If you were a fan of Shining Force back in the Genesis days, likely at some point you wondered; what if it was a Nintendo property? How would the game look and sound on the vastly technically superior SNES? Well, the answer was hiding in Japan all along; FEDA was created by the lead programmer and the lead artist of the first two Shining Force games. Sadly ... the answer to our question is that it doesn't really look or sound any better, nor is it even a better game in any way.

Now, it's not entirely a fair comparison, because the entire team from Shining Force wasn't involved, and I'll wager the budget was a lot more tight at Yanoman than it was at Sega. Even still, it's disappointing how unambitious this game seems. It settles for yet another generic Ragtag Rebels vs Evil Empire stock 1990s JRPG story, with the only unique quality being an Ogre Battle-style "karma meter" hammered in rather clumsily.

The generic fantasy world in this story is run by some sort of giant furry empire. Main characters Brian and Ain are happy with their roles in some sort of furry special forces squadron, until one day they get ordered to massacre a village for no apparent reason. Brian stops the commander from killing some little kid and gets thrown in jail. Ain quickly busts him out of the most poorly guarded prison ever, and the game begins with our heroes on the run, eventually hooking up with (and becoming a unit in) the Liberation Army challenging Empire rule. So begins a very long linear slog through Shining Force-style battles. Yaaaaaaaaaaawn.

Not only has the art style totally been imported from Shining Force (the main enemies look exactly like the armored centaurs of Runefaust) but the gameplay as well (all the unit types are pretty much identical.) The one TWEEEEEST is the karma meter that they totally pilfered from Ogre Battle. If you follow mission objectives, which usually involve limiting casualties and going straight after the enemy commander, your karma goes up. If you wipe out every enemy unit you fight and/or go hunting around the map for other enemy units that you don't need to fight, your karma goes down. Along the way there's certain characters that won't join (or stay with you) unless you're on the Law or Chaos side, and there's like four endings or something depending on where your Karma Meter is at the end.

The Karma Meter becomes kind of irrelevant just because the game is so easy, it's a cinch to impose your will on the enemy in most maps and just do whatever you want. Your characters start out vastly overpowered compared to foes, and I only got about halfway through the game but the enemies never seemed to catch up. Even if you're on the Law path of limiting kills, the game still pads itself out with shit tons of forced pointless battles against mooks, leading to plenty of EXP and constantly being a couple steps above most enemies. Also, if you hew to the mission objectives, every character in your party gets like 30 to 50 EXP at the end of each mission, even if they didn't participate. I actually like this as a substitute for fighting repetitive grindy battles, but in a game where you already have so much of an advantage, it just keeps you permanently ahead.

The only mild challenge is in that Brian or Ain dying ends the game, and its permadeath for any supporting character that gets killed. So you have to use some tactics in protecting your fragile mages and archers. However, you're never really asked to do more than use rudimentary SRPG tactics, and if you've played even one before you'll have no problem cruising through this one. The enemy AI is also extremely rudimentary; it just makes a beeline for Brian or Ain, unless it can't reach them that turn, then it just goes for the weakest target that's within range. Once you learn this it's simple to bait the enemy to one area with Brian and Ain (who can both take a few hits with no problem, especially while defending) while everyone else outflanks them. That's pretty much how every battle ends up going and it gets repetitive pretty fast.

Even though the art style is the same, it seems like this guy forgot he was working with the SNES color palette; everything is a really muddy, drab brown-and-grey, and the backgrounds are just utterly lacking in detail. The character attack animations in battle are nice, but that's about it. They also clearly didn't bring the Shining Force composer over with them as the soundtrack is just flat terrible.

When you pair up the repetitive gameplay and the nonsensically simplistic karma meter with the boring story, flat characters, bland graphics and awful music ... you've got yourself a snoozefest. The battle mechanics are the only thing that is solid and decent, but that's just because they pretty much lifted them wholesale from Shining Force.


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