Shadow of the Beast II

Oh man, there are so many reasons to hate this game, but the most obvious one is that the main character is a mostly naked caveman. This is just the most obvious of many, many baffling design choices made by the development team. According to the story, this is the same guy from the original Shadow of the Beast, only the curse that had turned him into a cool-looking demonic creature in the first game has been lifted, and he’s reverted back to human form.This time he’s on a quest to save his sister from a similar fate.Apparently this couldn’t have waited long enough to put on some goddamn pants.

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I’d say that the programmers half-assed the level designs, but that would be way too generous.Scientific instruments have yet to be designed that are precise enough to measure just how little of an ass went into this.

Shadow of the Beast II also features one of the most unforgivable offenses in bad game design, which is that it frequently and rather easily allows you to end up in no-win situations where it becomes impossible to progress any further in the game.For instance, early in the game, you’ll come across a demon attacking a man.Fail to save him and you’ll find out that his rescue is critical to getting through a later area.And you know how most games won’t let you squander essential quest items before they are needed?Not SotB 2!It gives you no indication that something you picked up might be really important and irreplaceable, and lets you use it all up only to get stuck later.

Let’s compare this approach to another Genesis game EA published around the same time.In The Immortal, if you use a critical item incorrectly and waste it before it was needed, the item generally kills you instantly in the process.That sucks.But at least it gets the suffering over quick, and lets you know right away that you aren’t supposed to do that.In Shadow of the Beast II, if you waste some quest object before it’s time, or fail to rescue someone important, or make some other kind of mistake, the game keeps on going.You might end playing for a long time without even realizing that you’re in an impossible situation, and even when you do figure it out, it’s not always obvious what you did wrong to end up there.What I’m saying is that it takes a special kind of ineptitude to make The Immortal’s constant barrage of instant death seem like a preferable design choice, but SotB 2 manages to do so rather convincingly.

Even when the game isn’t screwing you over, it still isn’t very good.The sprawling, open levels are supposed to encourage exploration and non-linear gameplay, but so little direction is given that they really just seem aimless.Monsters display a point value when you kill them, but your score is never shown at any point in the game – its not a big deal, but it gives you an idea of how sloppy the design process must have been.Much of the game contains areas where it’s impossible to avoid taking damage, and all you can really do is rush through them and try to minimize the damage.Fighting enemies is also usually a battle of attrition, and rather than killing them, you can often take less damage by running past them and absorbing a few hits.

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I don’t why they’re attacking him.Clearly, he’s not the guy who stole their pants.

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