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Old 29 December 2004, 20:45   #1
Galahad/FLT
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Shadow of the Beast - 15 years on

I've only just got around to visiting the other versions of this landmark title.

Were the graphics and sound for this game really a boundary pushing exercise for the Amiga (lets overlook the obvious playability flaws), was and is it still really the tour de force it once was?

The answer..... is yes!

The Super Nintendo (Famicom) in lots of areas is a superior machine to the Amiga, but you'd be hard pushed to notice this in the SNES version of Beast.

Graphically its very nearly the equal of the Amiga version, in fact the bitmap graphics are slightly smoother looking, but other than that, it retains the same visuals of the Amiga version.

Sonically however, I really can't believe that Psygnosis thought that they had even remotely captured the mood of the Amiga original. Granted, Psygnosis were not about to spend a load of money have a 32Megabit cart to store all the music, but the soundchip in the SNES is a very capable one, shame they couldn't be bothered. The music is dire!

The Sega Megadrive/Genesis version is worse still. Whilst both the Genesis and the SNES are able to match the Amiga for the amount of objects being thrown around on screen, graphically, the Genesis version is washed out and a hell of a lot less colourful. The sound again is dire, with pale imitations of the original Dave Whittaker tunes.

I'm only covering these two machines because they were the Amigas stiffest competition, and Beast was the Amigas premier title, and many people would have you believe that the SNES and Megadrive were the better machines.

How odd it is then that Psygnosis were seemingly incapable of replicating the Amiga original, it only went to show just how technically profficient Reflections were, and this in 1989, the SNES and Megadrive versions were 3 years later.

I won't even bother with the utterly dire ST version (of which most ST owners readily admit isn't even a pale imitation), the Atari Lynx version is superior to that one in every way.

I've looked again at Beast on the Amiga, and it STILL looks and sounds good today, the SNES version dubbed 'Super' just helps to reinforce this.

Just a thought.....
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Old 29 December 2004, 21:44   #2
Von würst
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Yes beast still looks very god but more importantly sounds absolutly beutiful! Anyway Amiga, snes and megadrive where pretty close performance vice and each machine had its own strengths and weakneses. A specially amiga tailored game like beast wont necessarily look better on a slightly more powerful platform such as snes.
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Old 29 December 2004, 22:51   #3
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I happen to think the Lynx version is the best of them all. Maybe not technically wise (it's still a feat IMO!) but the gameplay has been improved somehow, making it an all round more enjoyable game.
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Old 30 December 2004, 00:40   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Galahad/FLT
I've only just got around to visiting the other versions of this landmark title.

Were the graphics and sound for this game really a boundary pushing exercise for the Amiga (lets overlook the obvious playability flaws), was and is it still really the tour de force it once was?

The answer..... is yes!
Not really It didn't push many boundaries, it's just that Reflections made use of the Amiga hardware. They looked at the custom chips and thought what kind of game it could be used for. (That's why the gameplay sucks, as opposed to thinking about which elements make a game great.) Hence the parallaxes, halfbrite, copper shades etc. A few weeks after, a bunch of 16-year old demo coders had duplicated the effort, usually with a scroll instead of the main sprite.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Galahad/FLT
Sonically however, I really can't believe that Psygnosis thought that they had even remotely captured the mood of the Amiga original. Granted, Psygnosis were not about to spend a load of money have a 32Megabit cart to store all the music, but the soundchip in the SNES is a very capable one, shame they couldn't be bothered. The music is dire!
It's a bit tough to ask SNES developer to duplicate the music with f.ex. 100kb sample voice etc with the semi-crappy SPC700 chip in the SNES. The only ones who could do it would be the Follin brothers imo.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Galahad/FLT
How odd it is then that Psygnosis were seemingly incapable of replicating the Amiga original, it only went to show just how technically profficient Reflections were, and this in 1989, the SNES and Megadrive versions were 3 years later.
It's not so odd if you consider that the whole game was based on what the Amiga could do, and the Amiga, with its blitter and copper was unique in those days. To do what it did put a heavier strain on the CPU than most systems could cope with, while the blitter and copper relieved the CPU of working too hard on the Amiga.

Reflections then went on to do other great things, like Driver, where the gameplay is truly great. It's always nice to see small teams pull off a big project like a game! But S.O.T.B. really didn't impress us demo coders in those days, we could instantly see how every graphics "trick" was made and knew how to do the same thing.

