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Shadow of the Beast (Genesis)

60
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.1
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Jango (7)
Written on  :  Aug 07, 2003
Platform  :  Genesis
Rating  :  5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars

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Summary

A lesser-known, yet classic platform.

The Good

The cover art of this game will only make people wonder at what the hell that game could be about. I was only introduced to this game a year ago by a good friend of mine. I hadn't heard much of the company Psygnosis outside of this game, yet this game could very easily be in my top five today. Overall, it is sort of a Metroid-lite. There's a bit of exploration; nothing Super Metroid of Symphony of the Night depth, but you have to go to certain areas of the game before others, or else you're going to get screwed over.

Graphics: Shadow of the Beast always amazed me with its graphics, any version. Watching as your character (I never did know his name..) runs along, the different background layers all scroll along at different speeds. The mountain-filled background scrolls more slowly than the fence up close, and I've always been a fan of that little effect. I would stare at it all day while playing, but I've actually got to pay attention to what I'm doing, you know?

The cover art does hint at one thing of the game: the creatures in the game are all things you haven't seen before, for the most part. All of the sprites are nicely detailed on the Genesis, and the bosses are even larger and heavily detailed. Sure, the boss sprites don't have a whole lot of motion to them, but that's one of the few nit-picks I have with this game.

Aside from that, what else can I say about the graphics but them being beautiful? The sprites are detailed and fit well in with the mood of the game, and the backgrounds are just gorgeous.

Overall Graphics score: 9/10 - These graphics amaze me yet today; I just can't stop playing the game to simply look at the graphical part of it.

Gameplay: Shadow of the Beast is a platformer with some hints of exploration in it. You can either jump or attack; a punch on the ground, or a kick mid-air. You'll also get some upgrades to your punch or a gun later on, but those are only temporary. It may seem like a small amount of controls, but 2D platformers never needed a lot of controls anyway.

You go from one area to the next, picking up an item or upgrade you need to get past one area's boss or to even enter another area period. At first you may get confused at what to do, but once you figure out what to do playing the game again becomes that much more clear. You have 12 hit points- a little heart moniter on the top of the screen tells you so. You get hit, you lose one. Simple enough, right? Also, lying around are smaller health-ups that recover your 2 hit points, while there are some Full Health bottles as well. Not too much to take in, now is it?

Overall Gameplay score: 8.5/10 - The game plays well, even if it doesn't have a whole lot of depth. But you certainly don't need a lot of depth to have a lot of fun, and Shadow of the Beast is full of that. The only thing really detracting from my score is the insane difficulty of later areas of the game. I have yet to beat it myself, but have witnessed my friend doing it.

Soundtrack: There are maybe a total of six songs to this game, but do I ever love them. They're very ambient in nature, and once I first heard them I never forgot them. The main theme while you're walking about ground really gives you a good sense of the the mood this game is supposed to bring across you. Mysterious, yet soothing. All of the themes can easily fall in that category. The theme walking up to the castle, which I have simply dubbed "Attack", is more upbeat than the rest and gives you the sense of being assaulted by too many enemies; which you are. Only a few themes to the game, yet they all fit so perfectly.

Overall Soundtrack score: 10/10 - I'll say it of yet another aspect of this game, the soundtrack is simply beautiful. They fit the game perfectly, and they're quite addictive as well.

The Bad

Storyline: I can't properly gauge the storyline, since I don't know much of it. You're trying to become human, I know that much. I know it isn't deep, but since I know nothing of it, I can't give it a proper grade.

Overall Storyline score: N/A - The story isn't exactly bad, as the section I've put it in, but I just don't know enough to say anything good or bad about it.

The Bottom Line

Shadow of the Beast is a rare gem, and definately a lesser-known title. But you know a game has a lasting effect when you often comment on things with "That looks like it's from Shadow of the Beast," or, "that sounds like Shadow of the Beast". I've done this countless times, and that's the sign of finding a game which is truly a classic.