Shining Force III
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|Shining Force III|
|Developer(s)||Camelot Software Planning|
|Release date(s)||Scenario 1
|Genre(s)||Tactical role-playing game|
Shining Force III (シャイニング・フォースIII Shainingu Fōsu III?) is a video game designed for the Sega Saturn by Camelot Software Planning. It is a continuation of the Shining series. Comprising three separate but overlapping storylines, the Japanese version of Shining Force III was released in three volumes, known as: Scenario 1 | "God Warrior of the Kingdom" Scenario 2 | "Target: Child of God", and Scenario 3 | "Bulzome Rising". For players who collected all three volumes, Camelot Soft also issued a Premium Disc featuring artwork, a character model viewer, and additional extras.
In the United States and Europe, only Scenario 1 was released. The real ending to the game can only be viewed by completing all the games in the series. This concept would later appear in Suikoden III as the "Trinity Sight System".
The game raised controversy when Sega started threatening legal action and banning YouTube users for uploading recorded footage of the game. This has led to several YouTube users boycotting all products and reviews of Sega games until the matter is resolved.
Scenario 1, God Warrior of the Kingdom, features Synbios, a young lord from the Republic of Aspinia. Aspinia was once a part of the Empire of Destonia, but seceded after a war of independence spearheaded by some of the more democratic-minded nobles. They opposed Emperor Domaric's totalitarian policies, which disenfranchised a large number of people, creating a huge disparity between the wealthy and the poor. Tensions remained between Aspinia and Destonia after the secession, marked by occasional border disputes.
As the game begins, Synbios is part of a military force representing Aspinia at a peace conference in the neutral city of Saraband. Due to manipulation by outside forces - later discovered to be connected with a religious cult known as the "Bulzome Sect" - full-scale war breaks out again between Aspinia and Destonia. The majority of the game's storyline covers this conflict as well as Synbios and his team's fight against the Bulzome sect. Throughout the game Synbios has periodic encounters with Medion, Destonia's youngest prince, who also recognizes the truth behind the war. Although on opposite sides of the war, the two work together to identify the real threat. Medion's role is portrayed in more detail in Scenario 2.
Scenario 2, Target: Child of God, features Medion, Prince of Destonia, and youngest of three sons of Emperor Domaric. Although loyal to his father and his country, he senses that there are other forces at work beneath the tensions between Aspinia and Destonia. He attends the conference in Saraband on behalf of Destonia, along with his brothers Arrawnt and Mageron. As discovered in Scenario 1, much of this influence comes from the Bulzome sect, as well as collaborating separatist factions within both Destonia and Aspinia. Medion works parallel to Synbios of Aspinia, often disposing of rogue Aspinian elements to spare Synbios's force from fighting against its own countrymen. At the end of the game, Medion is forced to battle with Synbios' force when Julian steps in to stop them.
Scenario 3, Bulzome Rising, stars Julian, a mercenary who appears as a secondary character in both Scenario 1 and Scenario 2. He is for all intents and purposes the true main character of Shining Force III. His initial motivation as the story begins is to track down and kill Galm, one of, if not the, most powerful member of the Vandals, a powerful race of beings that existed over 1,000 years ago. Julian believes that Galm killed his father and is seeking revenge. This story arc is first introduced in an earlier Shining game, Shining the Holy Ark, in which Julian appears as a young boy who asks the party to search for his missing father.
Julian joins Synbios in the midst of his quest in Scenario 1, but after an encounter with Galm, he is tossed over a waterfall at the suspension bridge and believed by Synbios' army to be dead. He reappears in Scenario 2, apparently washing ashore at the site of a battle between Medion's army and the Bulzome Sect. Knowing the sect's ties to the Vandals, Julian agrees to fight alongside Medion. As it becomes clear that the sect is trying to kill Gracia, a child intended to become the next Innovator (A Shining Series figure equatable to a god), Julian takes on the task of protecting him and helping him realize his destiny.
Scenario 3 starts about 60% through scenario 2's story, and focuses primarily on battles against the Bulzome Sect and their allies in both Aspinia and Destonia. While scenarios 1 & 2 happen at roughly the same time, much of scenario 3 takes place after both, but there is some "overlap". Eventually Julian leads a three-party coalition consisting of the armies of both Synbios and Medion, to engage in the final conflict against Bulzome, a powerful Vandal long sealed in another dimension, and the true orchestrator of the conflict.
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In 1997, Sega of Japan released the beta prototype for the game and featured several key differences, such as an unused level format, key character voice differences and monsters of which would not appear in the final game. This demo was not released anywhere outside of Japan, and thus is a sought after item for retro gaming collectors and RPG collectors alike. With its key differences (such as a final level that is not featured in the final game) the Beta version was Sega's way of testing the market for one of its popular series. The differences from the finished game are very noticeable, such as:
- Magic for the main character, Synbios, is not included in this version. In the finished product his magic includes Return, which would bring the party back to a church for saving progress. As this was only a demo, though, there was no need for it to be included. His Spark magic can be obtained at level 9 in this version; however, the spell doesn't work, yet the icon and MP appears on the status screen.
- This particular version of the game's character voiceovers for their special attacks are only included for Synbios, Masqurin, Grace and Hayward. The other characters, Obright and Dantares, have no voiceover and as such their mouths move for when they attack but nothing is said.
- The various monsters included were in there to test out size and span of the monsters, such as Minotaur, Lich, Worm, Bat, and Lizard. This is an unusual grouping of monsters when compared to the finished version, as the player encounters them at different times and with different statistics to that which they have in the beta.
- An area that did not make it into the finished version of the game is known as Dwarf Valley Beta and is the original battle of Dwarf Valley. The level itself was a prototype of the Waterfall battle before Aspia in Scenario 1, as the virtually identical Suspension Bridge, waterfall and cliff area are included. However, the differences are that the land texture mappings have not been completely finished and the beginning and end areas of the level are different compared to the finished falls.
- Official site of Camelot Software Planning (Japanese)
- SFIII fansite with comprehensive guide, galleries, translations and forum
- Fan site with information on all three scenarios
- Fan site with detailed information on all Shining games