But it sure beats Bitmap Brothers' way of making 16-color ST games and do an Amiga port to make more money. (Take Gods, for example.)
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Old 30 December 2004, 01:04   #5
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But Photon,

There's no reason why something like State Of The Art or Jesus On E's couldn't have been made in 1988 before Shadow Of The Beast.

No technical reason anyway.

You saying "We looked at it and immediately knew how it was done" prooves that "the scene" hadn't accomplished anything like this before.

It's the originality that counts here, the fact that these sorts of effects hadn't been done like this before.

If I was to write Shadow Of The Beast 4 tomorrow and it had a similar look people would say "Well done", but nobody's jaw would drop.
 
Old 30 December 2004, 01:26   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Photon
But it sure beats Bitmap Brothers' way of making 16-color ST games and do an Amiga port to make more money. (Take Gods, for example.)
Last time I checked Gods looked just fine.
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Old 30 December 2004, 05:53   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Photon
Not really It didn't push many boundaries, it's just that Reflections made use of the Amiga hardware. They looked at the custom chips and thought what kind of game it could be used for. (That's why the gameplay sucks, as opposed to thinking about which elements make a game great.) Hence the parallaxes, halfbrite, copper shades etc. A few weeks after, a bunch of 16-year old demo coders had duplicated the effort, usually with a scroll instead of the main sprite.


It's a bit tough to ask SNES developer to duplicate the music with f.ex. 100kb sample voice etc with the semi-crappy SPC700 chip in the SNES. The only ones who could do it would be the Follin brothers imo.


It's not so odd if you consider that the whole game was based on what the Amiga could do, and the Amiga, with its blitter and copper was unique in those days. To do what it did put a heavier strain on the CPU than most systems could cope with, while the blitter and copper relieved the CPU of working too hard on the Amiga.

Reflections then went on to do other great things, like Driver, where the gameplay is truly great. It's always nice to see small teams pull off a big project like a game! But S.O.T.B. really didn't impress us demo coders in those days, we could instantly see how every graphics "trick" was made and knew how to do the same thing.

But it sure beats Bitmap Brothers' way of making 16-color ST games and do an Amiga port to make more money. (Take Gods, for example.)
Sorry Photon, but you miss the point entirely.

The fact is, Reflections did it first, and did it before the demo coders.

Before Beast, I'm sorry, but the state of graphics and code wasn't anywhere near as polished as Beast, thats just a fact. Its ok to say "oh we could see how it was done", the fact is, they did it first for you to be able to say that, a world of difference from Reflections taking their cues from the demo scene.

Hence why the demo scene then saw fit to duplicate some of the coding tricks employed in Beast in some of their demos.

I also disagree with it not pushing boundaries. It was the first genuine attempt by anyone to produce a game that in the technical department could claim to properly look 'arcade quality'. In comparision to all the other platform wannabes, nothing came close, not until Lionheart and Brian the Lion, and in the case of Brian the Lion, that was the demo coders coming of age title.... but again, it was for Reflections!

Also you underestimate the power of the SNES. If ANY game relied upon the processing power of the SNES, then I'm afraid every game would come to a halt as the processor was a bag of shite! It too relied on its custom chips, and Shadow of the Beast was quite easily more in tune with what the SNES was capable of than the Amiga.

The basic sound chip of the SNES was also VERY VERY good, many good musicians other than Tim Follin were able to reproduce great music on the system. My point about the SNES version of the music in Beast was they clearly didn't make any attempt to bother! Perhaps I didn't make it too clear, the music renditions in Super Shadow of the Beast are dire of the direset order, they are so completly crap, that the Atari ST version sounds better! Thats how bad it is.

And frankly, if you were as you say not impressed by Beast technically, firstly I would say I think you are being economical with the truth, because just about every demo group then did something that was inspired by Beast! You guys certainly dedicated a lot of effort to a game you claim wasn't very impressive!

I don't expect everyone to agree with me, but at least be honest

And I didn't ever dispute the gameplay... it does somewhat lack in that area
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Old 30 December 2004, 06:14   #8
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Coincidently Galahad why the sudden post about this now - is today the 15th year anniversary or it's just in your head that it was released around this time?

Just when was SOTB1 released into this world, anyone have an exact date?
 
