To start with, this game is, unsurprisingly, a sequel to a game called Shining Force Gaiden, which is not the first game in its series. The series’ chronology is a little confusing, and thus I will not deal with it here. This game was released on the Game Gear, an 8-bit color portable console made by SEGA; it was in direct competition with the original Game Boy from Nintendo. The system has 2 buttons, other than Start, Power, et cetera.
The storyline of Shining Force II begins in a castle. Your character, which you name, is a castle guard for Prince Nick of Cypress. Nick leaves to fight enemy nation Iom, leaving you and your friends (some of whom are slackers) to guard the Sword of Hajya. Some Iom forces storm the castle, and while you are fighting off the main enemies, some go into the castle and steal the Sword. The rest of the game is you chasing them to get it back.
The game consists of two modes: battle and camp. The battle mode is very similar to Fire Emblem games. Both your characters and the enemy can move a select amount of spaces on the battle grid, then attack, use magic, et cetera; characters also gain experience and level up. Your characters also have an amount of HP, which, when reduced to zero, causes them to leave the fight “exhausted,” and an amount of magic points, or MP, which you can spend to cast various spells. The main difference is that turns are based on characters’ speeds, rather than each army taking its own turn. You win when you defeat all the enemies. You lose when either all your men and/or your character dies. If you do, you return to camp. When this happens, you go to a menu similar to the one found in camp mode, which will be explained later. if you want to exit the battle and go back to camp, you can either cast Egress (which takes up a character’s actions and 8 MP) or use Angel’s Feather, an item. If you do, you return to camp (see below) and your men have full health points, magic points, etc., but if you return to battle, you must restart from the beginning of that battle.
In between these battles are story cutscenes and camp mode. In the camp you can get “help” – raise exhausted characters, level up people, swap out reinforcements (if you have gotten many characters by progressing through the game), and so on. You can also buy and sell weapons and items, and leave and head out to battle.
I cannot critique this game’s music, as I play it on a portable system, usually in my house’s living room, and thus almost always have the sound off. I also cannot speak ill of the graphics; though they aren’t amazing, this game was released in 1993 and is on a portable system.
By now, you are probably wondering “How can I get this game?” Well, you can either buy a Game Gear and the cartridge, buy a retro system, or do what I did and buy it on the Nintendo eShop Virtual Console (note that this probably isn’t available on Wii U).