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SF2 Counteraction v1.1.0

Full release! (latest update Apr 17)

Discussion about this classic Genesis/Mega Drive game.

SF2 Counteraction v1.1.0

Postby Siel » Fri Mar 01 2019 1:24am

Download
SF2 Counteraction v1.1.0
(Apr 17 2019)

(Changes since the demo can be viewed further down in the changelog)

How to Play
1. Acquire patch from link above
2. Have an IPS patcher such as LunarIPS to apply the patch
3. Apply the patch to a Shining Force II (USA) rom (2MB, not expanded by the Caravan)
4. Bowie should start with a Short Sword in his inventory if done properly

----------
Main Features

Counterattacks!
Instead of randomly triggering, counterattacks are now guaranteed to occur when possible. Double-attacks also are no longer based on chance and are class and/or weapon dependent instead. Pre-emptive attacks and double-counterattacks are also now possible with similar conditions.

Battle renovations!
All battles have been edited to some degree to be faster-paced, including player starting location, enemy entities, and enemy behavior.

Stats rehaul!
Player character, enemy, item, and spell stats have been heavily edited.

Weapons now function more as side-arms rather than outright upgrades, a bit like the lance&spear combo in vanilla.

Spell learning has been shuffled around and some more characters have been granted access to them. Most characters have their own spell specializations, rather than learning the maximum level in every spell, and lower levels of spells can remain useful.

Promotion level has been shifted to 25. Stat gains past pre-promoted level 25 have been drastically reduced and the pre-promotion level cap has been reduced to 30.

These changes were originally balanced around the Ouch! difficulty mode and grinding is not required to beat the game.

More parameters affected by the difficulty level!
The difficulty level selected at the beginning of the game also affects enemies' HP and DEF, in addition to ATK.
Normal: HP 100%, ATK 90%, DEF 90%
Hard: HP 100%, ATK 90%, DEF 100%
Super: HP 100%, ATK 100%, DEF 100%
Ouch!: HP 133%, ATK 100%, DEF 100%
(reduced ATK actually scales from 96% (early-game) to 90% (end-game) and increased HP from 118% to 133%)

Further promotion differentiation!
Branching promotions now differ slightly more:
-pegasus knights gain increased offense against low-defense targets in addition to flight
-sorcerers trade cost efficiency for higher spell range
-brass gunners can root themselves in place to greatly expand attack range
-master monks stop learning new spells

Attack and spell ranges extended!
Certain weapons and spells can target farther than 3 tiles away.

Other changes of note:
WARNING: SPOILER!

Boring changes:
WARNING: SPOILER!

Bug fixes:
WARNING: SPOILER!

----------
Screenshots
WARNING: SPOILER!

----------
Data&Info

Changelog
WARNING: SPOILER!
Difficulty settings
WARNING: SPOILER!
Characters&classes(short descriptions)
WARNING: SPOILER!
Alternate promotions
WARNING: SPOILER!
Spell learning
WARNING: SPOILER!
Items
WARNING: SPOILER!
Spells
WARNING: SPOILER!
Chest changes
WARNING: SPOILER!
Known issues:
WARNING: SPOILER!


Edit (Mar 2, 2019): added information on difficulty setting, added spell learning chart, corrected SORC spell costs
Edit (Mar 2, 2019): updated download link, added chest content changes
Edit (Mar 5, 2019): fixed formatting errors, corrected&reorganized v1.0.0 changelog, added missing sword to items
Edit (Mar 9, 2019): corrected pre-promo level cap information, corrected typo in spell learning (Tyrin 29->20)
Edit (Mar 13, 2019): updated download link, updated item and spell data accordingly
Edit (Mar 16, 2019): updated download link, updated spell data accordingly
Edit (Apr 17, 2019): updated download link, updated features, added difficulty data section
Edit (Apr 18, 2019): fixed bbcode formatting in difficulty data
Last edited by Siel on Thu Apr 18 2019 7:30am, edited 19 times in total.
SF1CL v2.1.1
SF2CA v1.1.0
SF1CL v2.1.1
SF2CA v1.1.0
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Re: SF2 Counteraction v1.0.0

