Shining Force Neo

Fan-made Shining Force Online enters free beta this week

Shining Force Online, a fan-created MMO based on Sega's classic RPG series, will enter into beta on 28th November.

Released for free via Arcade County, the game re-imagines Sega's franchise in an alternate universe and features a new storyline for its familiar characters.

But the game also includes paid-for extras. Via the Arcade County shop you can purchase the Shining Force Platinum User Upgrade, for "25 Tickets". This costs $23 (about £14.20).

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Shining Force Neo

Shining Force Neo

This is Neo time for jokes.

Have you heard? Polyphony Digital is taking Gran Turismo in an unexpected new direction. Itís going to be an RPG adventure. You equip your car with incrementally better parts as you tear around the globe in a classic tale of an orphan boy-racer, plucked from obscurity, and his path to showdown with an evil overlord; the fate of the world resting on his gleaming sports exhaust.

Likewise, Final Fantasy is to become a rhythm-action game for its twelfth iteration, Sly Raccoon is turning into a Tekken-esque one-to-one 3d fighter and, Metal Gear Solid is to become a card battling handheld game... Oh right.

While the transformation of Shining Forceís esteemed turn-based strategy-RPG mechanics into a fast moving Western style action hackandslash game in the style of Baldurís Gate: Dark Alliance or Diablo (or, heaven forbid, Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel) might not be as high profile nor as drastic a move as the above examples (half of which are lies, in case you hadn't spotted), donít underestimate itís significance. Itís a change that has dismayed the venerable seriesí hard-nosed fans the world over and perhaps with good reason: Shining Force is famed as being one of the great orthodox strategy-RPGs and, besides, the Japanese have never been experts at recreating hackandslash Western RPG mechanics.

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No Shining Force NEO in Europe

But it's out in the US.

SEGA's PS2 action RPG revival of the Shining Force series, Shining Force NEO, is currently hacking and slashing its way to US retail unimpeded by intrusive menu screens mid-battle, sayeth the Internet, but SEGA Europe has admitted that it currently has "no confirmed plans" to release the game on this continent. Boo!