As can be seen on the above link at Camelot's site, the official order of the games is as follows:
- Shining Force I
- Shining Force side story I & II (Shining Force CD) characters : family of SF
- Shining Force side story "FINAL CONFLICT" characters : young Oddeye (SFII), baby Darksol II (SD), Max & Adam (SF)
- Shining Force II
- Shining Wisdom characters : Kazin and Sarah (SW)
- Shining & the Darkness (Shining in the Darkness) characters : Darksol II
- (long long time...)
- Shining the Holy Ark
- Shining Force III characters : Galm(SH)
Of course, it's quite possible that this timeline wasn't planned for the series from Day 1... and that a lot of the games have been made to tie up loose ends and fit in with the above plan.
This chronology covers only the original Camelot-era Shining games. Subsequent Shining releases from Sega (ie, Shining Soul onwards) cause conflicts and confusion in the original storyline and should therefore be regarded as a new chapter in Shining History, or perhaps an alternative timeline. For example, Shining Soul's story implie that Shining Force III happened in a similar time period to the original Shining Force. This would mean that Arthur could very well be the same centaur, having moved to Parmecia to search for Max, and then ending up in Saraband... and the mercenaries in Scenario 1 could have moved on to Creed's Mansion where they eventually joined in Shining Force II. This is contrary to Camelot's timeline.
One Thousand years before Shining Force, Dark Dragon threatened the Ancient Lands... but the Ancients fought back with the Powers of Light, defeating Dark Dragon, and casting him into another dimension. Dark Dragon vowed to return in 1000 years (source: Shining Force introduction).
Those thousand years pass, and the continent of Rune is at peace... until the hordes of Runefaust begin to attack, signalling that Dark Dragon may soon fulfil his long-forgotten promise (source: Shining Force introduction). I don't think I need to tell you the whole story of Shining Force, as I'm sure you've all played it. The key thing to remember is that after Darksol gives all his remaining power to Dark Dragon, the Shining Force defeat Dark Dragon and he sinks with the Castle of the Ancients... taking Max - and the Chaos Breaker - with him. Some of the other characters return home (source: Shining Force CD introduction) to their homes and families.
20 years later, in Shining Force CD, Anri has become the Queen of Guardiana. Ken, Luke (translated to Lug in the game) and Lowe from the original Shining Force are still around, as are the offspring and relatives of some of the original Force. Much of the plot is to do with the search for a magical sword, the Sword of Hajya (hence the name of the USA's Game Gear game). Following their adventures in this game, some of the soldiers go on a quest to look for their long lost Hero, Max (source: Shining Force II, old man in Hassan*1).
The events of Final Conflict are thought to happen at some point during or shortly after the events in Shining Force CD. It would seem that Max and Adam are well established on the continent of Parmecia, so we can assume they have been there for some time (after all, the village of Hassan where they find themselves has developed into a fully fledged port in Final Conflict*3), and since Shining Force CD takes place 20 years after the original Shining Force, this seems like a fitting period of time.
In Final Conflict, Mishaela returns, and although she doesn't appear to be any older than in Shining Force, this is explained later on this page. Darksol also returns, and this can be explained as follows:
As described by the Storytellers in Shining Force II, the Devil Kings Lucifer, Darksol and Zeon fought to become the Devil King of Kings, and when he won, Zeon was buried within Arc Valley, a place where evil powers gather. When Darksol gave his final powers to revive Dark Dragon in Shining Force, Darksol's body may have been drawn to Arc Valley, or perhaps taken there later by his loyal minions - Mishaela, in all likelihood. Mishaela's plan being that Darksol's body could revive from the powers in Arc Valley, and with a little help from herself. So, Darksol's mostly lifeless body waits in Arc Valley for about 20 years until Final Conflict, when his strength has begun to grow and all that is needed is for a ritual to be performed to finish the revival.
It is shown in Final Conflict that Kane (from the original Shining Force) is the brother of Max (though this is apparently made known in the Japanese version of Shining Force), and Ian is in fact Kane's son. It would seem that Kane sent his child to Hassan from Rune to become strong and grow up to be a hero, just like Max.
A young Oddeye (Shining Force II) is also in Final Conflict, this time on the Force's side. He seems to have his own reasons for joining the Force. As we're told in Shining Force II, the three Devil Kings had a battle, which Zeon won. Clearly Darksol is still wishes to defeat Zeon, and so Oddeye's task as a follower of Zeon, is to prevent Darksol from using Zeon's resting place to become all-powerful and therefore stop him from rising up against Zeon.
