbutters2 says:

    I see.

  10. DaveThe SodaGuy says:

    jrpg's and japanese games are a disgrace

    not because they're bad but because they get poor treatment in the western market.

    and… well… wait… yeah… they actually suck to.

  11. aageon says:

    I'll take a jrpg over a western game any day.

  12. DaveThe SodaGuy says:

    you'd rather eat shit instead of having a good, tasty ice cream?


  13. Wutzido IOthCatchJitsu says:

    Is there any limit to the maddness that is JRPGs?

  14. Megaman _D! says:

    Oh Yes! it sure does! *Donttellanybodyelse* *Cough*

  15. Just another ghost says:

    I'm serious, dude. I can't do Game Gear multiplayer on it.

  16. TheCrescentKnight says:

    SEGA for the love of all that could even be considered sacred, BRING BACK SHINING FORCE IN ALL OF IT'S TACTICAL GLORY!

    Yes, I am a Hardcore Fire Emblem fan, but if you announce faithful SRPG Shining Force game I will squeew.

  17. HitmonleeDeluxe says:

    Theres been some Shining Force releases recently, You should check out ShiningForceCentral, all of the new ones are Japanese though.

  18. TheCrescentKnight says:

    I am aware of them, I'm also aware that out of the 3 "recent" releases only ONE of them, Shining Force Feather, is an actual SRPG. The rest are hacknSlash games.

  19. levelupmanisawsome says:

    you sir are an ass

  20. DaveThe SodaGuy says:

    well, an ass is a consistent part of the human body, therefore I do have one.

    But I'm 99% sure that my body is not, in any possible terms or definition, just an ass. It consists of other parts usually found on other human bodies. So no, I am not just an ass. I am also a dick, a head, a hand,. an arm, a brain, a leg, etc.

  21. levelupmanisawsome says:

    okay sir you win

  22. Thomas Barnett says:

    Sega of Japan will find you

  23. UttR Concrete says:

    Shining Force and Shining in the Darkness needs a remake for ps3

  24. RetroAges says:

    Shining in the Darkness was okay but I want to see a remake of the much more superior Shining the Holy Ark… either that or a real new Shining Force 🙁

  25. Arctic says:

    A better strategy for game gear would have been back lit screen without color, at least the battery life would have been decent

  26. deathVIAavatar says:

    As someone who's only exposure to strategy combat games back in the day was Shining Force 1 & 2 on Sega Genesis via Sega Channel, this has been my ideal type of strategy game ever since. I might pick this up seeing how A.) I've never really played Fire Emblem aside form the Awakening demo on 3DS eShop, and B.) $40 is a little too steep for me to pick up FE: A anyways.

  27. NitekMuscle says:

    I think this was the clast title I got for the Game Gear back in the summer of '97.

  28. Kosteri x says:

    it seems in EU you can download this game for 3ds.
    Would it be fun to play?

  29. MaxxSkywalker says:

    I got Shining Force CD up and running on my Wii via homebrew emulation. Gonna get me some more Shining Force, because there's no other legitimate way for me to play this game, as a compressed GameGear release does not interest me.

  30. Arin Elliott says:

    I got to play all three shining force Gaiden on Pc but I hope they can add Gaiden 1 and Gaiden 3 Final conflict on the 3ds

  31. Billy Reyes says:

    i sleep late because of this game before… hehehehe like this game…

  32. Mike Kroll says:

    my fav

  33. Samus Aran says:

    I found this game in the park, when I was a kid. At that time, I really didn't like RPGs, and I gave this game a chance. I really liked it! For years, I also forgot the name of this RPG, but I eventually stumbled on a video that brought back all these memories. This game really convinced me to give RPGs a chance 🙂

  34. Koko Lee says:

    Small system, lay back in bedding

  35. Koko Lee says:

    Wizard hungry

  36. Koko Lee says:

    Wizard about to

  37. Koko Lee says:


  38. Mike Kroll says:

    Moan moan piss piss whine whining, I'm down

  39. Troy Dube' says:

    I had $6.00 leftover after purchasing some games on my 3DS. This game was $4.00. Bang for buck I can't remember a better deal.

  40. Dom Trussardi says:

    My favorite game. So simple, yet satisfying. Like a five dollar pizza.

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