Old 30 December 2004, 08:45   #9
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Great games... only regret I have is not buying the
third and wearing the first two t-shirts to rags!

thanks for the insight there Galahad/FLT
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Old 30 December 2004, 11:53   #10
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The first time I ever saw SOTB was in the local computer shop (which was quite a famous UK Amiga retailer called Ladbrooke Computers in Preston Lancashire). They had a glass cabinet containing the Amiga and a 1084s monitor... right next to it was an Atari ST also displaying a game.

It was the SOTB demo disk (which I've dumped as a CAPS disk and Psygore has turned into an WHDLoad slave). It's a rolling demo perhaps five or ten minutes long.... a sample of all the sections interspersed with captions. (If you've never seen it before, take a look).

I remember looking at it and thinking it was something very special.

The ST cabinet was running Dungeon Master (could have been CSB) which is a great game.... but NO-ONE was watching it.

All my mates all had Atari ST's and were playing Dungeon Master, I actually went in the shop that day with the intention of getting an Atari STe.

The beast demo changed everything.... I had to wait almost six months before I could save enough to afford the price difference between the Atari STe Discovery Pack and the Amiga Flight of Fantasy pack.

I think that beast is technically brilliant... the only thing that struck me was how few frames of animation the sprites have. When you look at how smooth the backgrounds scroll.... listen to how cool the music and samples are... there must be a technical reason they couldnt have more frames of animation on the sprites.... if only the main sprite?

SOTB 1 was also the first crack I every came across. Given it in the school yard a week or two before Beast was released (I still didnt have an Amiga at the time) it was done by Paranomia and had a 3d wire vector intro....

Weeks of playing it at a friends house was great... but by the time I had my own Amiga the experience had been spoilt by learning that if you hold down left mouse during the startup you got infinite lives So I started playing Amiga Dungeon Master which had just been released.

I bought SOTB 2 when it came out I've still got it (dumped for CAPS) and the T-Shirt. I also bought SOTB 3. Neither came close to "touching the spot" for me like the first one did. The next game to do that for me was Amberstar by Thalion... and that wasnt because of the graphics but the compelling gameplay and brilliant story (complete opposite of Beast).

Beast sold the Amiga to me
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Old 30 December 2004, 14:31   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Galahad/FLT
Sorry Photon, but you miss the point entirely.

The fact is, Reflections did it first, and did it before the demo coders.

Before Beast, I'm sorry, but the state of graphics and code wasn't anywhere near as polished as Beast, thats just a fact. Its ok to say "oh we could see how it was done", the fact is, they did it first for you to be able to say that, a world of difference from Reflections taking their cues from the demo scene.
I never said Reflections took their cues from the demo scene. But I'll bet you a million dollars that some demo had multilayer parallax before Beast came out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Galahad/FLT
Hence why the demo scene then saw fit to duplicate some of the coding tricks employed in Beast in some of their demos.
Yeah, and when Roger Rabbit was released, some guys released Roger Rabbit demos. It's called inspiration. My point was that if a 16 years old demo coder can make a duplicate in two weeks the "coding tricks" (haha) weren't that tricky.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Galahad/FLT
And frankly, if you were as you say not impressed by Beast technically, firstly I would say I think you are being economical with the truth, because just about every demo group then did something that was inspired by Beast! You guys certainly dedicated a lot of effort to a game you claim wasn't very impressive!
Who said it wasn't impressive? I said other coders, who understood what was going on, weren't impressed by the technical side of the game. The graphics were nice, and so they ended up in a Silents vector line scroll demo. The parallax scroll emerged in other demos. And so on.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Galahad/FLT
I don't expect everyone to agree with me, but at least be honest
Ditto. If you're honest and understand that Beast was made by looking at what the Amiga could do, dividing the screen up into fixed size playfields, adding color where the copper could do it, reserving sprites for the moon etc etc etc, then you understand that it was tailor made for the Amiga and the custom chips did all the work, so it didn't have to have coding tricks.

They made a fixed layout and figured out a game that could run in it. Because it was so limited, all it had to do to move big monsters or scroll parallaxes smoothly was to poke some pointers and some custom chip registers. (To be fair, I know there is some blitting of smaller objects going on in there, in certain places.)

I'm not knocking Beast or people saying Beast is impressive. I do however defy anyone saying Beast is technically wondrous because "ooh it has many colors and smooth scrolling" because it doesn't need to be technically wondrous to do what it does.

