Shining (シャイニング Shainingu) is a series of role-playing video games developed by Sega. The first game, Shining in the Darkness, was a first-person dungeon crawler with randomly encountered, turn-based battles (comparable to Wizardry and Might and Magic). The next game released in the series was Shining Force, which were turn-based strategy style tactical role-playing games with battle scenes acted out with sprites (comparable to Fire Emblem). Other directions include Shining Soul, a dungeon crawl action role-playing game with roguelike elements, and a number of traditional Japanese role-playing games. Shining Resonance Refrain was released on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Steam PC and Nintendo Switch worldwide across 2018.
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, Shin Megami Tensei, 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. The player controls characters with their own stats not generic unit types.
Action role-playing titles
The third broad category of Shining games is the action role-playing game set of titles. This incorporates: Shining Wisdom, Shining Soul, Shining Soul II, Shining Force Neo, Shining Tears, Shining Force EXA and Shining Wind. 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.
On December 3, 2009, Shining Force Cross was released as an arcade game for Sega's RingEdge system board. It is a multiplayer role-playing game with support for up to eight players, both online and offline. Within one month, nearly 2,400 Shining Force Cross machines had been sold to arcade operators by December 31, 2009. A sequel has been released for the RingEdge arcade system in 2012, Shining Force Cross Illusion.
Connections between games
Each game in the series has a standalone story, meaning that it is not required to play its predecessors to better understand its storyline. Nevertheless, most installments of the series prior to Shining Soul I often reference each other or have characters carried over. For example, in Shining Wisdom, the elf-cleric Sarah and elf-mage Kazin from Shining Force II make an important appearance. Shining Force Gaiden: Final Conflict and Shining Force II are two of the most related games, having the largest number of characters and locations in common.
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 some of the most closely connected pair of games in the series, since the former is a direct sequel to the latter and features return appearances by nearly all of the major characters.
|Shining in the Darkness||28 March 1991||Sega Mega Drive|
|12 June 2007||Wii Virtual Console|
|26 January 2011||Windows|
|Shining Force||19 March 1992||Sega Mega Drive|
|10 July 2007||Wii Virtual Console|
|8 August 2010||iOS|
|26 January 2011||Windows|
|Shining Force Gaiden||25 December 1992||Sega Game Gear||Never released outside Japan. Remade as part of Shining Force CD.|
|2 October 2013||3DS Virtual Console|
|Shining Force: The Sword of Hajya||25 June 1993||Sega Game Gear||Released in Japan as Shining Force Gaiden II. Remade as part of Shining Force CD.|
|6 November 2013||3DS Virtual Console|
|Shining Force II||1 October 1993||Sega Mega Drive|
|11 July 2008||Wii Virtual Console|
|26 January 2011||Windows|
|Shining Force CD||21 July 1994||Sega Mega-CD||Contains remakes of Shining Force Gaiden I and II and a new scenario.|
|Shining Force Gaiden: Final Conflict||30 June 1995||Sega Game Gear||Never officially released in English; however, fan translations are available.|
|15 January 2014||3DS Virtual Console||Japan only|
|Shining Wisdom||10 August 1995||Sega Saturn|
|Shining the Holy Ark||20 December 1996||Sega Saturn|
|Shining Force III Scenario 1||11 December 1997||Sega Saturn||Released in the US and Europe as Shining Force III.|
|Shining Force III Scenario 2||29 April 1998||Sega Saturn||Never officially released in English; however, fan translations are available.|
|Shining Force III Scenario 3||23 September 1998||Sega Saturn||Never officially released in English; however, fan translations are available.|
|Shining Force III Premium Disk||3 December 1998||Sega Saturn||Never officially released in English; however, fan translations are available.|
|Shining Soul||28 March 2002||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 part of the same continuity as the pre-Soul games.|
|Shining Soul II||24 July 2003||Game Boy Advance|
|Shining Force: Resurrection of the Dark Dragon||30 April 2004||Game Boy Advance||An enhanced remake of the original Shining Force, with a revised story, new battles, and new characters.|
|Shining Tears||3 November 2004||PlayStation 2||Character designs by Tony Taka.|
|Shining Force Neo||24 March 2005||PlayStation 2|
|Shining Road to the Force||14 April 2005||Japanese mobile phones||The first non-remake strategy Shining game in over seven years.|
|Shining Force Chronicle I||26 April 2005||Japanese mobile phones||Remake of Shining Force Gaiden.|
|24 October 2011||Android|
|Shining Force Chronicle II||3 October 2005||Japanese mobile phones||Remake of Shining Force: The Sword of Hajya.|
|8 December 2011||Android|
|Shining Road Priestess of the Dark Dragon||27 January 2006||Japanese mobile phones|
|Shining Force Chronicle III||27 June 2006||Japanese mobile phones||Remake of Shining Force Gaiden: Final Conflict.|
|24 May 2012||Android|
|Shining Force EXA||18 January 2007||PlayStation 2|
|Shining Wind||17 May 2007||PlayStation 2||Follow-up to Shining Tears. Character designs by Tony Taka.|
|Shining Force EXA Mobile||10 July 2007||Japanese mobile phones|
|Shining Wind X||1 December 2008||Japanese mobile phones||Enhanced version of Shining Wind.|
|Shining Force Feather||19 February 2009||Nintendo DS|
|Shining Force Cross||3 December 2009||Arcade|
|Shining Hearts||16 December 2010||PlayStation Portable||Characters designed by Tony Taka.|
|Shining Blade||15 March 2012||PlayStation Portable||Characters designed by Tony Taka.|
|Shining Ark||28 February 2013||PlayStation Portable||Characters designed by Tony Taka.|
|Blade Arcus from Shining||5 November 2014||Arcade||Character designs by Tony Taka.|
|28 July 2016||Windows|
|Shining Resonance||11 December 2014||PlayStation 3||Character designs by Tony Taka.|
|Blade Arcus from Shining EX||26 November 2015||PlayStation 3
|Blade Arcus from Shining: Battle Arena||28 July 2016||Windows|
|Shining Resonance Refrain||10 July 2018||Microsoft Windows
|Enhanced port of Shining Resonance; unlike the original PlayStation 3 release, this version was available worldwide. First game in the series for an Xbox console.|
|Blade Arcus Rebellion from Shining||14 March 2019||PlayStation 4
|Enhanced port of Blade Arcus from Shining with the addition of extra characters from Shining Resonance Refrain.|
In 1996, Next Generation listed the Genesis and Sega CD entries of the series (but not Shining Wisdom or any of the Game Gear installments) collectively as number 77 on their "Top 100 Games of All Time". They lauded the series for replacing the then-standard generic RPG encounters with story-based battles, using an exciting character class system, and having brilliant pacing that keeps the games from ever dragging.
- "Shining Force Cross for Arcade Games". GameFAQs. CBS Interactive.
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- "Appendix of Consolidated Financial Statements 9 Months Ended December 31, 2009" (PDF). Sega Sammy Holdings. February 5, 2010. p. 3. Retrieved 13 April 2012.
- "Shining Force Feather 公式サイト". Shining-force.jp. Retrieved 2013-09-24.
- "SEGA[シャイニング・ハーツ]公式サイト". Shining-world.jp. Retrieved 2013-09-24.
- "SEGA[シャイニング・ブレイド]公式サイト". Shining-world.jp. Retrieved 2013-09-24.
- "SEGA[シャイニング・アーク]公式サイト". Shining-world.jp. Retrieved 2013-09-24.
- "Top 100 Games of All Time". Next Generation. No. 21. Imagine Media. September 1996. p. 44.