a game by Seika

Platform: NESNES

Genre: Adventure/RPG

See also: Shadowgate Games

  • Manufacturer: Kemco/Seika
  • Machine: Nintendo Entertainment System

A couple of decades ago, on a huge mainframe computer, the first text adventure was created. Since that time, these imaginative and challenging contests have become the most popular form of computer entertainment, with hundreds of adventures available for most every kind of personal computer.

Most text adventures require you to type commands. Since video-game consoles contain no keyboards, it takes no Einstein to figure out that typing on them is difficult. Lately, however, text adventures have become very sophisticated. So sophisticated, in fact, that some games not only incorporate graphics to replace some of the textual descriptions, but also use a "point and click" command-entry system, eliminating the need for a keyboard. A keyboard less computer looks a heck of a lot like a cartridge-based video-game system, doesn't it?

Shadowgate is just such a "new wave" game and represents the state-of-the-art in computer adventures. It is also the first game of its type that I've seen translated for use on a keyboard less computer, specifically the Nintendo Entertainment System.

The scenario: the wizard Lakmir has told you of the dread Warlock Lord, an evil being who is using his black magic to raise a behemoth that will destroy the world. You, as the last of a long line of kings, are the only one who can destroy the Warlock Lord and bring peace back to the world. Unfortunately, to achieve your goal you must enter and survive Shadowgate Castle.

Sound like fun? Read on.

Shadowgate's screen is divided into a series of windows. A small graphic (about a quarter of the screen) depicting your current location is in the upper left corner. On the right is a stack of "cards" showing the objects and spells in your inventory. Each card holds about a half a dozen items, and you can flip through the cards by activating the "card" command with the NES controller. Across the bottom of the screen is the command menu, which is a list of verbs including look, open, use, leave, take, close, hit, speak and save.

The play mechanics are extremely simple. Suppose you're in a room with a torch on the wall. To get the torch, you move the on-screen arrow to the word "take" and press the "A" button. You then move the arrow to the torch in the picture and press the button again. The torch disappears from the graphic and appears on your inventory card.

Similarly, to unlock a door, you would select the command "use", select the key and finally select the object on which you want to use the key (the door, stupid). This method of entering commands not only bypasses the need for a keyboard, but also eliminates the frustration of trying to figure out the exact word required by the game, a task that has driven more than one text-adventure addict to the Institute for the Potentially Nervous.

As you play Shadowgate, you must be observant, since an overlooked detail may halt your progress for hours. In order to help you, the game's text messages provide clues. For example, there's an orb that's described as being very cold. It's up to you to figure out that a cold orb will probably freeze water.

You must also pay careful attention to the graphics. Objects on the screen may be picked up and used in various ways, and not all objects are immediately evident. You have to look at everything. Even an unusual-looking rock in a wall may hold a secret.

As you may have discerned, Shadowgate is not a game for younger children. You must know how to read and be able to solve fairly tough puzzles. I would say ten is the minimum age, perhaps even 12, since ten- year-olds may get bored once they discover they have to spend more time thinking than playing.

Shadowgate is a marvelous introduction for NES owners wishing to experience this type of gaming. I only hope that it will meet with enough success to assure that many other text-adventure games will be released in this format. If you like real adventure, Shadowgate is a must.

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Shadowgate Downloads

NES Shadowgate download
  • Manufacturer: Kemco/Seika

You stand at the edge of a deep chasm. From the darkness below rise the screams of the undead.

Can you outwit and overcome the thoroughly-evil Warlock Lord? His mysterious spell holds Castle Shadowgate captive. Dozens of hidden pitfalls and nasty entities lurk in even corner.

Probe along menacing stone corridors looking for hidden passageways. Discover mysterious artifacts in dark chambers. Clues are there for those bold enough, and wise enough. Torches. Keys. Gemstones.

Slay a dragon, cross a river of fire.

But be careful. A wrong move could bring your quest to an untimely end.

A whole world of options are at your command with dynamic graphics to bring the dark mysteries of the Middle Ages to life.

The question is...are you up to the challenge of Castle Shadowgate?

reggie posted a review

The heavy gate screams open on ancient hinges. Before you, a mouldering hallway looms ominously. You have entered the world of Shadowgate. Unspeakable evil and sudden death await you at every turn. Which doorway should you choose? What should you take with you? What should you avoid touching, at all costs? These are decisions you must make, if you are to save the world from the Warlock Lord. Only you can stop the Evil One from his dread purpose: the raising of the titan Behemoth and the destruction of the land.

reggie posted a review
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