Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Shadow of the Beast

Victor Musical Industries / Psygnosis / TTI (US)
Super CD-ROM

If you've read one article about TG-CD Shadow of the Beast, you've read them all. All speak of how Turbo Beast looks quite nice but can't quite compare with the mighty Amiga version and its billion layers of parallax. And all then forgive Turbo Beast its visual "shortcomings" because it's not only playable but also conquerable thanks to being the only rendition that features decent collision detection. Having segued into the positive elements, they then mention the best part, the incredible music that makes the game a must-have regardless of how one feels about it otherwise. Yep, any schmuck on the net can tell you that stuff.

Sad as it may be, I have even less to report than the typical schmuck. I've never played any other version of this sidescrolling quest game, and I don't have any desire to, so that fancy in-depth-comparison stuff is out of the question here. I can confirm that the graphics are quite nice, at least when you're outdoors, running across fields and graveyards; enter a cave or castle, and everything becomes flat and drab. I can also verify claims that the game is beatable, as I've given it a few sound thrashings (though not without taking some cheap lumps here and there). And the audio is indeed of extremely high quality, with a composition or two even proving memorable, though I've never felt compelled to listen to the tunes outside of playing the game.

So Turbo Beast sounds very nice, looks good, and plays decently enough. It does not offer drama or boss monsters of the same unforgettable sort as Shape Shifter's, nor does it have the playability or charisma of Dragon's Curse. But it's a cheap, competent member of an uncrowded genre, making it an easy title to recommend.

There are many different kinds of enemies, but most of them are simple sorts who either charge straight ahead or hop around pointlessly. Your punches seem rather weak, but they'll do for taking out most of these chumps.

There are a few tough monsters to deal with, however; and if the quick-and-wily types surround you, they can kill you very quickly.

The SotB world isn't very large, but there are plenty of passageways and corridors to explore. The emphasis is never really on puzzle solving; you just need to track down certain items before arriving at the obstacle or boss that requires you to use them.

Take your time while you're exploring. Dashing about recklessly will either land you in situations where you're terribly outnumbered or expose you to surprise hazards (such as these huge hands that pop out of the ground).

Forget about that patience stuff when you're dealing with bosses. Battles of attrition will end in your favor if you've got a decent amount of health left and the proper items in hand. Obviously, it's not a bad idea to duck sometimes.

The gameplay isn't all about running, punching, and turtling. You eventually find a gun, which fires shots that are much more powerful than the punch attack, and there's even a part where you fly around via jetpack.

Quick little cinemas are presented here and there. They're pretty goofy and don't contribute much to the experience, but the animation is very impressive.

Well, this is an interesting final confrontation. Avoid the rock and punch the toe.

The opening cinema was modified to fit into a small window for the US version. The full-screen imagery in the PCE game comes at a cost: the loading times are quite bad.

The ending, too, was changed up.

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