Shadow of the Beast

aka: Beast, Shadow of the Beast: Mashō no Okite, SotB
Moby ID: 7461
Buy on Genesis
$21.18 used on eBay
Note: We may earn an affiliate commission on purchases made via eBay or Amazon links (prices updated 3/1 1:08 PM )
See Also

Description official descriptions

While very young, Aarbron was kidnapped and enslaved by the Priests of the Beast Lord. He grew up on drugs made to destroy his own will and turn him into the Beast Messenger, a powerful creature serving Maletoth, The Beast Lord himself. He did his job, until one day he noticed a man about to be sacrificed in a ritual, his face triggering ancient memories. As the sacrificial knife descended into the man's body, Aarbron recognizes his father's face. As his father dies in the altar, memories of his childhood and tormented past at the hands of the Beast Lord emerged, and as feelings of hate over his captors took over him, he swore revenge and fled the temple, knowing the road to avenge his father and redemption would be hard.

Shadow of the Beast is a side-scrolling platformer with a side-shooter elements (by the end). The player has to navigate through several areas filled with enemies and traps, collecting keys and activating triggers that open new areas or give Aarbron the means to overcome a sub-boss. The number of moves the player has at disposal is limited: duck, jump and only two attacks: punch and a flying kick. While most enemies die with just one hit, the player must time each attack accurately. However, there are also traps of objects that cannot be destroyed and these require the player to jump, duck or move according the sequence. The player has only one life with 12 hit points that can be replenished by collecting some objects hidden in the level (like an off-route location or a under a megalith), which also contributes to the difficulty level.

Spellings

  • シャドー・オブ・ザ・ビースト 魔性の掟 - Japanese spelling

Groups +

Screenshots

Promos

Credits (Amiga version)

5 People

Code by
Design and Concept by
Music By
Cover Picture by
This booklet conceived and produced by
  • Partners In Publishing

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 77% (based on 52 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.2 out of 5 (based on 142 ratings with 4 reviews)

A good port of an interesting game

The Good
While not as visually or aurally impressive as the original Amiga version, it captures the essence of the game perfectly. Graphically, it's perhaps the best conversion (and we're talking about the PAL version, not the souped-up NTSC-J) of the game, forgiving how they turned Aarbron purple. One of the most impressive features of the game is the number of enemies: there's a good number of one-offs, and most of the regulars are only repeated an handful of times, with little of the palette swaps a lot of 16-bit games are so fond of. It also maintains the multi-layered parallax scrolling, but sadly the gorgeous effect is only shown in the plains, with the underground and the castle (where most of the action takes place) rendered in a bit of a dull fashion. The music, while not being a match to the original tracker files is pretty acceptable and fits the pace in the game quite nicely, but for some reason there's no sound from the kicks and punches.

Then, there's something in the game that makes it incredibly challenging. It's not the best looking game in the platform, and certainly isn't the most playable or the best story development, yet I find myself having a go at it almost everyday. Forgetting for a while that the game oozes style, it might be argued that as the game is the same as the previous and as the next will be, there's a need to search for perfection - making all the way from in the underground base or one of the "flying things" sequence without dropping a single hit point, for instance. While a few games are only rewarding once the player beats it (and a few others, not even then), Beast makes the player proud even for completing some of the tougher sections. And that's perhaps what's fascinating me in the game.

The Bad
The difficulty level perhaps is only matched in Gods, also a port of an outstanding Amiga game troubled by poorly calculated frame rates. While not impossible per se (in fact, it's easier in some parts than the Amiga version), the game draws its absurdly high difficulty level from three sources: the close timing required to hit the waves of enemies that follow the player, some portions of level design and the complex pattern of the obstacles. While in games like Sonic the Hedgehog (arguably the only game all Mega Drive gamers played) the player is rewarded by having sharp reflexes and jump calculation skills, in Beast it's all a matter of studying the the timing and patterns of the traps (such as the thorns coming out of the ground) and enemies. However, the difference in knowing where the next enemy will come from isn't one between "losing" and "winning", more one of "surviving for a few more minutes", so reflexes and sharp decisions are still required. I've mentioned level design in the start. While the game is pretty much linear, a lot of new players will make a lot of mistakes such as starting in the wrong direction or not picking some objects up (which I won't go into details, missing them the first times around is just part of the learning), just to get killed some minutes later. Even with the cheat code on, the player must be very careful to explore every inch of the levels to avoid being stuck for missing an item.

