Shadow of the Beast 1 logo

PSYGNOSIS £34.95 * Joystick

As a nipper, it's not the most pleasant experience in the world to be kidnapped by a bunch of wicked mages and taken away for a life of slavery and misery, serving the evil Beast Lord.

Still, that's happened to you. And to ensure faithfulness to the master, the mages have imposed years of hypnosis and brainwashing. As a reward for all those years of service, they have turned you into a powerful, agile and swift half-human creature with few feelings and little compassion, especially for the humans who must often be herded together for the ritual sacrifices.

Until one day there you are, sitting watching the humans being taken to the altar, when suddenly the face of one particular old man stirs some long-suppressed memories. But it's too late for you to act when it dawns on you that the little old man is in fact your father. Now you've turned against you masters and are determined to destroy the Beast Lord himself.

The game starts with the player controlling the creature: the idea is to guide him through the 350 screens of (mostly) horizontally-scrolling platform action until the final showdown with the lord.

As you might guess, the Lord has discovered your rebellion and has instructed the mages to send all manner of 'orrid creatures against you. Contact with any of these creatures causes you to lose energy (you start with an energy count of 12) until death forces a restart of the game.
There are also some nasty traps that tend to sap energy, including huge spikes that come up from the ground and (later) down from ceilings. To counter the creatures all you need is a well-timed and well-aimed kick or punch: and to counter the traps all you need is a little bit of good timing and good jumping.

Unfortunately, not all the creatures are so easily dealt with. Some of the monsters can only be killed after you've collected an extra weapon and many of the traps will only be avoided by walking straight into them and then remembering where they are on a later try. Just as much to the point, progress in the game is not always straightforward either. Sometimes keys have to be found to unlock certain doors, and the keys are always miles away from the door!

Things aren't all so black though, there are the extra weapons for a start and there are the occasional bottles of potion that can be picked up to restore either some or all of your energy. Make it to the Beast Lord and you'll find that your troubles are only just beginning.

GRAPHICS AND SOUND

The animation, the sprites, the backgrounds and the parallax scrolling are all superb. This is the sort of stuff we want! Add some great, atmospheric music and effects and you're left with one of the best-looking and -sounding games to have appeared in recent months. A true audio-visual treat.

JUDGEMENT

What the graphics and sound promise, the gameplay doesn't quite match. It's tough and will take you a long time to complete, but the actual game style is very old and very uninspired. Still, make some progress in the game and you'll find it gets very addictive, as you struggle to make it to the next screen or solve the next puzzle.

There are, however, some very annoying features, not least the fact that you've only the one life: which means you have to restart from the very beginning every time. Plus there's the frustrating end and beginning sequences which are inescapable.


BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

Psygnosis have been at the forefront of good-looking and sounding Amiga games for well over two years now, ever since Barbarian first appeared and wowed the public, if not all the reviewers. One of the biggest criticisms of the game was the fact that it was little more than an old 8-bit style platform game with 16-bit graphics.
Unfortunately, SOTB still suffers to a greater or lesser degree from the same problems. The game may be massive, it may have fantastic graphics and sound and the puzzles may be more complex, but it's still just building on ideas that are five or six years old, and not stretching them any further.

Then there ar the simnple frustrating features that could so easily have been avoided, like the unavoidable deaths and the tedious end and start of game pauses. More time and effort on the fundamental design would have turned this outrageously good-looking game into one that was an absolute corker to play as well.
As it is, the effects are of such a high standard that they just show up the basic design's failings. To cap it all, the asking price of £35 is way over the top, even with a 'free' T-shirt.


Shadow of the Beast 1 logo Amiga Joker Hit

Der britische Nobel-Label "Psygnosis" holt zum grossen Paukenschlag aus: In 350 Screens warten 132 verschiedene Monster darauf, eins auf die Birne zu bekommen!

