Shadow of the Beast

by David Whittaker
Gremlin Graphics Software Ltd
Crash Issue 83, December 1990   (1990-11-15)   page(s) 59


For many years the evil Beast Lord has been creating strange creatures to guard his stronghold, and one such creation is after revenge. The hero of Shadow Of The Beast was once human, but was taken when still a child to the Beast Mages and transformed. Now adult, the creature remembers his human past and is determined to reclaim his true form: to do this he must enter the Beast Lord's stronghold and destroy him.

Before the final showdown you must travel through the wild and dangerous lands that border the Beast Lord's domain. Evil-minded creatures are out to stop you reaching their master. Your defence are your fists and your feet, but, as you travel along, items present themselves for collection: keys (to open locked doors), potions (different effects) and weapons. With every hit you take from the enemy your heart rate rises. If it beats too fast it explodes (not a very nice death).

Apart from the horizontally scrolling outdoor scenes, there are several indoor scenes which play like a platform game. It isn't difficult to spot entrances as the doorways are marked with a large arrow bearing the word Enter!

Shadow of the Beast is a classic piece of Amiga game and one nobody thought would, or could, be converted to the Speccy. I doubted whether the Speccy version would retain the action of the 16-bit original. How wrong I was! Shadow Of The Beast has all the playability of the original and the graphics, both the animated characters and the scenery, are wonderfully drawn and move well. But it can be difficult to spot an enemy attacker due to the mono background. Gremlin have done a first rate job in converting it: it's a wonderful arcade adventure and a well deserved Smash.

MARK [92%]

I was flabbergasted by the graphics of Shadow Of The Beast on 16-bit and was prepared for the 8-bit version to be quite disappointing. But this game is pure excellence! Not only have Gremlin managed to keep the looks and feel of the original but it's playable and addictive too! From the minute I started playing I was hooked: each section is packed with well-drawn backgrounds, the characters have plenty of smooth animation and there's some neat toe-tapping music, though it can't be turned off!. The monochrome display didn't spoil my enjoyment, but the monsters get hidden in the backgrounds: it's hard to prepare a punch when you can't see what you're punching! The game's a bit pricey, but, on the whole, worth it. I'll be playing late into the night!
NICK [93%]

Presentation: 90%
Graphics: 91%
Sound: 90%
Playability: 90%
Addictivity: 89%
Overall: 92%

Summary: A remarkable conversion of a 16-bit classic: a winner!

Award: Crash Smash

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Crash Issue 98, April 1992   (1992-03-19)   page(s) 78

In most buckle-swashing games there's a despicable bad guy. Y'know, the bloke who wears a black cape, and twirls his huge handlebar moustache while cackling in a nefarious fashion (a bit like our esteemed Ed, actually).

Sadly, Shadow Of The Beast doesn't fall into this category, but there is a villainous baddy. The Beast Lord's his handle and for years he's created strange creatures from old cornflake packets and assorted squeezy bottles to guard his stronghold. Okay, we lied - they were actually transformed girly-wimp humanoids.

You play one such victim, kidnapped as a nipper and transformed into your present beastly form. You've recently recalled your past life (after a hard knock on the head from aforementioned squeezy bottle) so you're out for revenge.

Hold onto your hats, folks - it's kick-arse time! (Quelle surprise.) if you destroy ol' Beastie in his distant fortress you revert to your true self (I'd stay as you are, Corky - Ed), but before giving Beastie a good biffing there's a long yomp across the lands bordering his domain.

You're attacked by myriad ruthless creatures, but you ain't defenceless. Use your fists and feet to bash your way to collectable items such as keys (to open doors), potions (a la Alice in Wonderland) and a wide range of explosives and blunt instruments to give your extremities a rest.

Keep an eye on the energy meter - every hit that registers speeds up your heart rate. Eventually it explodes, killing you. Luv'ly.

Entrances to underground caverns aren't too difficult to spot, especially as they have a bleedin' great 'ENTER'sign above them. Its generally in these dark, dank places that the end-of-level guardians are lurking. These are huge phrrrt-inducing monstrosities that love nothing more than playing football with a failed hero's head.

Gremlin deserve a huge pat on the back (no, not of the cow variety, stupid) for cramming a 16-bit game into the Speccy. Although they're monochrome, the sprites and backgrounds are ace, a real credit to the programmer (gawd bless ya, guv). The only bugbear is it's difficult to spot some of the meanies on the mono Backgrounds.

Overall, Shadow Of The Beast is well worthy of purchase if you were stupid enough to miss it first time round.

Presentation: 90%
Graphics: 89%
Sound: 87%
Playability: 90%
Addictivity: 88%
Overall: 90%

Award: Crash Smash

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 60, December 1990   page(s) 12,13

How would you feel if one day you were human and the next day some Beast Master chap had swept down and turned you into a griffin!? (Frankly, I don't think I'd mind too much. I mean, you'd be able to fly, you'd be so hard you'd be able to walk the streets at night, you wouldn't have to pay the Poll Tax - you'd even have several hearts, so you wouldn't have to worry about heart disease.)