However, the high difficulty level is there for a reason, as the game is very short, being perfectly possible to complete it in less than 30 minutes. Of course, to do so, the player has to spend a few dozens of hours learning the best ways to avoid damage or simply cheat (and even then, it will take a while), but it doesn't make a complete run less short. I guess all the graphic layers, different enemies and music were included at the expense of a larger game world (let's not forget the original game was included in two floppies), and the difficulty level was tweaked a few notches up to cover that.

The Bottom Line
Beast isn't one of those games that one can recommend, and in most cases, it's an acquired taste. Some flaws prevent the game from getting higher marks, such as some lack of detail in graphics (as the Japanese version showed, it was perfectly possible to do better and closer to the Amiga version, but I've found some of the monsters better designed in the PAL/NTSC-U version) and the strange omission of sound effects. The gameplay is penalized for having simplified controls and being extremely hard, but that's part of the charm.

Hardly one of those "must have" titles, but an interesting title from the golden years of the Amiga that was perfectly ported into a home console.

Genesis · by Luis Silva (13444) · 2006

A truly unique showcasing of the Amiga computing prowess...

The Good
Incredible graphics (for the time), stunning parallax scrolling, incredible atmosphere and artwork. State of the art music that ranges from moody ambient to heavy metal riffing, great samples and awesome changes of tempo. The groundbreaking visuals and music really dragged you into "another world".

The Bad
Linear and punishing as hell, impossibly difficult and unforgiving. Some of the animations (especially the enemies) are poorly done, no plot to speak about, the ending is anti-climatic.

The Bottom Line
A testament of the computing power of the Amiga, a milestone in Assembler programming.

Amiga · by Paolo Cumin (11) · 2005

An amazing demonstration of the Amiga's power. But as a game...?

The Good
Everyone knew that the Commodore Amiga beat the audiovisual pants off all the home computers and game consoles of the late 80's, but few games drove that fact home like Shadow of the Beast. Conceived as an answer to the superior graphics and sound found in arcade games at the time, it stands as one of the best looking and sounding side-scrollers ever made.

The graphics are truly superb... they're rich with color, and the silky-smooth multilayered background scrolling creates a dizzying pseudo-3D effect. The art direction is typical 80's Psygnosis, which means intricately detailed backgrounds with many smooth, rounded edges, and twisted, bizarre creatures. It has a distinctly European flavor (speaking as a Yank), which adds to the game's slightly surreal atmosphere.

Nothing, however, contributes to that atmosphere more than David Whittaker's moody, richly textured soundtrack. Composed entirely in the MODule format that first appeared on the Amiga, it evokes an eerie, lonely, almost otherwordly feel. The first time I wandered right from the start point into the "danger zone" and the theme music's tempo increased and suddenly developed a pounding beat was a true experience, to be sure.

The Bad
Okay, sound and graphics aside, Shadow of the Beast really isn't that good as a game. It plays like your standard side-scrolling actioner, only worse... the game is entirely linear, the difficulty is unforgiving, and the controls are stiff as all get-out. I guess that after shoving all those brilliant visuals and musical tracks into the Amiga's 512kb of RAM, there wasn't any room left for good gameplay.

You only get 12 health points and one life before your beast-man's "hearts explode" and you find yourself looking at a closeup of his festering corpse and listening to the (wonderfully composed) "awww, you're dead" music. And there are so many cheap hits and instant kills in this game that getting through it is mostly a matter of memorization, not skill. Health-restoring items are few and far between, too.

Sometimes, the "do it in order or you're screwed" linearity of the game reaches King's Quest proportions. For instance, when you're in the "Roots" level, make sure you get the power ball that lets you throw waves of energy before you fight the boss, but don't use it on any of his minions - it'll disappear, and you'll have to face him with your bare fists (and he kills you in one hit).

The Bottom Line
Shadow of the Beast is worth experiencing for the graphics and sound alone. However, I don't know how I'd feel if I'd bought this game for $50 back in 1989. At least I'd have something to "wow" my friends with when they started bragging about how wicked awesome Super Mario was.

Amiga · by Ludicrous Gibs! (38) · 2005

[ View all 4 player reviews ]

Trivia

Cancelled SNES port

There was a SNES port of the Amiga version title Super Shadow of the Beast which was developed by IGS and shown on the Summer CES 1992. However it never made it to the shelves. There is a ROM floating around the net and according to some sources it's completely playable. The main differences seem to be in difficulty, level design, and graphics in particular:

  • some blood effects were removed
  • some enemies were completely removed or redrawn, e.g. the flying skulls
  • the graveyard level is now inside a castle and the cross-like power-up looks like a magnifying glass.

