Shin Force | Sega Dreamcast Review
Shin Force
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Shin Force ~ Dreamcast ~
 Evolution: The World of Sacred Device
ESP (Japan)
Ubi Soft (USA)
Jan 22, 1999 (Japan)
Dec 16, 1999 (USA)
Multi 3rd Person
Backup 8
         > Evolution, developed by the experts at Sting, was one of the first RPGs in Japan and now it holds the same honor in America.  The story revolves around Mag Launcher (your character), an adventurer who seeks to pay down the family debt and find the secret of Evolutia.  You carry a "Cyframe", which is a multi-technique device used in battle.  Earning a living is accomplished by successfully completing assignments from the "Society", an organization responsible for investigating the ancient civilization.
         > After having spent many hours on the American version, I'm sure that this game would not be all that great for importing.  The adventure is basically linear, but the techniques, items, and weapons would surely be a sticking point on the import game.  No matter since most of you have likely made a decision on the Japanese version a while ago.
         > Evolution leans towards the super-deformed and cartoonish side for its characters and locales.  It reminds me of Shining Wisdom (Saturn) in this regard.  There's basically one town plus various ruins and areas with multiple dungeon levels.  In town the buildings, trees, people, trails, and other scenery are nicely detailed.  The ruins vary to include a forest, space, undersea, volcano, and temple.  Every dungeon is random and constructed of hallways and rooms.  Monsters are visible in the dungeons and are cartoonish too.  Quite impressive are the bosses which await you at the end of each dungeon.  I really liked the mechanical contraption (Monograptus - pictured below) which wields electric bolts and killer gears!
         > Techniques are the most impressive methods of attack in the game.  Each character has his/her own list of techniques which can be upgraded and changed, depending on whether the character in question carries a Cyframe.  Mag Launcher's punch techniques are the best looking, especially the one where he jumps up, hits the ground with his fist and all the enemies explode into a giant cloud of fog, sparks and polygons!  Overall, I would have liked to see more detail throughout, but that's sure to be addressed in the sequel (hits Japan this week).
         > While in town you can move, talk, search, jump, rotate view, and bring up the game menu.  In dungeons you can do all that minus the talk.  During battles everything from attack to retreat is menu driven.  Saving is done either at save points or pause points.  Pause saves are available in dungeons between levels and are erased once you resume the game or "unpause".
         > There are three numbers you need to keep an eye on: HP (health points; at 0 you're exhausted), FP (fighting points; used for techniques), and TP (technical points; you need these to master techniques).  Battles take place in limited spaces with a floating third person view during attacks.  You can move your character forward to increase attack strength and backward to increase defense strength.  Each character takes a turn and you watch the results of your commands (or the enemy's).  The best battle features are that you can attempt to avoid them and enemies do not reappear when you defeat them, leave the room, then return.
         > Most of the music is whimsical and upbeat.  The occasional mood setting tune is thrown in to keep you interested.  Decent, but could have been better.
         > The sound effects are mixed with most of them being in the high quality category.  Each weapon has a unique effect and the Japanese speech (during techniques) is really cool.
         > There aren't too many characters in the game, but at least you do feel the need to earn enough money to pay the family debt to the "Society".  Random dungeons helps to keep the game fresh, although you pay in the graphic variety department.  One thing is for sure, the battles don't wear you down and you have to keep fighting if you want to use the most impressive techniques.  I'd have to say Evolution is most likely an RPG you will beat once, never to return.
     > Evolution makes a nice prelude to Elemental Gimmick Gear and Shenmue.  Most of your time is spent in multi-level dungeons (which could be good or bad for you).  The highlight of Evolution is definitely the plethora of techniques available.  The downside is the game could use more towns and characters.  It's a worthy adventure though!
Overall: 8.1 | Graphics: 8.5 | Control: 8.5 | Sound: 8.0 | Fun: 7.5
~ Necromancer ~