Screenshots from the Shining SeriesWe all have fond memories of our first Shining adventures, whether we started with the original Shining in the Darkness, or came to know the series through one of its later incarnations. We may all have differing opinions on which game is the easiest, which has the best story or which character is the greatest but on one thing we all agree: the series has taken a downward turn since Camelot ceased to be involved.

The classic Shining series as we knew it came to an end in December 1998 with the release of the Shining Force III Premium Disc, Camelot’s limited edition “thankyou” present to those who had faithfully purchased all three discs of the epic Shining Force III. Contained within the Premium Disc’s files was a file detailing Yasuhiro Taguchi’s development issues with Sega. To cut a long story short, by the time the Shining Force III saga was nearing completion, Sega had turned their attention away from the Saturn and instead to the Dreamcast. Camelot found themselves without the development support they needed in order to achieve certain effects in the game, and thus the rift between themselves and Sega was formed. Such a shame, considering they had developed the series (originally in conjunction with Climax Co.)  from the onset. The Takahashi brothers have always been considered the fathers of the series.

In the years following the release of Shining Force III, at least 3 fan campaigns were run in order to show Sega and Camelot that many fans would love to have seen a re-release of Shining Force III on a modern console or PC, or indeed the release of a new Shining game.  Although the campaigns were well received, and indeed may have had some impact – Shining Soul was announced some time after the second campaign in 2002 – we were still not satisfied. Shining Soul was enjoyable in its own way, and indeed looked like a Shining title due to the involvement of original Shining artist Yoshitaka Tamaki, but was not a “Force” title. Games titled “Force” within the Shining series were traditionally the turn-based tactical RPGs which made us love the series so much. We went on to run the third campaign, requesting a game more true to the Series’ roots. This was sadly not forthcoming, despite positive feedback from Sega & Camelot as regards the campaign itself.

It would seem the rift between Camelot and Sega simply could not be repaired.

…but then, something interesting happened. In an interview with Game Informer magazine in 2007, Hiroyuki Takahashi said:

“There are also many requests to make Shining Force III. At one stage we got a petition with many signatures to make a new Shining Force game. This was sent to Sega, Nintendo and Camelot. There are a lot of people that want us to make that game as well. We don’t know what form it would take, but we want to answer the requests of the fans.”

How wonderful for the campaign to receive such a response from such an important figure, and how great to know that Camelot would like to please their fans in this way. Thus, a seed of hope was planted. However, nothing seemed to grow from it.

Now, to present day. Last month, gamesTM magazine in the UK rated Shining Force III among the 100 Greatest Games of All Time, quite an achievement but certainly not undeserving! In celebration of their 100th issue, the magazine went on to produce no less than 100 different limited edition covers – one for each of those 100 games. Of course they needed high quality artwork to produce the covers, and had to contact Sega to request it – including artwork for Shining Force III. According to a friend of mine who works for the magazine, Sega in turn had to request the artwork from Camelot – who gladly supplied it. If you ask me, that’s a breakthrough – albeit a small one. The lines of communication were opened between Sega and Camelot once again and they were able to co-operate.

Surely now is the time to try to re-establish their relationship. 

More recent releases in the Shining series have very much lacked in appeal to the majority of original Shining series fans. Titles such as Shining Tears, Shining Wind, Shining Force NEO and EXA etc may have some appeal as games in their own right but part of the true Shining series they are not. In fact, the “Force” title has now been undermined through being slapped onto games which bear no resemblence to the original tactical RPGs of the same name, with the exception of Shining Force Feather, the closest thing we’ve had to a true Shining Force title in years – but no suprise, it was not released outside of Japan.

On March 29th 2011 the Shining Series celebrates its 20th Anniversary.

The series is not the great institute it once was – we need Camelot back on the case!