Shining Force is a series of turn-based strategy games, and is part of a larger franchise known simply as the Shining Series, and is considered Sega's answer to Fire Emblem by manynote Though the game's creator also allegedly said that the game wasn't based off of Fire Emblem, which he claimed was so bad "not even he wanted to play it".Shining Force begins in the kingdom of Guardiana, where the main character, Max, is put in charge of the titular Shining Force and charged with stopping an invasion from the rival Runefaust army. The army is controlled by Darksol, a mysterious cloaked man with aspirations to revive the monstrous Dark Dragon and use it to Take Over the World. It's a prequel to the first-person Genesis RPG Shining in the Darkness, which featured Darksol's son Dark Sol (or, in Japan, Mephisto).Its sequel, Shining Force II, shifts the focus to the kingdom of Granseal, where an even greater demon lord named Zeon (Norelation) is sealed off by two jewels. A thief named Slade steals one of them, and thus breaks the seal on the monster. Zeon possesses the king of the neighboring Galam nation, causing him to do all sorts of freaky Evil Overlord-type deeds. This time, schoolkid Bowie and his three friends (Sarah, Chester and Jaha) form the core of the new Shining Force, and are sent to track down the jewels before Zeon can wreak any further havoc on the world. Takes place in the same world as the first game, although at the time there was only a Continuity Nod to prove it. (This game also suffers from the naming problems of the previous ones, referring to Darksol as Dark Sol, and Lucifer as Dark Dragon, an unrelated enemy from Shining Force I).The Shining Force Gaiden games were released on the Game Gear (the first one never made it out of Japan), but were later repackaged and enhanced for the Sega CD. Of those, the first one stars Prince Nick of Cypress, who has to help Anri (part of the original Guardiana Shining Force who ascended to become Queen) find a cure for her poisoning at the hands of a rogue wizard named Woldol. At first, the people of Guardiana are suspicious of him, but eventually he turns out to be a trustworthy and effective leader, thus gaining their respect.The second Gaiden game (subtitle: The Sword of Hajya) stars Deanna of Cypress, a swordsman who is placed in charge of the Cypress branch of the Force while the Prince leads an invasion into Iom. However, with the Prince's right hand turned to stone, he is practically defenseless against the superior Iom forces, and can no longer use the Sword of Hajya that he used to defeat Woldol in the previous game, so he gets captured so he can be sacrificed to Iom. In that regard, Deanna and his team have to recover the Prince's lost sword, save the Prince, and help him bring down the Iom army once and for all.The third Gaiden game, also never released outside of Japan, is entitled Final Conflict and ties the stories of the first two Genesis games together, as well as serving as a prequel to Shining Force II by showing how remnants of Max's team and the survivors of Dark Dragon's army came to Parmecia after his disappearance.Shining Force III, a game in three installments where only one was exported to the US, has its own page.Other games in the franchise include action RPGs like Shining Tears, Shining Force NEO and EXA, and the Shining Soul games on Game Boy Advance. A return to the strategy/RPG format has finally arrived in the DS game Shining Force Feather, which of course shows no signs of being released outside of Japan, and Shining Hearts has been announced for the PSP.Shining Hearts also gets a Anime Adaptation that started airing in as a part of the Spring of the 2012s.
Action Girl: While the series is in no short supply, Sheela the Master-monk gains recognition even outside of the fan base; Her ditching of the White Magician Girl persona (with the exception of useful healing spells) to temper her body and eventual opening of her own dojo won her many a fan back in the day.
Adults Are Useless: In Shining Force II, Sir Astral is boasted as being one of the best magic-users in the kingdom. He's even your teacher at the school. But he never joins your party for combat, not even when Bowie, Sarah, and Chester are fighting against the first in-game battle.
Aerith and Bob: Every now and then a character will have a mundane name (Max, Sarah, Nick).
The British comic adaptation only, which had Granseal as an island in the distant future of our world, after a nuclear war led to mutations which produced analogues to the usual fantasy races.
In the first game, there are several examples of ancient technology in the form of robots.
And its remake expanded upon that, by explaining how magic comes from a satellite orbiting the planet. A satellite that the main character can use to fire a freaking laser over an enemy.
