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Play an N64 game...; Tell us what N64 games you've been playing!
Topic Started: Apr 4 2008, 03:54 PM (36,937 Views)
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Shadow Man. Very atmospheric game, with a fair amount of voice-acting and general audio sampling, but in the now the VO sounds very cheesy of course. Still, add to that the sheer size of the game, how much there is to collect, the art design, the Expansion Pak support - I'm sure this would have been a fairly impressive game when it was released.

If it has a flaw (beyond the standard cheese-ball voice acting of the era), it's that controlling Mike/Shadow Man isn't as effortless as some other third-person titles on the system. He's not that tank-like as such, but he doesn't have the deft-touch of Mario nor is he as nimble as Link or Banjo. You 'steer' him through the world, which I guess actually is completely tank-like, but trust me he's not as bad as some.

Outside of that, I really like it! Extremely-moody game. Just the overall look of it is oppressive and disgustingly-macabre. A 'portal' in this game is a dude with no skin nailed to a torturous frame with a surgical retractor holding his ribcage open, and you use his exposed innards as a means of travel. That or your dead little brother's moth-bitten teddy bear. This makes it relatively special for an N64 game.

To play, it's basically a collect-a-thon with an extremely-mild gunplay element. You have a handgun, and later acquire weapons both for Liveside and Deadside (our world, and "beyond the veil"). You can lock on to enemies and strafe around them, you can even go into first-person free-aim (but you must be stationary). If you just wail on the trigger, Shadow Man will generally auto-aim at anything shootable which is vaguely near the center of the screen. This includes barrels, etc (though he will thankfully give priority to an enemy).

I guess in that aspect, the way Shadow Man moves around and interacts with the world, the game has a sort of Tomb Raider-like feel. That sort of 'idea' of how the character controls, though Shadow Man pulls it off with much more responsiveness and ease than the slow and clumsy Lara (note: I have only played the original Tomb Raider!). However, the way in which the game is structured, and the way in which you progress is very much the Super Mario 64/Banjo-Kazooie template. There's a hub-world (Deadside) which has portals to numerous sub-worlds.

Like all good third-person collect-a-thons, it is across the breadth of this entire structure which you must traverse and cross-cross multiple times, going back to previously-explored temples and what have you with a newly-acquired skill that allows you to reach places you never could before. Dark soul govis take the place of Mario's stars, and as with SM64, you do not need them all to reach the final boss and kill him. Not even close. However, if you want to really beat the game and get everything, you'll be searching for some ridiculously well-hidden dark souls.

The only other significant collectible along the way are these things called 'cadeaux'. I'm not sure what they do, but they're the only thing other than the dark souls which are gone forever once you have collected them. The manual is especially-vague about these, saying only "These are small pots, gift offerings to the Loa. Their use remains something of a mystery." I can't be bothered to Google it, I'm sure they probably just unlock stuff. Good old collect-a-thons!

It's easily the most dark and macabre game I currently own for my N64. I'd say Perfect Dark is more violent, simply due to the visceral nature of the gunplay in that game and the gore present. However, Shadow Man does it with atmosphere, mood and it's central themes. You will often hear the chilling voice of your dead little brother Luke as you wonder around the Asylum, helping you on your way (like a less-intrusive Navi). He is incidentally the only voice in the game which doesn't sound that cheesy. Though his lines are minimal and heavily processed with FX.

I'd recommend it to people who like collect-a-thons, and have played their Marios and Banjos enough times that they're looking for something a little different. Well - here it is. Shadow Man. You won't be looking across the pastel scenery of Peach's Castle or enjoying the stunning vistas of Treasure Trove Cove or the Isle o' Hags. You will be in giant, dark gothic structures dedicated to and containing the morbidly insane part of the human-psyche. You will be swimming in rivers of blood, have tattoos burned into your skin which give you new powers, and the relics you collect tend to be on the slimy, pus-ridden side of things, rather than gold and shiny.

However, you will collect. My god will you collect. The game will taunt you along the way with dark souls in plain view that you cannot get to via any current means. You must return hours later with a new ability. Your enemies are not comedy pirates or the like, either. They are utterly disgusting. Deadside is ppopulated with these horrid naked zombie things. The lesser forms just shriek at you and cowl in terror, but the aggressive forms are very dangerous. The game's main villains are serial killers, and they are not a nice bunch.

When I'm done with Shadow Man, I'm going to try and do a run-through of Shadows of the Empire. I've never beaten it, but strangely want to. Wish me luck!
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