Shadow of the Beast

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Shadow of the Beast
Shadow of the beast cover art.jpg
Cover art by Roger Dean[1]
Developer(s) Reflections Interactive
Publisher(s) Psygnosis
Producer(s) Martin Edmondson
Designer(s) Paul Howarth
Programmer(s) Richard Swinfen
Artist(s) Steven Hammond
Composer(s) David Whittaker
Platform(s) Amiga, Atari ST, Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, Super NES, Sega Genesis, Master System, Atari Lynx, FM-Towns, TurboGrafx-CD
Release date(s)
  • EU: 1989
Genre(s) Platform
Mode(s) Single-player

Shadow of the Beast is a platform game developed by Reflections and published by Psygnosis in 1989. The original version was released for the Amiga, and was later ported to many other systems.

Shadow of the Beast was known for its graphics, with numerous colours on screen and up to twelve levels of parallax scrolling backdrops, and for its atmospheric score composed by David Whittaker that used high-quality instrument samples.

Shadow of the Beast was followed by two sequels, Shadow of the Beast II in 1990 and Shadow of the Beast III in 1993, with music penned by Tim Wright under the alias of CoLD SToRAGE. A remake was released for the PlayStation 4 in May 2016, and also included the Amiga original.[2]



A man named Aarbron is kidnapped as a child and corrupted through magic into a monstrous warrior-servant for the evil beast lord Maletoth. The creature's memory of his human life returns when he watches a man being executed, whom he later recognizes as his father. This prompts Aarbron to seek revenge on Maletoth. A long arduous journey ensues, with Aarbron forced to battle his way through both hostile terrain and Maletoth's forces. He eventually confronts one of Maletoth's minions, a gargantuan creature whose only visible body parts are its hand and foot. Defeating the creature, Aarbron is freed from his curse, the titular "Shadow of the Beast", and returned to a more humanoid form.


Shadow of the Beast was ported to the Atari ST, Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, Super NES (unreleased),[citation needed] Mega Drive/Genesis, Master System, Atari Lynx, FM Towns and TurboGrafx-CD. An Atari 8-bit version was in the works in 1990 to be published by Harlequin, but it was never finished due to collapse of the company.[3] The TurboGrafx-CD version was the last to be released. The TurboGrafx-CD and FM Towns versions (the latter titled Shadow Of The Beast Complete) both feature enhanced graphics, an animated intro and an enhanced studio quality CD soundtrack, not in any of the other versions. The original Amiga version was included along with the remake.[2]

European television systems run at a 50 Hz refresh rate, whereas television systems in North America and Japan have a 60 Hz refresh rate. The conversion team for the Genesis version did not change the amount of time each frame remained on screen when the refresh rate was increased to 60 Hz, making it run 16.7% faster than the original. The Japanese Mega Drive version runs at the correct speed and has enhanced in-game graphics as well as a toned down difficulty setting.


Shadow of the Beast and Shadow of the Beast II were reviewed in 1991 in Dragon where both games got 5 out of 5 stars.[4]


There are two sequels for the game: Shadow of the Beast II in 1990 and Shadow of the Beast III in 1993. The former was again ported to a number of platforms.

Shadow of the Beast II[edit]

Shadow of the Beast II
Shadow of the beast 2 cover art.jpg
Cover art by Roger Dean
Developer(s) Reflections Interactive
Publisher(s) Psygnosis
Composer(s) Tim Wright
Platform(s) Amiga, Atari ST, Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, Sega CD
Release date(s)
  • EU: 1990
Genre(s) Platform
Mode(s) Single-player
Shadow of the Beast II (Amiga)

Shadow of the Beast II finds the hero in half-beast form, wandering the lands of Karamoon in search of his kidnapped sister. She had been taken away from her mother's cottage by the dragon-form of the Beast Mage, Zelek, servant to Maletoth. Along the way, Aarbron befriends the wise dragon Barloom and must defeat the evil dragon Ishran. Tree Pygmies in the forest and the goblins in the Crystal Caverns serve as foes. As in the first game, the cover art for Shadow of the Beast II was created by Roger Dean and the game was packaged with a promotional black T-shirt that featured Dean's artwork.[citation needed]

Shadow of the Beast II was ported to the Atari ST and FM-Towns computers, as well as the Genesis and Sega CD platforms. The Sega CD version had drastic changes made to it, the most noticeable being a new soundtrack complete with voice acted dialogue sequences and added FMVs. The in-game graphics were also slightly enhanced, and some areas of the game were redesigned to be less difficult than the original.

