This game was the first of the turn-based tactical RPGs in the Shining Force series that released on the Sega Game Gear. Shining Force Gaiden never released in North America as a stand-alone game. It was only available in the United States as part of the Shining Force CD release for the Sega CD.
Players control their team of characters as they engage enemies on a grid-based battlefield. The characters have the ability to attack, cast a spell, use and item, or search the area. The units also gain experience by completing actions and defeating enemies.
The story of this game takes place between Shining Force I & II (both Sega Genesis releases.) It begins 20 years after the end of Shining Force. Woldol, the ambassador from the kingdom of Cypress kidnaps Anri, the princess of Guardiana. The player controls Nick, the hero of this game, as he gathers together warriors from the first Shining Force game as allies.