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Shining Force: The Legacy of Great Intention
Shining Force-box art
Box art
Information
Publisher(s) Sega
Genre Strategy
Platform(s) Mega Drive/Genesis
Release Date(s)
1992

Shining Force: The Legacy of Great Intention, more commonly referred to as Shining Force, is a 1992 turn-based strategy role-playing video game for the Mega Drive/Genesis console and later re-released in Sega Smash Pack 2.

GameplayEdit

SF Camp

Shining Force is a turn-based tactical RPG. Battles take place in square grids, and each unit occupies 1 square. Units can belong to one of two sides: allies (controlled by the player) or enemies (controlled by the computer AI). Each unit can move up to a fixed amount of squares along the battlefield, determined by its Move statistic. Depending on its location relative to enemies and to allies, a unit also has the option to attack, cast a spell, use an item, search (if adjacent to a treasure chest), or stay and do nothing, all of which end the unit's turn. Some commands, such as equipping or dropping items, don't count as actions, and the character's turn is able to continue. The order of the turns is determined by the unit's agility score and a random seed. Units can use offensive actions, such as physical attacks or offensive magic, only on units belonging to the other side and can use supportive actions, such as healing magic, stat-enhancing magic, and items, only on units belonging to the same side.

As is most common for the RPG genre, units become stronger by fighting enemies or by performing other actions in battle, such as healing allies. These actions give the units experience points (EXP.), which allow them to gain levels. While the original Mega Drive/Genesis version only allows allied units to gain experience points, the 2004 remake for Game Boy Advance allows enemy and ally units alike to gain experience points. This change is consistent with the system used by many more recent strategy RPGs, such as Tactics Ogre or Final Fantasy Tactics.

In Shining Force, each allied unit is represented by a character with his or her own background and personality, much like in the Fire Emblem series. Although there are no "generic" units, except on the enemy side, many characters contribute little or nothing to the plot upon joining the player army.

Each allied unit also has a class, which defines a set of abilities for that unit and gives an idea of the spells and equipment they have access to. Once a unit reaches level 10, it can advance to a more capable class via an in-game mechanism called "promotion". A unit can be promoted at any level from 10 on up to the game's maximum unpromoted level, 20. Upon promotion the character's level resets to 1 and statistics are reduced by a fixed amount, although they begin higher if the character had been promoted at a higher level.

Battle goals for the player are fairly simple: kill all enemies, kill the enemies' leader, or (in some cases) advance to the town or landmark that the player's army is trying to reach. The enemy side wins when they manage to kill the player's leader, Max, or when the player chooses to escape the battle, either by casting Egress or (in some cases) by retreating to the town or landmark where the battle began. Even if the player army escapes or Max is killed, the player can recover allies and re-fight the same battle. Since the Force is allowed to maintain any experience and money that is obtained, regardless of the battle's outcome, the game is considerably easier than most strategy RPGs. Thus, there is no Game Over, and the player's army gets stronger even upon its defeat, although Max's death results in the player losing half of their money.

Unlike most games in the Shining Force series, Shining Force also possesses an exploration mode that occurs outside of battle. This gameplay mode is essentially a Japanese-style traditional RPG game along the lines of Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest, although there are no labyrinths and few puzzles to solve. In this mode, the player's army is represented by Max, who is able to walk around, interact with the people and with the scenario, find treasure, buy equipment and items, outfit the army, and choose which of the army's other members will be used in battle.

PlotEdit

The game opens in the Kingdom of Guardiana, in the land of Rune. The protagonist, Max, is sent on a mission to prevent Darksol, who commands the hordes of Runefaust, from opening the Shining Path and resurrecting Dark Dragon. Along the way, Max recruits a number of allies to join the Shining Force. Opposing the Shining Force are foes such as Kane and King Ramladu, who were both corrupted by Darksol. Eventually Max forges the legendary Chaos Breaker, and uses it to reach the Castle of the Ancients, where Darksol plans to resurrect Dark Dragon.

