Shining is a series of fantasy console games developed by Sega. The series can be thought of as Sega's main venture into the RPG genre, along with the other fantasy-RPG series, Phantasy Star. The first game, Shining in the Darkness can be compared to the early Might and Magic games or the Wizardry series, in that the game is a 1st person dungeon crawler with randomly encountered, turn-based battles. The next game released in the series was Shining Force, which can be compared to the Fire Emblem series, especially Shining Force's contemporary titles in the series, because of its turn-based strategy style with battle scenes acted out with sprites. Other spin-offs include Shining Soul, which can be considered a Roguelike.
It can be argued that the Shining series started as an attempt by Sega to cover all of its bases on their consoles as far as the unusual gameplay genres, because it emulated styles that Nintendo and other developers pioneered. Over time though, the series has found a following and has carved its own niche, as there are newer releases not found on Sega consoles.
Dungeon crawler titles
In the dungeon crawler titles of the series (Shining in the Darkness and Shining the Holy Ark), the player takes control of an adventuring party. Battles work very similarly to those of Dragon Quest, Mother, and the fellow Sega RPG series Phantasy Star, in that they are first person and the player is placed in a position where the hero and team mates would be. Shining in the Darkness is the first game in the Shining series, and is a very simple labyrinth exploration game, with a simplified non explorable town and world map, where choices are made through a cursor system. Shining the Holy Ark was released immediately prior to Shining Force III, and while it is also a dungeon crawler, it features a far more expanded gameplay world over the first title.
For the strategy games of the series (Shining Force, Shining Force Gaiden, Shining Force Gaiden 2, Shining Force II, Shining Force Gaiden: Final Conflict, Shining Force CD, Shining Force III and Shining Force Feather), the player takes charge of a party in large-scale, strategic battles. The games generally limit the number of characters who can enter any one battle at a time to about a dozen, unlike games such as Langrisser, which sometimes allow over a hundred. The player is only in control of unique troops; there are no generic footmen, archers, or cavalry.
Action RPG titles
The third broad category of Shining games is the "action RPG" set of titles. This incorporates: Shining Wisdom, Shining Soul, Shining Soul II, Shining Force Neo, Shining Tears, Shining Force EXA and Shining Wind. This category is essentially a dumping ground for any Shining game which does not use turn-based combat; the games it incorporates do not necessarily have any noticeable similarity in gameplay. For instance, while Shining Tears uses similar mechanics to Shining Soul II, it has less in common with Shining Wisdom than it does with any of the Strategy RPG titles of the series.
Connections between games
Most installments of the series prior to Shining Soul I are related in some ways. Often they reference each other (frequently during discussion about the Greater Devils), or characters are carried over. Shining Force Gaiden: Final Conflict and Shining Force II are arguably two of the most related games, having both characters and locations in common, such as the character Hawel, a playable mage in Final Conflict and Kazin's mentor in Shining Force II. Final Conflict is also strongly related to Shining Force I, both sharing the character Max. There are also notable connections between Shining Wisdom and Shining Force II and between Shining the Holy Ark and Shining Force III. In Shining Wisdom, the elf-cleric Sarah and elf-mage Kazin make an important appearance and connect the story with Shining Force II. In Shining the Holy Ark, the father of Julian, one of the main characters of Shining Force III, disappears in Galm's Mansion. Julian blames Galm for his father's death and this serves as his motivation for becoming a mercenary, leaving Enrich, and joining the main group in Shining Force III Scenario 1, which through a series of events leads to him being a focal character in Scenario 3.
From Shining Soul I onward, installments of the series tend to have less significant connections. For instance, in Shining Tears a character mentions the Klantol Kingdom (the setting for Shining Soul II) and tells its geographic location, but there is no interaction with any of the characters or plot events of Shining Soul II. However, Shining Wind and Shining Tears are arguably the most closely connected of any pair of games in the entire Shining series, since the former is a direct sequel to the latter and features return appearances by nearly all of the major characters.
This is a full list of Shining games:
|1991||Shining in the Darkness||Sega Genesis|
|1992||Shining Force: The Legacy of Great Intention||Sega Genesis|
|1992||Shining Force Gaiden||Sega Game Gear||Never released outside Japan; remade as part of Shining Force CD|
|1993||Shining Force Gaiden 2||Sega Game Gear||Released in the US as Shining Force: The Sword of Hajya|
|1993||Shining Force II: Ancient Sealing||Sega Genesis|
|1994||Shining Force CD||Sega CD||Contains remakes of Shining Force Gaiden I and II and a new scenario.|
|1995||Shining Force Gaiden: Final Conflict||Sega Game Gear||Never officially released in English; however, fan translations are available.|
|1995||Shining Wisdom||Sega Saturn|
|1996||Shining the Holy Ark||Sega Saturn|
|1997||Shining Force III Scenario 1||Sega Saturn||Released in the US and Europe as Shining Force III.|
|1998||Shining Force III Scenario 2||Sega Saturn||Never officially released in English; however, fan translations are available.|
|1998||Shining Force III Scenario 3||Sega Saturn||Never officially released in English; however, fan translations are available.|
|2002||Shining Soul||Game Boy Advance||This was the first game developed by Grasshopper Manufacture (all previous ones were developed by Camelot Software); all games from this point onward are not considered part of the same continuity as the pre-Soul games.|
|2003||Shining Soul II||Game Boy Advance|
|2004||Shining Force: Resurrection of the Dark Dragon||Game Boy Advance||An enhanced remake of Legacy of Great Intention, not considered canon.|
|2004||Shining Tears||PlayStation 2|
|2005||Shining Force Neo||PlayStation 2|
|2005||Shining Road to the Force||Japanese mobile phones||The first non-remake strategy Shining game in over seven years.|
|2005||Shining Force Chronicle I||Japanese mobile phones||Remake of Shining Force Gaiden|
|2005||Shining Force Chronicle II||Japanese mobile phones||Remake of Shining Force Gaiden 2|
|2006||Shining Force Chronicle III||Japanese mobile phones||Remake of Shining Force Gaiden: Final Conflict|
|2006||Shining Road II||Japanese mobile phones|
|March 20, 2007||Shining Force EXA||PlayStation 2|
|May 17, 2007||Shining Wind||PlayStation 2||Thus far unreleased outside of Japan|
|January 2008||Shining Wind X||Japanese mobile phones|
|2009||Shining Force Feather||Nintendo DS|
|2009||Shining Force Cross||Arcade|
|2010||Shining Hearts||Playstation Portable||Third game in the series with characters designed by Tony Taka.|
- Shining Wikia - The Shining wiki
- Shining-world.jp - SEGA's Shining series portal site
- Shining Force Central - A Comprehensive Resource for the Shining series
- Home of Classic RPGs Information not only about Shining Force
- History of: The Shining series Sega-16.com's retrospective of the franchise.
- The Shining Source - A site for people who want to develop Shining Force style games.
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