But how would you then feel it your new masters chose to employ you for all sorts of evil doings and, to cap it all, go and sacrifice all your former race (including your dad) right under your very beak!? (He's not a beast, is he, he's a barst. Shadow Of The Barst they should've called it) Anyway, this is more or less what's happened to our hero in the novella introducing Shadow Of The Beast. When the poor bounder recognises what he's become, and recalls his humble homo sapiens origin, he's spurred to rebel against the Beast Master and all his evil minions. And this is where you come in...

You take the role of the selfsame hero with the funny-shaped head in his quest to defeat evil. The game starts with a scene-setting static graphic and text screen (more of these pop up infrequently when you move between locations). Click through this and you'll go into a multi-scrolling viewed-from-the-side arcade adventure.

At first, as you scroll about on the surface bashing beasties with a single blow, the game starts to feel a little repetitive (when you've seen 20 giant ants you've seen 'em all), but as you start exploring further in a subterranean sort of a way the challenge of the game increases, Basically, you can't progress until you find and pick up items and solve various puzzles. Then the game suddenly comes into its own, with you romping around punching mythical beasties, finding extra weapons and frying big 'orrible nasties!

Shadow Of The Beast has come to the Speccy just as its sequel is appearing on the snoot Amigas and STs. Of course, the original 16-bit was a bit of a 'landmark game', which was mainly down to the state-of-the-art graphics - all the very latest parallax scrolling, stuff like that. But mention the gameplay and it was a rather different tin of jellied eels. Which means that, er, if the 'bestest' thing was the graphics, and these are lost on the Speccy, then this doesn't bode too well, does it?

No, it doesn't - if it wasn't for the fact that gameplay on the Spec has been vastly improved, that is. The task of bringing it to us has been entrusted to Gremlin and a mighty fine and dandy job they've done of it too - where the Amiga gameplay was two-dimensional and stopped every other screen for a long, accessing break, the Speccy scrolls along smoothly, providing action all the way. I really think there's something in the argument that because Speccy graphics aren't the worlds greatest it makes programmers make up for it by squeezing the maximum amount of playability out of their games. Looks like we've come out tops again, Spec-chums!

SOTB is the sort of game that guarantees oodles of lastability as everyone plays it to get just that little bit further (expect mappers and tippers to be in their element). It falls down for me slightly because much of the graphics and fighting seem very dated - the aforementioned giant ants, for example, smack of 1985's vintage Ant Attack. Still, those grumbles take second place to mazes, object-finding and puzzle-solving, all of which are challenging and addictive.

So - not a brilliant game, but a darn good conversion that manages to improve upon the original in terms of playability.

Life Expectancy: 90%
Instant Appeal: 84%
Graphics: 86%
Addictiveness: 90%
Overall: 88%

Summary: Nicely pitched sword-and-sorcery game, mixing beat-'em-up, puzzle solving and arcade adventure.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 77, May 1992   page(s) 60

Hello? Hellooo? Ah, there you are. Sorry, couldn't see you. We are in the shadow of the Beast, after all. Boom boom! Ahem. Beast is, as you may have already known, a conversion of the ancient 16-bit platform beat-'em-up. The plot behind it is particularly silly, with you playing the part of a Beastly minion who finds out that his boss knocked off his parents. Such behaviour is regarded as unsporting in Beastly circles, so you pull up your trousers in a threatening manner and plod off to do the decent thing.

As any student of gamesplaying will tell you, doing the decent thing involves thumping a lot of bad guys and searching a lot of scenery, before confronting Mr Beastie himself for the final showdown.

Beast is a monster of a game. No hang on, I didn't say that. (Oh damn.) It is a big game though, with four sides of multiloads to get through. The presentation is splendid, with highly-detailed graphics. The trouble is, the game is, well, how can I put this... dull. Quite amazingly dull in fact. Duller than an Open University lecturer dressed in unpolished armour and holding a bucket of outstandingly dull ditchwater. Although you're pitted against the slithering hordes of chaos (or whatever), there are actually huge areas of empty scenery to run through in order to reach them.

The beat-'em-up bits aren't particularly good (a simple case of punch or dodge), and having to stroll through seemingly endless forests and caverns finishes off what's left of the game's interest. There's some business with keys and objects, but to be honest I couldn't be bothered to stick with it. Yawnsome through and through. Nice box though.

Overall: 29%

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 133, March 1993   page(s) 18

A classic shoot em up. with wonderful detailed graphics, good music and any amount of monsters, beasts and assorted nasties to blast away at. There are power ups along the way giving you even better weapons as well as magic potions. The graphics are big and clear with fabulously detailed backgrounds, all giving the game a great atmosphere.