Hawel (Shining Force II - father of Chaz & teacher of Kazin) is just a boy in Final Cofnlict, and an early member of the Force, which helps a lot with this timeline given his old age in Shining Force II. The Kraken is encountered too, but left alive in the game (hence it's re-appearance in Shining Force II).
Towards the end of the game, Adam and the Force go to Grans Island to face Darksol, where they also re-join Max. A shocking discovery is made during the final battles, as Mishaela talks of Darksol's son, Mephisto. Though it is not confirmed in the game, it is implied that Mishaela (who has always been extremely loyal to her master) is indeed the mother. After Darksol is defeated, and the Force have returned to a hero's welcome, Oddeye leaves the Ancient Tower with a baby in his arms. Camelot's timeline confirms that this baby is Darksol II, as seen in Shining & the Darkness. Perhaps Mephisto was taken in order that he could be raised as a ally of Zeon rather than his enemy... or perhaps to be raised as a normal child with no idea as to his true powers.
When the Force see King Galam at the end of Final Conflict, the Chaos Breaker is renamed to "Force Blade" in honour of the Shining Force, and is sealed away in a shine to the south, behind two jewels...
Granseal is founded, and Nosshu (Ruburan's friend/follower) becomes the first King of Granseal.
Following on from the story in Final Conflict, Shining Force II takes place across Grans Island and Parmecia. It has often been speculated that Bowie may be Max's son, however I believe this to be unlikely. Given that Max is approximately 18 in Shining Force, by Shining Force CD he would be about 38, in Final Conflict he must be getting on for 40... then consider the fact that in Shining Force II, Hawel (of Final Conflict) is an old man, at least 60 years old compared with about 15 in Final Conflict, this means the game takes place another 45 years (or more) later... putting Max at least in his mid 80's. It's possible that Hawel is in his 80's, making the difference in years much greater, and Max perhaps as old as 100, or more! A little old to be having a child of about 16, ne? It seems far more likely that Bowie is the son of Ian from Final Conflict, and therefore Max's great nephew.
Given the timescales between the games, it is possible that King Granseal is still the original King, Nosshu (Final Conflict). After all, he knows about Hawel, who he met in Final Conflict. However, a book in the city would indicate otherwise, with it's title of Granseal Kings.
In Yeel, Chaz mentions that he is one of Hawel's sons... probably the youngest, as no others are seen in the game. Chaz appears to be in his 30's-40's, which re-inforces Hawel's old age*3.
Oddeye doesn't appear to have aged much in these 40+ years, however since Mishaela didn't look any older after about 25 years (Shining Force to Final Conflict), we may be able to assume that Devils do not age in appearance until they retire (eg, Creed), or perhaps they only age while they are out of the Evil Realm.
It seems a little odd that the fellow in Hassan*1 speaks of "ancestors" chasing after Max, because following these timelines, it wasn't really that long ago at all... about 50-70 years. However, he was correct in saying that Max may have gone to Grans, as this is what he does in Final Conflict. Ian from Final Conflict also ended up on Grans - he looks very similar to Bowie, and could perhpaps have settled as a carpenter (source: Book at Bowie's house "Father Carpenter"*3) on Grans, and had a son*3.
The Kraken is still alive (having escaped in Final Conflict), and stronger than ever... he's moved down towards Hassan. Volcanon appears in both Final Conflict and Shining Force II, however as he's a god, this provides us with no time indications at all. It's also be speculated that Zynk is in fact Adam... however although Zynk clearly shows signs of age, his body is constructed in an entirely different way than Adam's, and Adam had no sign of a laser in his chest, such as Zynk's... not to mention that Adam remained on Grans at the end of Final Conflict. Since the Ancients had the technology to build Adam and Chaos, there's no reason to doubt that they made Zynk also - an entirely different robot.
The caravan is still at the Shrine, where it was left in Final Conflict when no-one could figure out how to use it, and the Force Sword on Grans is known to be the Chaos Breaker, as renamed by King Galam in Final Conflict*3, and sealed behind the two jewels as it was all that time ago.
We are told of a group of soldiers who went to look for Max, and that some went to Grans via Devil's Tail to continue the search. It's possible some of these soliders were picked up and became part of Creed's Collection. Let's assume for now that Arthur from the original Shining Force was one of the characters that ended up there. Although he's not met in Shining Force II, we can't be sure that we met everyone in Desktop Kingdom! It may also be worth noting that Rune is indeed shown to be south of Parmecia*2 (source: Simone's map in Shining Force). At the end of Shining Force II, we discover Sarah was in love with Bowie... she runs away, and Kazin goes after her to provide comfort.
