European Mega Drive cover art
|Developer(s)||Climax Entertainment, Sonic! Software Planning|
|Platform(s)||Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, Microsoft Windows, Game Boy Advance (remake), Wii (Virtual Console), iOS|
June 8, 2004
July 29, 2010
Windows, Linux, Mac
January 26, 2011
|Genre(s)||Tactical role-playing game|
Shining Force: The Legacy of Great Intention (シャイニング・フォース 神々の遺産 Shainingu Fōsu: Kamigami no Isan, lit. "Shining Force: The Legacy of the Gods"), is a 1992 fantasy turn-based tactics role-playing video game for the Mega Drive/Genesis console. While primarily a traditional fantasy-themed game, it contains some science fiction elements.
The game has been repeatedly re-released: in Sega Smash Pack Volume 1 for the Dreamcast and Sega Smash Pack 2 for Microsoft Windows, in Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, and as a standalone game for the Wii Virtual Console and Microsoft Windows via Steam. Additionally, in 2004 a remake was released for the Game Boy Advance under the title Shining Force: Resurrection of the Dark Dragon and in 2010 the game was released for iOS but was discontinued in 2015.
Shining Force is a turn-based tactical role-playing game. Battles take place in square grids, and each unit occupies one square. Each unit can move up to a fixed amount of squares along the battlefield, determined by its Move statistic. Depending on its location relative to enemies and to allies, a unit can also perform one action: attack, cast a spell, use an item, or search the area. Some commands, such as equipping or dropping items, do not count as actions. The order of turns is determined by the unit's agility score and a random seed.
As is most common for the RPG genre, units become stronger by fighting enemies or by performing other actions in battle, such as healing allies. These actions give the units experience points (EXP), which allow them to gain levels.
In Shining Force, each allied unit is represented by a character with his or her own background and personality, much like in the Fire Emblem series. Although there are no "generic" units, except on the enemy side, most characters contribute little or nothing to the plot upon joining the player army.
Each allied unit also has a class, which defines a set of abilities for that unit and determines the spells and equipment they have access to. A unit can be promoted to another class at any level between 10 or 20. Upon promotion the character's level resets to 1 and statistics are reduced by a fixed amount, although they begin higher if the character had been promoted at a higher level.
Battle goals for the player are fairly simple: kill all enemies, kill the enemies' leader, or advance to a town or landmark. The enemy side wins if they kill the player's leader, Max, or if the player chooses to escape the battle by casting Egress. Even if the player army is defeated, the player can recover allies and retry the battle. The Force keeps any experience that is obtained, regardless of the battle's outcome. Thus, there is no Game Over, and the player's army gets stronger even upon its defeat, although Max's death results in the player losing half of their money.
Shining Force also possesses an exploration mode that occurs outside of battle. This gameplay mode is essentially a Japanese-style traditional RPG, along the lines of Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest, although there are no labyrinths and few puzzles to solve. In this mode, the player's army is represented by Max, who is able to walk around, interact with people, find treasure, buy equipment and items, outfit the army, and choose which of the army's members will be used in battle.
The game opens in the Kingdom of Guardiana, in the land of Rune. The protagonist, Max, is sent on a mission to prevent the evil Kane, who commands the hordes of Runefaust, from opening the Shining Path and resurrecting Dark Dragon. Along the way, Max recruits a number of allies to join the Shining Force. They eventually find that both Kane and King Ramladu are under the control of the manipulative Darksol. Darksol ultimately succeeds in reviving Dark Dragon, but Max seals the creature away using the power of the Chaos Breaker, a sword created by merging a sword of light with Kane's sword of darkness.
The storyline is expanded in the Game Boy Advance remake. A second plot line, which follows Narsha, the Princess of Runefaust, has been added to the game in interludes between the first six chapters. Narsha realizes that King Ramladu has been possessed by Darksol and seeks out the Shining Force in order to enlist their aid, joining up with Zuika and Mawlock along the way. The second plot eventually merges with the original plot line when Narsha and her allies are united with the Shining Force.