Postby Wiz » Fri Mar 01 2019 11:33pm

Tested on real hardware and works like a charm !
I shouldn't have selected SUPER difficulty though, very bad idea. :D
I won't have enough free time right now to enjoy the whole game, as I prefer to focus on making progress on the disassembly and tools. But I'll certainly take a detailed look at your changes at some point because I'm curious to know how you did certain things.
In any case, I'm already impressed to see so many changes without having to build an expanded 4MB ROM. (couldn't believe my eyes after applying the patch :D), and I'm really glad to see the Battle Editor being put into good use. Thank you ! :)
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Re: SF2 Counteraction v1.0.1

Postby Siel » Sat Mar 02 2019 9:02am

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that I absolutely did not have SUPER difficulty in mind when making this and the first battle is probably impossible under it, barring extreme RNG manipulation and/or grinding since there are no shops available yet. Once past that initial hurdle, it might be... playable? But I wouldn't recommended it.

For most of the changes, I mostly just redirected relevant code to pockets of free space where I essentially Frankensteined together existing code for whatever purpose I had in mind. I half-assedly kept track of these locations, so here:
WARNING: SPOILER!

As for the battle edits, I actually used the Cavaran. I made changes with it on a different ROM and then transposed the battle data back to a 2MB ROM's original locations. I stuck to the original ROM size since it made my changes more easily trackable and interchangeable.

----------
Edit: Oops, I just realized that the Force Sword change I made wasn't functioning entirely as intended, so I uploaded a new patch with it fixed, along with editing the contents of a chest from a dummy item to something useful.
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Re: SF2 Counteraction v1.0.1

Postby FfuzzyLogik » Sun Mar 10 2019 7:13pm

Hello,

I needed some time free to test. For now I'm coming back to Granseal in game.
First, effectively, it works nicely. Counteraction deals half damage (as it usually does in normal game) so damage done are not "insane".
I tested in "normal" mode hoping to be able to advance quite quick and be able to test many things.

My thoughts when playing :
- A detail : when you take damage, you win 1 XP. I find the tons of text decreases the "fast play" and for 1XP... Every attack you have to wait "XXX attacks, it deals ZZ damage, WWW counterattacks, deals VV damage, you win PP XP" that's quite long...
- For equilibration of price : I find the items tooooooo expensive... 1200G for first items can be bought at Galam who aren't more strong than "old one" (they give some advantage but disadvantages too... So 100 => 1200 for some item are not truly better don't look very nice to me).
- For modification of items :
-- herbs more expensive, nice you find some but you must take care of the use,
-- herb only heal yourself... Why ? If you have to heal a mate who was counter attacked you can't... Not fond of this, it makes even harder to help the levelling up of someone who's a bit low levelled...
-- distance for antidote ? Not fond of because I don't find logical some "herb" can heal from so far... Not tested, none was poisoned...
- For levelling : Sorry to say that but I am absooooollluuuutely disapointed by this... I reloaded many times to see what happens... The results : around 70% of my levels are "+1agilty" or "+1 defense" (one in one characteristic)... and 20% are "level up" and not even one point in one characteristic... That totally break my fun... I like to see my heroes "growing up"... I'd prefer they have a little less stats at start but win more over the levels... And sometimes I get +3 HP, +1 attack, defense and agility... The worst I tested is Chester for now... He does not makes many damage, take heavy counter attacks and don't win decent levels... So even if he's fast, he's hard to level up and if you just win +1 agility, I'd prefer to be down one level but have potential of one decent level...
- For changes of starting heroes & spells : I'd say I pferfer Sarah to be healer and Kazin mage just for the looking like (he is red and have fire spells, for sarah, I'd suggest she have blast or freeze maybe ?) and gameplay at first battle, one healer is of use if you don't have herbs. For now, they are quite similar. I have not tested Slade too much but he looks to make many damage...
- For fighting equilibration : I find spells (blaze) too strong especially against "tanker unit" (like ooze and galam solder) and attack too weak on them. If you have to fight (with fighters I mean) a galam knight, you'd take more damage in counterattack than you damage him... And you make 2/3 of its HP just with one spell (and won't take any counterattack). Oppositely, on "weak units" I find damage too heavy (butnot far from blaze spell). So what the intrest to have fighter in team ? They don't tank more because of counterattacks, they don't do more damage especially versus tank units... And Sarah have enough mana to make spells at will (but don't win many mana points by level)...
- For experience : Most of time you don't win many (so you don't level frequently and even if you win some, as mentionned before, you don't get many stat points)... Opposotely I had +92 XP for killing the galam knight with my level 3 Jaha... Who may be a bit too much ? If levels were "very intresting", this XP low shall be quite nice, you don't win levels too fast and low levelled units can win many, that's good.
- IA attitude : sometimes, ennemy unit just moove and don't attack my heroes who are "near" ennemy units. I don't know if it's normal one Gizmo and one other unit done this...

