Shining The Holy Ark was the ninth installment of the Shining Series but the gameplay shares more in common with the original Shining in the Darkness than any other title in the franchise. It was a first person Dungeon Crawler rather than a strategy game. Its also an indirect prequel to Shining Force III; several characters reappear in that game, and the continuing conflict between Spirits and Vandals is central to its plot.
In game three mercenaries Arthur, Melody and Forte are tasked with hunting down a ninja called Rodi who has holed up in an abandoned mine. When the group finally catch up to the ninja, a space-ship smashes through the roof mortally wounding everybody involved. In order to save their lives the Spirits inside the ship possess Arthur, Melody and Rodi. While still retaining their free will they gain additional skills. During this however Forte gets possessed by an evil spirit and goes missing.
Arthur, Melody and Rodi decide to temporally combine forces in order to escape the deadly mine, find Forte and find out just what is going on with these mysterious Spirits. Along the way they uncover an evil plot to revive a powerful Vandal that would doom the world to an age of darkness.
To help them out they meet up with female paladin Lisa, dragonman Basso, female ninja Akane, and the half-wolf ninja Doyle.
Shining of the Holy Ark Contains the following tropes:
- Awesome, but Impractical: The Soul Steal spell. Granted it can instantly kill monsters, its success rate is quite low (meaning it's faster to just kill them conventionally) and doesn't work on bosses.
- Bring It: The Wraith (the first boss of the game) curls its finger towards itself after emerging from the ground.
- Cardboard Prison: In so much that Doyle can somehow teleport inside, easily pick the lock and then prisoners can climb into the well to escape (although there are stone doors down there that Doyle leaves them the key for).
- Chest Monster: Quite a nasty one too; the Chest Ghost has Soul Steal and has a habit of killing Basso in an area where you really need him.
- Climax Boss: The fight against Rilix, complete with unique music.
- Color-Coded Stones: One dungeon has the player collecting different coloured gem stones to use in a Soup Cans puzzle. The only way to figure out what gem went where was were was if you knew what the stock colours of the gems where.
- Court Mage: Rilix is this to the King after ousting Sabato.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Galm, while we may not know his reasons he seems pretty neutral.
- Defeat Means Playable: For all the characters, bar maybe Akane, but especially Rodi, as you do actually fight him directly.
- Degraded Boss: The Evil Spirits make cameos throughout the game, and you finally fight them at the game's midpoint climax. They then appear in the final dungeon as regular mooks. With some slight changes to their spells, the Wraith reappears as the Reaper and the Time Warrior reappears as the Taros.
- Demonic Possession: Forte and the King.
- Digitized Sprites: The characters and enemies are presented as prerendered computer-generated images overlaid on the polygonal backgrounds.
- Dual Boss: The two Evil Spirits you fight near the climax of the game; it quickly gets a lot tougher when Rilix joins in (who was previously observing the fight from the background).
- Evil-Detecting Dog: The dog in the Town of Enrich growls as Elise approaches - she doesn't take too kindly to it.
- Fairy Sexy: The Succubi and Incubi.
- Faux First-Person 3D: The gameplay is pretty much identical to this genre, although there's nothing faux about the 3D graphics.
- First-Person Ghost: You know what Arthur looks like thanks to official art and level-up screens, but he never sees his own body in gameplay.
- Frictionless Ice: While traveling through the mountain pass. Thanks to all the holes that would lead drop you into the previous areas this was pretty tedious.
- Glass Cannon: Forte, playing the classic Squishy Wizard. He has the most powerful area-attack spells in the game (bar Inferno), but has pitiful HP and melee defense.
- The Good Chancellor: Sabato.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: When you find an Incubus, he points to a very large erection underneath his tunic (which is easily mistaken for a crease).
- Guide Dang It!:
- Finding all the Pixies. Some are hidden in very obnoxious places.
- To recruit Doyle, you have to revisit Desire Village and check a suspicious looking tree, but only after defeating Rilix and speaking to the Head of Far East Village.
- The stone puzzle in the South Shrine requires a guide or the use of simultaneous equations to solve.
- Infant Immortality: Julian. Averted with stories of Elise eating children and one scene where she actually does it in front of you.
- Kick the Dog: The first time you meet Elise, you witness her knock a dog unconscious after it barks at her.
- Kleptomaniac Hero: You can steal 1 gold from under a bed and then get told off by a NPC.
- Last Chance Hit Point: An odd one. Only the three characters that are possessed with spirits will automatically revive after being "killed" in battle, with a measly 1 HP. All the other characters required a trip to a church, items or spells.
- Metal Slime: The Hattari monsters that first appear in the East Shrine. They have a habit of retreating, but killing one nets you 3,333 XP points, often enough to level your characters several times over.
- Mithril: You can find Mithril Ore and Mithril Ingots on your travels and, for a fee, they can be crafted by the blacksmith in Desire Village into useful equipment.
- Never Say "Die": The party members and the monsters you fight never die, they are just "exhausted." Averted at the very end, as Rilix does explicitly die, confirmed by Elise in the dialogue, while it's pretty obvious that Panzer dies too, although the only implication of this is him collapsing to the floor at the conclusion of the final boss, and then Akane kneeling in front of his grave during the credits.
- Nominal Importance: A big clue as to the importance of characters early in the plot is if they have portraits or not. For example, in Desire Village, the only three with portraits are Basso, Lisa and the Halfling (later revealed to be Doyle) who all join your party later on at different times.
- Only Smart People May Pass: Who knew that algebra could be useful in solving the stone puzzle!
- Palette Swap: Some later enemies are reskins of earlier ones, but it's a bit more substantial than a palette swap because they are sprite-based and have noticeably different features (e.g. compare the Ifrit to the Hell Spiral). The closest example to a true palette swap would be the Evil Spirits; the ones that appear as regular monsters in the last dungeon have red crowns, whereas the boss versions have blue ones.
- Panty Shot: When Akane casts spells, the back of her skirt flaps up, exposing her red panties. Thankfully she wears trousers in her promoted form.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: The Vandal that the bad guys are trying to release. In fact Vandals in general, only the weakest ones weren't sealed away with Galm being the exception.
- Shifting Sand Land: The South Shrine and Mirage Village outside the Tower of Illusion.
- Theme Naming:
- With the exception of the last one, the Pixies (the actual type named 'pixie') are all named after trees.
- The final Incubus and Succubus are named Boris and Natasha respectively.
- The Unfought: Elise, maybe even Galm depending on how you felt about him.
- Unbroken First-Person Perspective: You are playing as Arthur during the game; battle sequences show his companions leaping forward to attack when they need to, and when Arthur attacks, the camera zooms towards the enemy with a slash effect. Similarly, when casting magic, the spell glyphs form directly under the camera's position.