All Swords Are the Same: Giving a character a different weapon swaps the weapon you see in their battle sprite, but otherwise, the animations are exactly the same. The only exception is the Chaos Breaker, which has fancy fire effects.
Also, Lyle the Strike Knight in SFI, even though you get him nearly halfway through the game. Centaur movement range on flat ground, 2-3 square archer range, high damage, and decent defense. You have to grind him up some so he has buffed stats before you promote him to Assault Knight, but when you do it is glorious. He ties with wolf warrior Zylo in terms of damage output with the added bonus of long range sniping ability.
In II in general, while arrows and Archers are useless, the Brass Gunner is a Mighty Glacier with a ranged attack, and artillery shells do fairly good damage. The problem is keeping them anywhere near where the action is happening due to that awful movement stat.
Anti-Grinding: The experience you get from killing enemies varies depending on your level. Power up high enough and it's hard to find anything that'll give more than 1 EXP.
Subverted in Shining Force, so any healing done gets 10 experience points without fail. You have won the moment you can use it 10 times per fight.
Subverted even harder in Shining Force 2, and the GBA remake: You no longer had to actually heal damage to get the experience. Comes at the same rate. And Aura spells, which heal more than one character at a time, can give a healer 25 experience points.
Partially Subverted in Sword of Hayja, where Healing spells get you 10 experience, even if it heals 0. Unlike other games, Medical Herbs only give a single experience point.
Arbitrary Headcount Limit: You can only have 12 characters in each battle (this is counting your mandatory leader character). This can sometimes lead to having to make painful decisions over who gets bumped from the team when a strong new character comes along.
Armor and Magic Don't Mix: Mages might be the best at defeating heavily armored enemies, but beware because of their low physical defense.
Downplayed with Arthur in the original game. He gets spells, having lived in a city of mages, but they're not great.
A Taste of Power: In Shining Force CD the Force actually starts out with some pretty good equipment and should have little trouble in their first battle. However their ship is wrecked and all their weapons are lost, and during the next battle itself they have to search the wreckage for whatever pointy sticks they can find instead.
Neo also has your father joining your party for a short time, during which he throws out extremely powerful attacks and kicks all kinds of ass on your fairly low-level enemies. Sadly, he's not around for long after that...
Awesome, but Impractical: Cursed weapons. Despite sporting a far higher attack than even mithril weapons, they carry negative drawbacks that make them undesirable. These include ebbing away at the wielder's hit points, nerfing the wielder's strongest stats (Defense for Warriors, Movement for Knights; etc.), and even paralyzing them during an attack. Worse yet, they cannot be removed without the aid of a costly purification from a priest or a high-level detox spell.
Battle Couple: The birdman Amon and her husband Balbaroy, from the first game; Janet and Elric, two elven archers, in the second game.
Deanna and Natasha become a couple by the end of The Sword of Hajya, with Ship teaseing throughout the game.
Beef Gate: The Kraken of Shining Force II, whom can be challenged once the player receives the raft, but is best fought when the the player is required to fight it to advance. Also counts as That One Boss for some players, as it is one of the hardest bosses in the game.
Big Damn Heroes: Luke/Lug suddenly appears at the climax of Shining Force Gaiden, to give the Sword of Hajya to Prince Nick to fight Wodol.
Brainwashed and Crazy: MOST of the bosses in the first game (including Kane), and Lemon in Shining Force II.
Also the Muddle spell can do this to your fighters. Though it says your characters are "confused" or "in a daze", the spell basically lets the AI hijack your characters and make them waste their MP or go after whoever they can kill.
Breaking the Fourth Wall: If your save file is corrupted in Shining Force II, ominous music plays while the witch informs you that it's corrupted. Yes, they designed the game to play appropriate music for losing your file.
Bring My Red Jacket: Sir Lemon [AKA the Red Baron before he finally exits the Heel-Face Revolving Door] can revive himself from death after a battle, and wears armor that is precisely the color of blood — because it's painted with the blood of his dead enemies.
This is also used to force the player to forgive bosses after they're defeated, no matter how much of a Dirty Coward they are, or how much your newest recruit really wanted them dead before they were Demoted to Extra.
Can't Drop The Hero: It never lets you. And when the hero dies, it's a game over. But because of this, it leads to the hero typically being many times stronger than the other characters. See One Man Party below.
