Wherein I invite gushing over Shining Force

I’ve been entertained by our diehard Shining Force fans’ behavior in the Video & Game poll both times around, but I can’t seem to find the place where people lay out the case for those games. I’ve never played em one bit! This is my invitation to:

  • - Link to prior discussions relating to gushing over Shining Force
  • - Suggest where newcomers should start / version notes
  • - Articulate the greatness
  • - Share personal history with the series
  • - Gush however you want!
  • I’m just here to listen!


    I have recently been replaying Shining Force, it was my first RPG! It helped me get a taste for slower paced more thoughtful type of gameplay when I was younger which is still the type of game I prefer to this day. The strategy aspect still holds up IMO even though it’s one of the earlier console strategy RPGs. It’s super polished, there are a bunch of fun characters, a beautiful cartoony art style and a straightforward fantasy story similar to a Dragon Quest game. More gushing here.

    This thread creates the same issue for me as the PSP aesthetics thread in that I am not sure where to start and worried I would not know when to stop.

    Maybe what we could eventually do is have Shining Force II be one of the games from the Monthly Game Club, so that more people can participate in the conversation. The game celebrates its 30th anniversary on October 1st. *~hint ~hint*

    Shining Force II is available on many Sega-licensed platforms (Steam, the Genesis Classics compilation, the NSO Genesis app of the Nintendo Switch, the Genesis Mini 2 etc. and their Mega Drive equivalents for PAL users) and it is also obviously not very difficult to play in an unlicensed way.

    (What’s the meaning of the `highlight` tag, by the way?)

    Not exactly gushing ahead! Mostly anecdotes, and I don't have a lot to gush about with the first shining force, but the fact I completed the game is the greatest compliment I could give anything.:

    I had Golden Sun on GBA as a kid when it was new. I spent hours and days playing it, but not getting very far. This put it in my favorite category of game: stuff I have supreme nostalgia for, but still haven't seen more than 25% of the game's content. That makes is really enjoyable to play through all the way these days. So I finally did that a couple years ago.
    Everyone here should know Golden sun is part of the long lineage of the unbroken DNA strand by the team that made shining force.

    Equally long ago, my first girlfriend, in middle school, had shining force 1 and 2, and those were her favorite games. I saw her play a little bit, and thought it was cool, and decided I'd get around to playing it someday.

    Well, last year was that day. I've played all the "best rpgs of all time" for various consoles from Sony & Nintendo, but have barely played through any SEGA RPGs, so I have a big backlog of SEGA RPGs, and began with shining force.

    Because I started it, and hit a huge wall in the end of Chapter 7. I was so close to the ending, but I basically was so under leveled due to hitting the *reset* button each time I failed a mission, rather than egress and maintain my earned EXP. So I had just slid by most battles, which I gotta admit was extremely enjoyable when I wasn't replaying battles 10 times.
    By the end of chapter 7 I had played myself into a corner and it was unwinnable. I also hadn't realize until quite late there was a Class Progression system, so my newly progressed characters were all level 1-3. Everyone was doing only 1 damage or missing each hit, and gaining only 1 EXP, while my hero was one-shotting everybody. I had some other overpowered characters, but their mobility was nerfed by the forest in the battle I was stuck on.
    So I set down the game for like 10 months or something. Then when I started hanging with @"mindleftbody"#868 , and he had begun the game, I was motivated to try and seal the deal.
    My first thought was save editing, but that wasn't possible with the .sram format my flash cart used. So I used cheats to level my characters to a reasonable stage and finally beat the game.

    My experience and thoughts? I'm glad I carried through.
    There's a lot of stuff that was carried along all the way to golden sun. Obviously the menu graphics and sound effects, battle graphics juxtaposition, similar sound effects... And then there's some less noticeable stuff like scenarios, like the fact you sail across the sea in the exact middle point of the game.
    The game didn't exactly speak to my soul like my favorites do. I'm not a huge Disney fan, so the art style they went for feels kind of weird at times. But I do love the polish, and the way it feels to finally play an RPG on a SEGA Mega Drive Model 1 with a three-button controller.
    The FM Sound is great, and the game *does* have great audio... But of course there's a couple things that don't go down so smooth, like how the music resets so often, and the at times generic compositions... But there's some really great tunes there if you let it play through all the way, and besides the disney influence, the tunes can be nice and John Williams-y. Star Wars music turned out to be very appropriate, since the hero basically wields a green lightsaber, and there's plenty of Star Wars fantasy/sci-fi elements happening...

