I first played the two MD Shining Forces via emulator and loved them, and later played the first game on iPhone - not the app that’s currently available but an older one that didn’t have ads or use cloud saves or anything, just autosaved your progress when you switched out of the app. It’s a great game to play in fifteen minute bursts during coffee breaks at work. I’ve since gotten the games on actual carts, though I last played II on the PS3 MD collection because my original hardware was playing up at the time. It’s a while since I played them but I think I like SF 1 better than 2, can’t remember why.
I played Shining in the Darkness on emulator around the same time I played the first two games but burned out on it. I wasn’t making maps, not sure if I’d been looking them up online. A few years ago I played it again, and this time:
I played on a Nomad, holding the console and moving around with my left hand and drawing maps in a notepad on my lap with my right hand. Absolutely loved it when playing this way. One thing with the Shining series is you can tell it was made by people who cared about it - there’s just a lot of charming stuff. Various little animations and things. At one point I had a giant foot descend like the Monty Python intro and kill an enemy party for me, which was a cool surprise.
Despite loving the mapping in SitD, I wasn’t about to do it myself in Shining the Holy Ark when the game does it for me. I had some screenshots and animated gifs I made when I played it, but I can’t find them now. It’s got some really great animations for attacks, from the way your party rush in to strike enemies through to the more detailed and complicated summons, but I remember it making a bad first impression visually with the opening cutscene’s scaling of pre-rendered sprites. Maybe they looked better on CRT.