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Traverse the Dank Dark World of Shadowgate on NES – Today in History – December 16th, 1989

The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was not known for its long drawn out thought provoking titles.  Rather, the NES was known for its quick reflex action titles that younger gamers enjoyed more.  For the aging crowd of gamers, which there were more than a few since by this point in time the NES was going on half a decade, there was not a lot of gaming options.  Kemco, a unique third party publisher for the NES, was able to see the light, similar to how Koei saw it A LOT sooner, though neither were able to quite capitalize like their counterparts did with the younger gamers.  One series of games that Kemco were known for was the whole “digital ” style game.  Not quite straight adventure games like Space Quest or King’s Quest but rather first person affairs that felt like those classic books that children of the 70’s and 80’s enjoyed so much (you don’t have to grow up).

Your actions in these games, which there were a couple of others, the choices that you made had real consequences to your game.  Much like the action games, you could die and completely lose your game and have to start over, or at least go back to an early save file.  This coupled with the fact that you had to use your brain to solve problems within the game made Shadowgate (and the other two titles in this series of games) quite the visceral experience.  This potentially turned off a lot of gamers that tried dipping their toes into the adventure waters.

Shadowgate tasks you as a recent amnesia sufferer, thanks to the powers of the evil wizard known as Lakmir.  Going by the opening text you are apparently the last of a line of kings which is interestingly foreboding that you are destined to regain great power and prestige.  If you can survive the events that lay in front of you just passed that ominous door.

The computer version of Shadowgate used books and subtle descriptions in, or of, each room.  In the Nintendo Entertainment System version though, those books are gone and replaced with a more console friendly hint system.  There are a few things that were changed for the NES version such as various graphic deaths and on screen, and description based things, that were changed slightly.

Shadowgate on computers reached many platforms from the original Macintosh version to the Commodore Amiga, Atari ST and IBM platforms.  For consoles we saw it hit the NES and Game Boy Color with sequels on the Turbo Grafx-16 Super CD-ROM and the Nintendo 64.  More recently there was a successful Kickstarter campaign for a new Shadowgate game.

Checkout for your Shadowgate fix if you dare.  Want to enjoy this classic?  Check out Ebay.


Carl Williams

It is time gaming journalism takes its rightful place as proper sources and not fanboys giving free advertising. If you wish to support writers like Carl please use the links below.

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3 Responses to “Traverse the Dank Dark World of Shadowgate on NES – Today in History – December 16th, 1989”

  1. YOUDIEMOFO says:

    EEEEEEEPIC!!!!!!! Man this is truly one for the history books here. I will have my children play this game when they get older (2-4yrs now) and I guarantee they will get the socks scared off of them still.

    I still can not remember if I have ever made it up the stairs near the end… I either was forgetting something and kept going back and my torches kept dying out, or something….. Man I love the throwbacks on this site…..keep’em coming guys!!!

    Great work as always Retro!!

  2. […] I have covered the original Shadowgate on the Nintendo Entertainment System, the buildup and launch on Windows of the remake and now, I am covering that remake releasing on […]

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