Circus of Fear: Rindo in Shining Force. One of the boys from the town gets lost inside a circus, and so Max and the gang have to defeat an army of Monster Clowns to rescue him.
Chess Motifs: A battle in Shining Force II takes place on a chess board. The pieces move like regular enemies though.
Class Change Level Reset: Once characters reach a certain level, they can be promoted. Doing so upgrades their class—for example, a Knight becomes a Paladin, and a Warrior becomes a Gladiator—at the cost of sending them back to level 1. However, some of their stats are preserved, and the Level Cap that affects unpromoted characters is removed.
Clown Car: The tank that the Shining Force is kept in, in Shining Force II.
Cognizant Limbs: The Kraken boss in Shining Force II and Shining Force Gaiden: Final Conflict.
Colour-Coded For Your Convenience: Subtle but clever in the first game: the mage Anri specializes in the Freeze line of spells, Alef specializes in the Bolt spells, while Tao has all of the Blaze spells. Anri wears a blue robe, Alef wears a yellow robe, and Tao wears a red robe when she gets promoted (she starts out wearing a purple robe).
Many healers can actually do a lot of damage when equipped with the proper staff (most of them can critically hurt particular enemies - i.e, the Voodoo Charm from the first game can one-shot undead enemies), and since a mage's attack spells often do fixed amounts of damage, it's better to let them attack as well until their spells reach level three or higher.
The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Yes, it's a turn-based game, but the turns seem to be given at random, and it's not uncommon for an ememy to get two turns to kill your character in peril before that character gets one turn to move away or heal themselves. And in boss battles, the boss can get as many as three turns before you even get one, just enough to kill a character who before was at full health.
Semi-random, the Speed stat plays a big factor. That doesn't mean the bosses don't have ungodly high Speed stats, though.
The AI totally knows when it's going to be able to attack twice against one of your characters though, and will prey on whoever it can kill in one turn.
Ever noticed how often the enemies are left with just 1 HP, thereby allowing them to get in one last attack before they die? Yeah.
Crutch Character: Kiwi in Shining Force II, who can also be Lost Forever. Although his defense is stellar right from the start, making him a useful MeatShield if nothing else, defense has no effect on magic, and his Hit Point gains are always tiny, making him increasingly useless despite the ability (once promoted) to fly and breathe fire.
Zukia in the remake. Narsha is a little too unprepared for what the game throws at her, and Zukia meanwhile is able to solo the entire maps. However, he manages to remain quite useful if the player chooses to use him.
Damsel in Distress: Princess Elis in SFII is pretty much the perfect cliched stereotyped example. All she needed was for Zeon to tie her to the railroad tracks.
Dark Is Not Evil: Usually not the case; "Dark" or "Evil" items are generally cursed and damage their user in exchange for their awesome power, but when part of a Yin-Yang Bomb, the Sword of Darkness in I and the Jewel of Evil in II are not evil (the words "dark" and "evil" are practically interchangeable most of the time, perhaps due to translation issues).
Death Seeker: Lemon from Shining Force II. However, it later turns out he's half-vampire, and can't end his own life by conventional means (even if he's killed in battle, he automatically resurrects if you win or retreat).
Decapitated Army: If the Force's leader dies, you automatically lose the battle no matter what, and have to start over.
Doomed Hometown: The destruction of the first Granseal palace and town in SFII.
Downer Ending: Subverted, the ending of the first Force game, where Max is sunk under the water with the Chaos Breaker while a majority of the remaining of the force is Egressed out scot-free, it is rather convincing until you watch the cut scene after the credits, showing Max and Adam and alive and well.
However he is a playable character in Shining Force Gaiden: Final Conflict, which bridges the gap between I and II.
Enhanced Remake: Resurrection of the Dark Dragon introduces three playable characters, Narsha, Zukia, and Mawlock, adds a couple battles with them, fixes balance issues (Although several of the added stuff, including Supernova as well as the three new playable characters can be game breakers if used right)
Equipment Spoiler: Subverted in Shining Force II, where Taros can drop his sword, which can only be used by the Giant class. No Giant ever joins the team.
Camella can also drop her Iron Ball, of which absolutely nobody can equip either. The only use for both items is to sell them.