Not long after Shining Force II (could be anything from a year to 10 years...), Kazin and Sarah are seen together in Shining Wisdom. Although the links from Shining Wisdom to the rest of the series seem minimal, this may be due to the poor translation of the game, by Working Designs. The game definately takes place in Parmecia... although Working Designs translated it as "Palacia" (source: Japanese Shining Wisdom manual). Books can be found in Odegan castle, referring to "Puck and the Shining Force" defeating "Zhaion". This is another poor translation - the UK version is correctly translated as referring to Bowie and Zeon. Note that in the Working Designs translation of the game, Kazin and Sarah are called Parn and Salah.
Unfortunately, I've misplaced my notes on the other connections in Shining Wisdom :( I recall something about lands to the West being said, which lead me to believe it may be referring to Thornwood. With the abundance of labyrinths in the Odegan vicinity, it's not unlikely that the Thornwood labyrinth could be nearby. There is a book at Odegan castle that mentions the recent founding of the Stormsong Kingdom - Stormsong is the original Japanese name for the Kingdom in Shining in the Darkness. It would seem that Odegan must be in the far north of Parmecia, as the rest of the area is covered in Shining Force II.
There's also an indication that Pazort and Oddeye are somehow familar with one another, and speculation about the identity of the Dark Titan (USA - Zagalt; UK - Seega; Japanese - Suurt) and whether he might be a devil from a previous game.
Some time after Shining Wisdom, Shining in the Darkness takes place. Though it does not seem to have much in it in terms of connections with the other games, this is most likely because it was the first game released, and it's almost certain that the whole timeline had not been planned out, as no-one could know how successful the game would be. The events of the game occur in the Kingdom of Thornwood, however, Darksol II (Dark Sol) is present, starting out as a fellow in the King's court, going by the name of Melvyl. Notee that in the Japanese version of the game, the name Dark Sol does not appear to be used, his name instead is Mephisto when he is a devil, and Melvyl when in the King's court. The fact that he goes by two names and uses two identities would suggest that may have been raised by Oddeye as an ordinary child, and later discovered his powers.
This game must happen quite some time after Final Conflict, since Melvyl would appear to be in the range of 25-40 years old. We can deduct from this that Shining Wisdom takes place relatively soon after Shining Force II, and Shining in the Darkness at least 25 years after Shining Wisdom, since we are told (in Shining Wisdom) that Stormsong (Thornwood) is a newly founded Kingdom and it is somewhat more established in Shining in the Darkness.
The location of the Kingdom or Thornwood is as yet unplaced in the Shining world, however I suspect it is somewhere in nothern Parmecia, to the West of Odegan (Shining Wisdom).
This is where things start to become a lot more vague, and I really need to do some more research on this... all we know is that a "long long time" passes between Shining in the Darkness and Shining the Holy Ark.
In Shining the Holy Ark, Galm the Vandal makes his first appearance in the series, as does Elize. A young boy in the town of Enrich is met, asking after his father, who had gone to the Vandal Mansion.
In Shining Force III we see that the young boy has grown up to become a fine fighter, by the name of Julian... he is out to get his revenge on the Vandal Galm (also appearing in this game), who killed his father. We know that this game takes place in Parmecia, in the far Eastern area, which was not explored much in the earlier games. A magic-using centaur named Arthur joins the Force, and although it's quite unlikely, there's a slim chance this may be the Arthur from the original Shining Force... that is, if we assume that he was in the party that went after Max, and then he ended up in Creed's collection... then at some point, nearing the time that Shining Force III takes place, Arthur managed to escape the collection & found his way to the city of Saraband, where you meet him doing his laundry as always ;) Finally, the mercenaries that can be hired in Scenario 1, are called Dongo, Twiggy, Elrick and Piper... there are the original Japanese names of the characters at Creed's mansion... could they be the same people? Perhaps, if they went back to the collection, and left with Arthur...
... and that, as they say, is that. There are, no doubt, further connections and much more evidence. I've just got to find it all, and put it all together in some coherent way. I hope you've found this an interesting, and perhaps plausible, read... if you have feedback, please do feel free to drop me an email!
Note that for information regarding the events leading up to Shining Force III, this page at Jumesyn.net is well worth reading.
As you can see, the shapes match the actual shapes of the land masses quite well, and if the compass on Simone's map is correct, then the part of Rune in which Guardiana is located is indeed to the South of Parmecia and Grans Island. The only conflicting information is the compass on the Shining Force II map... showing North in a different direction :( However, since the map needs to be rotated to the right a little to fit perfectly onto Simone's map, it means the Shining Force II North pointer rotates to the right, too... making it much nearer to the North as shown in Simone's map.