Shadow of the Beast

aka: Beast, Shadow of the Beast: Mashō no Okite, SotB
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Buy on Amiga
Buy on Commodore 64
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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.


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

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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



Average score: 77% (based on 51 ratings)


Average score: 3.1 out of 5 (based on 141 ratings with 4 reviews)

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

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.

Genesis · by Jango (6) · 2003

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 (13439) · 2006

[ View all 4 player reviews ]


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 (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


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


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


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

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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 14th, 2002. Last modified September 17th, 2023.