From Nobody to Nightmare: A certain Gizmo/Dark Smoke demon from the start of Shining Force II who possesses King Galum as The UnfoughtDisk One Final Boss, then resurfaces near the end of the game as the next to final boss. For context, this is still a Mook possessing an old man, who turns into the second strongest enemy in the game.
Furry Confusion: Shining Force II has an anthropomorphic rat character named Slade, and later in the game there is a boss that is a real rat.
There are also beast people (like the foxling Alef) and the Kyantol, a race of people who resemble canine dogs in appearance and seem to have some fur, but also have elf ears and a humanoid body.
Geo Effects: Terrain plays a role in giving a defense bonus, as well as a movement pentalty.
Glass Cannon: Mages/Wizards, archers, and occasionally certain centaurs.
Guide Dang It: Recruiting the more obscure characters can get silly sometimes, but the first game takes the crown: the ninja Hanzo is hiding in one of the game's towns disguised as a bush, and will join if you inspect his leafy disguise. In the US version, there's a piece of paper on the bush to make it stand out. In the Japanese edition, he looks like every other bush in the game, none of which have anything to gain by examining them.
Half-Human Hybrid: Every single Knight-class character in the first two games is a centaur. There are also Wolf Men, birdmen (in eagle, stork and owl varieties), half-giants, dragonmen and... whatever the heck Grantack is. Guntz seems to be half armadillo. In Power Armor. Just because.
Headless Horseman: In the first game, Dullahans are headless centaur knights that you start to encounter from the march to Dragonia onwards.
Heel-Face Turn: Jaro (if you don't attack him) and Lemon in SF II, and Graham in SFG II. Also takes on an NPC role through Kane in the original Shining Force.
Heroic Mime: Max in Shining Force I. Though he does say a couple lines after the final boss battle. In the remake, he's "upgraded" to Laser-Guided Amnesia. Played with through Bowie in Shining Force II, in which he has a few brief one-liner acknowledgements, but is typically mouthpieced by his Exposition Phoenix Peter and Sir Astral.
It's Up to You: In SF and SFII, the battle is lost the instant Max (or Bowie in the sequel) gets knocked out, even if there's one minor opponent left.
Joke Character: Jogurt in the first game, the penguins in the third. Jogurt can only inflict Scratch Damage, and if by some twist of fate he happens to kill someone, he receives an item that can have any other player character turn into him.
Kill Sat: In the remake of the first game, this powers a line of spells exclusive to Max.
Lampshaded Double Entendre: In the third book of Shining Force CD, after you get past the second battle Prince Nick and Gyan encounter a harem of sorts, who's members encourage them to rest by saying "Why don't you relax? You can even try THAT with us."
Let's Split Up, Gang: The Shining Force gets separated for a while in The Sword of Haija and you must work through a few battles with only six characters.
It also works as a way to keep slower characters at the same level as your faster ones in the RPG's. Enemies will usually be in two or more clusters at different ends of the battlefield. So by splitting your team up, everyone gets equal experience.
Lost Forever: A few characters, and often items you miss. The Game Gear version has an interesting subversion for items, where you can simply buy items you miss from the shop under deals. They cost a lot, which would be annoying, except the game soon ends up as Money for Nothing.
Also in the Genesis version of II.
The first game for the Sega Genesis has this in spades, due to the game being very linear with little backtracking. If you missed recruiting a character or performing the steps you need to for them to show up later, you've lost them for good. Thirteen out of the thirty characters in the game are optional and while most of them are hard to miss, on a first play-through the player will have no idea that they've screwed up and missed out on some of the more useful and powerful force members until long after the fact.
Luke, I Am Your Father: In the first game, Max is the brother of Kane, one of Runefaust's top generals. Similarly in the Game Gear version, Hiemdiel, The Mole, is your brother.
Kane is also the father of the hero in Final Conflict, who later becomes the father of Bowie.
Magikarp Power: Bleu, the baby dragon in the first game; Arthur, a Centaur also from the first game; and Slade, the rat thief from the second. Arguably, Domingo in the first game as well - a low level mage that turns into a MeatShield at higher levels, despite being otherwise portrayed as the typical Squishy Wizard.