Der Spass fängt hier schon beim Auspacken an: Die überdimensionierte Box mit dem wunderschönen Cover fördert neben den zwei Spieldisketten und dem englischen Anleitungsheftchen ein T-Shirt zutage, in dem man sich durchaus sehen lassen kann. Kaum ist die Startdiskette im Schacht, geht das vergnügen weiter: Allerfeinster Sound von David Whittaker (ziemlich ausgeflippt, irgendwie psychedelisch...) untermalt die obligatorischen zwei Titelscreens. Danach heisst's Diskette wechseln - eventuell vorhandene Zusatzlaufwerke erkannt das Programm nicht an.

An dieser Stelle kurz die Vorgeschichte: Vor langer Zeit entführten die "Priester der Bestie" einen Knaben, fütterten ihn mit allerlei Zaubermixturen und setzten das Kind jahrelang unter Hypnose. Als der Jüngling endlich geschnallt hatte, was da so ablief (ein Blick in den Spiegel sollte genügen: der Kerl sieht aus wie ein Ziegenbock!), war er verständlicherweise ziemlich sauer... Der Spieler darf nun die gestresste Geiss durch 13 Level zur wohlverdienten Rache führen.

Gottlob hat sich auch bei Psygnosis zwischenzeitlich eine vernünftige Joystick-Steuerung durchgesetzt. Es steht zwar nun ein Minimum an Schlägen (links/rechts und oben/unten) zur Verfügung, jedoch tut das ausnahmsweise dem Vergnügen kein Abbruch. Die Wanderung durch die besonders liebevoll gestalteten Screens gerät zum Augen- und Ohrenschmaus: Stimmungsvolle Bilder in herrlichen Pastelltönen (128 Farben!) und ständig wechselnde Melodien lassen niemals Langeweile aufkommen.

Aber der Clou kommt noch: Shadow of the Beast kann mit dem besten Scrolling aufwarten, das der Amiga je gesehen hat. Mit 50 Bildern pro Sekunde erreicht das Game echte Arcade-Qualität! Nur die Animation hat offensichtlich unter dem Aufwand, der beim (komplett ruckfreien!) Scrolling in mehreren Ebenen betrieben wurde, etwas gelitten - das eigene Sprite bewegt sich eckig, die Gegner so gut wie gar nicht.

Das Gameplay gibt sich etwas hausbacken: Man läuft durch die Gegend, erklimmt Leitern, findet Potions (die nützlichen sehen genauso aus wie die ekligen, da hilft nur ein gutes Gedächtnis!), Waffen, oder Schlüssel zu geheimen Levels und verkloppt massenweise Monster. 12 Feindberührungen kann der Bock einstecken ehe er das Zeitliche segnet. Dennoch: Die perfekte Inszinierung bringt's einfach!

Mit Shadow of the Beast haben sich Martin Edmonson und Paul Howarth, die auch schon Ballistix programmiert haben, selbst ein Denkmal gesetzt. Allerdings haben die beiden angedroht, in Zukunft auf Konsolen umzusteigen, sollte die Sache mit den Raubkopien auf den 16-Bittern kein Ende nehmen. Das wäre ein herber Verlust, denn "Beast" ist eines der ganz wenigen Spiele, die den Amiga bis an die Grenzen ausreizen! (ml)


Shadow of the Beast 1 logo

Psygnosis
Price: £34.99

For something this low on hype, Beast has an above-average price. But with this big a package, it's not surprising they had to bump up the price a little. The box itself is a lot larger than usual, exactly twice the size of a usual Psyclapse box. In one side of the box you get the game and all the blurb, plus a poster of some ORIGINAL ROGER DEAN artwork. In the other side of the box you get an extra large full colour Beast T-Shirt, with yet another SPECIALLY COMMISIONED PIECE OF ROGER DEAN ARTWORK!!! I don't know about you, but, arguably, two whole original pieces of Roger Dean artwork for only £35 is pretty good going. But what about the game?

