Review – Shining Tears

Shining Tears
Developed by Amusement Vision
Published by Sega

“Now Loading” looks so much classier in Japanese.

The Shining series is over. Sure games that have the word “Shining” in the title keep coming out, like the proctology based “Shining Down a Colon” or the clearly aimed at preschoolers “Rise and Shining,” but this doesn’t mean anything. If Steven Spielberg got drunk and in his stupor decided to film himself masturbating, would the resulting video be a sequel to ET? Even if he named it ET2: ET Bone Home, I say no, it would not be a real sequel. The Shining games are past the drunken stupor. What comes out with the name Shining on it these days is the vomit that was too chunky to go down with the first flush.

Shining Tears should be called “Shining Loading.” This game is pretty much the loading game. Most of my experience playing was spent looking at the loading screen and I have to say it wasn’t the best loading screen by far. Why didn’t the designers put pics of cool castles on the loading screen, or letters of apology to the consumer? Because they are far less creative than I, that’s why.

On the off chance you aren’t watching the game load, you’re pressing the circle button. The basic flow of the game is as follows: Move now and then while pressing circle. Win. Load. Talk to people. Load. Talk to more people. Load. Start battle. Load. Move now and then while pressing circle. Win. Load.

Not again!
How I long to play “Enemy Fort North” for the 31st time. At least “Enemy Fort South” is identical.

The game is so fragmented that even enemies are in static clusters that do not engage you unless you engage them. The battles attempt to be epic by pitting you against hundreds of foes but they end up just being boring because you kill them four at a time. Then you leave the map, it loads and you kill ten more groups of four by pressing circle. Yes, then it loads.

In the games attempt to keep you awake, an AI controlled second character follows you on every mission. This would almost be cool if the mechanic weren’t entirely broken. Maybe somewhere someone has access only to this game (somewhere being hell) so they have mastered controlling a character with each analog stick. I found the control scheme to be clumsy and the game to be too bad to give it much practice. The second character can perform “chain” attacks if you hit L2, spin in three circles, move to the desired location, press R2 then do a one armed chin up. A few of these moves were nifty, but again, not worth the effort.

Most of my time with the game that wasn’t spent waiting for it to load was dedicated to trying to keep the second character alive. What good is a healer if I constantly die trying to defend her from enemies? I figured out eventually that the best strategy is to hold the right analog stick all the way to the left in order to keep the second character completely out of battle. Of course the game’s difficulty was poorly balanced so some battles even my clever playing style couldn’t save the second character, while other battles allowed me to kill whole armies with my healer’s attack stick.

An even better strategy than the best strategy is to pay someone to play with you. If you can convince a human or intelligent dog with bad taste in games to control the second character, Shining Tears is almost even fun at its best moments. But it’s not as good as Dark Alliance, which was not as good as real Baldur’s Gate games. Still, a second player makes the game feel more like torture and less like an execution.

The only pleasure I got from this game came from my primitive instinct to improve my stats. I am convinced I would enjoy having cancer if I believed I could level up my tumor. Besides leveling, there is a ton of armor and crap to collect and the obligatory six thousand prefixes and suffixes that were original ten years ago when Diablo did it. The blacksmith system seemed like it would be fun but a trip to a walkthrough will destroy any illusions you may have about the system’s complexity. It is incredibly rigid and therefore stupid.

Shakespeare look out, this plot is amazing. Your main character has… AMNESIA! There are a few magical rings, which I believe is where Tolkien got his idea from. And everyone is related to everyone but you don’t find out until hours into the game. What, you’re my sister? But how can that be, you’re also a princess! Every other character is royalty and those who aren’t are legendary warriors of times past, and I think some are legendary royalty warriors from times past. This is story telling at its most original. Are you taking notes?

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