Shadow Of The Beast

Easily one of the most graphically and sonically impressive games on the Commodore Amiga 16-Bit computer. Everyone I knew laughed at the thought of a conversion to the humble ZX Spectrum but to everyone’s surprise came a fairly decent conversion including a great 128k rendition of some of the themes.

The Game

The full storyline is to extensive to post here, however if you would like to read to it fully then I have added a separate page where you can read it in full: Shadow of the Beast – Storyline

The grounds of Necropolis were silent. The moon, low and large on the horizon, cast a cool blue light across the stony ground causing ancient statues to cast long and dark shadows into the corners. One statue in particular, a giant griffin, accounted for most of the darkness. Its wings folded behind it, arms spread wide and stretched heavenwards.

In the griffin’s arms sat a lone creature, as still and cold as its host. Scaly skin glistening in the thin light, it clutched a Globe of Seeing which it moved slowly from side to side examining its reflected features. As it did so it recalled the events of that day, the frightened humans being herded into the central courtyard, the pathetic pleas for help as they were dragged one by one to the sacrificial stone, and the final air rending screams each time the knife came down in one swift arc and the life blood ran.

He remembered a tired, resigned face being pushed towards the stone, a face that seemed of some importance to him. Yet how could that be when the lives of these people meant nothing to him? And, as the gleaming blade struck home, he recognised the agonised face. It was his father.

Critical Reaction

Commodore Amiga

The Games Machine – 96/100

A number of quality hi-res pictures add greatly to the presentation. particularly those preceding each stage, which each have an adventure-like description scrolling below them. Ingame graphics are little short of amazing. In outdoor scenes, 13 layers of parallax make up the ground and sky, each scrolling incredibly smoothly as the mythical messenger runs quickly. Indoors, there are only two layers but the foreground graphics – platforms, ladders and curious aesthetic features – are large, and, like the visuals as a whole, are stunningly defined. Stage one’s scenery is beautiful and idyllic but the monsters are of a completely different nature.

Colour and form are professionally used on each of the 132 creatures, a nasty and horrific menagerie of varied design in a nightmare world. Some of the bigger monsters are a quarter of the screen in size yet still move smoothly and are among the best ever seen in a computer game. The truly arcade-quality graphics are backed by a brilliant soundtrack, by David Whlttaker. Music has an ancient, mystical feel, dramatic and highly atmospheric, and loud arcade-like spot effects highlight the action. A ground-breaking game making full use of the Amiga, Shadow Of The Beast is technically brilliant and great fun.

ZX Spectrum

Crash – 92/100

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.

Your Sinclair – 88/100

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 world’s 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.

My Thoughts

I was utterly blown away by Shadow of the Beast when I first saw it on my friends Commodore Amiga. Right from the eerie music on the title screen this game grabs you and drags you in. But it is when you start to play the game and the graphics in motion that your jaw-drops. 13 layers of parallax scrolling with incredibly detailed graphics it just knocks your socks off. Visually and sonically this game is great and i’m sure it helped to shift quite a few Amiga computers – I certainly wanted one!

The gameplay though was rather lacking as the game was just to tough to make any significant progress. You really had to work at it and have a lot of patience – A LOT of patience. It is a great game, was it worthy of the rather high marks given to it by TGM? Probably not, but as a technical demo it’s jaw-dropping.

So what about the ZX Spectrum version then? Sure it was graphically and sonically not even close to the Amiga version and if you expected it to be you’d have been sectioned under the mental health act. Still what was there was a very playable game and in places not as hard as it’s 16-bit parent. It is by no means a classic game but it plays well and is worth a look.

The Music

Commodore Amiga – Title Screen
128k ZX Spectrum – Title Screen

About Phendrena

Father, Retro Gamer, PC Gamer.

One response »

  1. […] to look at a re-orchestration of a classic Amiga track – the title screen/intro music from Shadow of the Beast. This track is taken from the very first Immortal CD which was released in 1999! The original track […]

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