I find the start quite hard and because of the levelling + "very expensive and not strong items" + time for display text, that really cuts off some fun in gameplay. Some changes in battles makes them different and that's nice. IA is still not intelligent (but I think it can't be changed) so battles are harder because of position of ennemies but sometimes easyer... Sorry to point negative things in this feedback but I'd like to give some analysis (if it can help to improve some things). I hope you get some other feedbacks who'll help you to have a "better sight" on this mod.

Thanks for making it !
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Re: SF2 Counteraction v1.0.1

Postby Siel » Sun Mar 10 2019 11:34pm

Thanks for trying it out. I put my replies in this spoiler-box.
WARNING: SPOILER!
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Re: SF2 Counteraction v1.0.1

Postby FfuzzyLogik » Mon Mar 11 2019 6:36pm

Here some reflexions if they can be of help ?

WARNING: SPOILER!


Have a good day,
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Re: SF2 Counteraction v1.0.1

Postby Siel » Tue Mar 12 2019 12:05am

WARNING: SPOILER!
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Re: SF2 Counteraction v1.0.1

Postby DiegoMM » Tue Mar 12 2019 1:58pm

To add a little to the conversation.

Im really impressed how much thought and planning you put in this mod Siel, everything is very well planned and diferent from the original. I think its quite a feat.

But I understand Ffuzzylokik, because in the *player perspective*, this mod lacks a sense of progression. It seens you are not becoming stronger, most develop are horizontal, you gain more options but not better options. Because that the game become a lot less fun. In the state of things people starts playing for the counteraction but stop because the lack of progression.

So the best of two worlds would be if somehow you could insert more power progression, but keeping your original idea of how things work.
Speaking...tires me.
Fighting...tires me
I'm tired.
Speaking...tires me.
Fighting...tires me
I'm tired.
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Re: SF2 Counteraction v1.0.1

Postby FfuzzyLogik » Wed Mar 13 2019 10:36pm

Hello,

This is the end of testing for now... A Master Mage is misplaced in the battle in shrine (to wooden pannel, where normally boss is Arrow launcher who has a very insane range). Its on south east of battle but out of screen. As the Arrow launcher is no longer the boss... I can't finish the battle because of the mage I can't kill...

Effectively, Chester prooved to be of use again "berserker units" (like Goblins/Hobgoblins/Evil cloud). But again, the over-defense of tanker units looks ridiculous to me... "Bowie attacks Golem - 1 damage, Golem's counterattack's - 9 damage" (with the "defensive sword). With Luke its even worst, counterattack does 18 ! And I hadn't give him the "berserker's sword" (do not remember the name).

Here some more opinions in game :

WARNING: SPOILER!