A detailed list of changes can be found on schnittberichte.com (German).

Cheat code

The C64 version's cheat code is an anagram of the game's title, other than the number of spaces.

Genesis port

Like with Gods, another well-known Amiga game, the Mega Drive/Genesis port had the difficulty level increased when the refresh rate was increased from 50 Hz to 60 Hz (to match the NTSC console) without changing how long each frame was displayed, making the game faster. However, as the PAL console runs slower, the speed matches the original Amiga version more closely.

The Japanese Mega Drive version of Shadow of the Beast, while essentially based on the original Genesis port, has a number of differences. It was released by Victor Musical Industries, which had previously published the PC Engine version (developed by Psygnosis for VMI). As a result, Victor borrowed some elements from the PC Engine version (like the larger character and the more balanced gameplay) and transplanted them into the Mega Drive one. Some backgrounds (like the trees) were also retouched to lessen the tiling pattern look of the Genesis version. There is also a bit more blood in some places.

Version differences

  • Commodore 64 version was ported by DMA Design and as a default doubled number of energy making the game slightly less difficult

Manual

According to the Amiga game manual, it took:

    Fact Box -
  • Total Size: 350 screens
  • Total Memory Used: 3.5 megabytes
  • Graphics Data: 2.2 megabytes
  • Music and Sound Data: 850 kilobytes
  • Music Sample Rate: 20 kilohertz
  • Screen Update: 50 times a second
  • Max. no. of Colours on Screen: 128
  • No. of different monsters: 132
  • Maximum Sprite Size: 220 by 150 pixels (over half the size of the screen)
  • Levels of scrolling: 13 outside 2 large areas inside
  • Project Duration: 9 months

Soundtrack

In 1999 a soundtrack with various Amiga game composers under the name Immortal was released. Aside from various Amiga themes, it primarily holds the entire Shadow of the Beast game soundtrack.

Shadow of the Beast tracks include:

  • Intro
  • Eerie Forest
  • The Cavern
  • Beast's Stronghold
  • Underwater
  • Game Over

Awards

Shadow of the Beast was named #76 overall among the “150 Best Games of All Time” by Computer Gaming World Magazine (15th Anniversary Issue--November 1996).

  • Computer Gaming World
    • November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) - #76 in the “150 Best Games of All Time” list
  • EMAP Golden Joystick Award 1990
    • Winner Best 16-Bit Graphics.
  • Power Play
    • Issue 01/1990 - #3 Best Sound in 1989
    • Issue 01/1990 - #2 Best Graphics in 1989

Information also contributed by Garcia, Kaminari, Luis Silva, Martin Smith, optrirominiluikus and PCGamer77

Analytics

MobyPro Early Access

Upgrade to MobyPro to view research rankings!

Related Games

Shadow of the Beast II
Released 1990 on Amiga, Genesis, 1994 on SEGA CD...
Beast Wrestler
Released 1991 on Genesis
Beauty and the Beast
Released 1982 on Intellivision
Battle Beast
Released 1995 on Windows, Windows 3.x, Macintosh
Karous: The Beast of Re:Eden
Released 2014 on Nintendo 3DS
Beast Wars: Transformers
Released 1997 on PlayStation, Windows
Altered Beast
Released 1990 on DOS, 2010 on Windows, 2018 on Linux...
Shadow: War of Succession
Released 1994 on 3DO
Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi
Released 1990 on Genesis, Windows, 2018 on Macintosh...

Related Sites +

Identifiers +

  • MobyGames ID: 7461
  • [ Please login / register to view all identifiers ]

Contribute

Are you familiar with this game? Help document and preserve this entry in video game history! If your contribution is approved, you will earn points and be credited as a contributor.

Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Mark Papadakis.

Commodore 64 added by MetalHead. Genesis added by Tibes80. SEGA Master System added by Bock. ZX Spectrum added by Martin Smith. FM Towns, Atari ST added by Terok Nor. Amstrad CPC added by cafeine. TurboGrafx CD added by quizzley7. Lynx added by Jeanne.

Additional contributors: MAT, Jeanne, chirinea, Игги Друге, LepricahnsGold, Luis Silva, Trypticon, Patrick Bregger, mailmanppa, Jo ST.

Game added October 14, 2002. Last modified January 27, 2024.