    Overall, the game didn't make me question my life choices, or feel like I was wasting my time with a meaningless experience. That's a great compliment I can give to a game.

    I'm definitely going to play Shining Force II. Why would I deny myself that when I played through the entire first game? Shining Force II, I believe, will go so above and beyond after the success of the first game, that it may really hit for me!

    Though, because I've been playing so much Etrian Odyssey this month, I'm very drawn to *Shining & the Darkness*, their first game, which is a first person dungeon crawler. The graphics and audio are about the same as Shining Force, but I'm more drawn into this first-person world setting... Maybe playing that first would have made me appreciate SF more, but I know the majority of fellas who played Shining Force didn't play S&D first.....
    I noticed that the villain of S&D is also named _Dark Soul_, so SF is more like his return. It also makes me wonder if S&D is more of a purely-fantasy world, or if it has less sci-fi tech stuff than SF had going on....

    As I continue my SEGA RPG journey, well, so far I have low expectations. Golden Sun and Shining Force are both extremely solid, but a bit middling, and don't deliver as deep or meaningful or interesting a narrative as my favorite RPGs do. But everything else like the mechanics are just as addicting as a top tier RPG :o)

    Other stuff on my list:
    Phantasy Star...
    Skies of Arcadia
    Basically everything by the shining team: (Landstalker, Ladystalker lol, Alundra, Shining Force III, Dark Savior)
    I want to default to the SEGA version of many cross-platform RPGs, like SMT and Ys, though sadly they don't always have fan translations.


    @“◉◉maru”#p122067 What’s the meaning of the highlight tag, by the way?

    I have taken it to mean “this thread is meant to highlight a specific title or series.” Who knows, tho



    What are you, crazy?!

    credits to Modus on that last fan art one

    i looooooove shining force

    i got part 1 in the day after the rave reviews & having also really enjoyed shining in the darkness, the magazines at least showed me not to expect a dungeon crawler but i wanna say this was my first strategy RPG, and i was hooked. it took me ages to move on with the series, but i finished the first one several times as a kid!

    i'd heard 2 was better and finally dug in about a decade ago - ironically, i made poor choices in both: ditching zylo in 1 after the class change, and not keeping the phoenix for a while in 2 until scolded online for benching him, haha. i did find all the hidden characters though, and still have the little game player's guide for some of the maps!

    so yeah, i decided to marathon the series after that. i'd not played the game gear ones, and got a deal on shining force CD around then (with panzer saga, no less!) and just blazed through that one too, had an awesome time but was bummed when i read the one gaiden we didn't get localized was the one that bridges the gap between 1 & 2.

    thanks to the awesome people at shining force central, i was able to play through all 3 chapters of part 3 on original hardware, and i cannot recommend playing them enough, any which way you can. not to spoil stuff, but the actual series has some really cool things for its time - i.e., if you bust your ass to help & not harm a powerful enemy in chapter 1, they'll fight by your team's side in part 3. it makes me wonder what i missed along the way.

    better still, i was able to track down the premium disc for a good price back then - i think it was a mail-in thing, it has boss rush mode, character profiles and just awesome things for fans in the late 90s...and SF central even localized that one!

    i have the fan translation of the aforementioned gaiden loaded up on my pocket, and ill run through it likely this or next year...but part of me is putting it off, because i don't like not having at least one last camelot/proper shining left to play

    so yeah, i adore this series. and @"treefroggy"#449 i grew up on sega RPGs, so if you ever need any hype or specifics just lemme know!

    man this series is dope

    Oh yeah, I should brag that I acquired every single secret character on my first totally blind playthrough, except for the mole guy who is in the Japanese manual art…. I didn‘t realize I had to just stand and stare at him.

