Grab your stylus and prepare to slay evil in the game Shadowgate® Classic. The goal of the game is to explore the ancient Castle Shadowgate and kill the Warlock Lord inside. HINT: You will need the Staff of Ages to do this. Castle Shadowgate is a large castle. You will spend a lot of time exploring every dark corner and picking up goodies that will aid you in your quest.
Fire Management in Shadowgate
Because much of the game involves exploring caves and dark areas inside the castle, you will need to rely on various forms of fire to light your path. Torch and candle management is essential to survival in Shadowgate. You begin the game with only one torch in your inventory. Keep in mind that you can’t move more than one or two screens without some form of light. Attempting to do so will result in a neck-breaking fall. So always be on the lookout for more inventory items that produce some form of light. If your torch starts to flicker, quickly light another one.
In fact, torch management is so important in Shadowgate, that I wish the game developer made a short “in-game” tutorial to help you get started. After dying many times and getting extremely frustrated, I gave in and tapped the Help button in the game’s menu. There you can find a text guide to help you get started. Still, I wish the first few screens of the game were a guided tutorial. This is almost commonplace now with most games. Make sure you understand torch and candle management before you really start playing Shadowgate.
Explore. Explore. Explore.
Make no mistake, Shadowgate isn’t a quickie arcade style game. Plan on spending a decent chunk of time inside Castle Shadowgate. If you need a comparison to another game, think of Shadowgate as a non-text-based Zork type game. There’s a lot of exploring to do inside the castle and you will need to gather many types of items along the way to help complete your journey. Always try to think how the items in your inventory will react with other objects in the castle. Mastering this thought process will take you far in Shadowgate.
Everyone has their own style or technique when they play video games. Usually, I tend to rush through things, however, I suggest you take a conservative stance with Shadowgate. There is danger lurking throughout the castle to try to save your game frequently. And if you haven’t saved in a while, be careful about what you touch and how much fire you have left in your inventory.
When you die, (it will happen often, so remember to save often), tap the on-screen buttons in this sequence: Menu, Load, and then select one of your previously saved games or New. This is not exactly clear. I’d prefer a one-click solution instead of having to tap through 3 screens. For example, when you die in Shadowgate, I’d like to see 3 big buttons on the screen that say: “New Game”, “Load Saved” or “Quit to Main Menu”.
One feature I really found handy was the ability to resume a game in progress. Palm users are all too familiar with leaving a game in progress and seeing it disappear the next time you try to play it. Even after a hard reset of my Palm, I was able to resume my previously unsaved game.
Graphics In Shadowgate Classic
The artwork and detail in Shadowgate® Classic is fantastic, especially for a small screen. This is especially true for all small color screen platforms including GameBoy and Palm Pilot. The programmers have to deal with all sorts of technical and color space limitations imposed by both OS and hardware. The development team handled this challenge well. You can tell a lot of creative thought and energy went into the various characters, inventory items, and game screens. Every detail, from a wooden door texture to one of the castle’s creatures, was well designed. Additionally, as frustrating as it was dying so frequently in the game, I did enjoy the detail of the grim reaper on the ‘Game Over’ screen.
The only major gripe I have with Shadowgate is that the sequence of events never changes. Every time you play Shadowgate, it will be exactly the same as before. In comparison, usually, only arcade style or card games find a permanent home on my Palm Pilot. I normally prefer games with higher replay value like Tetris or Solitaire, but Shadowgate was a great game to mix things up. I enjoyed playing Shadowgate a lot, but it will probably be a year or more before I try to play it again. The game is too fresh in my mind to play again right away.
If you are an adventure game fan or have fond memories of playing Dungeons & Dragons and Zork as a kid, then I completely recommend putting Shadowgate on your Palm Pilot. It is challenging and a lot of fun.
Shadowgate® Classic is available for many platforms including Game Boy Color, Pocket PC, Palm Pilot, Nintendo 64 and Windows. Amazon.com sells many of these and shopping links can be found below. You can also download a free demo version of Shadowgate Classic for Palm Pilot here: Shadowgate Classic for Palm OS. Good luck and happy gaming!