Sound Driver: Cube
Genre: RPG (JP box), Simulation (Sega of Japan master list)
Shining Force: The Legacy of Great Intention, known as Shining Force: Kamigami no Isan (シャイニング・フォース 神々の遺産) in Japan, or more commonly just as Shining Force, is a turn-based tactical role-playing game released in 1992 published by Sega for the Sega Mega Drive. It was the second release in the Shining series following the 1991 RPG Shining in the Darkness, however Shining Force is the first tactical RPG in the franchise.
Shining in the Darkness was developed by Sonic Co. (previously Consumer Development Studio #4 (Sega CD4)) - a small four-man team of developers headded by Hiroyuki and Shugo Takahashi, with help from Climax Entertainment. Despite its minimal funding the game was successful, and a sequel was subsequently requested by the corporation. Though hopes were put in place for more funding, Sega again kept production costs down, and so Climax Entertainment were brought in to help out once more.
Takahashi believed that most RPGs of the time only focused on telling an interesting story, treating battles and the coupled system as a tacked on extra rather than a core part of the experience. He wanted to challenge that notion, making a game with an engaging battle system. Shining Force was inspired primarily by Kure Software Koubou's Silver Ghost, a RPG for the PC-88 line of computers released in 1988. Silver Ghost's battle system consists in real-time actions and a multi-character system, in which the player controlled the leader of a "force" and attacked enemies by running into them, with the rest of the force following and engaging in combat with anything that comes close to them.
Takahashi had worked on Dragon Quest previously, and had wondered how the battle system could be improved. Silver Ghost and the tiled chess-like movement of units typical of tactical RPGs provided the answer, as it introduced the concepts of distance and range.
The game's English translation is controversial, due to the omission of vital plot points and character backstories (including that of the game's main protagonist, Max). It is also inconsistent, with the names of characters occasionally changing between scenes (one such example is Lord Kane, sometimes referred to as "Cain").
Chapter 1 - Runefaust Invasion
Max is a young swordsman who trains under the wing of Lord Varios, in the Kingdom of Guardiana. One day, the King informs them that the Gate of the Ancients, a place Guardiana has watched over for centuries, might have been reached by the forces of Runefaust. Max accepts the King’s plea to leave with a small force assembled by the adviser Nova to stop their antics and they are successful, but as the commander of Runefaust’ troops dies, he laughs at them, as Lord Kane from Runefaust should be invading Guardiana by now. Max quickly returns to Guardiana, just in time watch Varios being killed by Kane and then leaving. The King, also heavily wounded, reveals that the Gate can only be opened with a key, and instructs Max to find it before Runefaust and to discover the motivations behind their actions. The King also dies and Mae, distraught by her father Varios’ death, joins the force.
Max heads to the Kingdom of Alterone, which is an ally of Guardiana and lies close to the northwest. There, he finds that the King was threatened about his Kingdom’s safeness by Kane and is thrown to prison. Max is saved by Khris and the force heads back to the castle to talk with the King, which begs forgiveness and excuses himself about being under Kane’s power. He gives Max a last advice, a hint to a secret passage and to head to Rindo and then Manarina as there’s someone there that can help him.
Chapter 2 - Spirit of the Holy Spring
The Force reaches Rindo, only to find that Kane has bought all the ships and has sailed away. There is only one ship left, which belongs to the Mayor, who doesn't allow them to have it.
Defeated, the Force takes the advice of Alterone’s King and heads off to Manarina, which has an Arcane College where the best mages are trained, and where Anri, the Guardiana King’s daughter, is studying magic. There, Max finds Anri and tells her about her father and Guardiana. After a brief period of denial, followed by despair, Anri joins the Force. Max then speaks to Otrant, which informs the Force that to get the key to the Gate of the Ancients before Runefaust, they need to retrieve the Orb of Light from the Cavern of Darkness. The Force does so and when they return with the object, Otrant tells them they should use it on the Pool of the Ancients, which is tied with the Gate somehow. Max uses the Orb, and the Spirit of the Holy Spring tells Max that the Legacy of the Ancients is an evil being that has been sealed away for 1,000 years and someone called Darksol is searching for the key to unlock that seal.
The Force returns to Rindo, where they find that the Mayor’s grandson is missing. They head towards the place he was last seen in, the new Circus. The Force enters and is surprised by an horde of monsters. After defeating them and saving the child, the Mayor gives them his ship in gratitude. The Force is ready to set sail but then they are greeted by Mishaela, an evil witch, who burns the ship down. The Force returns to the Mayor, to ask for more advice. He tells them that the next town with ships is Uranbatol, which is to the northeast. Since it’s a long way, he tells them to stop at Shade Abbey first. There Force meets two bird warriors, Balbaroy and Amon, and they’re all caught up in a battle by Darksol. After being victorious, the two birdmen take them to Bustoke.
