Shadow of the Beast
is a side-scrolling platform
A platform game is a video game characterized by requiring the player to jump to and from suspended platforms or over obstacles . It must be possible to control these jumps and to fall from platforms or miss jumps...
A PC game, also known as a computer game, is a video game played on a personal computer, rather than on a video game console or arcade machine...
produced by Reflections Interactive
Ubisoft Reflections Ltd., formerly known as Reflections Interactive, is a video game developer based in Newcastle, United Kingdom. The studio focuses on racing games and it is best known for creating the award winning Driver series.-History:...
and published by Psygnosis in 1989
-Notable releases:* October 3, Brøderbund releases the Prince of Persia game, the first in a series of games, noted for its advancements in animation....
. The original version was released for the Commodore Amiga, but the game has been ported to many other systems. The original Amiga release cost £35, an unheard of price for a video game in that era, but it did include a T-shirt in the box, that had a print of the box's artwork on.
Psygnosis had published numerous side scrollers with high quality graphics prior to the release of Shadow of the Beast (most notably Obliterator
Obliterator is a side-scrolling arcade adventure computer game published by Psygnosis in 1988.-Summary:The game was programmed by David H. Lawson and its graphics were made by Garvan Corbett and Jim Ray Bowers...
). Shadow of the Beast, however, was considered revolutionary because its graphics, with many more colours on screen and up to twelve levels of parallax scrolling
Parallax scrolling is a special scrolling technique in computer graphics, popularized in the 1982 arcade game Moon Patrol. In this pseudo-3D technique, background images move by the camera slower than foreground images, creating an illusion of depth in a 2D video game and adding to the immersion...
backdrops, were of a level rarely if ever seen before in action games. It was also notable for its atmospheric score composed by David Whittaker that used high-quality instrument samples.
The first Beast
The first game's story is about a man named Aarbron who was kidnapped as a child and corrupted through magic into a monstrous warrior-servant for the evil beast lord Maletoth. The creature's memory of his human life returns when he watches a man being executed, whom he later recognizes as his father. This prompts Aarbron to seek revenge on Maletoth.
The box artwork of the game, like many Psygnosis releases of the time, was created by fantasy artist Roger Dean, in a style reminiscent of his Yes
Yes are an English rock band who achieved worldwide success with their progressive, art, and symphonic style of rock music. Regarded as one of the pioneers of the progressive genre, Yes are known for their lengthy songs, mystical lyrics, elaborate album art, and live stage sets...
album cover artwork.
Most reviews were highly positive, although reviewers complained that the game was too difficult and that the game suffered from a focus on style over substance. Regardless, it became a hit and spawned two sequels. Because the game was built for the Amiga's powerful graphics and sound capabilities, ports on other gaming platforms are generally considered less attractive by fans of the game, and such, make the Amiga version the most desired, or 'definitive' version.
There were two sequels for the game: Shadow of the Beast II in 1990
-Notable releases:*Bonk's Adventure is released for NEC's TurboGrafx-16 and is the first US appearance of Bonk, the mascot of the TurboGrafx-16.*February 12 — Nintendo releases the NES game Super Mario Bros. 3 in North America...
and Shadow of the Beast III in 1992
-Events:-Notable releases:* Gremlin Graphics releases Zool, Amiga's answer to Mario and Sonic. It goes on to become the best selling Commodore Amiga game, boosting the already popular computer to be the leading gaming machine in Europe....
. The former was again ported to a number of platforms.
Shadow of the Beast II
Shadow of the Beast II finds the hero in half-beast form, wandering the lands of Karamoon in search of his kidnapped sister. She had been taken away from her mother's cottage by the dragon-form of the Beast Mage, Zelek, servant to Maletoth. Along the way, Aarbron befriends the wise dragon Barloom and must defeat the evil dragon Ishran. Tree Pygmies in the forest and the goblin
A goblin is a legendary evil or mischievous illiterate creature, a grotesquely evil or evil-like phantom.They are attributed with various abilities, temperaments and appearances depending on the story and country of origin. In some cases, goblins have been classified as constantly annoying little...
s in the Crystal Caverns serve as interactive, complicated foes. For example, a bottle of booze picked up at the Karamoon oasis must be given to the goblin jailer to free Aarbron from his cell. Only after Aarbron gives the old man his ring and his parchment does he obtain a spell powerful enough to harm Zelek.
