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Shining is a series of fantasy console games developed by Sega. The series can be thought of as Sega's main venture into the fantasy genre. The first game, Shining in the Darkness can be compared to the early Might and Magic games or the Wizardry series, in that the game is a 3D dungeon crawler with randomly encountered, turn-based battles. The next game released in the series was Shining Force, which can be compared to the Fire Emblem series, especially Shining Force's contemporary titles in the series, because of its turn-based strategy style with battle scenes acted out with sprites. Other spin-offs include Shining Soul, which can be considered a Rogue-like.
It can be argued that the Shining series started as an attempt by Sega to cover all of its bases on their consoles as far as the unusual game play genres, because it emulated styles that Nintendo and other developers pioneered. Over time though, the series has found a following and has carved its own niche, as there are newer releases not found on Sega consoles.
Dungeon crawler titlesEdit
In the dungeon crawler titles of the series (Shining in the Darkness and Shining the Holy Ark), the player takes control of a much smaller team. Battles work very similarly to those of Dragon Quest, Mother, 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 the use of a cursor system. The much later game, Shining the Holy Ark for the Sega Saturn, was released immediately prior to Shining Force III, and while it is also a dungeon crawler, it features far expanded exploration over the first title of the series.
For the strategy games of the series (Shining Force, Shining Force Gaiden, Shining Force Gaiden II, Shining Force II, Shining Force Gaiden: Final Conflict, Shining Force CD [a remake of Shining Force Gaiden and Shining Force Gaiden II with more features and extra battles] and Shining Force III), the player generally takes charge of a hero who ultimately has a goal of defeating the evil that is plaguing the earth at the time. Along the way the hero meets many characters who "join the Shining Force" (the name of the hero's army). The games limit the number of characters who can enter any one battle at a time, generally to about a dozen. The player is only in control of unique troops, there are no generic footmen, archers, or cavalry. Because of this, the player is generally in control of a much smaller number of characters, often twelve, rather than sometimes over a hundred in some games such as Langrisser.
Action RPG titlesEdit
The third broad category of Shining games is the "action RPG" set of titles. This incorporates: Shining Wisdom, Shining Soul, Shining Soul II, Shining Force Neo, Shining Tears, Shining Force EXA, Shining Wind, and Shining Force Cross.
Traditional RPG titlesEdit
These are third-person, turn-based RPGs with no tactical basis. Thus far, this category is represented solely by Shining Hearts.
Connections between the gamesEdit
Most of the strategy incarnations of the game are related in some ways. Often they reference each other (frequently during discussion about the Greater Devils), or characters are carried over. Shining Force Gaiden: Final Conflict, and Shining Force II are arguably two of the most related games, having both characters and locations strongly in common, such as the character Hawel, a playable Mage in Final Conflict, and Kazin's mentor in Shining Force II. On the same note, Final Conflict is also strongly related to the first Shining Force game, both sharing the character Max. Final Conflict is very largely viewed as a sort of missing link between Shining Force and Shining Force II. The final non-remake strategy game released, Shining Force III, can also be connected through a prominent character in Shining Force, Princess (and later Queen) Anri, who is also a cross over in Shining Force Gaiden. The most notable connections between the strategy and non-strategy incarnations can be found between Shining Wisdom and Shining Force II and between Shining the Holy Ark and Shining Force III. In Shining Wisdom, the elf-cleric Sarah and elf-mage Kazin make an important appearance doing a supporting role in the story and connecting it with Shining Force II. In Shining the Holy Ark, one of the main characters of Shining Force III, Julian, is just a child, whose father disappears in Galm's Mansion. He blames Galm for his father's death and this serves as a segue into his motivation for becoming a Mercenary, leaving Enrich, and joining the main group in Shining Force III Scenario 1, which would, through a series of dramatic events lead to him being one of the focal characters in Scenario 3.