Narsha in the remake zig-zags this. She gets a few maps specifically so that she, Zukia, and Mawlock will be able to catch up with the rest of the party and when they do join, have a lot of extra time to catch up if they wound up underleveled. However, Narsha requires some babying in order for her to survive the first map, as it's very easy for her to become overwhelmed.
MeatShield: Domingo's status as this bears repeating. He eventually gets one of the best HP and defense in the game. And the best evasion. So if a character can hit him, they generally only do Scratch Damage, and he has enough HP to weather it all. He's also one of the highest priority targets to the computer, above most healers and other magicians, and below Max, The Hero. This means that if you put Domingo and almost any other character on either side of an opponent, they'll always go for him, allowing the other to hit them repeatedly from behind.
Megumi Hayashibara: Neige, in the game. In Tears X Wind, her lines were recorded by someone else (Ayako Kawasumi, AKA Saber)
Mithril: In the second game you'll find Mithril in different places, and if you hold onto them for the whole game near the end the Dwarf blacksmith will forge powerful Mithril weapons for your force.
Amusingly enough, Mithril is the name of the currency in Feather, which you get from every single enemy you kill. However, since it seems to take the form of blue crystals, it's probably not the same thing.
In Shining Force EXA, Mithril is used to power up your weapons and armor.
My Country, Right or Wrong: This is the only reason General Eliot fights you in the first game. In the second, Lemon is this way when he obeys an obviously Brainwashed and Crazy king who commands him and his army to slaughter the citizens of a city that was their ally.
Never Say "Die": When a character dies, they're "exhausted." Interesting how exhaustion requires the soul to be returned to the body when seeing the priest.
This varies from game to game though. The priests in Shining Force CD are quite blunt about it, saying something along the lines of "(Character name) was killed! It will cost $100."
Non-Linear Sequel: Shining Force II to the first Shining Force game, barring a single reference to Max and Guardiana. The Game Gear games however avert this and continue the story of the first game, with Anri as queen of Guardiana and the Force's starting lineup consisting of the kids of the original starting lineup.
NPC Roadblock: Various paths are blocked off by NPCs until you complete certain missions. It can also happen randomly when an NPC wanders through a doorway, blocking your path until they change direction.
One-Hit Kill: Try not to let a final boss use De-soul, by far the cheapest magic attack possible as it can suddenly kill anyone even at full health, on the leader of the force.
One Man Party: The flipside to Anti-Grinding — your heaviest hitters are going to hit the level plateau really quickly, and your support characters... aren't.
Healers are an exception, as they gain a fair chunk of XP when they heal someone. Also, back-row characters can be leveled up by farming injured enemies.
Making Sheela and Karna (if you promote her to Master Monk instead of Sarah) absolute wrecking machines. High Attack + Aura + Boost = A character who will level up very, very, VERY fast.
If you wait long enough, you can have both Sarah and Karna Master Monks, since there is a second vigor ball hidden in one of the trees behind the dojo.
One Steve Limit: Averted. The name "Max" applies both to the protagonist of Shining Force and the protagonist of Shining Force Neo; the name "Arthur" can be either a centaur knight in SF or a human knight in Shining the Holy Ark; and so on.
One of them is due to a Dub Name Change - "Lug" from the Japanese version of the first game was translated as "Luke", which also happens to be the name of a birdman from Shining Force II.
Opening Narration: Shining Force CD has a voice-over explaining what had happened between the first Shining Force game and that one.
Redemption Demotion: Lemon in SFII is significantly stronger when you fight against him (in fact he's almost a That One Boss) than he is when he joins your team. Hand Waved by the fact that he's no longer being controlled by a demon spirit, but still.
Also from SFII, Jaro, whom also becomes weaker when he switches sides mid-battle, for the same reasons. Luckily though if you leave him alone in the battle until he switches sides you'll never have to fight him, so most players won't notice the demotion.
Played straight, though, if you escape or lose a battle; all the progress made up until that point is reset, and all the enemies are respawned. In a few key battles, the hero's Egress spell can be a means for power-levelling.
Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere: In SFII when the Shining Force gets shrunk at Mr. Creed's residence and put onto a desk with an entire community of people who had the same thing happen to them. (The Shining Force gets away eventually of course, but for the other potential party members they must remain there until pre-departure on the Nazca ship, but it could still be like And I Must Scream as the others would be harder to level up at this point). The NPCs who have made a kingdom of their own are actually thankful to Creed for their Desktop Kingdom.
