1 player, horizontal game
Atari Corp., for the Atari Lynx
The Beast is back! SHADOW OF THE BEAST for the Lynx is -- no surprise -- a conversion of the popular Psygnosis computer game. You play an inhuman demon, stripped of your human identity by the dreaded Beast Lord, and who has just now learned of your lost heritage. Now driven by rage and revenge, you must run, jump, and fight through a number of multidirectional scrolling stages to destroy the fiend and rest your soul. Along the way, you will unravel puzzles and hunt for tools and weapons, but an army of minions and many traps stand in your way.
The original version of BEAST was notorious for being incredibly difficult, and this version is just as hard; it is one of the toughest Lynx games you can buy today. You have only one life, and your lifeblood is quickly whittled away by relentless attacks and sheer drops. The game offers three continues, but there is no way to save a game or to skip earlier stages. The game is immensely large, with dozens and dozens of places to explore, and players are advised to allocate lots of free time for this title. Simple controls allow you to jump, attack, and select weapons, though you cannot instantly change directions.
What elevates SHADOW OF THE BEAST from being another rehash of DONKEY KONG is its adventuring aspects. While there are platforms to jump and enemies to destroy, blindly going forward will get you nowhere. Instead, the only way to make progress is to thoroughly explore each area. The adventuring aspects of this game are simple and very linear. Each problem has one path to the proper solution, and deviations from that are harder or simply impossible. Also, some areas require prior knowledge, which you can get only by experience from earlier games. To be fair, this game pulls no sudden surprises; when you die, for instance, you know exactly what mistakes led to your demise.
The graphics on BEAST are some of the best ever seen on a Lynx. Fantastic use of color and detail makes for realistic characters and backgrounds, topped off with fine, multilayered parallex scrolling. Your on-screen personna runs, turns, and jumps with fluid, lifelike animation, and many of the game's antagonists are equally well done. The game sounds are slightly above average, though they do not come too often. Much better, though, are the many background tunes running throughout the game, all of which are terrific, atmospheric, and haunting. You can press Option 2 to turn them off, but you won't want to...
SHADOW OF THE BEAST hits the Lynx without losing any of the relentless challenge from the original. It is an audio-video feast, but the game's high difficulty level and gameplay may turn off some players. Still, if you relish a serious, take-no-prisoners video game, this title is just the ticket.
GAMEPLAY: 7.0 GRAPHICS: 9.0 SOUND: 8.5 OVERALL: 7.5