In the game's final confrontation, a wounded Darksol sacrifices himself to release Dark Dragon. The Shining Force ultimately prevails, and Max seals away Dark Dragon using the Chaos Breaker. As the castle begins to crumble, Max teleports his allies to safety, while he stays behind. The other characters watch as the castle sinks back into the water, and Max is presumed dead. However, after the credits, it shows Max in a different land.


LocationsEdit

SF1battleguidemap

Battle Guide map of Rune

  • Rune - the continent in which the game takes place

The Land of Shining ForceEdit

CharactersEdit

Shining ForceEdit

Main Members;

Unlockable members;

Allies of the Force (NPC)Edit

BossesEdit

StrategyEdit

The general Shining Force characters are divided between "Frontline" and "support".

FrontlineEdit

Knight/Paladins (KNTE/PLDN)Edit

There are 8 "Knight" or "lance/spear" characters within the game, the bulk of which consists of 6 Centaurs, the "Knight" characters. The game will often prompt the player to using 2-4 of these characters and generally. Knights, regardless of design, serve on the frontline and are often the first members of the Force to meet the enemy head-on, allowing them to gain the ground over most battles. They lack endurance and can fall quickly in battle, temptation is also to push them too far ahead of the other Force members, leaving them vulnerable to the enemy and can fall victim to the games few ambush battles.

Centaur Knights are the main focus of the Shining Force and the player can acquire a total of 6 of them. Due to their movement speed and range, they are able to get into the fray first and combat any foe. However, they do not like rough terrain and during certain mid-late game battles, may be replaced with alternatives. The Centaurs "core" battle is the plains battles in Chapter 4, at this point a player will have 5 of the 6 centaurs, where all 5 have potential to dominate their enemies over all other classes. After this battle they become less useful until the last chapter of the game, having only a few potential battles where they excel.

The game begins with the main Knight frontline focusing on Ken and Mae. Both of which can claim the spot of second weakest Knight overall depending on how their stats fair out, usually Mae will excel over Ken but depending on the luck of leveling, rare circumstances can leave Ken stronger then Mae. Ken, as a early-game knight, will be the first knight that will be unable to compete, followed by Mae. Vankar and Earnest act as their replacements and can carry the Shining Force into late game.

The Centaur Knights make use of spears and lances, with lances usually ending up stronger then spears. Spears, however, provide the knights with a little attack range and this combined with their movement range, is why they often can excel over all other frontline fighters.

  • Ken; the games starter Knight, he is best paired up with Mae until replacement with stronger knights. As such he is a low tier knight/paladin.
  • Mae; a low-mid tier Knight/paladin, Mae is able to compete with later knights and works best coupled with another knight.
  • Pelle; a low tier knight/paladin, he quickly falls behind the other centaurs.
  • Vankar; a mid tier Knight/paladin, Vankar is "average" compared to other knights to the point where he lacks any stand out quality and is often not much better then Mae at the point of his recruitment.
  • Eanest; a mid-top tier knight/paladin, Earnest is overall the second strongest knight.
  • Arthur; low-top tier knight, starts off weak and ends up the strongest Paladin.

Warrior/Gladiators (WARR/GLDT)Edit

The Dwarves Lug and Gort serve as the Forces "Tank" members. They are slower then the Centaurs but handle rough terrain better, making some outdoor battles fall in their favour mid-late game. They can be replaced with a number of alternative characters, or ignored all together if the Knight class characters are strong enough to pull their own. Since they can use Axes, they tend to deal heavier damage in the long run then the Knights and work best when both Lug and Gort are together on the field. Their higher defense means they can often take on boss characters quite well, taking a few hits more then most Force members before falling.

  • Lug is a low-mid tier Warrior/gladiator and due to his stats is able to hang on as a standard fighter longer than most of the start Force members.
  • Gort is a mid-high tier warrior/gladiator. He hangs on much longer than Lug does and is able to be useful for longer than Lug as a result.

Birdmen (BDMN/BDBT)Edit

Birdmen are the Forces first "flyers". While weak against range characters they do not fear any effects of the terrain hindering their progress. As a result, however, they are quite weak and fall quickly if left unsupported. Their most notable battles they excel at are the battle against the Laser Eye in Chapter 3, and the Sea battles in Chapter 5. In the very last battle against Dark Dragon, they can also make sure of their flying ability to gang up on Dark dragon himself, who will take up much of the battlefield with his body.