Shining Series continuity
Shining Force: The Legacy of Great Intention begins the saga of Guardiana that is continued in Shining Force Gaiden. It tells how Anri became Queen of Guardiana, and relates the adventures of the young Lowe, Ken, Lug (mistranslated in English versions of Shining Force as "Luke"), Hans, and Domingo before they went on to sire the heroes of Shining Force Gaiden and/or aid them in their struggle against Woldol. Tao and Diane, the sisters of Wendy, also appear in Shining Force, though the familial connection between the three women is not mentioned in the English translations of any of the games.
Shining Force also tells how Max and Adam's blood feud with Mishaela began, giving rise to the events of Shining Force Gaiden: Final Conflict. Kane and Elliot appear as major characters, and the game shows how each one met his end. (However, neither of their sons make any appearance in Shining Force I, nor is any hint of their existence given.)
The English translation of Shining Force has several confusing errors and omissions. Most prominently, the backstory of Max, the protagonist of the game, is entirely left out. The original Japanese script tells that Max has amnesia and was found washed up on the beach by Lowe, who subsequently came to be his best friend. Later, it is revealed that Max is in fact the brother of Lord Kane of Runefaust. All these plot points were lost in the official translation. In the official translation Kane still expresses horror that Darksol forced him to fight Max, but without any explanation why.
Numerous lesser errors and omissions occur. For instance, the character Lug is mistranslated as "Luke", which confused gamers when both Lug (with his name correctly translated) and a completely different character named Luke appeared in Shining Force CD. One character's name is translated as "Kane" in some parts of the game and as "Cain" in others. Also, the spell "Demon Breath" is mistranslated as "Demon Blaze"; though Demon Breath appears in all seven Shining games on the Sega Genesis, Game Gear, and Sega Mega-CD, Shining Force is the only one where it is mistranslated.
The remake, Shining Force: Resurrection of the Dark Dragon received a considerably more accurate English translation. However, since the remake itself contains additions to the plot which contradict the original story, it is not an authentic translation of the original Shining Force.
Despite being the sequel to the successful Shining in the Darkness, Sega allotted only a minimal budget to the development of Shining Force. Contrary to popular assumption, Shining Force was not influenced by archetypal tactical RPG Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light. In fact, when asked about the game, lead Shining Force developer Hiroyuki Takahashi remarked "The tempo of that title was so bad that it wasn't something I even wanted to play." Takahashi recalled that Shining Force was chiefly inspired by Dragon Quest. Asking himself how he and the rest of the development team could "take the battles from Dragon Quest and make them more fun", he drew inspiration from an obscure Japanese PC game called Silver Ghost, "a simulation action type of game where you had to direct, oversee and command multiple characters."
The game was well received. Mega placed the game at #33 in their Top Mega Drive Games of All Time. In 2004, readers of Retro Gamer voted this "truly unique RPG masterpiece" 86th top retro game, with the staff additionally calling it "one of the greatest Megadrive games of all time and a definite office favourite."
While the game is the first in chronological order in the Shining series, it is the second game released in the series, of which the first game released is Shining in the Darkness. Though Shining Force retained many elements from its predecessor, such as the distinctive menu system, the gameplay is drastically different. Shining in the Darkness is a dungeon crawler in first-person perspective, while Shining Force is a strategy RPG. The Shining series flips between many gameplay styles: returning to first person dungeon crawler for Shining the Holy Ark; adopting Legend of Zelda mechanics for Shining Wisdom; and the Shining Soul games being inspired by Diablo, for instance.
The game was remade in 2004 for the Game Boy Advance under the title Shining Force: Resurrection of the Dark Dragon. The changes included expanded plot, three new playable characters, three new battles, ramping difficulty system, and some tweaks in the gameplay. One of the new characters can use "cards" in battle, and turn order is determined solely by a unit's speed stat and can be checked at any time from a list, allowing the player to plan out battles with greater certainty. The remake features a ramping difficulty system: every time a play-through is successfully completed, a player earns a star and all enemies get a boost in stats for the next play-through. The game has also had a rerelease for iOS, which has been removed from the App Store by Sega.
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- European version release info, GameFAQs.com.
- Shining Force (MD / Mega Drive) News, Reviews, Trailer & Screenshots, nintendolife. Retrieved July 24, 2012.
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- Complete script for Shining Force: Resurrection of the Dark Dragon, Shining Force Central.
- Character name translations
- Shining Force re-translation
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- Mega review, issue 6, page 56, June 1993
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- Retro Gamer 8, page 60.