    The mechanical oversights I had would have been remedied had I read a proper manual… But my manual was in Japanese! haha.

    I had Japanese CiB copies of S&D, SF, and SFII, and I got rid of all three! The art is great, but they just didn’t spark enough joy for me to hoard them. Even though I wasn‘t blown away by SF1, I’m glad I played it, it was short enough, and I'm banking that I will be rewarded down the line as the rest of the series capitalizes on itself.


    @“IrishNinja”#p122077 gaiden we didn’t get localized was the one that bridges the gap between 1 & 2.

    oh yeah! I have the game gear / master system conversions / fan translations / whatever patches ready to go on my mega drive flash cart... I haven't booted them yet and wasn't sure if I was even interested in playing them, but this means I will have to give em a shot at least! Also makes me think their extremely early shot at portable games foreshadow the success of Golden Sun...


    @“IrishNinja”#p122077 @treefroggy i grew up on sega RPGs, so if you ever need any hype or specifics just lemme know!

    thanks dude. that is appreciated. Aside from the ones I listed, and the obvious sequels to games I mentioned (grandia), what others should I take a look at, or did you notice any that are missing that I didn't mention? which should I play next?

    (looking at your collection) damn! Hey, Monster World Fan, have you seen [my claim that Maple Story is secretly a Monster World game?](https://forums.insertcredit.com/d/441-adventure-island-online-maple-story-is-secretly-wonder-boy-in-monster-world) There is absolutely no cross talk between those two fandoms, and insert credit is the only platform where I'm attempting to cross the streams.

    @“treefroggy”#p122107 hmmm so you mentioned

    Phantasy Star…
    Skies of Arcadia
    Basically everything by the shining team: (Landstalker, Ladystalker lol, Alundra, Shining Force III, Dark Savior)

    lunar 1&2 kept me happy in the day on sega-CD, they change some of the plot points for 1 (and the music isn't quite as good in some areas) but the PSX ports are generally more well liked. 2 in particular is amazing and if i play it again on sega-CD, i absolutely have to do the un-working designs patch...people always complain about victor ireland's dated jokes in these games, but the "rebalancing" is infinitely worse. lunar 2 becomes a painful slog with its "do you want to level up your magic or save the game" nonsense, and this one black wizard fight was so awful, the PSX one (as i recall) actually makes a quick joke about how that fight wasn't so bad this time!
    i really should see if we have a WD thread going. i simultaneously love them and hate what they did to stuff like silhouette mirage

    but yeah, if you like early anime troupes in games, i love lunar! combat is snappy, and it's overall a very memorable journey in both games. i hear it compared to the tales series, but outside of vesperia i haven't really liked one of those nearly as much

    Phantasy Star is one of my all-timers, but i 100% recommend blazing through it with the boosts modern ports offer (as well as map features/etc)
    i can talk about that series forever, but IV alone remains in my top 5 all-time RPGs, i think it's about the finest ending to a sequential series i've seen. it even wraps up the bastard child that is III into it!

    Skies i've been meaning to replay on gamecube for literally ever now, finished it on dreamcast when it dropped & have loved it ever since. it's got almost none of phantasy star's sci-fi dystopia despite some of the team members being there, it's more of the sega "blue skies" vibe that so many of us love. still a shame we never saw that HD port.

    ive not finished Landstalker (oh many tim praises that one every few episodes doesnt he?) or alundra but both are on my list for this year, it'd be cool to see if more folks wanna play either of them together! same with Dark Savior, i did Beyond Oasis and that was awesome

    i'm assuming enough folks on here have praised Crusader of Centy, i really did love that one (and now it's on switch NSO!).

    more later, but i am totally hitting up your wonder boy/maple story thread later too, that's so cool!


    Heck yeah! Golden Sun was my "first Shining Force Game", and I liked all the Fanfiction that went along with it. Created a GameFaqs acccount that time too, my first video game forum because of Golden Sun!

