There tends to be a lot of confusion among fans as to which company developed which game, and in what way they are related/involved. I hope this page helps to clear up some of that confusion. Despite the various companies involved, Sega is the company that holds the rights to the Shining name and series.
As stated above, a number of companies have worked on Sega's Shining series of games, but two men in particular worked on each and every game of the original Shining Series right up until 1998.
Those two men are Hiroyuki Takahashi and Yasuhiro Taguchi, and are considered by many to be the fathers of this wonderful series of games. Also worthy of a mention is Shugo Takahashi, who has worked on most of the Shining games since Shining Force Gaiden.
Many thanks to Landius and Aspartate for their knowledge and insights into the companies, and for their translations. Also, many thanks to Camelot for their continued support of SFC and their love of the Shining series.
Shining & the Darkness and Shining Force: The Legacy of Great Intention are credited as being developed by Sonic Co. and Climax Co., but there is more to it than that.
Sonic Co. (also known as "Sonic Software Planning" and "Team Sonic" - not "Sonic Team") was created for the developement of Shining & the Darkness. At the time the company consisted of Hiroyuki and Shugo Takahashi, Yasuhiro Taguchi and a secretary. Originally Hiroyuki Takahashi and Yasuhiro Taguchi were programmers for Climax, prior to joining Sega. Being such a small team, they approached their friends at Climax to assist them in the production of the the game. Though Hiroyuki Takahashi was the producer of the game, the group leader was Mr Naito, who is now the head of Climax.
The rest of the Shining games were developed without the aid of Climax, by the Takahashi brothers as Sonic Co. As a Sega developer the Sonic name was used - the name Camelot Software Planning was only used when they were developing for other companies, such as Sony and Nintendo. By the time of Shining Force III the team had grown somewhat and were able to develop games without assistance, and as such Sega allowed the company to use this name when producing Shining Force III.
Unfortunately, Camelot's involvement with the Shining series ended there, as the relationship between themselves and Sega turned sour during the development of Shining Force III Scenario 3. Evidence of their disagreement can be found in the "abstract.txt" file on the Shining Force III Premium Disc, which contains a development diary written by Yasuhiro Taguchi.
It would seem that Camelot were extremely frustrated with Sega for focussing on the Dreamcast when Scenario 3 was still in development for the Saturn, and on top of that Camelot were struggling to attain their goals for the way the in-game music played as a result of difficulties coding for the Saturn's sound system.
Recent communications with Camelot have confirmed that they will not develop any more Shining games, and are reluctant to go into more details regarding their dispute with Sega. To them, the Shining series as we know it is over, and a new Shining series has begun with the release of Shining Soul.
With the release of Shining Soul, the series has taken a different direction and is now in the hands of Producer Tsuyoshi Sawada.
It is, unfortunately, blatantly obvious that Shining Soul was not developed by the Takahashi brothers, as there are numerous plot flaws and it lacks the feel of the other games. I suppose that's to be expected when another company altogether takes over. In this case, the company was Nextech, in association with Salamander Factory (for the design work), a company founded by Yoshitaka Tamaki (who was the character designer for Shining & the Darkness and the original Shining Force). Shining Soul II brought a great many improvements to the Soul line, perhaps due to the involvement of another developer, Grasshopper.
Sega's former second party team (now back in-house) Amusement Vision were used for the development of Shining Force: Resurrection of the Dark Dragon on GBA, a remake of the original Shining Force. They collaborated with Nextech on the subsequent Shining releases, Shining Tears, Shining Force NEO, Shining Wind and Shining Force EXA, none of which used the classic S-RPG system from the original Shining Force titles. Artist Tony Taka (more well known for his hentai works it would seem) was brought on board for Shining Tears and Shining Wind, and worked alongside Tamaki for Tears and NEO.
Yet another development team got involved with the series with the launch of Shining Force: Feather, as the series took a sidetrack back towards its roots at long last. Flight-Plan did a superb job of bringing the classic Force-style gameplay into the modern world, with a great real-time twist to the attack sequence and yet the game did not do as well as hoped. Sadly Flight-Plan made such losses that they were forced to close down soon after.
The enjoyable detour over, Sega have gone back to their hack'and'slash style action RPG format for the series with Shining Force Cross and Shining Force Cross Raid, Japanese Arcade games which were developed in house as I understand it.
The latest installment in the series, Shining Hearts a more traditional style RPG, was also developed by Sega under the watchful eye of Sawada. With artwork by Tony Taka it was bound to be popular, but the reception as regards the gameplay has been mixed.
The series is now 20 years old, and for almost half that time it has been without its fathers at Camelot.
Today, Camelot Software Planning remains a relatively small company, intent on making quality games and not vast sums of money. Meanwhile, Sega - in Camelot's eyes, at least - strive to keep up in the world of graphics and sound over gameplay. They are now focussing on their new RPG series, Golden Sun as well as various sports related titles for Nintendo.
Climax have since gone on to develop other RPGs in the Stalker series, and though - with the permission of Camelot - certain Shining characters appear as cameos, officially the series and it's stories remain unrelated to the Shining series.
Sawada continues to keep the Shining name alive, in various forms - as is the way of the Shining series. We hope one day that form may once again resemble the original S-RPG games we loved so much, just once in a while!
- Camelot Software Planning
- Climax Entertainment
- Sega Japan's Shining World Portal
- Amusement Vision
- Grasshopper Manufacture
Special Thanks to Landius & Aspartate