Shining (video game series)

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Developer(s)Camelot Software Planning
Climax Entertainment
Grasshopper Manufacture
Amusement Vision
Studio Saizensen
Infogrames Entertainment, SA
First releaseShining in the Darkness
1991 (1991)
Latest releaseShining Resonance Refrain
29 March 2018 (2018-03-29)

Shining (シャイニング, Sainingu) 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 was a turn-based strategy style tactical role-playing game 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[edit]

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.

Strategy titles[edit]

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 unique characters with their own stats, as opposed to generic unit types.

Action role-playing titles[edit]

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, Shining Wind, Shining Force Cross and Shining Resonance. 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 3 December 2009,[1] 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.[2] Within one month, nearly 2,400 Shining Force Cross machines had been sold to arcade operators by December 31, 2009.[3] A sequel has been released for the RingEdge arcade system in 2012, Shining Force Cross Illusion.[2]

Connections between games[edit]

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.

Reboot by Sega[edit]

Previously the Shining games from Shining in the Darkness to Shining Force III were solely developed by Sonic Software Planning which later became Camelot.[4] The initial idea came from co-founder Hiroyuki Takahashi who previously was at Enix.[5]

After Sega quit the hardware market, it was decided to reboot the Shining franchise. In charge of the so called "Shining Project" was Sega employee Tadashi Takezaki who joined marketing in 1993 and in 2004 was not only in charge of the Shining series, but also the Sakura Wars franchise and the official Japanese Sega website. According to Takezaki, when you think of Sega RPG's, you think of Phantasy Star and Shining. While Phantasy Star never strictly had a V entry, it was rebooted in the form of Phantasy Star Online. The Shining series never had an entry on the Dreamcast, due to various developers being busy with other projects and it being thought that it would be better to launch a new RPG instead, among other reasons. However, looking at the Japanese video game market, RPG's have the largest marketshare, so Sega decided to go ahead and restart the franchise, with a long-term plan, which included providing one game a year. This was new for Sega, people across different departments came together in 2001 to form what was called the "Shining Committee". The Committee included Takezaki himself, but also Youichi Shimosato who produced Shining Force: Resurrection of the Dark Dragon and Shining Force Neo, and also Tsuyoshi Sawada who produced Shining Tears. While the "Force" games were meant to harken back to the earlier titles, Tears was made from a completely blank slate for a modern audience, and looked at the Shining series from a new angle, much like Phantasy Star Online did.[6][7]


Title Release date Platform Notes
Shining in the Darkness 28 March 1991 Sega Mega Drive
12 June 2007 Wii Virtual Console
26 January 2011 Windows
2019 iOS Released as part of Shining Force Classics
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
2019 iOS Released as part of Shining Force Classics
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
2019 iOS Released as part of Shining Force Classics
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[8] 19 February 2009 Nintendo DS
Shining Force Cross 3 December 2009 Arcade
Shining Hearts[9] 16 December 2010 PlayStation Portable Characters designed by Tony Taka.
Shining Blade[10] 15 March 2012 PlayStation Portable Characters designed by Tony Taka.
Shining Ark[11] 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
PlayStation 4
Blade Arcus from Shining: Battle Arena 28 July 2016 Windows
Shining Resonance Refrain 10 July 2018 Microsoft Windows
Nintendo Switch
PlayStation 4
Xbox One
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
Nintendo Switch
Enhanced port of Blade Arcus from Shining with the addition of extra characters from Shining Resonance Refrain.

Cancelled Games[edit]

Title Initial release date Platform Notes
Shining Force: Heroes of Light and Darkness 2022 Android
Enhanced remake that contains Shining Force I, II, and Shining Force CD that would be developed by HIVE with collaboration by Vespa. The game has been cancelled due to 90% of layoffs from Vespa inc., numerous of delays, and low funding for the game.


The Shining Force installments of the series were the first tactical role-playing games to have significant success in the U.S.[12]

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.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Shining Force Cross for Arcade Games". GameFAQs. CBS Interactive.
  2. ^ a b Gantayat, Anoop (13 February 2012). "Sega shows new rhythm game, updated Shining and Border Break, and Fantasy Zone Medal at AOU". AndriaSang. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
  3. ^ "Appendix of Consolidated Financial Statements 9 Months Ended December 31, 2009" (PDF). Sega Sammy Holdings. 5 February 2010. p. 3. Retrieved 13 April 2012.
  4. ^ "product_introduction_game – 株式会社キャメロット" (in Japanese). Retrieved 21 August 2022.
  5. ^ shmuplations (8 January 2022). "Shining Force – 1992 Developer Interviews -". Retrieved 21 August 2022.
  6. ^ "SEGA VOICE". Retrieved 21 August 2022.
  7. ^ "SEGA VOICE". Retrieved 21 August 2022.
  8. ^ "Shining Force Feather 公式サイト". Retrieved 24 September 2013.
  9. ^ "SEGA[シャイニング・ハーツ]公式サイト". Retrieved 24 September 2013.
  10. ^ "SEGA[シャイニング・ブレイド]公式サイト". Retrieved 24 September 2013.
  11. ^ "SEGA[シャイニング・アーク]公式サイト". Retrieved 24 September 2013.
  12. ^ "Shining Force III: The Classic Strategy/RPG Returns". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 104. Ziff Davis. March 1998. p. 46.
  13. ^ "Top 100 Games of All Time". Next Generation. No. 21. Imagine Media. September 1996. p. 44.
  14. ^ Szczepaniak, John (19 April 2023). "Soleil / Crusader Of Centy, Sega's Answer To Zelda". Time Extension. Hookshot Media. Retrieved 19 April 2023.

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