From left to right: Swedish,
American, and French versions
A moderately popular adventure game that began as an ICOM game for the
being ported to the NES with upgraded graphics and music (along with
two of their other adventure games, Deja Vu and Uninvited, which all
utilize the same engine). The
game is notorious for its puzzles - the solutions are often very
obvious or downright silly. For instance, you'll have to
fight a wyvern at one point to gain a necessary item, but none of your
conventional weapons will harm it. Instead you have to grab a
star from the star map in the observatory and throw it; this results in
it turning into a fireball that annihilates the monster. Still,
there were examples of goofier puzzles in adventure games of that era
(Maniac Mansion's 'wax fruit' puzzle comes to mind).
Shadowgate is driven by a verb-based menu, consisting of eight commands
and a small "map" pointing out all of the room's exits. In the
upper right-hand corner is a list of all items and spells in your
inventory, and on the left is your view of the current screen.
Also notable is that you'll see a torch burning at the corner of your
inventory cards; if your torch goes out you'll die immediately.
For this reason, you'll want to collect all of the torches you come
across, and light a new one once your current torch begins running low
(the music will change to a sinister-sounding tune shortly before this
Sometimes, you must use your torch to
solve puzzles as well
In addition to finding and using items, you'd also have to utilize a
number of spells to make your way through. For instance, the
"EPOR" spell pictured above causes the nearby rope to raise up to the
small hole in the ceiling, granting you access to the room above (seen
to the right).
The library, which you'll find about midway through the game.
Here you'll find several magical spells that you'll need for the
puzzles ahead. It's also notorious for the music that plays
there. As tsr put it, "it sounds like something out of Speed
Aside from that tune, though, the rest is actually pretty catchy and
matches the atmosphere of the game pretty well. Here's one of my
favorite tunes from the game.
As with most adventure games, you'll have to solve at least oen riddle
along the way. Shadowgate is no exception. The sphinx's
riddle would vary from game to game, having about six different
possible answers, and you'd have to bring him the item he was hinting
at in order to continue upstairs.
A cute little hellhound
And now for a bit of trivia about the game:
- The Swedish
version of the game is rather infamous due to being nearly
the English European version. The only indications were a small
letter on the corner of the cartridge sticker ("A" for English, "B" for
Swedish) and a sticker on the box reading "Swedish
Version". The latter only appeared on the first printing of
cartridges, which resulted in more confusion among buyers.
- A sequel to Shadowgate was planned for the SNES' CD-based addon,
never saw the light of day due to deals that fell through with
Philips (resulting in the ill-fated CD-I) and Sony (which triggered the
creation of the Playstation). However, a few ideas from the game
were carried over to Shadowgate: Trials of the Four Towers for the
One of my favorite death scenes
One-line Synopsis: Slightly on the
short side, but still a great adventure game for the NES.