Part 9: Shining Tactics,BONUS: Shining Tactics, Part 1
Shortly after Challenge Mode was released, another romhack titled Shining Tactics followed suit. It claimed to be a total rebalance hack, which intrigued me. On the surface, it looked good. Many changes were made and it looked like Shining Tactics would play completely differently from Shining Force. While technically true, it's sadly lacking a lot. While some of the ideas are good at the core, they're bogged down by lazy or sloppy implementation. While not really worthy of its own thread, Shining Tactics has enough "what the fuck were they thinking" moments to be a sideshow to Challenge Mode.
Be forewarned, I tried out a different emulator for this hack, and it fucked up my screenshots pretty badly. Then again, it might just represent how Shining Tactics really is.
Allow me a quick breakdown of the good points:
* Diversified magic - Offensive spells actually do different things now. For example, rather than Freeze being "higher damage/MP Blaze", it specializes in single target damage while Blaze focuses on area damage.
* More equipment - Every character now has secondary equipment that can be purchased at stores. Rather than being limited to the five or so rings you get in ShF2, characters get attack up and defense up equipment.
* More characters learn spells - I like this because it discourages "walk up and attack" gameplay that describes Shining Force for the most part.
* More balanced mechanics - Characters in general are balanced among others of their class. Also, promoting to master monk and pegasus knight incur some real opportunity costs.
However, it pretty much stops there, and even those good points feel half-baked. On the other hand, the bad parts of Shining Tactics (which I'll just call ShFT from now on) make themselves apparent immediately.
Okay, arbitrary recolors. Those are completely inoffensive, but they get worse.
Yeah, he colored in the spell icons, and they look terrible. When I, of all people, think your color schemes are bad, they're really damn bad.
Also, notice how Sarah doesn't start with a weapon. There is no way to fix this for the first fight.
The hacker also edited Sarah's sprite so she's not wearing a hood. Not terrible, but...
He forgot to edit her casting animation. Oops!
Also, in the interest of adding in new items, axes got completely axed. The majority of this hack was made in SF2Edit, which doesn't allow you to create new items from scratch. So, to cram in all the new equipment, the hacker instead renamed and repurposed a ton of other items, including every single axe in the game.
That's Sarah's spell set at level fucking five. At this point, I'd like to add that spell sets in this hack make no god damn sense. Sarah's spells are Heal/Detox/Blast/Aura, which is a silly but inoffensive change from her original. To start off, Kazin has Blaze and Freeze, right on par with Challenge Mode. However it departs with his other two spells: Muddle (why did he leave this useless spell in?) and Dao . Sadly, Sarah and Kazin have the most sensical spell sets. They get more and more confused going out.
That's actually Blaze 1 now. To compensate, it costs 3 MP, which I find to be pretty fair. Before you ask, I did not get extremely lucky. I turned on the cheat to control enemies to speed through this hack faster because it's not really worth my time.
You also find this in place of the Chirrup Sandals. It increases attack by 3, and is equippable by Bowie, Slade, and May, among other characters. Of course, because it is an altered form of the Chirrup Sandals, it still makes that squeaking sound when you walk. Why armor increases your attack power is beyond me.
Found in place of the Power Water at the shrine south of Granseal. Increases defense for Sarah or Kazin by 3. Also, all the new items are nightmarishly ugly.
This is apparently a reference to a kid's show, but fuck that. I grew up with Frog & Toad and Little Bear.
Ribble is the first town to feature buyable secondary equipment. The green thing that looks like a book is actually a shield, raising defense for Chester and Jaha. Strangely, it's exactly the same amount as the Cotton Robe. Why did these need to be separate items? The Iron Ring is an equippable for non-weapon fighters like Kiwi and Peter. Again, it's the exact same attack boost that the Leather Armor gives. Redundancy, redundancy.
Hey May, you, uh, look like you're missing some junk in your trunk there.
Final note, remember what I said about characters being balanced? Well, in a technical sense they are, but the balance is inexcusably lazy. Pull out a stopwatch before you check out the comparison in stats between Chester and Rick, and see how long it takes you to notice how low effort these stat growths are:
Okay, that's enough for now. There's still far, far more, but I can't really go any deeper into the hole without spoiling future pieces of the game.