An often overlooked title, Sorcerer’s Kingdom is effectively Shining Force, but with the ability to start and end combat anytime and anywhere. With the ability to micromanage your allies and a strong focus on singling out enemies, SK will provide a steady challenge to JRPG fanatics and has plenty to offer overall.
Available For: Sega Genesis
Developer(s): NCS Corp.
Publisher(s): NCS, Treco
Release Date: 1993
Usually when you think about a strong SRPG for the Genesis the first thing that comes to mind is Shining Force. When I first got into emulation, SF was one of the first things I checked out. Ultimately, it was a series I had a lot of fun with and while I don’t really like where the series has gone lately, I still consider it to be a very fun series overall.
Nobody really remembers Sorcerer’s Kingdom and this is sad because in my opinion it’s like Shining Force on crack. For starters, you start out with only one character. From the get-go, the game is designed to be very tough. In fact, it won’t be until you’ve grinded and played the game through a few dungeons first before you’re able to get your first allies.
But then, this is also important because game over means game fucking over, not just losing some cash. You can choose to start battles whenever you’d like and flee as often as you’d like as well. Both of these are invaluable tactics because when you start a fight, you have to beat down every single enemy that’s listed on the screen that you’re actually able to reach, meaning if they’re in an area that you can’t reach them and vice versa, they’ll disappear until the battle is over.
As a result, you can single out enemies a little more effectively, test new gear, and flee when necessary. Fleeing is important, but it throws you back at the beginning of the area, meaning fleeing constantly will not achieve you any progress within a dungeon. Combat is also kept super quick. Moving around in battle is fast, fighting is fast, countering is fast…it’s all super fucking fast.
While this is excellent, it does detract from having cinematics like in Fire Emblem, Shining Force, and Front Mission. Either way, it works well for people who are either trying to get through areas quickly or in general don’t typically like turn-based games because they feel they’re too slow. That’s not to say it would necessarily appeal to them anyway with all the necessary grinding, but it’s worth a shot.
Another fun feature is that of ranks and classes. Different characters have different classes and therefore proceed through different ranks. Classes affect what equipment you can wield and also your base character development. Ranks are an extension to the classes that power them up even further with each accolade you attain from routing the monster menace from the land.
The other nice part is the way you actually level up in the game is…well, you kind of don’t. See, it’s more organic than anything. In a way that almost resembles the SaGa series and Chrono Cross, you get little boosts in your stats here and there through most battles that start to slowly shape your character overall. Different things you do in combat also play a part in this development, but only slightly.
So really, ranking up is the only true way to level up, but the nice part is there’s always so much ridiculous equipment and organic leveling up going on that you’ll never feel like you were artificially stunted somewhere by some sort of level cap. So why is it you never really hear anyone talking about this game? Well, I think there are ultimately two main issues.
One, there really wasn’t any marketing and there really wouldn’t be for the second main problem: RPG. Nowadays we live in a world where nerds have become more accepted and nerd hobbies follow. RPGs used to be the ultimate form of nerdism and would often lead to shunning, ridicule, and whatever. It’s hard to think that this was only 20 – 25 years ago.
Now you look around and not only are there a ridiculous amount of RPGs being released, we REJOICE in the fact that they’re RPGs. I mean seriously, Borderlands 2 is all the fuck over everything you go to and look at today and it will probably continue to be as widely marketed. This kind of marketing simply did not exist back in the early 90s/late 80s.
In any case, if you’re looking for an SRPG that’s very fast-paced, fun, and a little grind intensive, Sorcerer’s Kingdom is right up your alley.