Label: GBH
Memory: 48K/128K
Price: £3.99 Tape
Reviewer: Mark Patterson

Overall: 89%

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 106, December 1990   page(s) 30

Will wonders never cease? When it was released last year on the almighty Amiga by the almighty Psygnosis, Beast was hailed as the best thing ever . With a thousand million billion trillion screens to explore; fifty thousand layers of parallax scrolling, sixty channel music, twenty googolplex colours (*) a designer T-shirt which came free in the oversize box, Beast got a lot of publicity and subsequently did very well for itself. What most people didn't realise until much later, after all the hype had died away, was that underneath all the flashy decoration, the game was only an average arcade adventure. (*) These figures may be exaggerated, but not much.

Now it's appeared on the Spectrum - something which not many people ever expected to happen - courtesy of Gremlin, and despite the obvious corner-cutting that's had to be done, it's not bad at all. You're this rather ugly-looking warrior chap who's out to get an evil Beast who's been causing all sorts of trouble in the world of Necropolis. Putting an end to all this badness is achieved in typical arcade adventure tradition - run left and right, climb up and down ladders, beat up baddies and collect objects. Sounds a bit seen-it-all-before? Well the truth is you probably have, but it's the execution that sets it apart from the crowd.

In the course of running about, collecting keys and helpful objects, you'll be accosted (oh no missus) by all manner of weird and wonderful creatures - ranging from over-sized ants to bouncing Psygnosis logos. A hefty monster-punch sees these off, but watch out too for nasty spikes that come up from out of the ground and puncture your bottom.

So what nice about Beast then? Well the graphics for a start. Despite being about as one colour as graphics get (whatever happened to the multi-colour, no-clash sexiness of Lightforce, eh?) they're very pretty indeed, and there's a nice clean-cut feel to them. Sound too is lovely jubbly with an epic theme (i.e. you can't turn it off) playing throughout. Bestest of all though is the gameplay, with loadsascreens to mess about in, lots of puzzles to solve and a never-ending army of sleaze-minions to give a damn good seeing to. And for the intellectuals amongst you the layout of the game makes it the perfect candidate for some serious mapping - should you be that way inclined.

Label: Gremlin
Price: £12.99/£15.99
Reviewer: Gary 'Mouth' Whitta

Graphics: 86%
Sound: 82%
Playability: 85%
Lastability: 84%
Overall: 85%

Summary: Graphically great arcade adventure jobby with plenty to do and see. A jolly good bash.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 122, April 1992   page(s) 49

I was one of the people who flipped over Shadow Of The Beast when it was first released and I still think it kicks butt now it's out on budget. In fact I've always fancied myself as the little goaty fellow with the beard but unfortunately Garth has always managed to steal the limelight in this department!

Shadow Of The Beast is a simple game with fantastic graphics, excellent 'parallax' scrolling, a convincing soundtrack, and a vast array of monsters to do battle with. Along the way you'll find weapons and potions with which to beat off all comers, not that you need them, as most of the beasts seem happy enough to run onto the end of your fist! Various other items such as keys are available to help in your quest and most are really essential.

Shadow is a fabulous game, loaded with music that'll totally absorb you until completion. The sprites and graphics are a welcome teller to the midegty or muddled style we have become used to today. In fact the only bad point I can make is that the loading system is rather tiresome, but that's little price to pay for a classic conversion.

Label: GBH
Memory: 48K/128K
Price: £3.99 Tape
Reviewer: Steve Keen

ALAN: It won't take you a lifetime to complete, but once done you'll wish it could have gone on forever. All praise to Psygnosis and now GBH for not neglecting our Spec chum.

Graphics: 90%
Sound: 90%
Playability: 85%
Lastability: 85%
Overall: 90%

Summary: An absolutely compulsive addition to any collection. Plenty of action, imagination and unrivalled graphic detail. Ignore this game at your peril!

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Computer & Videogames Issue 109, December 1990   page(s) 75

Spectrum/Amstrad £9.99

They said it couldn't be done but they were wrong! The greatest Amiga demo of them all has been translated onto the Speccy and Amstrad! The games scenario is pretty straightforward. A strapping young fellah-me-lad has been hideously deformed and enslaved by the Beast Mage, and now it looks like the slave wants revenge on the master!

The player adopts the mantle of the Beast in question and travels through an eight-way scrolling landscape in his quest to bring down the evil mage and give some of his minions a good kicking at the same time. The Beasts quest takes him through many levels of danger and pulse-racing excitement including a haunted forest, a castle full of crazed ghouls and a disused well - with the promise of adventure and terror at every turn!

Overall: 83%

Summary: A monochromatic version of the Amstrad game and just as good.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

All information in this page is provided by ZXSR instead of ZXDB