Shadowgate Classic (Gameboy Color) - Ramblin' Review
Ahhh, Shadowgate. The third, but possibly most popular entry in a series of games built on the MacVenture engine. A what is now considered classic point and click adventure game engine, that produced an NES port successful enough to warrant ports of "Deja Vu" and "The Uninvited".
While I own, and have played the NES version, I wanted to review the Gameboy color port because I feel it adds an intimacy to the game that you don't get with a home console or computer.
You start the game off with a brief introduction to the story- a wizard gas teleported you, the last in a line of wizard-kings, to the Castle Shadowgate to prevent the Warlock Lord from summoning the Behemoth and destroying the world.
Immediately, we are in front of a door that we can go through, but that opens upon a hallway containing two locked doors. So, we need to find a key, and like most point and click adventure games, that means backtracking and a lot of trial and error.
When I initially tried to play this game, I gave up after about twenty minutes because I couldn't figure out where the key was. I'll give you a freebie, here, you OPEN the skull above the door. Another freebie? Take all the torches you find. They'll act as a health timer, and allowing them to extinguish will result in you tripping and breaking your neck.
The appeal of all point and click adventure games is to figure out the game's puzzles on your own through lots of investigation of your surroundings, and trial & error. Shadowgate provides that, and the Gameboy color version makes it feel relatively natural to do so in spite of not having a mouse.
The dpad cursor moves around pretty well, although you really have to fine tune any movements required to click on a smaller object.
Clicking is done with the A button, and B button will cancel the last action you chose. This comes in handy when you are trying to move through an exit but "use" is still selected from using the key to open the door, for example.
The reason I chose this game, despite it not necessarily having any outright terrifying themes, is that the ever present threat of a wrong turn it bad decision resulting in instant death helps create an atmosphere of tension that we associate with horror. There are a few instances of violent descriptions of your death, or grotesque imagery, even some slight jump acares involving dragons.
The game has a little but of combat, but it is much the same as solving the other puzzles- you select the appropriate item from your inventory, sometimes combining it with another, and then select the action you wish to take.
There is even a Sphinx to ask you a riddle. One that changes anytime you play the game. It is the only thing that adds a slight bit of replayability, but it also means that it's a good to just carry around most items that you can to give to the Sphinx to avoid any unnecessary backtracking.
Remember to check in tomorrow for another horror-themed game review for my 31 days of Halloween celebration!