Title: Shining Force Feather: Design Works
Publisher: Udon Entertainment
Artist: Noizi Ito / pako
Series: Shining Force Feather on the Nintendo DS
Release Date: Available Now
Special Thanks: Udon Entertainment for providing me with a review copy of this title to cover.
Shining Force Feather is the first Nintendo DS entry in the popular Shining RPG series. This official Design Works art book includes character profiles, rough designs, storyboards, interviews, and plenty of creator commentary.
Thanks to the team at Udon Entertainment, I have been able to acquire a copy of their recent artbook release – Shining Force Feather: Design Works, a design compendium detailing the thought processes in the development of the game with the same name. Udon Entertainment have released a number of artbooks over the years – some pertaining to more mainstream series such as “Street Fighter X Tekken” and “Marvel vs Capcom”, as well as some artbooks dedicated to more niche series including Persona, Disgaea and the Atelier series. While all these games have seen releases outside of Japan, the Shining Force series has seen some releases internationally however Shining Force Feather is not one of them.
Shining Force Feather is a turn-based tactical RPG which was developed by the studio Flight-Plan saw was published by Sega in 2009. While there has been the occasional rumor to its English release we have not seen any product of them to this day. However the game does predominantly feature work from from both pako (UN-GO) and Noizi Ito (Shakugan no Shana, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and several Unisonshift visual novels) which has been showcased… and if you are a fan of the Shining Force series or even their work alone… may be up your alley. So how does Udon Entertainment’s second Shining Force artbook fare? Read my review of it to find out!
The content contained in Shining Force Feather: Design Works is comparable to that of the Persona 3 and 4 design works. While ample amount of finalized artwork has been included in the book it is more-so dedicated to showcasing the work was was put into the design process with early design concepts, weapon design plans, concepts behind the development of the game world and storyboards.
The book is split up into four different sections, these four including a a 30ish page gallery of artwork, a “Characters” section which detailed the development processes of them individually, “Game” development including world building and in-game movies and finally “Character Files” which also showcases incomplete artwork but serves to introduce the characters through more than just their artistic development.
When it came to character designs which were generally designed by either Noizi Ito or pako, the concept artwork was well annotated by the individual designer as shown in the preview images above. Each of the character design pages were between two to several pages in length and showcased finalized / non-finalized artwork, face patterns used in-game, episode playbacks and in the terms of main female character Alfin… her different Dress Up forms.
The “Game” chapter is less formal and took to detailing the design processes and concept art for developing the world and its technology (Airships, Floating Fortresses etc) and a couple of in-game cinematics. The final chapter “Character File” which is filled to the brim with character artwork and quotes from each of the characters, but more importantly full character bios with Q&A with the characters. This did feel like it could have been more appropriately merged with the second chapter, potentially saving some more room in the book for other content but as I hadn’t played the game prior it helped build my knowledge of each character and was easily the most enjoyable chapter of the book.
Unfortunately this highlights the negative point of this book given its lack of English localization, that unless you have played the game you might not have as much appreciation for the book as a whole unless you either read into it a bit more through another website or are lucky enough to have imported and/or played it. Despite this, if you are in it for some great artwork and a look into a game that could be on our store shelves now… it has a lot of content for you to go through.
The book maintained a clear and consistent theme throughout. The book has made good use of the space provided, with almost everything spaced out and of a sufficient size to appreciate everything in detail – while also allowing for a lot of content to be covered over its pages. Where this did falter a bit was in the initial characters chapter, where Face Patterns were crammed into one side of the page instead of given more of a chance to showcase. This may be due to how they were displayed on the DS screen, but proved slightly agitating.
In terms of colour schemas, while some of the pages maintained their own backdrops (Primarily in World Development and Movies), for the most part the layout used simple white backdrops occasionally with light brown backgrounds seemingly holding resemblance to the game or otherwise simple feather designs. Rather than wooing fans with a layout theme resembling the game such as Persona 3′s Blue/White and Persona 4′s Yellow/Orange, the use of these colours allowed the artwork alone to shine.
While it is not possible to vouch for accuracy in the books content given I have not played the game, the text is legible and overall proved to be an interesting read.
After peeling your eyes from the beautiful front cover of this book, you are almost immediately brought into around 30 pages of artwork drawn by Noizi Ito and pako. As a personal fan of both their works, I found it to be a great way to start off the book – with the artwork all being well designed and up to the standard I would expect from the two.
Throughout the book, a couple of other extras were included. The first of which being two interviews with pako, Noizi Ito, Yoichi Shimosato (Producer) and Tomiyuki Murai (Development Director) discussing both the character design and game design aspects, each providing several pages of incite into the design process which is fairly interesting. Finally, at the end of the book – a Character Relationship Diagram and Appendix of artwork were included to help wrap the book up nicely.
Upon looking at trailers of this game and considering its platform I was not expecting there to be such a wealth of artwork and assets but was pleasantly surprised. Given the talent behind it, if you are interested in the game it actually was quite an enjoyable read… of a game I will be contemplating importing in the very near future.
Personal Opinion: B
Overall Score: B