A reviewer for Next Generation gave the Sega CD version one out of five stars, saying that the game had been good at the time of its release on the Amiga four years before, but was now horribly outdated: "Even though the designers tried to spruce it up by adding better music, digitized speech, and a few rendered cut scenes, it still doesn't help much considering the game's overall stilted animation and poor control."[5]

Shadow of the Beast III[edit]

Shadow of the Beast III
Shadow of the beast 3 cover art.jpg
Developer(s) Reflections Interactive
Publisher(s) Psygnosis
Composer(s) Tim Wright
Platform(s) Amiga
Release date(s)
  • EU: 1993
Genre(s) Platform
Mode(s) Single-player

Shadow of the Beast III was released exclusively for the Amiga in 1993. In this game, Aarbron has regained his human shape but must defeat Maletoth once and for all to become fully human. Shadow of the Beast III has four distinct stages instead of one big area. The game places less of an emphasis on the action elements so prominent in the first two games, instead preferring a more cerebral approach. The package did not contain a T-shirt; instead, a badge with a game logo was included.[citation needed] A Genesis version was considered and even developed at some point, with Matt Furniss tasked as the composer.[citation needed]

Computer Gaming World gave Shadow of the Beast III a mixed review. The magazine called the graphics "very good" and music "excellent" but criticized the puzzles' high level of difficulty, lack of a save game feature, and slow load times (and copy protection that prevented the use of a hard drive), stating "I have grown tired of arcade games that punish the player rather than reward them for their efforts".[6]


A re-imagined version of Shadow of the Beast was revealed at Gamescom 2013, developed by Heavy Spectrum Entertainment Labs and released by Sony Interactive Entertainment for the PlayStation 4 in May 2016.[7]

References in other games[edit]

Graphics from Shadow of the Beast and Shadow of the Beast II were featured in two special levels in the original Lemmings game (Amiga, Genesis, PC, Super NES, and Atari ST versions), called "A Beast of a Level" and "A Beast II of a Level". These references were supported by cameo versions of the title music from each version, in this case both pieces were arranged by Tim Wright.


The soundtrack of the first Beast game by David Whittaker consists of twelve tracks. They are similar in style and have a new-age like sound.

The full soundtrack to the first Beast game was arranged, studio recorded and released in 1999, on an Amiga music compilation CD entitled Immortal.[8]

The music for Beast 2 & 3 was composed and produced by Tim Wright. These titles featured a more extensive soundtrack and utilised ethnic samples taken from among other sources the same Korg M1 synthesizer that was sampled by David Whittaker for the original game (although in this case, it was the rack-mounted version the Korg M1/R). Beast 2 contained a total of 17 tracks, most notable of which are the title theme and the game over theme, both of which feature real sampled electric guitars. Beast 3 contained a total of 24 tracks again featuring ethnic instrumentation, but this time dabbling with the addition of some more synthetic sounds. The tracks in neither Beast 2 nor Beast 3 have been formally named by the composer, they are generally referred to by their location within the game. The FM-Towns and TurboGrafx-CD Super CD-ROM² versions of Shadow of the Beast features a soundtrack arranged by D.C. Productions Ltd. (Chris Howlett and Ian Henderson).


  1. ^ Roger Dean. "Shadow of the Beast". Retrieved 7 May 2016. 
  2. ^ a b Birch, Matt (4 May 2016). "Shadow of the Beast on PS4 Includes the Amiga Original". Retrieved 7 May 2016. 
  3. ^ Goss, Steve (2002). "Atari 8bit Projects – Shadow of the Beast". Archived from the original on 2011-07-13. Retrieved 2013-01-14. 
  4. ^ Lesser, Hartley; Lesser, Patricia; Lesser, Kirk (May 1991). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (169): 61–65. 
  5. ^ "Shadow of the Beast II". Next Generation. Imagine Media (4): 94. April 1995. 
  6. ^ Miller, Chuck (March 1993). "Psygnosis' Shadow of the Beast III". Computer Gaming World. p. 66. Retrieved 6 July 2014. 
  7. ^ Jeffrey Matulef (2013-08-20). "Shadow of the Beast remake announced as PS4-exclusive". Eurogamer. Retrieved 2015-02-09. 
  8. ^ "Immortal 1". Amiga Immortal. Retrieved 7 May 2016. 

External links[edit]