Everything about Beast is as lavish as it possibly could be. The plot isn't a plot, it's a novel. You were stolen from your parents by the evil lords, who then proceeded to make sacrifices of your entire village. Then, by using strange potions, they transformed you from a normal human to a strange, disfigured creature, with incredibly enhanced speed and strength. They also wiped your mind, so that you wouldn't remember your parents. Or so they thought...

Slowly, you have remembered. And now you're out for a spot of revenge. This is where you, the player, take over. Race through over 350 scrolling screens of pure beat-'em-up action.

The graphics are lavish in every sense of the word. One thing that has been stressed time and time again is that the game was designed as an Amiga game, and so pushes the capabilities of the Amiga far more than a straightforward port would. For a start there are over 127 colours on screen at once, and on the outside scenes there are no less than 13 layers of perfect parallax, in both the ground and the sky. The sprites are large and gorgeously defined, but it's the backdrops and the incidental stills which steal the show. At last we have an Amiga product that's approaching what the Amiga is really capable of.

The sound is truly brilliant. Easily the best thing David Whitaker has ever written, over 900k of the stuff, and all of it sampled directly from a KORG Ml keyboard.

The only thing this game isn't amazingly lavish on is the game play. There just isn't enough variety. You can only move in four directions (use of ladders included) and the only move you can make is a punch left or a punch right. Now, being as this is a beat-em-up, this is a bit of a pity.

Shadow of the Beast has superb sound and graphics - perhaps the best ever on a game. What it is limited on, though, is gameplay. Nevertheless, a fantastic game. Shadow of the Beast may not be a name that will be on the lips of our tongues in five years time, but for the moment it sure seems stunning.


Shadow of the Beast 1 logo

Psygnosis, Amiga £34.95

The temple Necropolis casts a horrific shadow across its alien world. The courtyard is regularly sluiced with blood from the mass slaughter of humans at its sacrificial stone. One of the participants in the Beast Lord's appalling blood-letting is the warrior-messenger, a goat-headed creature. Yet once he was an innocent child, abducted by the Beast Lord and turned into a monster by his mages. For many years he has served the Beast Lord selflessly, but now his own parents have gone to the stone, stirring long suppressed memories...

You are the goat-warrior and your quest is bloody vengeance. You start on an empty plain with the Beast Lord's airships floating overhead. To the left there's a tree with a doorway to take you down into a cavern, a labyrinth of platforms, ladders and all sorts of monsters. Also here are some keys, which might be useful for the labyrinthine castle to the right.

You start off with twelve lives which can very easily be lost. As you explore more lives can be found, along with 'don't touch' levers, a laser gun and a jetpack. Some weapons, such as an electrical bolt last only a set time and must be used on the right monster if you're to progress. Get far enough and you'll find potions which restore all your lives, but it's no easy task to find them.


Phil King 'The ultimate in entertainment software' turns out to be a large, but not massive arcade adventure which mainly consists of timing your punches against masses of enemies. A very high level of difficulty substitutes for any real depth. At first this causes frustration, but after playing the game for quite a while it began to grow on me. A real sense of achievement comes from completing a section, and with five huge zones and a total of 350 screen, completing the game is an immense challenge. Although not quite the mega-game expected, Beast is beautifully presented and extremely playable.
Stuart Wynne In one way the £35 price tag is almost justified, the game is so tough and long-winded you need that price to force you back. Play Beast well enough and it rewards you with new opponents, but starting again takes 90 seconds with disk access and compulsory intro tune. And it's a long fight back to where you were. Gameplay is no great advance over 8-bit arcade-adventures; run about, punch baddies, work out enemy attack patterns and collect the goodies. But the 350 screen map is 16-bit size, as is presentation with a superb soundtrack and brilliant backgrounds. The parallax scrolling above ground is great, but some of the monsters are mediocre. Initially the price and difficulty make Beast disappointing, but persistence reveals an above average game, if not a mega one.