Chapter 3 - Secret Weapon of Runefaust
Chapter 4 - The Great Fortress of Balbazak
Chapter 5 - Gateway to the Hidden Shrine
Chapter 6 - Descendant of the Sacred Dragon
Chapter 7 - The Lost Civilization
Chapter 8 - Rise of the Ancient Castle
- Main article: Characters (Shining Force)
The force is made by various warriors, which will join at various locations of the game, some with specific tasks that need to be completed to access them. Every character has their own specific class which helps determine their stats, abilities, weapons that can be equipped, and magic that can be learnt. There are a grand total of 30 playable characters in Shining Force.
- There are seven stats in Shining Force: LV (level), HP (health points), MP (magic points), AT (attack power), DF (defense power), AG (agility, which determines their place in each turn), and MV (movement, which determines the amount of squares they are allowed each turn).
- EXP is given by attacking enemies, and/or using offensive or defensive magic. The characters will gain levels accordingly and all their stats except MV are raised randomly. Which stats each character is awarded is somewhat random. Because of the random nature of the level-ups, each character's growth may vary from playthrough to playthrough. That said, all characters have their independent strengths and weaknesses, which make them unique even amongst the same classes.
- As mentioned before, once a unit hits level +10, he or she can be promoted to an upgraded class, which will reset their level to 1 but will boost their stats as well.
- Each character can carry up to four items of any kind, along with an accessory and a weapon equipped.
- There are several items in Shining Force. Amongst them, the most important are healing items (related to stat restoring while on battles mostly) and boosting items (related to permanent stat increase).
- There are only one type of accessories, rings and five main classes of weapons: Arrows and Launched Weapons (arrows, shells and shots), Axes, Polearms (not named) (lances, halberds and spears), Staves and Magical Weapons (Rods, Staves and Sticks) and Swords (katanas and swords). These can be equipped by everyone which shares a class, and has the objective of raising stats. Some have spells when used (though there's a chance they'll break).
- There are fifteen types of spells, eight offensive (Blaze, Freeze, Bolt, Desoul, Dispel, Muddle, Slow and Sleep) and seven defensive (Heal, Aura, Detox, Shield, Boost, Quick and Egress), which use certain MP points to be cast. Some can hit just one ally / enemy while others have an area of effect, and can hit several allies / enemies in a cross shape formation.
Shining Force features exploration fields like any standard RPG, with objectives such as picking up information or interacting with citizens. While strolling through the various towns and villages the force is represented by the force leader Max. The buttons and/or are used to access menus and to confirm actions and is to return on the menu or for cancelling options.
Exploration Field Menu
- TALK - While standing close to someone, it will start a conversation.
- MAGIC - Accesses magic but is mostly useless while in these fields.
- SEARCH - Searches the area where Max is turned to. If the area or object doesn’t have anything attached to it, nothing will be found.
- ITEM - Accesses the inventory, the D-Pad highlights the item. Each character can carry one equipped weapon, along with four unsorted items or weapons.
- USE - Uses a selected item.
- GIVE - Switches items around.
- DROP - Discards a selected item.
- EQUIP - Equip or take off a weapon.
Shop Menu (Items and Weapons)
Talking to the seller will allow buying items and weapons for the force.
- BUY - Displays the standard item and weapons list.
- SELL - Sells something from your inventory. Naturally, the selling price is always lower than the buying one.
- REPAIR - Repairs a broken item.
- DEALS - Accesses special items on sale.
Talking to a priest will allow curing or reviving the force, upgrading a character's class or saving the game.
- SAVE: Saves the game exactly as it stands.
- CURE: Cures status ailments for a sum of money.
- PROMOTE: Once a character achieves level +10, he or she can be promoted to a different class, which will give them many advantages.
- RAISE: Revives characters that were killed in battle.
The Headquarters is where the force assembles. It has three rooms, a vestibule of some sort, where talking to Nova will access the Headquarters Menu, a red carpet room, where the active force waits ready to march, and a bar to the back, which serves as a common room for the reserves.
- ADVICE: Nova will give his useful advice for the upcoming battle.
- JOIN: Chooses the active party, as only twelve can take part in one battle at one time.
- STATUS: Access each character's status windows.