I hope this feedback can be of help, I hope that listing things who don't look perfect won't hide the very good work you've done and very nice ideas are in the mod.
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Re: SF2 Counteraction v1.0.3

Postby Siel » Thu Mar 14 2019 1:04am

Uh-oh, the master mage certainly was misplaced. I must've slipped my mouse and saved without realizing. I uploaded a new patch with the mage's position fixed. I also quickly checked the other battles and it seems that battle was the only one with an off-screen enemy. (One thing I don't like about the Cavaran's UI is that instead of being drag&drop, just clicking anywhere on the map repositions the unit right away)

I have some ideas on how to inflate stats while roughly keeping the current balance, but I'll wait for some more feedback before deciding to revamp everything.

And here are quick replies to some of the points above:
WARNING: SPOILER!


Edit: I uploaded another new version, wherein mithril's ATT was partially restored and some support spells' MP costs were reduced.

Edit-edit: Also, so that you don't have to restart the entire battle, here's a cheat to kill the off-screen master mage. (apply it to a saved state, and then reload that saved state)
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Re: SF2 Counteraction v1.0.3

Postby FfuzzyLogik » Thu Mar 14 2019 7:06pm

Yea letz kill da mage !

WARNING: SPOILER!


You're mega reactive Siel !
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Re: SF2 Counteraction v1.0.3

Postby Siel » Thu Mar 14 2019 9:51pm

WARNING: SPOILER!
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Re: SF2 Counteraction v1.0.3

Postby FfuzzyLogik » Fri Mar 15 2019 8:11pm

I used the patch you gave but it didn't work for master mage... So I cheated and gave robin arrow to May ; then she could shoot him... It took many time but mage wasn't so far...

WARNING: SPOILER!
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Re: SF2 Counteraction v1.0.3

Postby Siel » Sat Mar 16 2019 7:25am

I guess I should've mentioned the cheat patch was for Gens or Fusion saved states. Other emulators might save differently, rendering the patch incompatible.

WARNING: SPOILER!
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Re: SF2 Counteraction v1.0.3

Postby FfuzzyLogik » Sat Mar 16 2019 11:11am

I use Gens but I patched the game not save game... But as I told, I could deal with it. Sorry for misunderstanding of use of your patch. I hope it have not made problems ?

WARNING: SPOILER!


Here I'm in battle chess. I fear a LOT seeing difficutly of previous battle.
After a hard battle because of heavy pizzy damage of pawns, great range of rooks powerful spells of queens and king's shoot... I finally won my chess battle.

I'd have to say all of a sudden after 5 new characters joins and are good in fight and magic users, you have no more problems to heal... I just don't understand why you decide to make the hero joining at start no magic users and all new ones are... It looks really easier now and more fun because of potential of all heroes... Even fighters "when they can't hit" because all ennemies around are tanks, they can cast boost or heal...
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Re: SF2 Counteraction v1.0.4

Postby Siel » Mon Mar 18 2019 10:21pm

They all learn spells because I decided to make that the Creed characters' gimmick (and Janet's, since at first I had moved the archer class to one of the Creed choices in place of the healer). And originally just one was supposed to join, but I took out the 1 Creed character restriction, so now they all sort of flood in at the same time.

----------

I put up a new version (1.0.4) that mostly just buffs pre-promo warriors and similar characters
WARNING: SPOILER!
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Re: SF2 Counteraction v1.0.4

Postby BigNailCow » Tue Mar 19 2019 4:50am

This looks awesome. You've seemingly implemented a lot of things I wanted to toy with over the years and never got around to. I've always liked the idea of a "horizontal" tactical expansion with weapons being modifiers more than anything, giving every character magic of some sort, and of course, expanding the attack range. I will definitely be checking this out soon.
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Re: SF2 Counteraction v1.0.4

Postby Siel » Sat Mar 23 2019 8:04am

It's BNC himself! Your discovery thread (along with Wiz's documentation) really helped me make sense of the game initially and I referenced it quite a few times while working on this hack.

This is still rough in this some areas, but I hope you can enjoy it.
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Re: SF2 Counteraction v1.0.4

Postby FfuzzyLogik » Fri Apr 05 2019 4:23pm

Hello there,

After some HARD times, I finished this mod...
As I won't spoil for persons who'd like to play it think about not reading the spoiler here !

