The Shadow

Super NES

Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 5

Sound: 8

Gameplay: 4

Overall: 5

Somewhat funny and very true story: Back when the movie this game is based on was released, I won a local radio contest. My prize included a Shadow T-shirt, hat, movie tickets, and a copy of this game. Of course all I cared about was the game, having a deep love for the genre and the SNES console. After a few months passed, the tickets going unused and the other items ending up at Goodwill, my game was nowhere to be found. It never got released. What does the station do? They give me a copy of "MLBPA Baseball" on the Genesis. I didn't own a Genesis at the time and it surely wasn't a beat-em-up.

Now thanks to the magic of the Internet, "The Shadow" is fully playable in all of its prototype glory. Barring some minor graphical glitches and hit detection issues (which could be bad programming, no way to tell obviously), the game is complete. It's the usual movie licensed title as the films hero battle down unfortunately named individuals one at a time as he walks right.

There's not a lot to like here, though it is overly solid (certainly not worth a 10-year wait). Cinemas conveniently interrupt the action after each stage while they follow the basic plot outline of the feature film. The beat-em-up basics are here, including a very limited move set. There are three special powers the Shadow can use, each useful in certain situations, but invisibility will likely see the most use. Enemies are rather stupid and forget immediately where you were standing when you turn on the cloaking.

Later stages allow for some nice background interaction. If you see something above in the ceiling, grab an enemy and slam 'em into it. The resulting smash is satisfying enough to break up the usual monotony of 6-hit combos. Of course, that's not all. During a few sections, the Shadow can whip out two small handguns and go to work.

These moments, which occur more frequently as the game goes on, are terribly frustrating. You cannot target two enemies at a time. The end result is obviously cheap hits from who ever is not feeling the players wrath. It ends up making the game harder than it should be. Then you need to ask yourself, "If he has two guns with unlimited ammo, why are we going through the trouble of punching people?"

Adding to the false difficulty is the woefully inaccurate hit detection. It's frustrating to watch the characters hands go right through an enemy multiple times. Usually if you start a combo, you won't have any issues. It's getting it going that brings with it all the aggravation. Might want to add that for a super hero, our friend has an awfully short reach too.

Animation, along with the rest of the graphical package, is far too under whelming. There are some nice foreground objects, even if they do obscure the action too much occasionally. Detail is high on most of the sprites, which helps in preventing any sort of slowdown, but it comes at the cost of animation. Rarely do the enemies contain more than a few frames, especially when walking/running.

Ocean pretty much mastered the art of the SNES sound chip about this time, putting out stuff like "Jurassic Park II" which should be considered a benchmark. "The Shadow" provides another great mix, likely from the movie (remember; those tickets went unused). They even included Dolby Pro Logic support. The sound effects don't do very much, but the music definitely uses the majority of the available channels. It's worth it in the end.

If super hero beat-em-ups are your thing, look for "Batman Returns." That one has everything right. Though it does show promising signs, "The Shadow" just doesn't work in the end. Maybe on a different console, but residing here on the SNES, it faces far too much (better) competition. If you have interest in the genre or got ripped off by a radio station back in 1994, then it's worth finding the ROM. Otherwise, you can do better for yourself.

Oh, and just for the record, "MLBPA Baseball" found a home a local game shop where it was traded in for some used SNES games.


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Last updated: Friday, February 25, 2005 06:47 AM