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Video Game / Shining in the Darkness

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A princess has been kidnapped, and hidden away in a labyrinth filled with monsters. Fortunately, you are a brave knight, who can handle the task. Plus your father disappeared into that labyrinth, so you have both personal reasons and your duty to take on that place.

This dungeon crawler for the Sega Genesis is actually the first of the Shining Series. Even though it's of a different genre than the more famous games in the series, there was a follow-up game in the same genre: Shining the Holy Ark for the Sega Saturn.

The action is also first person in pseudo 3D, much like the dungeons games like Arcana and the first Phantasy Star.



  • Ambidextrous Sprite: The attack animations of enemies is to flip the sprite a few times, especially the asymmetric ones.
  • A Pupil of Mine Until He Turned to Evil: Xern, an old wizard you meet halfway through the game, explains that his apprentice, Melvyl, ended up falling to the darkness and became Dark Sol. He eventually had to be sealed away within the upper floors of the labyrinth.
  • Anti-Hero: Pyra has no problem using her spells for petty reasons such as getting back at someone who was rude to her. The main reason she joins you is that the player character is one of her close friends.
  • Black Magician Girl: Pyra is the game's main offensive magic user, having access to several debuff and damaging spells.
  • Blob Monster: Slimes are often the very first encounter in the game and the weakest of the bunch. Their Palette Swaps fair a bit better, but also aren't exactly the worst things to fight, either.
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  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Mortred, courtesy of the Darkblade.
  • Chest Monster: Chestbeaks start crawling out of treasure chests and beating the living hell out of you starting from the Cave of Strength. They get replaced by Ghosts in the Cave of Truth which are even worse due to their use of DeSoul.
  • Cool Crown: Recovering Jessa's tiara is required to go further into the game, and Pyra can equip it once she joins the party.
  • Comedic Spanking: Pyra's mother does this to her for running off to help the hero without telling her about it first. She stops when the player confirms that he does need her help.
  • Cursed with Awesome: At least one of the cursed weapons is so powerful that it's actually worth using despite its drawbacks- Pyra's Hexwhip, which has a phenomenal +60 attack strength to go with its ability to hit an entire group with one attack, in exchange for having a 40% chance of entangling Pyra for several turns after she attacks. That one attack she's guaranteed to get off first is so powerful that it may be the only attack you need to clinch a battle, and during boss encounters you can completely avoid its drawbacks by simply not having her use her basic attack and stick to using spells instead.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: All party members getting downed will revives the party in town at the cost of half of the gold. Individual deaths can be recovered at the shrine, getting restored to full after the donation.
  • Defend Command: Only available to the additional party members. The party leader instead has the run command to flee from battle. Also of note is that opponents may sometimes attempt to defend as well.
  • Degraded Boss: The KaiserKrab returns as a randomly-appearing enemy as soon as you pass through the bronze door leading to the Cave of Strength, only a short time after you fought the first one as a boss, although by now you have your full party, making them much easier to deal with. Oddly, they still appear with the same special animation as when the first one attacked you by scuttling out of a corridor on your left, meaning it can only randomly attack you when you approach left-leading passages.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: After literally running into Gila and getting scolded for it, Pyra responds by casting Slow on him as he heads off to the dungeon...
  • Disneyesque: The official artwork on the box seems to be very much influenced by Disney's renaissance era in the 90s, with a touch of Don Bluth thrown in for good measure. In-game it's a bit of mix between Disney and early 90s anime designs. (Most notably, Pyra wouldn't look that out of place in Slayers in certain sprites.)
  • Dual Wielding: There are 2 unique weapons that can only be purchased from the Armorer (the Main Gauche and the Madu) which are actually equipped in the shield slot instead of the weapon slot and give a bonus to both attack and armor factor. The Madu actually gives better defensive stats than any actual shield the armorer sells for quite a long time, although it is correspondingly expensive for that stage of the game. Only the Hero and Milo can equip them, unfortunately.
  • Dub-Induced Plot Hole: The villain in this game was called Mephisto in Japan. In English, it was changed to Dark Sol - causing confusion with Darksol, the villain of Shining Force.
  • Dungeon Crawling: The entire game primarily takes place in the labyrinth. Although you do go to different caves, they are offshoots of the labyrinth itself.
  • Dying as Yourself: After being defeated, Mortred regains his sanity long enough to thank the party and reassure his son before passing on.
  • Early-Bird Boss: The reason the KaiserKrab is That One Boss is all down to this; not technically a terribly fearsome opponent, except that it's the strongest enemy you have to face before Pyra and Milo join you, limiting your strategic options to "hit it while it's hitting you and hope it dies before you run out of healing items".