That's all I'm saying. I do give credit to Reflections for the game design that made it possible, it's not often the developers get to design the game nowadays. And of course it's a landmark, due to the graphics and sound. But it only pushed the boundaries for games whose layout is exactly like Beast. Whereas Virus for example pushed the boundaries for filled 3D games in general and Lotus Esprit pushed the boundaries of all those "fake 3D" racing games. Hope you see what I mean
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Old 30 December 2004, 15:03   #12
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To me still being a great game ( althought Photon words )
In 1989 not many games were Amiga specified titles. Thats a point for the game.

More over the graphics are outstanding, Apart of the beautifull graphics of the Parrallax levels, there are the amazing background graphics of caverns levels.

The level into the tree-cavern has an simply amazing background graphic.. is with no doubt the game with dual-playfield with the absolutely better graphics that exists. take in mind that that is just 8 colours per playfiled, a nightmare for a graphician.

apart, the main sprite is wonderfull.. that monster have a intense mistery and a wild feel,.. just cool!!

Those things still impressing me like in old times
Imho, Scene has not THAT quality in that time..
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Old 30 December 2004, 15:04   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spiff
Last time I checked Gods looked just fine.
The graphics are nice, agree. But it has the same very slow framerate and lag as the ST game, despite there not being many objects on screen and the screen isn't that big. There's no reason why it couldn't have a perfectly smooth scroll, for example. The same goes for Magic Pockets.

It's better when game coders take advantage of the hardware instead of doing a version for the worst case 68000 computer and then do a port with minimal changes to machines that could run it smoothly. Now that I think of it, I can't recall a single Bitmap Brothers game that runs in 50 fps.
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Old 30 December 2004, 15:07   #14
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Shadow of the Beast made me buy an A500. I had a CPC464 back then and played SOTB at a friends' house, later at home, my CPC never looked the same . I'm sure it alone sought more Amigas than Commodore marketing did.
15 years down the line and SOTB still looks awesome.
 
Old 30 December 2004, 16:54   #15
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I am going to be bluntly honest here!

I have never seen Beast or Beast 2 actually running or played them

Populous sold the Amiga for me

/me off to look at the beast games now
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Old 30 December 2004, 17:04   #16
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Well I have just given Beast 5 mins of my time, and indeed the background gfx and parallax does indeed look good

The sprites definately needed more frames tho they look a little jerky!!
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Old 30 December 2004, 17:21   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bippym
I am going to be bluntly honest here!

I have never seen Beast or Beast 2 actually running or played them
That can't be true Bippy! How did you manage to escape experiencing Beast?

It was shown in nearly ever computer store I set foot in back then.

I think they had problems getting the thing to fit in 512K RAM and only take up two disks so the animation is understandable.
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Old 30 December 2004, 20:14   #18
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Quote:
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The sprites definately needed more frames tho they look a little jerky!!
The Lynx version has a sprite with much more frames, it surely looks better
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Old 30 December 2004, 20:31   #19
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I bought the Lynx version second hand and agree with Akira, it's very impressive. Atari's little handheld was fantastic for the time. One thing this version has above the Amiga version - sprite scaling!

Still, one of the key things about Beast already mentioned by Galahad is the music, which really set the tone and atmosphere. Taking this into account, overall I still prefer the Amiga version to all others. Imagine if 512K expansions were common when it was released - the animation and other things may have been better.
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Old 31 December 2004, 18:17   #20
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Yep, I remember seeing Beast 1 in the shops, it was GBP34.99 to buy with the T-Shirt. It was in a massive box just like when Awesome came out. I have a picture of me with the T-Shirt on, but this was a long time ago. I don't have the T-Shirt anymore. Shadow of the Beast was an average game at best. The SNES had many more worthy titles than to worry about how good a conversion it could do of an average game. sometimes people make games to look and sound not as good on purpose. Think about the Halo conversion from XBOX to PC. I remember reading how SEGA made their conversations to other formats worse just so they could sell more on their machines.

Not everything is so clear and crystal as you think.

I didn't buy my Amiga for SOTB1, but the graphics for SOTB have to be admired. They do have a unique style to them. 128 colours on screen?? 14 layers of parallax scrolling? It was all the thing in those days..

Give me Turrican any day....
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