30 years later, Sega’s most underrated RPG deserves another shot

Everyone knows Super Nintendo had one of the best libraries ever for role-playing fans. Heck, it’s hard for any modern console to compete with the likes of the trigger of a stopwatch, Final Fantasy VI, Tied to the earth, and many other titles that define the genre.

Sometimes it means that the superior the early ’90s console – the Sega Genesis – doesn’t get the love it deserves from tradition-loving weebs. And one particular RPG series of the era deserves a second look, if not a full reboot. If you subscribe to the Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pass, it’s in your Retro Genesis library right now.

An exchange of blows at the end of the game Brilliant force.Sega

You will be forgiven for thinking of the years 1992 Brilliant force Very similar to the early Fire Emblem games. Both share the same top-down world maps with an overlapping grid reminiscent of a chessboard. But in a 2010 interview with british magazine GamesTM, chief designer Hiroyuki Takahashi – and lead designer revealed that he believed the original Fire emblem was a total snooze-fest.

“The tempo of that track was so bad it wasn’t even something I wanted to play,” he recalls.

Instead, Takahashi and his team were inspired by the Dragon Quest series – only they wanted to make battles “more fun”. An obscure Japan-only PC-only RPG strategy game from 1988 called Silver ghost was also a major influence.

Silver ghost was different ”, Takahashi Recount GamesTM in 2010. “It was a simulation-action type game where you had to lead, supervise and command several characters; this is the title that convinced me that simulation games don’t have to be crap.


And the fight is here Brilliant force excels. You will recruit up to 30 characters during your journey, many of which are optional or easily missed. There’s the usual assortment of tanks, ranged fighters, support characters, and melee all-rounders. But there are a lot of intriguing riffs on familiar types, and with a little effort any character can become a powerhouse. (Strangely, one of the best is a flying squid that casts ice magic.) Just swapping out a new recruit or two in your active roster of 12 can completely change your strategy between battles.

“Simulation games didn’t have to be shit. “

Once you’ve cleared a few cards and start to feel a little overconfident, Brilliant force will make you fall to the waist. Each battle gradually increases in difficulty, introducing more deadly enemy attacks and map gadgets that will force you out of your comfort zone. If you’re stuck in a tough fight – or your team is unevenly leveled – you can easily earn experience by repeating previous cards. Brilliant force is not as difficult as Wargroove – the level of difficulty is more up to Fire emblem: three houses without permanent death.

While the story of Brilliant force is functional enough to move you from map to map, it’s not a game you play for a compelling story and character development. There is a captured princess, a sword of light, and cookie-cutter villains like “Darksol” and “Dark Dragon”. New hires won’t change the direction of the story significantly.

It’s not serious. The clean-cut approach to storytelling works perfectly here, and it’s completely by design.

A magazine ad for the North American release of Brilliant force.Sega

“Even today you see a lot of role-playing games designed with a philosophy where battles are just a bonus and story is the main thing.” Takahashi said in 2010. “I could never accept this and I would not accept it. RPG players spend so much of their time in combat that there’s no way for a combat system to be treated simply as something added to a good story.

After Sega’s lackluster support for the Shining series on Genesis and Saturn, Takahashi has moved on to greener pastures. His company, Camelot Software Planning, partnered with Nintendo in the late 90s and has since been steward of the Mario Tennis, Mario Golf and Golden Sun series on a variety of home and portable consoles. Yet some three decades after its release in 1992, the quick battles and rewarding strategy of Brilliant force still holds.

You can play Brilliant force on the Nintendo Switch Online Genesis Library and through the Sega Genesis Classics collection available for purchase on PS4, Xbox, PC and Switch.

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