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GF! Archival Version Copyright 1995-2004

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by Kemco / Infinite Ventures

Ups:Unique gameplay; good puzzles; story; graphics.
Downs: Too short; no action; Nintendo fog and Nintendo cutscenes.
System Reqs:
Nintendo 64, memory card

Room2.jpg (2893 bytes)Most of the games released on the Nintendo 64 in the last few months have been letdowns (OK, I’m still really bitter about Superman the superflop). But, it seems that the people at Nintendo have been planning on releasing a number of computer and computer-type games (StarCraft, Command and Conquer, Quake II, Duke Nukem: Zero Hour, and even more). Their tactic will probably work; these computer games, the cream of the crop, are already bestsellers. The question is, can these keyboard and 3-D accelerator reliant computer games stand the switch to console? I’m guessing that although they will not be the same, or as good, as they are on the computer, Nintendo will have no problem selling them.

Churchyard4.jpg (3258 bytes)Shadowgate, just released for the N64, is totally unique for a console game. Although the original Shadowgate came out on the NES, this one has the feel of a computer puzzle game. Shadowgate straddles the line between Myst and Eleventh Hour-style games and fantasy RPGs. You play Del, the hapless halfling, in first person. In the opening of the game, your caravan gets ransacked by thieves and you find yourself in castle Shadowgate’s dungeon with absolutely nothing. By the end of the game you will have collected about fifty items and saved the world from pure evil. The traditional fantasy environment lends itself to an in-depth and fairly exciting story and game.

Keeper1.jpg (3468 bytes)One of the nicest things about Shadowgate is the ultra-smooth control. It has virtually the same controls as Turok; the joystick controls your head (field of vision) and the yellow directional buttons control movement (forward, backward, and side to side). In Turok these controls allowed for fast movement and gunplay; in Shadowgate they make it easy to crawl around looking for that one item you must have missed. It is a little weird to have such great movement in a game with virtually no action, but who can complain? I was also impressed with the graphics. The Nintendo mist was kept to a minimum and the textures were magnificent. I was hoping for nicer cut-scenes, but then I remembered this is a N64 game and that I'm lucky that they're as nice as they are. The cut-scenes were in game play graphics, but generally had a lot more going on in them. Almost the entire game takes place within the Shadowgate castle and its four towers, but there was great diversity in the interior graphics, making navigation inside much easier. I only wish there had been a bit more color. The grays and browns of everything felt a bit oppressive during my hours of gameplay.

Trial1.jpg (2787 bytes)Shadowgate is essentially a puzzle game, but the puzzles relate to the ever-evolving storyline. Without its complex, compelling story, Shadowgate would probably be a game to miss, but as it is it takes the adventure-puzzle genre to a new level. A lot of the game revolves around finding and reading books. It may sound boring but it's actually anything but. Your character must find his place in the history of Shadowgate castle and the four towers by studying books and talking to ghosts. I enjoyed the difficulty level on the puzzles. At times I was challenged, but I never thought about giving up. Most puzzles were thoughtful, though a few were the "try everything you have" kind of problems. I found that it is best, and most certainly quickest, played as a group. My brother, sister and I had no trouble taking turns at "driving."

Church2.jpg (2181 bytes)I was sad to see it end. The brevity of Shadowgate is its major weakness. A week-long rental is long enough to beat it, even if you've got school or a job, and the replayablity is virtually nil. It is unique among console games, making it a must play. My sister and brother really enjoyed the break from twitchy shooter games and got into the cerebral, problem-solving action. It's the closest they'll come to homework all summer.

Belzar2.jpg (4032 bytes)Shadowgate also has its own very impressive website (, that transcends an advertising site and becomes a utility for fans. It offers tips and nudges for those who think they only need a push in the right direction to help with those stumpers. My brother and I were so excited to finish the game that we peeked at the hints before we REALLY needed them, and this cut our gameplay time down by at least an hour. So my suggestion is to only look if you're so frustrated your going to give up. Before you peek, make sure your read all of the books you've collected, and if you're still stuck give it a rest. The next time you turn it on and you'll probably be ready to solve it.

Graveyard2.jpg (2944 bytes)Shadowgate has a lot of potential. I can only hope that Shadowgate might trigger more intelligent games made specifically for consoles. The play is unique, the puzzles interesting and sometimes difficult, and the story excellent, especially for a video game. The only problems I had were the shortness of the game, the lack of any sort of action (well, you do get to ride this dragon), and the dull color pallet. In the end the pros far outweigh the cons, making Shadowgate required summer playing. I enjoyed a break form fighting, shooting, and killing—I felt like I got to play the video game, not just my fingers.

--Sarah Wichlacz