Shadow of the Beast (Third Review)

Title           Shadow of the Beast (Third Review)
Publisher       Psygnosis/Reflections, 1989
Game Type       General Action
Compatibility   Not A1200, but WHDload patch available
HD Installable  Yes (With Patch)
Submission      Shane Armstrong

Absolutely awesome....that was my first impression upon viewing the
rolling demo of this game in my local computer shop, from the moment I saw
this game move I knew I HAD to have it. Psygnosis were in my opinion the
ultimate Amiga programmers, and they are British too, I say this because
in the heyday of the Amiga, British made games were always regarded as the
best. These days, however, the best games seem to come from Japan or
America, probably due to the fact that Japan never received the Amiga (and
if they did, they never produced any games of note in my opinion), America
did though, and those companies used to produce movie license platformers
that were uninspired and dull. Here however was a completely original game
that redefined gaming on the Amiga, it was admittedly a sideways scrolling
platformer/beat-em-up, but the atmosphere, graphics and sound were out of
this world at the time, and it was a game that set the standard on the
Amiga up until the present. Yes, I believe this was THE most important
Amiga game ever created....

As I have stated the game was a sideways scrolling beat-em-up, however you
could venture either way in the game world, it wasn't like you were
"forced" in any direction, so it also had an adventure feel to it. Upon
loading the game, you are treated to (in my opinion) the best music ever
conceived for an Amiga game, a panpipe affair with big drums and stirring
strings, this set an unbelievable atmosphere before you had even picked up
the joystick, and upon hearing and viewing the intro you knew you were in
for a good time. The story is kind of strange, but in a good way, you play
the role of a half man/half beast in a mythical and magical world whereby
you are venturing into the unknown to try and break the spell cast upon
you to return to a normal human, why the spell was cast and who by eludes
me, but that's not important, the important thing is to get out there and
try to stay alive while numerous inventively created monsters try to stop
you in your tracks.

You have to fight through these monsters by either punching or kicking
with your character, and the key to success is remembering the attack
pattern of the foe. This usually consists of about 10 or so monsters
following a set pattern homing in on you every once in a while, and the
timing of your punches and kicks is of paramount importance to your
success. There are certain times when doors can only be opened by
collecting the appropriate key, this was never boring to accomplish
though, as the keys were never very far from the appropriate door, and
usually were gained by beating a larger monster. I have to say that the
graphics for its age were AWESOME. I don't say that lightly, because even
to this day they are very respectable, and this is the game that I go back
to now and again even after all these years. The sound was right up there
with the graphics though, and this was no afterthought and was probably as
inventive and mesmerising as the graphics. Words cannot express the
emotion involved with the music so please play it and see what I am
talking about!

The game is not only a sideways scrolling beat-em-up though, some levels
require you to shoot oncoming hordes of monsters via your gun and jetpack.
This played much like R-Type, and was an added bonus to the game, mixing
up the gameplay and adding more variety, and therefore longevity. I would
like to say at this point though that the game was incredibly hard to
finish (even by Amiga standards!) but with those visuals and that music,
it was never a chore to replay certain scenes.

Overall this game is my personal favourite Amiga game ever produced, so
excuse me if you think otherwise, but I don't know anyone who had an Amiga
and didn't thoroughly enjoy it, so if you get the chance, get it on,
seriously, you won't regret it!

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