Due to their weakness, they can easily be replaced by alternative "flyers" mid-late game. They can also be left out of a battle entirely even for patient Players as they never get as strong as some of the ground fighters. They are almost useless in the last few battles due to the layout of the battlfield.

  • Balbaroy; a mid tier birdman.
  • Amon; a low-mid tier birdman at beast.

Misc.Edit

The game provides a number of alternative characters that can replace any of these 3 groups.

  • Max is in every battle and serves as an all-round fighter who can alternative between the centaurs interception style of fighting, or the Warrior/Gladiators "tank" style of fighting, though never excels at either as well. He is the only member who can use the Force Sword, his class is Swordsman/Hero (SDMN/HERO) and is unique to himself.
  • Guntz and Kokichi act as alternatives during the later game to the standard Centaur Knight members. They will carry the Shining Force in battles where centaurs struggle with due to the terrain movement limitations. Guntz as a Steam Knight/Steam Baron (STKT/STBN) acts as the Knights "tank" and can take a beating, though sacrifices the Centaurs movement in the process. Kokichi meanwhile is significantly weaker then any other knight in terms of his character class, but can easily excel in certain situations due to his ability to fly. He can easily replace either birdman, fulfilling their role and is a Wing Knight/ (WGKT/).
  • Bleu acts as an alternatie to the Birdmen, however, while stronger both in strength and defence, lacks their speed. He is also one of the last few members to join, joining Chapter 6 and is significantly much weaker then most of the Force at this point.
  • Zylo makes for a good alternative fighter in certain terrain, essentially replacing the Centaur Knights for those few battles. He is able to excel in most of the battles within the game itself, thus ends up being one of the core members, even for player who choose not to unlock very member of the Force within the game.
  • Adam is a replacement for the Warrior/Gladiator characters, is the second to last character to join, however, leaving him significantly weaker then all other members of the Force at this point. His movement range is small, making him slow at moving. Since there are other fighters within the Force, players can bench him for them, though he is a strong character with training. His class is Robot/Cyborg (RBT/CYBG)
  • Musashi is one of the strongest fighters on the force, thus is worth unlocking for both speed and patient players. He essentially is an alternative to the warrior/gladiators and can easily carry the player into late game. He lacks the movement range of other frontline fighters, however. His class is Samurai () and does not require promotion.
  • Hanzou is Musash's opposite in terms of fighting style, he is more set up as an alternative to the centaurs and has a few useful spells to boast. His class is Ninja () and does not require promotion.

SupportEdit

Archers/Snipers(ACHR/SNIP)Edit

Archers act as support, firing over the heads of all front line fighters. For this reason, they also do not care much if their movement speed is reduced either. They cannot fire close range and this proves their biggest weakness, though have the range needed to pick off air-based foes. Overall, they do average damage late game at the best and can be ignored altogether as they they tend to be reduced to picking off the weaker foes the Frontline fighters leave behind.

  • Hans; acts as the early-game archer and is replaced in Chapter 3 with Diane.
  • Diane; Is Hans' replacement and carries the players Force until Lyle joins, however, is not significantly stronger then Hans and often relies on Hans for support.

Mages/Wizards (MAGE/WIZ)Edit

The spellcasters are useful throughout the game and most of the Forces teams will have a place for at least 1 of them. They act as front line support much better late game then the Archers at times, though become useless once their mana poll runs dry, making the vulnerable almost completely. Like the archers, they do not take damage very well and it takes only a few hits from their foes to knock them down.

The mages also have a number of supporting spells, but at times their offensive spells will be the main focus of their battles.

  • Tao; the low-tier mage, her strongest spell is Blaze lvl.4, which after mid-game becomes useless.
  • Anri; a mid-tier mage, whose top spell is Freeze lvl.4 and also learns Bolt levels, giving her the range Tao lacks (2-3 with an area covering the shape of a diamond with a radius of 3, meaning up to 13 enemies hit).
  • Alef is the high-tier mage, with Bolt lvl.4. Has the most potential damage of all 3 mages.

