Although the Shining series has been around for a while, this is the first game I’ve come to play. I didn’t really know what to expect and if you don’t have any expectations then normally a game can’t surprise you in a bad way. Unfortunately, Shining Tears did.

Plattform: Playstation 2
Utvecklare: Nextech / Amusement Vision
Utgivare: SEGA
Släppdatum: 22 mars 2005 (US)
Köp här: eBay

Just as in Atelier Iris, characters are represented by large images next to the box where all conversations are shown and small super deformed characters with enlarged heads that you play with. Shining Tears’ character images are pretty static, the only thing that ever changes are their facial expressions. And those aren’t something to jump for joy about either. Was character designer Tony Taka lazy or were they on a tight budget? Strong emotions are shown by the whole picture of the character shaking and sometimes getting enlarged. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t really make me feel what the character is supposed to express.

The game world is somewhat static as well. You move your character from city to city by marking the city on the map and then affirming that’s where you want to move. But in fact, you don’t even have to go out to the world map to do this. Inside a city, press the START-button and in the menu you’ll find Map Move. The world map will show up, mark the city you want to go to and you’re there.

But don’t be fooled, you won’t end up in a new place just like that. The game suffers from so much loading time it almost becomes unbearable to play. I can’t imagine this has something to do with my PS2 being modded, cause all my other import games work just fine. The game loads before every fight and I’d say there is about a 10-15 second wait. Terrible. And when you leave your home base, just to walk around the town outside – that also takes time to load, even if you leave the base for a second and decide to go inside again, the load time is the same. At some point you start to wonder why the heck it’s taking so long, the graphics aren’t exactly complex and extremely detailed, just plain 2D images.

About the cities, not long into the game I wondered why they even exist. A few people to talk to, you get to walk around a bit, maybe do some shopping but when you come to a door and think you can go in, you can’t – and that’s the charm with towns! Being able to go inside people’s houses and maybe find some treasure. But no, in Shining Tears, the only treasure you’ll ever find are those that appear in battles.

Don’t even get me started on the battles… But this is a review so I have to. I liked the idea of the battles at first because I am quite fond of the hack-n-slash style, like we’ve seen in the Tales and Star Ocean-series. It’s a nice break from the “menu fighting” of Final Fantasy for example. Anyways, you can be two players during the battle, but I didn’t try that. As a single player there are still ways to control the other character – yes, you go through battles with only two characters – with the right analog stick and the R-buttons. Sounds simple enough? I’m sure it is too, but the truth of the matter is that there is no need to care for the other character or to even bother making a team attack. As I said – hack-n-slash! That’s all you ever need to go through the battles. The AI in the game is very poor; the enemies can be surrounding you but not throwing a single punch or they suddenly beat you to a pulp, it’s either all or nothing.

There are skills to be learned of course, but I never used them. I never felt the need to. I must say that it feels kind of weird going through battle with only two characters when there are hundreds of enemies coming at you. And what’s even worse is when there are a lot of enemies on the screen, the game starts to lag. That’s even more annoying than all the loading time! You get through the fights eventually, but not exactly with the help of your partner – the AI for your companions is pretty lousy too.

I’m sorry to say this but Shining Tears is a game without a soul. It doesn’t move me in any way; it just makes me feel a lot of annoyance. The score to the game doesn’t deliver either, the graphics are too bland, the story is boring and the characters are all superficial and cliché. In fact the story is so badly made that sometimes when you notice the game isn’t progressing, the solution is to walk around towns and talk to people until you find someone who brings up some new information. Oh please, is that the best they could do? It’s a sad thing really.

Skriven: 2005-09-17