Shining Force captivated SEGA Genesis owners back during the summer of 93. I was just a wee lad then, but still marveled at the amazingly detailed character design (during battles, anyway) and its intense strategy-focused battles. The series birthed multiple sequels, but there are numerous entries that failed to see the light of day stateside. The Saturn’s Shining Force III Scenario 2 & 3 comes to mind when I think of the lost entries, as they appeared on a dying console that sparked little consumer interest. When Shining Force Feather debuted at TGS in 2008, it piqued the interest of many North American gamers, but SEGA had no intention to localize this amazing entry. For those interested in this lost gem, UDON has published an amazing $39.99 art book, Shining Force Feather: Design Works, packed with character and setting design, as well as creator interviews.
Series veterans will instantly notice a huge departure from the mainstay’s art design in favor for a more anime aesthetic. The medieval look of the older games is gone, and replaced by a heavy Asian influence that’s evident in the character design. Likewise, the game’s settings receive a similar revamp. The creators explain that these changes are necessary to appeal to a new market. That’s a smart business move, but the difference between the classic and new designs is quite shocking.
Each character has an insanely detailed profile that includes final character designs, rough drafts, and multiple sketches. The unfinished sketches are interesting, as they show all the modifications made before the final design; some characters change drastically from beginning to end. There’s no stone left unturned; even characters’ various facial expressions are covered in this art book.
The mock twelve question character interviews will cause a few chuckles, while offering insight into each character’s personality. Rush, for example, is a carefree treasure hunter who toots his own horn too often. One question asks, “What do you think you will be doing from now?” His response? “Being more awesome.” It’s a quirky way to quickly detail personality without having pages of redundant information.
The interviews with the game’s creators are also interesting reads, as they shine light on some of the development difficulties. Yoichi Shimosato (Producer), Tomoyuki Murai (Development Director), and character designers Pako and Noizi Ito answer some great questions about the game. They discuss the new free moving battle system, which replaces the grid structure found in previous games. The team states that it was in search of a fast paced combat system that always keeps players moving forward. I was also able to glean a bit of info about the manga, which covers events not shown in the game. A sequel’s briefly discussed, but there’s not one word about localizing Shining Force Feather, unfortunately.
Stateside, it may be difficult for some gamers to fully appreciate the work that went into compiling this art collection, but it’s not UDON’s wrong doing. Truthfully, the book is amazing. The fact that this game never saw a U.S. release may relegate this beautifully crafted book to a very niche audience. On the other hand, if you’re interested in learning more about Shining Force Feather or a huge fan of gaming art books, this may very well be worth the asking price.
Check out gallery below for a peek at select pages from Shining Force Feather: Design Works.
- Price: $39.99
- ISBN: 1-926778-46-4
- ISBN-13: 978-1-926778-46-4
- Format: Softcover
- Page Count: 168, Color
- Size: 8.25″ wide X 11.75″ long