I finally think that this hack has reached a state which I would consider more or less finished, and so I figured I'd make it available for download for anyone who feels it has been far too long since their last Return to Grans. ;)
IN A NUTSHELL
At its core, this hack is an updated version of the original game, with a focus on the narrative. I have vastly reworked the dialogues in the game - about 40% of all text passages have been altered, replacing the oftentimes bland writing of the original. Second, I have improved/replaced many of the graphics that I considered ugly or unfitting in vanilla SF2, such as the battle sprites of the Vicars or the Archers. And finally, difficulty and balance have been reworked by tweaking enemies' stats, skills and numers on the battlefield.
Gameplay-wise, the hack will require you to play more tactical; careful positioning and a well-thought-out composition of your party are far more important than in the original game.
This hack comes in two flavors:
SF2 - Return to Grans is the complete version, as described above.
SF2 - Retold replaces only the dialogues in the game, in case you want to experience the revised story but prefer the gameplay to remain in its original state.
After you've downloaded your game file in the form of an .ips-patch, you will need to apply it to a basic Shining Force 2 Rom (i.e. one that has not been expanded with the Caravan). This is done via a program such as IPSWin, a freeware program.
Shining Force 2 - Return to Grans has been tested extensively on Gens+ and runs flawlessly on it. Other Emulators are most likely working fine as well.
If you are interested in a more detailed overview of the changes, I have compiled an extensive pdf-guide on the hack, which can be found among the links below.
This hack makes the game considerably harder than the original, which is achieved by making the enemies slightly more powerful (+ATT) and much tougher (+HP, +DEF), while also sometimes granting them some extra manpower. Some enemies have also gained new abilities.
The "NORMAL" difficulty of Return to Grans is probably halfway between vanilla SF2's "NORMAL" and "SUPER" now. The difficulty level should also be more consistent (I feel that original SF2 actually got easier towards the lategame - no more).
Warning: Return to Grans is not balanced for playing on SUPER, and I certainly don't recommend it. Do not play on SUPER unless you're looking for a really tough and potentially unfair challenge. You will face one-hit-KOs and the like.
First off, level caps are set to 25 for unpromoted characters and 30 for promoted characters respectively. The general promotion paths remain more or less the same, although this hack introduces two new classes: the Cleric (replaces the Vicar) and the Berserker (replaces the Gladiator). Fancy naming aside, this change was mostly made to complement the cosmetic overhaul of the aforementioned classes, while their general roles remain basically the same.
Most classes have been subject to significant (or at least slight) tweaks. For example, there is a clear division between tank characters and damage dealers. Sorcerers now play out radically different from before. "Special" promotion paths are never simply superior to their alternatives, but have clear advantages and disadvantages.
Stats of members of the same class are now much more equal across the board.
Magic spells have undergone some major changes to make the game more balanced. For example, Boost is no longer available as an AoE spell, Bolt is much more difficult to use effectively due to a required minimum distance to the target, and Blast can be a very effective spell thanks to a large AoE radius.
ITEMS AND WEAPONS
Many items have been tweaked, some have been removed/replaced, a few have switched locations.
Mithril weapons have been reworked as to be more balanced - for example, the Gisarme with its powerful instakill ability now grants a much lower +ATT bonus (equal to a Critical Sword).
Pendants have been added as a category of wearable items.
- The Evil Spirit in Creed's mansion will not change into Zeon but rather disappear completely when the king of devils starts showing up.
- The upwards-facing map sprite of Peter has a few odd pixels appearing on the right side of his head, no matter how often I change his sprite.
- If you attempt to switch the equipped weapon of THIF Slade during combat, you will get the notification that his weapon is cursed and therefore cannot be replaced (even if he is not wielding any). This appears to be a side effect of BNC's/SIr Hedge's sf2_poisonpercent patch.
- During one playthrough test, SORC Kazin learned two additional levels of Neptun, which were both essentially bugged "Higins"-type spells. Since the original Neptun was still usable, gameplay was not affected. I was not able to reproduce this bug in another playthrough.
- The poison effect does not always seem to work properly (and will sometimes only deal its original 2 damage per round instead of the intended 10%).
- There's a glitch in the intro, which causes the map to be all black during the sequences in Granseal Castle; this will probably be fixed in an upcoming patch. Thanks to Wiz for notifying me of this bug!
Special thanks to...
- Alones, for allowing me to use his beautiful item icons.
- Big Nail Cow, for creating the Caravan.
- Moogie, just because.
- Sir Hedge, for helping with questions and providing pointers on hex editing (yes, I watched
the Youtube Video :) ).
- Space King, for creating the SF 2 Editor.
- Stordarth, for helping with all kinds of stuff.
... and everyone else who has given me a helping hand between 2016 and 2011, after
I first started working on this thing.
Download SF2 - RETURN TO GRANS
the complete hack (.ips file)
latest version: 1.01
Download SF2 - RETOLD
just the storymode (.ips file)
latest version: 1.0
View the GUIDE
it's fancy with colors and stuff (.pdf file)
If you have any problems with downloading, or encounter any bugs while playing, please send me a PM.
I hope you enjoy playing!