The game initially received praise for its high level cosmetics, although graphically inferior to the first game lacking the groundbreaking multi-layer paralax scrolling, it still provided much eye candy for the player and Tim Wright
Tim Wright , alias CoLD SToRAGE, is a Welsh video game music composer most known for his work in video game soundtracks such as Shadow of the Beast II & III, Agony, Lemmings, Wipeout and Colony Wars....
's soundtrack succeeded in creating a grim and sinister atmosphere, particularly the emotional 'death scene' music with its synth layer and sampled electric guitar melody which created a stunning tragic mood. According to Tim Wright, that melody was derived from a short cue heard in an episode of Miami Vice
Miami Vice is an American television series produced by Michael Mann for NBC. The series starred Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas as two Metro-Dade Police Department detectives working undercover in Miami. It ran for five seasons on NBC from 1984–1989...
The game itself is very difficult, and with no ability for the player to continue if killed, many felt that Psygnosis had neglected to consider the players who wanted it to be easier. For example, in several of the game's puzzles the player only received one attempt at solving it. This meant that if the player got the puzzle wrong, then he or she had to restart from the very beginning of the game. Another complaint was that the game was programmed in such a way as to allow players to get ahead of themselves by entering certain areas of the game without having first obtained the necessary equipment beforehand. Thus, many players believed they had no option but to cheat in order to see more than a fraction of it, by asking the first Pygmy to his right about "ten pints".
As in the first game, the cover art for Shadow of the Beast II was created by Roger Dean and the game was packaged with a promotional black T-Shirt that featured Dean's artwork.
Shadow of the Beast III
The final chapter of the saga, Shadow of the Beast III was released for the Amiga in 1992. In this game, Aarbron has finally regained his human shape but must defeat Maletoth once and for all to become fully human. It did not get as much attention as its predecessors, in spite of the overwhelmingly positive reviews, with most praising the improvements in gameplay and toning down of the difficulty level. Its graphics and sound - though still high quality - were not revolutionary any more in 1992. Beast III had four distinct stages instead of one big area. The game placed less of an emphasis on the action elements so prominent in the first two games, instead preferring a more cerebral approach. The Beast III package did not contain a T-shirt, but rather a badge with a game logo in its place.
The soundtrack of the first Beast game by David Whittaker consists of twelve tracks. They are similar in style and have a new-age like sound.
The track names are:
- Inside the Tree
- The Power Orb
- The Well
- Aarbron's Revenge
- To the Castle
- In the Dark Passages
- Beyond the Mind and Reality
- The Thing
- Game Over
The full soundtrack to the first Beast game was arranged, studio recorded and released in 1999, on an Amiga music compilation CD entitled Immortal.
The music for Beast 2 & 3 was composed and produced by Tim Wright. These titles featured a more extensive soundtrack and utilised ethnic samples taken from among other sources the same Korg M1 synthesizer that was sampled by David Whittaker for the original game (although in this case, it was the rack-mounted version the Korg M1/R).
Beast 2 contained a total of 17 tracks, most notable of which are the title theme and the game over theme, both of which feature real sampled electric guitars.
Beast 3 contained a total of 24 tracks again featuring ethnic instrumentation, but this time dabbling with the addition of some more synthetic sounds. The tracks in neither Beast 2 nor Beast 3 have been formally named by the composer, they are generally referred to by their location within the game.
The FM-Towns and PC Engine Super CD-ROM ports of Shadow of the Beast features a soundtrack arranged by D.C. Productions Ltd. (Chris Howlett and Ian Henderson).
After Shadow of the Beasts enormous success on the Amiga, it was ported to almost every other computer and video games
A console game is a form of interactive multimedia used for entertainment. The game consists of manipulable images generated by a video game console, and displayed on a television or similar audio-video system. The game itself is usually controlled and manipulated using a handheld device connected...
console of the time. Namely, the Atari ST
The Atari ST is a home/personal computer that was released by Atari Corporation in 1985 and commercially available from that summer into the early 1990s. The "ST" officially stands for "Sixteen/Thirty-two", which referred to the Motorola 68000's 16-bit external bus and 32-bit internals...