    My first experience with Shining Force though, was before I even played video games. It was my fifth birthday and my cousin, who was fifteen at the time had a Sega Gamegear, and I remember watching him play over his shoulder and talking about a Thief. He was looking for a thief or something in game. He was playing an RPG and I'm like 90% sure that it was a Shining Force game (maybe it was Shining Force: The Sword of Hajya? I asked my cousin about it and he doesn't remember anything about it, but he says I have good memory Lol)

    First Shining Force game with the Shining Force title was Shining Force for the Sega Genesis Collection on the Nintendo Switch. I finished it and I have a lot to say about it actually but I'll do it later, kinda busy atm I shouldn't even be here right now so edit later!


    @“IrishNinja”#p122139 2 in particular is amazing

    this is true for so many of the sega RPGs. Lunar II, Grandia II, Shining Force II, it is such a commitment to play through the first game for the payoff of the sequel! But I'm doing it, I'm doing it! I'm committed to this!

    I don‘t know the series that well, but I’ll say I played Shining Force II last summer and it is mayyybe the best all-killer, no-filler strategy game I‘ve ever played. As much as I love more involved stuff (i.e., FFT where you’re endlessly playing with the job system and weird stats like bravery and Zodiac signs is just one example), it was nice to play SF2 and just not have to mess with any of that. You do get to equip your characters and choose who gets class promotions, but there‘s not a ton of arduous minmaxing or tinkering really required of you to play the game well. Related, I found the difficulty was maybe the best balanced of all the srpgs I’ve played: the mid- and late-game maps definitely require you to play smart and use your units tactically but it never felt (to me) quite as stressful as eeking out a win by the skin of my teeth like I often did in stuff like Tactics Ogre and Fire Emblem (which I can enjoy too but in a different way).

    Also: the music's cool, the art reminds me of old Rankin-Bass and Hannah-Barbara cartoons, and getting to actually explore towns and the world map was a nice shake up compared to other srpgs that normally don't let you do that.

    @“rearnakedwindow”#p122192 this is a great point yeah - like, it's just distilled medieval fantasy strategy RPG, no affinity/waifu etc trimmings. once you get the paper-rock-scissors points down, just account for movement across terrain before you commit, and go!

    in a similar way, i love Fatal Labyrinth also on the genesis - it's just the essence of roguelike. if you'd never played one of those before (it may have been my first one? i think it predated toejam & earl), you might wanna read the manual or just play it, but you'll sort it out and never feel like you need a guide/faq for fear of missing out. the tao of it all is right there, and it's a blast

    "retro" commentary often slobbers all over the "timelessness" of nintendo games from that era, but these type of examples are it for me

    Yeah, I can‘t blame Shining Force at all for getting to the point, being super polished, a mostly smooth ride start to finish. I remember thinking it is kind of a roller coaster (in the best way– I took that term from itoi’s description of the second half of mother 2)


    @“rearnakedwindow”#p122192 reminds me of old Rankin-Bass and Hannah-Barbara cartoons

    This is very true. It kind of reminds me of like a children’s illustrated Bible from the 80’s at times.

    @“treefroggy”#p122188 not to pick nits here but lunar and grandia are game arts RPGs! they did start on sega hardware but I don‘t think that gets them all the way to being called Sega RPGs (I also don’t think grandia II is better than the original but that's subjective!)

    @“exodus”#p122258 this is fair, i wholly put them in the sega-cd territory because they identified so much of the system…showed what could be done without FMV, and were generally heads and tails above the systems offerings in that genre

    like, in my mind it‘s similar to classic ys and pce/turbo; they didn’t make them, but provided a strong enough home that they became part of the system's identity over the years, i think?

    crusader of centy also fits your point here, but then that one has a sonic cameo and also most folks didn't care about it till it got stupid pricey, and ill be damned if that combination doesn't get you at least 1/3 of the way to being a sega title

    @“IrishNinja”#p122267 with Ys, Hudson did remake those! They brought it over from pc-88/98, redid the graphics and music, all that biz. So it‘s a little closer there, but of course Hudson doesn’t own the property. I get what you're saying though, it was a defining rpg for the console, and one of the best sellers! We think of the Sega cd as a flop, which it was more or less, but the first lunar sold 100k units there (and then another 200k on Saturn)