  • Early Game Hell: You don't get access to your additional party members until after the first boss, and the The Hero doesn't learn magic, so your only source of healing is through healing herbs. Additionally, money is very limited early on, so getting good equipment will take some grinding. After you unlock the Pyra and Milo, it becomes much easier to crowd control enemies.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: For the Shining Series. The series is largely known for being SEGA's Alternate Company Equivalent to Nintendo's Fire Emblem series. The first game, however, isn't a strategy RPG. Rather, it's a first-person dungeon crawling RPG, a genre that wouldn't be revisited until Shining the Holy Ark.
  • Escape Rope: Pyra has the Egress spell (which costs 9 mana), or escape wings can be used if out of mana. Both place the player outside the labyrinth.
  • Evil Weapon: Certain weapons and armors are Cursed with various negative effects.
  • Excuse Plot: The princess has been kidnapped, and your father, the best knight in the kingdom, has disappeared! Go dungeon crawling to rescue them! And unwittingly off your old man in the process!
  • Faux First-Person 3D: All the major areas of the game are seen through the player characters' eyes. The labyrinth is the only one where the character can actually move forward and back in.
  • Fiery Redhead: Pyra; her hair is normally dark pink, but in certain scenes and artwork she has red hair. Regardless of its changing color, she always has the personality to match this trope.
  • Giant Enemy Crab: The KaiserKrab is a giant crab that serves as the games first boss. After beating it, it shows up as a normal enemy in certain areas.
  • The Goomba: Green slimes are the very first enemy you're likely to encounter in the game, and give out the lowest EXP and Gold rewards of any monster, being worth one EXP and two Gold each.
  • Guest-Star Party Member: Certain characters can temporarily join your party as an uncontrollable fourth member.
  • Guide Dangit: Although the game tries to have setpieces to make navigating the Laybrith easier, expect to be looking up maps a lot if you don't want to spend most of the game wandering around lost.
  • Improvised Training: The trials in the labyrinth serve two purposes; one, to keep the Sealed Evil in a Can sealed away, but two, also train up a hero to face and defeat said evil in a can one day.
  • Level-Map Display: The Wisdom Seed (or view spell) shows a local map, but it only shows floors that the player stepped upon rather than potential unexplored areas.
  • Lions and Tigers and Humans... Oh, My!: In addition to humans, the world is also populated by a bunch of anthropomorphic animals.
  • Magically Inept Fighter: The Hero doesn't learn any magic what so ever. However, they more than make up for it by having the highest physical attack and HP total of the party.
  • Mana Burn: Each time they're stepped on (including rotations), dungeon tiles containing green grass will drain 1 MP from Milo and Pyro.
  • Palette Swap: All over the place; you'll start running into palette swaps of the starter enemies before you even reach the first boss, a consequence of the game having practically No Budget.
  • Pit Trap: First seen in the Cave of Strength. These pits simply drop the player to the area below.
  • Pretty Princess Powerhouse: Princess Jessa may be a beautiful damsel who needs to be rescued, but can deliver bone-shattering kicks while in your party.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Although most NPCs hold the player in high regard, the same cannot be said for Pyra and Milo, who NPCs have no problem telling you aren't the most heroic of sorts.
  • Random Encounters: Given the limitations of the era, most encounters in the labyrinth happen at random. At least within the first floor, the monster encounter strength does vary based on position within the floor.
  • Randomly Drops: The monster's item drop rate is rather low, although you can also get them to give you their items with the Muddle (confusion) spell.
  • Random Encounters: Random encounters also seem to be based off regions on the floor. Additionally, there's a few enemies that can only be found when the requirements are met (e.g. Kaizerkrab appears when approaching a passsage from the left, or Killwave when approaching a pool).
  • Shout-Out: The weapons vendor bears a striking resemblance to Gilius Thunderhead, and even has an axe posed prominently nearby.
  • Squishy Wizard: Pyra has the highest base defense, for some reason, but the lowest health. This trope can be avoided for a good portion of the game (up to the first two trials) if you keep the Royal Tiara and don't give it to the Minister.
  • Status Effects:
  • Teleportation: The two-piece Medallion. By placing one half in a golden fountain, you can use the other half to instantly return there at any time. (Just remember to retrieve the other half if you want to switch to another fountain...)
  • Trauma Inn: The tavern restores HP and MP, and costs 10 gold per living character, making it slightly cheaper to rest at the inn, then revive characters.
  • Useless Useful Spell: Strongly averted by Pyra's Sleep and Slow spells- Sleep has a high success rate against most enemies and is the cheapest and easiest form of crowd control when you're heavily outnumbered by large groups, and Slow reduces the enemy's defence as well as their speed, making it essential against bosses.
  • We Can Rule Together: Proposed by Dark Sol shortly after The Reveal that he's none other than Melvyl the mystic. Naturally, The Hero declines without even giving the player the option to select yes.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Old Vik the innkeeper gives your hero flak after learning you were forced to slay your own brainwashed father. The others present are more sympathetic, and Mrs. Vik even calls her husband on it.