Shining Force Special Sound CD

Shining Force Special Sound CD Album Title:
Shining Force Special Sound CD
Record Label:
Catalog No.:
Release Date:
April 25, 1992
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1992’s Shining Force was the first entry in the Shining series to feature strategy RPG gameplay, first popularised by Fire Emblem and Langrisser. Masahiko Yoshimura reprised his role from Shining in the Darkness to offer a classically-oriented score, but this time placed a greater emphasis on battle tracks. The Shining Foce Special Sound CD, enclosed with a guide book, compiles the full sound versions of nine of the tracks from the game. It is sadly the closest thing available for a soundtrack release for the title…


The Shining Force Special Sound CD is an impressive example of what rich compositions the Genesis could harbour. “Traveler from Long Time Ago” opens the album with a full rendition of the game’s main theme. Here, Yoshimura captures the tone of the series with a grand nationalistic march suitable for portraying a hero. The potent melody, combined with its intricate harmonies and classical form, ensure the track is an impressive piece of music even independently of the game. The equally impressive march “Holy War” creates a different tone with its ambiguous tonalites, turbulent development, and introspective interludes; it is fitting for capturing the uncertain conflict of light and darkness.

There are plenty of other highlights here. The gentle and wistful waltz “Eternal Sunbeam” is certain to endear listeners on the file loading screen, while “Time to Put Out the Light” captures sad scenes with its longing synth melodies. Both tracks were clearly influenced by Koichi Sugiyama and Nobuo Uematsu’s emotionally driven approaches to RPG scoring. Most of the remaining tracks, “Demon’s Breath”, “Swords! Attack the Enemy!”, and “Armageddon”, portray the tense battles featured in the strategy RPG. Yoshimura largely shifts from the melodic focus of the soundtrack in favour of dissonant orchestration and piercing rhythms reminiscent of modernist composers. Yet the more personal and melodic secondary sections on these tracks does motivate listeners, particularly in the climactic “Armageddon”.

The nine tracks here are compositionally identical to those featured on the Genesis title. However, these are the sound sources before they were downgraded and therefore the synth is considerably more refined. While this is appealing, most tracks are rather brief and, worse still, there are so few of them. Sadly, this is only a sampling of what the full soundtrack has to offer and a number of important battle tracks, event pieces, and theme variations are omitted. A particularly prominent absence are the happy and sad city tracks. Given Sega nevertheless published a true soundtrack release for Shining Force, these tracks can only be heard through the Game Boy Advance remake’s muddy soundtrack.


Shining Force is an old score that does almost everything right. With memorable melodies, refined stylings, fitting moods, and solid synthesis, it was among the best of its generation. It lacks compared to its successors, but only because of its short length. That said, the Shining Force Special Sound CD is only a brief sampler of the score and thus will have limited appeal to most consumers. Sega should seriously consider compiling the still-unreleased soundtracks for the series’ instalments on the Genesis, Game Gear, and Saturn into a box set.

Shining Force Special Sound CD Chris Greening

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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on August 1, 2012.

About the Author

I've contributed to websites related to game audio since 2002. In this time, I've reviewed over a thousand albums and interviewed hundreds of musicians across the world. As the founder and webmaster of VGMO -Video Game Music Online-, I hope to create a cutting-edge, journalistic resource for all those soundtrack enthusiasts out there. In the process, I would love to further cultivate my passion for music, writing, and generally building things. Please enjoy the site and don't hesitate to say hello!

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