Turns Out Shining Force CD Didn't Really Need The Sega CD Backup RAM Cart 1
Image: Sega

Shining Force CD is one of the Sega CD's most famous titles, but it's notable for more than just its quality – it's one of the only games on the system which requires you to own the official Sega CD Backup RAM cart in order to carry over progress throughout its four chapters.

You see, Shining Force CD is divided into four books, with the idea being that you can carry over your character stats to each one. The trouble is, the Sega CD only offers 125 blocks of internal save data memory, and each save file is 99 blocks. That means it's impossible to carry over your stats without the external RAM cartridge; you can still play the subsequent books, but you begin with default stats.

However, Euan Forrester, the brains behind the excellent Save File Converter site, has discovered that it didn't actually have to be this way.

"I recently added support for converting, splitting, and recombining Sega CD save files to my save file converter site," Forrester tells us. "As I was learning about how the format worked, I found out that this didn't need to be true at all and was the result of a deliberate choice made by the developers of Shining Force CD."

According to Forrester, Sega CD save files can be stored with error correction turned on or off. "This error correction wasn't necessary to enable and games like Sonic CD and Popful Mail didn't use it," he continues. "Using the error correction literally doubles the size of the data. So the Shining Force CD files that are 99 blocks long could actually have been just 50 blocks long, and thus, two of them (plus the hidden file that stores your overall progression and takes one additional block) could have fit in the Sega CD's 125-block internal memory."

Forrester has created example save data files and has at least proven that they can be reduced in size so they fit inside the Sega CD's internal memory – but sadly the game ignores saves without the error correction enabled. What's needed now is for someone to dig into the game's code and create a patch that will allow it to recognise these smaller save data files.

Released in 1994 in Japan and in the West the following year, Shining Force CD is a remake of the two Game Gear titles Shining Force Gaiden and Shining Force Gaiden II. A third Game Gear title, Shining Force Gaiden: Final Conflict, was released in 1995.

This story has been updated to correct some inaccuracies.