Priest/Vicars (PRST/VICR)Edit

Like the mages, the healers are useful throughout the game, particularly if training weaker members. In many battles, they can be the difference between victory and failure, making taking at least one healer onto the battlefield essential for completing the game. Early game, they can also fight on the front line, though never excel as well as the frontline fighters at this.

Like the mages, they have supporting spells.

  • Lowe; the low-tier Priest, he excels until the other Healers on the Shining Force learn Aura, of which they will quickly leave him behind.
  • Khris, the mid-tier priest, she has the best overall healer, learning Heal lvl 4 like Lowe, but learns Aura lvl.1, allowing her to gain XP late game fast enough to keep up with Torasu.
  • Torasu, the top tier healer, he learns the full lvl.4 Aura spell, but has a weaker lvl Heal spell as a result.

Misc.Edit

As with the frontline fighters, a number of alternatives are offered.

  • Lyle joins 3/4 of the way through the game and is superior to Diane and Hans as an archer. He struggles at first being a centaur, as at this point the battles that take place are over rough terrain. By late game, he can completely replace either or both archers as the Force's main archer, though lacks the overall damage of some of the stronger members of the Shning Force frontline fighters still.
  • Domingo serves as both a "flyer" and a mage. He acts as mainly an alternative to Anri, and is quite strong, to the point where he can easily level up and even be useful late-game due to his supporting spells. He does not fer the main weakness of mages, and has a high defense.
  • Gong is a alternative to the healers. He is both a supporting healer and a frontline fighter. Gong falls behind late game, relying more and more on his healing than fighting. However, he is slow to learn new spells so takes some training.

The Class "balance"Edit

Despite the alternatives and what the different characters offered, compared to later Shining Force games things are pretty "basic" and simple. The game can be completed even if the player is careless with the Shining Force members and can even complete the game without unlocking all members of the Shining Force, though the difficult level may be higher.

Another issue with this game is that certain characters have only short-lived roles in the game. For example, the game is "knight heavy", giving the player 8 lance/spear users, when all other clases have only 2/3 members. This was an issue which later games also at times attempted to balance out giving the players a more balanced team, usually with no more then 6 "knight" characters and often up to 4 members of the other classes.

The game, however, also contains many early concept of how to assign characters to the player. For Players who do not keep their entire Force up, Pelle/Arthur serve the purpose of teaching the player about patience versus completing the game. Pelle when he joins will be the strongest Knight - and then soon fall into the role of weakest Paladin promoted. Arthur, meanwhile, with patience will become much stronger, and be able to compete with many late game characters, though begins as the overall weakest Knight. Arthur will have basic magic resistance and able to use basic offence spells, being the only knight with these attributes in the entire Shining Force. However, players who are unaware of this will often bench Arthur as soon as they get him, or put Pelle on the frontline in place of other Centaurs without knowing his lack of growth. Many later games did not reference this, making the Pella/Arthur situation almost unique to this game.

One attempt the game does to balance out the members giving low, mid and high tier characters for many of the classes. However, often the low-tier characters are replaced much too soon. For example, while the Player is given low-tier characters Hans, Lug, Ken and Tao in the beginning, by the end of Chapter 2 all will essentially be replaced with stronger long term members. The mid-tier characters, however, are able to carry the Shining Force until Chapter 6 without replacement, making their time on the Force much longer lived. This however, presents another problem, as some of the late-game characters (Chapters 6-8) are significantly weaker by the time they join and are left un-promoted. As a result, mid-tier members can even go so far as to be able to beat the game despite being potentially weaker then the top-tier members. This was also an issue that later Shining Force games attempted to address, by giving the player promoted characters or characters who did not need promoting at all, but stand out as an issue with the way this game is set out.

Note that with the unarmed fighters, there is also a risk of forgetting to train them, making training them later much harder then with any of the weapon based character. Fortunately, if kept up often excel over their weapon using comrades. However, for the most part, weapon-using characters will gain their strength in leaps and bounds as they change weapons, and can be easier to train at times late-game.

In addition, Jogurt serves no purpose what so ever beyond cannon fodder and was placed in the game merely as a Easter Egg.

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