General opinions :
- Very nice changes in battles who increase intrest ;
- Some few bugs who'll surely be changed in short future
- Its very very hard so for challenging players only
- I personally find the progression of hero verry ultra mega underwhelming... Your heroes are weak as hell and fighters will have hard times. At start mages are mega strong, at end as ennemies gains tons of life and you have very few MP they finish quite weak. Hero is the most disapointing men ; only its item saves him but only bolt 1 in all game ?! I also find there's not enough "tanky heroes" who can stand a bit the frontline (as maaaaany ennemies are mega fast, you can't hope have initiative or you go suicide in ennemy team).
- Some new abilities are cool but many look not nice to me. For example, the counterpart for cursed item it too heavy, ennemies have not this counterpart.
- A XP system who helps A LOT to bring back some heroes who're underlevelled especially mages (clerics) but levelling to help to be better in fight is near to be useless.
- I dislike the disapear of things "nice" to find (and no other to compense).

So for persons who just want to get a challenge on this game its nice. For searching, discovering, evolution of heroes, its not the same.

WARNING: SPOILER!


Have fun in testing. I hope it will be other feedbacks.
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Re: SF2 Counteraction v1.1.0

Postby Siel » Wed Apr 17 2019 8:57pm

Didn't realize there was a new post in here!

Hm yeah, I can see how double attacks on top of guaranteed counterattacks can lengthen the battle animations too much. Personally, I use frameskip even while playing vanilla, so I hadn't thought much about it. I wouldn't simply remove double attacking enemies though, since their purpose was to add variety to the ATK vs DEF balance. This goes back to my idea of an option to disable battle transitions and just have a simpler animation play out on the field, if I ever figure out how to do this.

I guess the power progression isn't super exciting either for those who like to seeing numbers getting bigger. Weapon progression is completely neutered and stat gains were reined in a bit in comparison to vanilla to keep old spells relevant and to keep the weapon balance in check.

As for enemy strength, I set up the enemy stats to start off weaker than the player and gradually scale up as the game advances, but I might've overdone it too quickly (I've tried to tone it down a few times already). The idea was that the player gets way more options than the enemy side while the enemy side doesn't even outnumber the player by much (since I stuck to a 2MB ROM's enemy count limitation). One could even say it's actually the enemy side that is heavily outnumbered since their numbers are thinned out over the map. I suppose it's a bit on the harder side, but I figured it was reasonable since it's more forgiving than vanilla's super mode. Enemies do start being rather durable, though.

If I were to remake everything, I'd scale down enemy stats in relation to player stats and make counterattacks deal full damage from the get-go so that the player could make more use out of counterattacking and melee units. Together with this, I could probably abandon the idea of limiting myself to a 2MB ROM and get a higher enemy count. I don't see myself bothering with reworking 43 different battles all over again any time soon, though.

WARNING: SPOILER!


--------------------

Edit:
I uploaded a new version with the difficulty lowered on Super and lower. Enemies had their HP reduced by 15% (early-game) to 25% (end-game), their ATK reduced by 4% (early-game) to 10% (end-game), and their DEF reduced by 10%. The ATK reduction translates to about an effective -15% dmg dealt, and the DEF reduction for sturdy/tanky enemies translates to about an effective +40% dmg taken.

I also implemented difficulty setting changes:
Normal keeps all the reductions mentioned above,
Hard restores the enemies' DEF,
Super restores the enemies' ATK and DEF,
and Ouch! restores the enemies' HP, ATK, and DEF.

In short, Ouch! is the original difficulty, but I'd recommend playing on Super for non-inflated enemy HP. There's also Normal mode for those who don't like having physically resistant enemies.

here are some patches to change the current game's difficulty setting (use on a Gens saved state):
WARNING: SPOILER!


Last bumped by Siel on Wed Apr 17 2019 8:57pm.
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