About Shining Force

History

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Shining Force: The Legacy of Great Intention
Shining Force is a fantasy war strategy RPG by Sega and Climax, released for the Sega Genesis in 1993. Final Fantasy may have been Nintendo's popular RPG series, but the Genesis had Shining Force (which was more popular than Phantasy Star). What made Shining Force stand out was its stunning battle encounter graphics & animation.

People tend to assume that Shining Force was inspired by Nintendo's Fire Emblem. It's tempting to think that since they're both strategy RPGs with battle encounter animations. But yet, this is not true! Hiroyuki Takahashi (the producer & designer of Shining Force) 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.

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Shining Force: Resurrection of the Dark Dragon
In June 2004, Sega released a remake of the original Shining Force for Game Boy Advance, with the title "Shining Force: Resurrection of the Dark Dragon". Except for retaining the general storyline and the layout of towns and areas, everything has been remade. Several things were added, such as new characters, new secrets, new battles, new locations, new additions to the story, and a 'card system'.
Important note: This website is mainly dedicated to the Genesis version. The only GBA content provided are screenshots.

Shining Force's many ports
Sega was not shy about keeping Shining Force locked up. The game was re-released many times! They're listed below (these are the North American dates).

  • 2000 - Sega Smash Pack, Pack 3 (Windows)
  • Jan 2001 - Sega Smash Pack (Dreamcast)
  • Sep 2002 - Sega Smash Pack (Game Boy Advance)
  • Jul 2007 - (Wii Virtual Console)
  • Feb 2009 - Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)
  • Jul 2010 - (iOS) [screenshots]
  • Jan 2011 - (Windows)
  • May 2018 - Sega Genesis Classics (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Linux, macOS)
  • Oct 2018 - Shining Force Classics (Android, iOS)
  • Dec 2018 - Sega Genesis Classics (Nintendo Switch)

I want to highlight a couple of these. Shining Force Classics is a neat bundle that includes Shining Force 1, Shining Force 2, and Shining in the Darkness. Sega Genesis Classics is a very generous collection that contains over 50 games! It has every major Genesis RPG. The emulator it uses is my favorite 'collections emulator' so far. It has rewind, fast forward, screen filters, save states, 'quick access' save states, and you can turn the background solid black (I hate it when game collections surround the screen with decorative borders).

Prelude Story

In ages long forgotten...

light fought Darkness for control of the world. Dark Dragon led the evil hordes of Darkness. The Ancients fought back with the Powers of Light. Dark Dragon was defeated and cast into another dimension...

the Lord of Darkness vowed to return in 1,000 years. Time passed, and Dark Dragon was forgotten by all. Ten centuries of peace ruled the land of Rune. Until the kingdom of Runefaust brought war and defeat to Rune. Hordes of evil creatures ravaged every land. Here and there, strongholds of Good still held out...

awaiting a hero who could wield the Power of Light!

Battle System

An encounter in the first battle

You control your very own army across vast battlefields. The battles take place on flat terrain. Most of the time you fight on land and other times you fight in temples or caves. Your job is to command your army to defeat the enemy army.

You start with six soldiers and by the end of the game you end up with nearly 30. An awesome cinematic sequence is displayed when you encounter an enemy. Your army and enemy armies are made up of knights, wizards, warriors, and archers. Not all of them are human; there are centaurs, birdmen, dragons, wolfmen, robots, half-breeds, and other strange-looking creatures. Each character has their strengths and weaknesses.

Your characters can be promoted, making them able to wield stronger weapons and have stronger attacks. Also when they are promoted, they look different and attack in different ways.

I talk more about the battle system in Tips & Strategy.

My Opinion

Shining Force: The Legacy of Great Intention
This is my most favorite Genesis game! The cinematic sequences are just too cool. Just imagine how awesome this game was when it came out. The graphics blew everyone away! The beginning of the game is a little slow and may seem boring, but believe me, it gets so much better around the middle of the game. All the kick-ass characters start joining your army like a dragon, a wolfman, a robot, and even a magical jellyfish. The soundtrack is pretty good, too; it very much has that classic Genesis feel to it. The music that plays during the battle encounters is awesome. That loud 'boom boom boom' bass gets your adrenaline pumping.

Shining Force is one of those timeless RPG classics that I keep coming back to. I swear, I've beaten it over 50 times. Every time Shining Force gets re-released on something, it's another excuse for me to replay it yet again. Even today, the graphics and animation are gorgeous and competitive against pixel-based indie games.

As I mentioned in History, I think the Sega Genesis Classics collection released in 2018 is an excellent way to experience Shining Force on modern systems. Its emulator is almost as feature-rich as a fan-made emulator. The emulators offered in other official collections (i.e. Nintendo Switch Online, Collection of Mana, Castlevania Collection, etc.) offer limited features.

Shining Force: Resurrection of the Dark Dragon
The new graphics, animation, and soundtrack are stunning and beautiful. No doubt about it, the new look is impressive. However, since Game Boy Advance is targeted to appeal to younger audiences. The difficulty had taken a dramatic drop! As a result, the Resurrection of the Dark Dragon is ridiculously easy. Don't be surprised if you hear about people beating it within a few hours. Also, the high contrast bothers me. Many Game Boy Advance games were intentionally made with bright graphics to make up for the dark, non-back-lit screen.

Memories

I have so many memories with Shining Force. My best friend was the one who introduced me to the Shining Force series. One day he rented Shining Force 2. At the time I was anti-Sega and a loyal Nintendo fan. He told me how awesome the game was, especially the animated battle sequences. I came over and played the first battle. I was making fun of the game the whole time, saying how dumb the graphics are just to get back at him (we always had Nintendo and Sega fights trying to prove which one is better).

About a year later I bought my first Genesis from my brother's friend for like $30 (US) with Sonic the Hedgehog 2. This is when I started becoming a Sega fan. I eventually bought Shining Force 2 used from the mail. I played it over and over and loved it very much. I thought about getting Shining Force 1 but I had the thought in my head that it would be dumb since the first part of a game series always less quality.

Then one day I found Shining Force 1 in the game section of a video rental store and looked behind the box. I was amazed at the graphics! So then I decided I must get it! I bought it used through the mail. I enjoyed playing this game so much! I remember how awesome I thought the battle sequence music was. It's still awesome to this day! And I loved the song that played in the third battle.

At first, I equally liked Shining Force 1 and 2. But over time, I grew to like Shining Force 1 more because the graphics are cooler and it has a better variety for characters to choose from. Wow... this game is so good. It's so fun and the graphics are amazing. Even though the music is made up of is old Genesis-style tunes, it's still really good compared to other Genesis at the time.