Shining and the Darkness, or, for the few of you who played the English version, “Shining in the Darkness,” is actually the first game ever to be released in the Shining mega-series. Developed by Climax in 1991 as a first-person perspective dungeon-crawling RPG on Sega Genesis, this game is the one that started it all.
Masahiko Yoshimura, the game’s composer, wrote some very catchy themes. They caught on well enough to be used again and again in Shining Force, subsequent Shining Force sequels, and the Shining Force remake on Game Boy Advance. Anyone who’s had any exposure to Shining Force will surely recognize these themes.
Unfortunately, when I say “these themes,” I’m only referring to about seven or eight melodic motifs. That’s about all this album has, with some filler music bridging the gaps. There’s that victorious fanfare/march opening, the standard battle music, some other dark/tense theme, the shopping song “Cheerful Merchant,” and maybe another melody or two I’m missing. But basically, a lot of the good stuff in Shining Force actually got its start here, on this first album.
The first track is a five minute medley of these classic themes, using sophisticated synth to make an almost life-like orchestra sound. Tracks 2 through 14 are all arranged, but not at the high quality that we hear in the opening minutes. Then, the final tracks (15 through 18) are OST tracks, also done in a medley form (walking you through the game like the “Dragon Quest Sound Story” medleys).
Fans of the series, those seeking to appease their nostalgic needs, may find interest in this album. Also, collectors may be interested; but be warned, it comes at a high price. This album is the oldest, and one of the rarest, Shining CDs out there. I’ve seen it sell anywhere from $60 to $130. The music is good, but it’s certainly not worth the price of its obscurity on an objective level. Only those who strongly desire this album should pursue it.