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by Digital Leisure

Dragon's Lair was one of the most innovative games at its peak. The actual arcade game ran off a laserdisc and spawned the sequel, Space Ace. Both series were fun and a good challenge. Could the creator of Dragon's Lair strike gold again by releasing Kingdom II: Shadoan as a DVD game? NO! The only thing that they succeeded in was releasing a very bad game. For those who own a PS2, this game is a radical step in the wrong direction.

Dreams-01.jpg (2941 bytes)The object of the game is to guide Prince Lathan Kandor through the various lands of Shadoan and find the five artifacts in order to defeat the Wizard Torlock. In certain scenes, Lathan can try to perform a task that involves his spells or potions. These are indicated in the Scrying Glass, which is the central sphere in the display. Most of the moving to different lands is done with the map, which is part of the display as well. You will quickly find yourself going around in circles with this map because every location has the surrounding areas laid out differently. Once in the game, you will also find yourself seeing the map more than the actual story. The only time in the game that actually requires quick thinking is at various locations that require Lathan to make a timed decision to use a spell, choose an item or just run. Out of the two different modes of play, the time given to make a decision is generous in the "apprentice" quest. The "wizard" difficulty level does give you a shorter time to react.

Princess-01.jpg (3333 bytes)While this is not an action game that involves any real combat, Lathan can still die, and you only have three lives to finish the game with. These lives do regenerate with time though. It is really easy to die when you choose to go to a new location and it involves a trap. These traps kill Lathan without a way for you to stop it. When you die, you are sent to a riverbank on the west side of Shadoan. If this happens at a point when you are clear across the map, it adds another element of frustration that makes you want to go skeet shooting with the disc. While dying without warning is a major drawback to Shadoan, the one that hurts the most is the lack of a way to save your progress. Heck, even a password feature would have helped get you past those elusive traps.

Rohan-01.jpg (2541 bytes)Shadoan relies on very few controls. You use a total of two buttons and the D-pad to highlight the areas on the game interface to use. Quickly, you will find that the most important button is the chapter skip function. This button will be used just as much as the action button to skip through the repetitive cut scenes. There is really no way of getting controls wrong when there are so few buttons to be in control of. Having a game that was designed for any machine with the capability to play DVDs means that there are a variety of controllers that can be used to play the game. If you own a PS2 you can either use the controller or one of the many remotes that can be purchased separately. With this game needing so few buttons to play, I found that using the remotes worked better with this style of play. The same can be said if this game is played with a regular DVD remote. As for playing this game on a compatible PC, there are hotkeys that can be used for spells and actions. This use of hotkeys is not necessary, though, because of the two-button play.

Rohan2-01.jpg (3839 bytes)Visually, this game is a dinosaur. Its use of cell animation is out of its league today. Do not get me wrong, I like animation as well as anybody, but I like quality animation. Shadoan's animation is grainy and many times you can see the background behind the character twitch. The layout of the display does not interfere with the game and the layout is easy to navigate through. There are even some technical problems with this interface. There are times right near the end of a cut scene when the roses that represent your lives are visible and the outline of other items become prominent. This should not happen in any game. You think that the developers would have caught this mistake and fixed it.

Court-01.jpg (4026 bytes)Though its creators tried to bring it out of the Paleozoic age with the sound quality, they fell short of the new millenium. This game boasts that the sound is in DTS. I don't know why DTS is needed because the sounds are so dull they just add to the monotony of the game. There are many times when a character is talking their voice gets softer, making it harder to hear what they are saying.

Every aspect of this game fails to have any qualities that would even make it worth playing if it were FREE. If you are looking for a nostalgic game, try the Dragon's Lair or even the Space Ace series. Stay away from Shadoan. Please don't think that because this game is a cartoon younger kids will like it. They definitely won't want to sit through it. With its sub-Saturday-morning quality and its frustrating game play, it's best suited to be a coaster. Let it be known that you were given proper warning about this game. If you already own it, I'm sorry.

Jake Carder


Ups: Plays in any DVD-capable player; simple controls?

Downs: Shallow; not fun; bad animation; no save feature; frustrating.

System Reqs:
Sony PlayStation 2 or any standard DVD player.


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