- ITEM: Accesses the inventory.
Shining Force also features battle fields, where the player moves the characters in turns across the scenario overlaid with a square grid, which can be seen as somewhat similar to chess. Battles are gained by either destroying every enemy, the Boss (which defeats all others) or move outside of the battle field map. As an extra, some bonus' items are given if specific goals are met. Battles are lost if the leader of the force dies and the game will switch back to the last accessible priest, losing half the Gold the Force was carrying.
Pressing or will access the battle menu. All of the options except Stay will enter a fight screen animation. Pressing START will hide the status windows, both while idle on the battle field or while in a fight screen animation.
- ATTACK - Attacks an enemy if he's in range, which depends from the kind of weapon the character has equipped. Characters can fail their attacks and sometimes they can attack twice.
- MAGIC - Accesses magic, if the character knows it, according to Shining (Strategy Titles)#Range and Targeting|range and targeting]].
- ITEM - Accesses the inventory. Using DROP or EQUIP doesn't require a turn.
- STAY - Holds position without any kind of active action.
Game Command Options Menu
Pressing the button will make a white highlighter box appear around the character. Moving it to any character and pressing or will access the character's stat windows. The latter has the extra of displaying their movement for the next turn. Pressing in an empty slot will access the Game Command Options.
- MAP - Access the battlefield map, displaying the location of the force in green and the enemies in red.
- QUIT - Saves and quits the game.
- MESSAGE - Disables battle messages (level-ups and special items are still displayed).
- SPEED - Changes the text speed.
The Music was composed by Masahiko Yoshimura while the Sound Effects were programmed by Dogen Shibuya and Enzan Shibuya.
Sequels and Re-releases
Shining Force was a success for Sega, being followed up by Shining Force II and Shining Force III in 1993 and 1997 respectively as well as a number of spin-offs. Moreso than Shining in the Darkness, Shining Force and Shining Force II helped guarantee a future for the series, which continues until this day.
The game was remade in 2004 by Amusement Vision as Shining Force: Resurrection of the Dark Dragon, however this title is not considered to be canon to the series (from an English perspective), as despite its similar story and more accurate English translation, numerous story changes were made for undisclosed reasons. In its Mega Drive form, Shining Force has appeared in numerous compilations, including Sega Archives from USA Vol.3, Sega Smash Pack 2, Sega Mega Drive Classic Collection Volume 4 and Sega Mega Drive Ultimate Collection. It was also released for the Wii's Virtual Console service in 2008.
Other media associated with this game include an encyclopedia, several game guides, a soundtrack release, a manga series (3 volumes) and The Curse of Zeon, a six part story published in Sonic the Comic (issues #73-78).
Game Design: Hiroyuki Takahashi
Scenario: Masaki Wachi, Yoshitaka Tamaki, Hiroyuki Takahashi
Subscript: Masaki Wachi, Kenji Orimo, Haruki Kodera, Hiroyuki Takahashi
Scenario Assistant: Ritsuko Hisasue, Tadashi Iwase
Programmers: Yasuhiro Taguchi, Yoshinori Tagawa, "Okochama" Naitoh, Haruki Kodera
Technical Support: Masumi Takimoto, Kiyoaki Matsumoto
Character Design by: Yoshitaka Tamaki
Graphics Directed by: Hidehiro Yoshida, Yoshitaka Tamaki
Graphic Design: Hidehiro Yoshida, Yoshitaka Tamaki, Ryushiro Miyazaki, 1610. Nakashima, Hirotada Kakusaka, Mizuho Mochizuki, Yojiro Hirashita, Ryutaro Ishimatu
Music Composed by: Masahiko Yoshimura
Sound Effects: Dogen Shibuya, Enzan Shibuya
Special Thanks to: Naoki Aoki, Kotaro Hayashida, Shiro Tsuchiya
Directed by: Yasuhiro Taguchi, Kenji Orimo
Promotion Directed by: Shinya Nishigaki
Produced by: Hiroyuki Takahashi
Created by: Sonic Co., Ltd.; Climax Co., Ltd.
Presented by: Sega Enterprises, Ltd.
|90||Sega Retro Average|
|Based on 15 reviews|
|Mega Drive, KR|
- Official website on Sega.com
- Shining Force on Apple.com: US, GB
- Sega of Japan Virtual Console page (Japanese)
- Shining Force on Steam
- Shining Force Central, SFC Guide, Guide 2, Gamefaqs (complementary data)
- Game Development: Interview with Hiroyuki Takahashi Developers' History Article Silver Ghost