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SHADOWGATE / Kemco / NES
Shadowgate is an atmospheric, short and fairly simple adventure game, known primarily for random deaths and a very catchy soundtrack. It originates on the Macintosh as part of a series called "MacVenture", and was ported to the NES by Kemco, who gave it lower-quality but colorized graphics, as well as the rather decent music.
So you are this apprentice wizard, and your wizard-in-charge guy sends you in to the castle Shadowgate to stop this evil wizard Lakmir who is trying to summon some demon that will rape the world and et cetera. You have to stumble through the castle, getting past various monster guards, finding keys to open doors, and all the usual ye olde fantasy type activities.
The game doesn't have any really diabolical puzzles or challenges, but it frequently manages to be frustrating simply due to randomness and arbitrary actions. You find tons of weapons around, each of which kills a specific monster, and some are obvious if you are up on your basic mythology, but others are seemingly completely and totally random. The game is also famous for turning seemingly innocuous actions into sudden deaths, such as the celebrated example where you try to look in a well and the hero decides to fling himself bodily into it instead. Despite many critical complaints about this stuff, it really doesn't bog the game down much, as you are allowed infinite continues and simply return to the screen just prior to the one where you died (you can also save at any time).
The writing isn't great, neither is the design, and the interface is a smidge slow and kludgy, but I can't really say Shadowgate is bad. Back in the day when places like Blockbuster actually rented NES games, this one was good for a 2 or 3 day rental - that's all the more, but it can be entertaining for that time.
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