Part of the Shining Series, Shining Force III was a turn based RPG for the Sega Saturn, released during the Saturn's twilight years, and one of the better games for the console. It is a game in three parts, each one following a different main character in a war between The Aspinian Republic and The Empire of Destonia, from which Aspinia declared independence some years ago. Unbeknownst to either side (but knownst to us!), the war is a cover for a demon-worshiping cult to revive Bulzome, an extremely powerful "Vandal" who ruled the entire continent 1,000 years ago before being sealed away. Only the first chapter was released outside of Japan, meaning the game ends with no resolution to any of the larger plot threads, but a Fan Translation project endeavors to fix that. The game is an indirect sequel to the first-person RPG Shining the Holy Ark - going so far as to cast a background NPC from the game as the third hero of SFIII - much like the first Shining Force followed up on Shining In The Darkness. Added a number of new features to the series' combat system, including weapon proficiencies, special attacks for each weapon type, statistics for elemental defense, and a "friendship" system that rewards characters who heal each other or fight the same enemies by improving their stats when they're nearby. The English language release features legendarily terrible voice acting.
The game was released in three parts, only one of which was released outside of Japan. In each part, a different hero led his force through a separate side of the story, with all three joining together for the final charge against Bullzome.
Shining Force III uses these tropes:
- Aerith and Bob: A major example.
- All Swords Are the Same: Averted. There are five different classifications of sword-type weapons: swords, blades, rapiers, knives, and katanas. Because they're all handled differently, they each have their own weapon ranking, with the appropriate special moves to go alongside it.
- Ascended Extra: Julian was originally an NPC from Shining the Holy Ark.
- Likewise Primula, the fairy seen speaking with Master Gabriel in the game's opening and ending sequences - when she joins in the third scenario, she reveals that she was one of the generic fairies who helped out Arthur, the hero of STHA.
- Brainwashed and Crazy: Spiriel, who snaps out of it if you don't kill her.
- The Chessmaster: Emperor Domaric, although it doesn't show until the second scenario. He spends more than half the game the victim of a kidnapping plot, but it turns out he knew the kidnapping was coming and let it happen. Rather than call his traitorous son out immediately, he plants The Mole inside Arrawnt's conspiracy and plays along, allowing the "abduction" to throw both Destonia and Aspia into chaos. When the time is right, The Mole frees Domaric, who takes command of a loyal corps of soldiers within the rebel faction, blackmails Medion into providing his support, and marches straight on Aspia - just as he's wanted to ever since the country seceded 20 years before. He even sends a bit of behind-the-scenes "help" to the last remnants of the traitors, so they'll be able to knock down Aspia's castle walls for him before they die. There is a very good reason why Domaric is rightfully feared by most of the populace in the setting.
- Damage Discrimination: Can be seen in the battle against General Franz, where Area of Effect magic affects either Spiriel's or Franz's army, but not both (although technically, you're only supposed to fight Franz's army).
- Egg MacGuffin: Penn's egg, which requires you to jump through many annoying hoops.
- Episodic Game: Sadly an incomplete one outside of the game's native Japan, as only the first installment in the three-part story was localized.
- Escort Mission: The refugee battle, which requires you to guide the refugees away from the border patrol. While certainly not as frustrating as other examples (you are in control of the refugees, while the setup of the battle is actually cool), it is a tricky battle that requires you to play in accordance to the trains, which can benefit or impede your gameplay depending on how well you play.
- Five-Man Band: The three scenarios' starting parties:
- scn 1-
- scn 2-
- scn 3-
- Heroic Mime: Taken this to ludicrous levels. It has three main characters, one for each scenario, and the two that you're not controlling in any given installment will talk like normal characters. However, your character's lines will be replaced by "....", even though the others will respond to whatever it is he actually said. It's especially absurd when there's a conversation between two main characters - you have to watch it from two points of view just to hear what everybody's saying!
- Joke Character: Penn, Although he may be useful in Scenario 3.
- Kick the Dog: An optional kicking: in scenario II, you have to option of either letting Stella live and her leave on the boat with her husband, or killing her and him swearing revenge. In scenario III, if you do the former, the husband will join you if he survives the map. If you do the latter, he will try to kill you, and just for the knife twist in the gut, when you kill him, his dying breath reveals she was actually pregnant.
- Kleptomaniac Hero Found Underwear One of the randomly generated results for searching a closet.
- Knight in Shining Armor
- Loads and Loads of Characters
- Meaningful Name: Loads of characters have English words for names. Most of them were changed for the English translation, probably because they sound pretty dumb to a native speaker. So "Dauntless" became "Dantares," "Cruel" became "Crewart," "Emperor Dominate" became "Domaric" (and The Empire was rendered as "Destonia" instead of "Deathtonia") and so on.
- Old Save Bonus: Play them in order and import your save files from the previous scenarios if you want to assemble the entire Force!
- Pink Girl, Blue Boy: When a new character speaks for the first time, their name appears in their first dialogue box. The name is in blue for male characters and pink for female characters. It can come in handy when the gender isn't completely obvious.
- Powered Armor: Ratchet's steam suit.
- The Power of Friendship/Love/Trust: The Friendship system which will improve a character stats when they stand next to a character that they have a leveled up friendship level with.
- Put on a Bus: Julian during Scenario 1 and 2.
- Sequel Hook: Of the Left Hanging variety. At the end of the whole thing, Julian (and possibly Jane if you spared her) goes off on another journey to meet with Arthur, hero of Shining the Holy Ark, in the north, and during the end credits a new Holy Ark is seen flying overhead, with the narration declaring that the consequences of that are a story for another time. None of the future Shining games followed up on it, though.
- Shining Goodness
- So Long, and Thanks for All the Gear: Subverted and played straight by Julian. In Scenario 1 you get his gear back after he leaves (and yet he still has his stuff in Scenario 2) but anything you give him in the next game is lost when he leaves Medion's force.
- Tiger Versus Dragon: Synbios and Medion.
- Video Game Caring Potential: Rescuing certain characters in battle will allow them to appear in future scenarios.
- Wake-Up Call Boss: The Vandal of Chapter 3, Scenario 1. In addition to having a magical barrier that must first be disabled, he heals 20 HP (out of 120 total) every turn, can make the most out of his Bolt spell with the cramped space he prefers fighting in, and has a morbidly high evasion rate, the only moment in this game (compared to earlier games in the series) where evasion rates are a problem. Justified, as he is specifically identified as a member of one of the most powerful races in the game's universe. The Force even wonders how they managed to kill him, and anticipate how they will stand up against stronger, healthier Vandals.
- Later in Chapter 3 is Spiriel, a general with a very high Counter rate, a high Attack, and a preference for attacking weaker characters, such as Mages or Healers, when given the opportunity. While not as difficult as the above example, she's still powerful and unpredictable, and may be the first boss that actually requires strategy to defeat.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Medion wants some attention and recognition from his father. Which his dad, Emperor Domaric, takes full advantage of.
- You Are Number 6: Amusingly, a large recruitable dragon in scenario 3 is named Thousand.