Japan is about to receive the latest entry to the Shining series. With just over two weeks before the release of Shining Wind, we finally have some concrete information about the game's cast, plot, and gameplay, which includes a multiplayer option.
The game takes place in the world of Endias where Soul Crystals embody peoples' dreams and desires. Within Endias is the land of Riveria, which is divided between three races: humans, elves, and beastmen. Riveria's peace is shattered when dimensional rifts called "Chaos Gates" begin to appear. The only ones able to close these rifts are the "Soulbladers," mysterious warriors who wield the Soul Blade. Riveria is also under threat from the "Empire of Alchemy" which is gathering its forces and taking advantage of the chaos caused by the dimensional rifts.
Three Soulbladers have appeared, each with different powers and desires, but all part of a single interwoven story. A person's will to fight can be shaped into a sword called the Soul Blade, which these warriors can draw out of "Soulmates," those who share their desires. Players will take on the role of Kylia Kait, a seventeen-year-old Soulblader who is summoned from another world to Endias and is drawn into Riveria's war.
Kylia will be aided by Sheena Canon, his childhood friend, summoned with him to the world of Endias. He will also encounter variety of other helpful characters such as Kulalakran Philias, the young princess of the Kingdom of Saint Philias with divine healing abilities and Garis Philias, the prince of Saint Philias.
The game features a huge cast of allies and enemies spanning the three races. Souma, Kylia's former friend, joins the Trading Union of Seiran, the kingdom inhabited by the powerful race of beastmen. The beastmen are separated into several different clans which include wolves, foxes, birds, centaurs, and dragons. At the head of the Seiran forces are five commanders: Enu, a vermillion-feathered beastman, leader of the five commanders; Raihi, a powerful cat-type; Basou a centaur who heads up the cavalry division; Kouryuu an elderly dragon-man, master of the bow; and Hyoun, a rare ice dragon type who can fight with weapons created by his own ice energy.
Players will also encounter Beilgarde, the Empire of Alchemy, whose young emperor, Tryehart, is gathering his forces, ostensibly to restore order to Riveria in the wake of the disruption caused by the Chaos Gates. His true motives, however, are known only to him. He is also the most powerful living Soulblader.
Shining Wind's gameplay is mission-based, and though regular battle will occur, there will be a variety of other mission types such as castle defense and infiltration of enemy camps. During battles, the player has an overhead view of the battlefield. Kylia has three main attacks: a weak attack, a strong attack using the Soul Blade, and magic. Before an enemy encounter, players can select one of Kylia's Soulmates. The player's choice will affect attributes such as speed, attack radius, and special abilities. The selected Soulmate will also fight alongside Kylia and can be controlled by the AI or by a second player.
Shining Wind will feature an anime-style opening sequence as well as several animated cutscenes. It is due out in Japan on May 17 on the PlayStation 2 for 7,329 yen (approximately 60 USD). There has not been an announcement about a North American release for Shining Wind, but the series has a fairly good track record for making it overseas. Look to RPGamer for further news as it becomes available.