Also Tao and Anri in the first game who, if you look hard enough for them, can be equipped with bikinis. Narsha also gets a bathing suit in the remake.
And in Shining Force EXA, this can be applied to Cyrille depending on which armor she has equipped.
Shed Armor, Gain Speed: In Resurrection of the Dark Dragon, promoting Zuika to the Terminator class gives him a chitinous armor. When his health drops below 30%, the armor breaks, dramatically increasing his movement speed and replacing his normal attack with a Flash Step strike that has increased range and deals double damage.
Shoot the Medic First: A good policy for both sides, however, this is taken to an extreme by the enemies in the first game. Starting from the beginning, they will aim directly for your magician Tao, and once she dies (which will be often), they will aim for all your other magicians and healers.
The healers and magicians have lower defense and are often easier to kill, and the AI loves preying on anyone it can kill quickly and in one turn. It goes for the other Shining Force games as well. They usually won't exclusively go after Master Monks in the second game because they can take hits and defend themselves.
Shout-Out: Kiwi's promotion lets him fly over water and breathe fire. In short, he becomes Gamera.
Spiteful A.I.: Even when death seems imminent, the enemies seem to at least die happy when they know they used their last move to kill one of your weaker characters rather than focusing on the main character (who might have survived the hit) like they had been.
Squishy Wizard: It can depend on the character and how leveled up they are, but it's generally not a good idea to put your wizards or healers on the frontlines. If they run out of MP they might as well be a MeatShield since their physical attacks rarely do much (again, depending on the character).
A notable exception is the hidden character Domingo in the first game, who has a ridiculously high Defense stat despite being otherwise entirely an offensive spellcaster. Indeed, due to the enemy tendency to attack him over other targets, he winds up being a very effective tank for the later half of the game. No, really.
Storybook Opening: In Resurrection of the Dark Dragon, the remake to Shining Force, Simone reads about the story of the Shining Force with somebody unknown while she waits for her grandfather to return.
The Strategist: Nova in SFI, Sir Astral in SFII, Lowe in SFG, and Mayfair in SFG II (the last two were playable characters before becoming advisors to a different Shining Force team).
Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Sir Hawel, the first mage available in Final Conflict, is killed off by mooks near the beginning of Shining Force II
Summon Magic: A variation of magical attacks in later installments. This is the specialty of the Sorcerer class of Shining Force II, an alternate promotion of the Mage class.
Tank Goodness: The Brass Gunner class from SFII, which has better movement range and defense than a Sniper (standard promoted Archer). Slightly subverted in that a Sniper is actually has more firepower than a tank, judging by attack stat gains.
Team Pet: Kiwi in the second game. In the first game, there's an extremely large number. Save for one (Bleu, who is plot-mandatory), all of these characters are easy to miss.
Too Awesome to Use: Shower of Cure can become this, as well as level 4 magic attacks (you want to save your MP so you can keep attacking of course).
Unexpected Gameplay Change: After SFIII, every last game in the series save for the Updated Re-release of the original Shining Force has been an action-adventure RPG in the vein of the World of Mana games. Mostly critically panned, the games range from playably mediocre (Neo and EXA, the first Shining Soul) to actually fun (Shining Soul II).
Though technically, Shining Force I was an Unexpected Gameplay Change, as the first game in the series was a dungeon crawling RPG called Shining In The Darkness. This genre was revisited with Shining the Holy Ark.
Updated Re-release: Shining Force: Resurrection of the Dark Dragon on the Game Boy Advance, as well as Shining Force CD, which was a remake of the two Game Gear Gaiden Games.
Upgrade Artifact: In SFII, certain items allow a few of your party members to promote to different classes than their normal evolution.
Averted in the remake; though. Status-infliction spells aren't very useful...but as for Narsha's status buffs? They easily veer into Game Breaker territory.
Desoul is perhaps the most traditional example. Essentially, the equivalent of Final Fantasy's Death spell, it almost never works. That is unless an enemy uses it on you. Generally speaking, unless you're using Blaze, Freeze, Bolt, Heal, Detox or Boost, most other magic falls into this category.
The Vicar: The promoted class of healers in most games.