seeing the review of Shining by Kalkano, I ve thought I never made a Shining Ark review. So here is my Shining Ark review
Shining is an optimised version of the graphic engine of Shining blade, with bigger map, less aliasing, no slowdown, smaller loading, more enemy on screen and some very big boss
While there is some enhancment from Shining blade, there is also the disparition of some excellent thing.
the Link attack are now automatic with every character, dealing more powerful attack and making the game less strategic. There is also far less playable character (7 against 21 in Blade), and only 3 in same time (4 in the last chapter) against 5 in blade. the loreilei systeme is also less present and IA controled character is a complete mess.
In the positive thing, the Dash and protection are really effective, the turn based on speed is excellent, the ennemy IA is better, the battle map bigger, and the normal mode is a little more difficult.
So the gameplay is inferior to blade but still good.
The battle imenu is also better with graphic icon(similar to the one in the old shining) showing the effetct of every attack (and not kanji like in blade) so it's easier to play the game without japanese knowledge
Out of battle gameplay:
Shining Ark is also the sequel to Heart, so the game include a more complete and far better Weapon creation and upgrading system, many craft thing (fishing, making bread) and still grinding quest. and like in the battle the item needed in every quest is newn with graphic art and icon (and no more japanese text) making the game more friendly for non japanse people.
the character quest are also here, with the Link attack being auto, they are more easy to unlock (far less repetive fight) but also far less in quantity (as there is only 7 character). in Shining Ark, there is not the possibility to finish with different girls.
there is also a final dungeon and hight level battle at the end.
Shining Ark story is not good, most of the story is just ininteresting slice of life with generic character and nearly no relation with the other Tony Shining (and Shining in general), but the 2 last chapter have a big and good twist with some reference to Shining the holy Ark and the original Shining force. these two chapter and the final chapter are interesting. it's not enough to save the story however
While not being bad, the music in Shining ark are forgettable. there is no music you stille remember after shutting down the PSP (Shining blade music were better)
While there is some improvment from Shining blade and some crafting element from Heart are pretty good (but repetitive), the game suffer from the limitation of the PSP (4 character in battle in the place of 5 is because of that), a too fast devlopment and a mediocre story. making it inferior to its predecessor.
The good thing is the gameplay is still pretty good and as the story is bad during most of the game, you can play the game without understanding the story. especially with the game being more friendly than blade for non japanese people