, Amstrad CPC
The Amstrad CPC is a series of 8-bit home computers produced by Amstrad between 1984 and 1990. It was designed to compete in the mid-1980s home computer market dominated by the Commodore 64 and the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, where it successfully established itself primarily in the United Kingdom,...
, Commodore 64
The Commodore 64 is an 8-bit home computer introduced by Commodore International in January 1982.Volume production started in the spring of 1982, with machines being released on to the market in August at a price of US$595...
, ZX Spectrum
The ZX Spectrum is an 8-bit personal home computer released in the United Kingdom in 1982 by Sinclair Research Ltd...
, SNES - unreleased
The Super Nintendo Entertainment System is a 16-bit video game console that was released by Nintendo in North America, Europe, Australasia , and South America between 1990 and 1993. In Japan and Southeast Asia, the system is called the , or SFC for short...
, Mega Drive/Genesis
The Sega Genesis is a fourth-generation video game console developed and produced by Sega. It was originally released in Japan in 1988 as , then in North America in 1989 as Sega Genesis, and in Europe, Australia and other PAL regions in 1990 as Mega Drive. The reason for the two names is that...
, Sega Master System
The is a third-generation video game console that was manufactured and released by Sega in 1985 in Japan , 1986 in North America and 1987 in Europe....
, Atari Lynx, FM-Towns and PC-Engine TurboCD. There even was an Atari 8-bit
The Atari 8-bit family is a series of 8-bit home computers manufactured from 1979 to 1992. All are based on the MOS Technology 6502 CPU and were the first home computers designed with custom coprocessor chips...
version in the works. The PC-Engine TurboCD version was the last to be released. The PC-EngineTurboCD version and FM-Towns (titled Shadow Of The Beast Complete) both had enhanced in-game graphics, animated intro and an enhanced studio quality CD soundtrack, not in any of the other ports.
Sega Mega Drive/Genesis
The Sega Mega Drive/Genesis port is considered by some to be one of the hardest video games ever made. Particularly to North American audiences, this is due to a sloppy conversion to the North American region; the original game had a 50 Hz refresh rate, but all North American Sega Genesis games had to have a 60 Hz refresh rate in North America due to being made for NTSC
NTSC, named for the National Television System Committee, is the analog television system that is used in most of North America, most of South America , Burma, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines, and some Pacific island nations and territories .Most countries using the NTSC standard, as...
televisions. The conversion team did not change the amount of time each frame remained on screen when the refresh rate was increased to 60 Hz, making it run 16.7% faster than the original (this problem is absent when the game is played on a European Mega Drive with 50 Hz refresh rate, however). Many gamers struggled to complete it after its release, but due to the incredibly high difficulty level with no continues available, very few achieved this goal until Sega revealed the invincibility cheat in January 1992. As if to make up for this, the Japanese Mega Drive version not only ran at the correct speed but had enhanced in-game graphics as well as a toned down difficulty setting though the game still lacked continues.
Shadow of the Beast II has also been ported, albeit to fewer platforms. These are the Atari ST and FM-Towns computers, as well as the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, and Sega Mega-CD consoles. The Mega Drive version suffers from distorted sound as the volume is too high. The Mega-CD port of the game had drastic changes made to it, the most noticeable being a new soundtrack complete with voice acted dialogue sequences and added FMVs. The in-game graphics were also slightly enhanced, and some areas of the game were redesigned to be fairer than the original.
Despite the success of the first two games, Shadow of the Beast III was not ported to any other system, and remains an Amiga exclusive, although a Sega Mega Drive version was considered and even developed at some point, with Matt Furniss
Matt Furniss is a video game sound artist. Matt's music and sound effects can be found in many computer and console video games.-Video Game Audio Credits :...
tasked as the Mega Drive conversion composer.
Shadow of the Beast and Shadow of the Beast II were reviewed in 1991 in Dragon
Dragon is one of the two official magazines for source material for the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game and associated products, the other being Dungeon. TSR, Inc. originally launched the monthly printed magazine in 1976 to succeed the company's earlier publication, The Strategic Review. The...
#169 by Patricia Hartley, and Kirk Lesser in "The Role of Computers" column. The reviewers gave both games 5 out of 5 stars.