AuthorTopic: Commercial Critique - Shadow of the Beast  (Read 22155 times)

Offline Helm

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Commercial Critique - Shadow of the Beast

on: November 04, 2006, 07:25:28 pm
Shadow of the Beast. Native platform: Amiga 500. Year of release: 1989. Developer: Reflections (two 19 year old demoscene guys apparently) for Psygnosis :powl: Category: quintessential frustrating run-and-puncher that sold millions of Amigas.


YE OLDE SCREENDUMP OF STARK ROGER DEAN LANDSCAPAGE FOLLOWS:














All these are Amiga screenshots. The game has been ported to many platforms, we will use the Genesis port for the related Commercial Critique Challenge. All these were made in deluxe paint or some equivalent program, so you should keep in mind Lighten/Darken tools seem to have been aplied pretty liberarly, on some cutscene screenshots very apparently. Yet this isn't blurred to death so no soften brushes. Remarkable consistency in design, even if it's marred by several proto-pixel art flaws (pillow shading, clean ramps) but I'll let you guys dissect for that's what we do!

Remember, the point of this activity is to study commercial pixel art closely, outline the good and the bad both on an individual artistic piece level, and on the whole. It would be best if the participants play the game a little (genesis version is easier to emulate, naturally, and moderately faithful) or watch the youtube videos at least, so you can see how a lot of this works in-game. It's remarkable how things like multiparalax at the time pulled you in to the point where you didn't mind spraycan trees as much :)
Let us commence!

When you're done with the dissecting of the art, it's time to participate on the Commercial Critique Challenge!
« Last Edit: November 04, 2006, 08:16:16 pm by Helm »

Offline Cow

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Re: Commercial Critique - Shadow of the Beast

Reply #1 on: November 06, 2006, 02:33:01 am
This is really small, but I really like the grey highlight they used on the character. It's so smooth. :y:

Still haven't played yet, when I will I'll go a little more indepth. :)

Offline Xion

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Re: Commercial Critique - Shadow of the Beast

Reply #2 on: November 07, 2006, 05:10:03 am
Such a strange mesh of good and bat art in this.
The title's lettering has completely inconsistent lighting. There's pillowshading galore. And what is with that bright red flying thing in pic#2?
On the other hand, the wooden BG is pretty great. But still, theres one trunk with deeper cracks/higher contrast that bugs the crap outta me.
Those skeletons in the last pic are just terrible.

What's this look like in motion? Anyone got any animated sprites?

Offline Helm

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Re: Commercial Critique - Shadow of the Beast

Reply #3 on: November 07, 2006, 05:38:02 am
There's youtube video links in the text.

Offline Gunne

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Re: Commercial Critique - Shadow of the Beast

Reply #4 on: November 07, 2006, 11:39:24 am
I think it's funny how the enemy's just fall down once you hit them. I was wondering if there's a chance the enemy's can hit you, if I see the gameplay I would say no :-\, unless they're flying right into you ofcourse...
in the shadows, lurking.

Offline Cow

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Re: Commercial Critique - Shadow of the Beast

Reply #5 on: November 07, 2006, 03:08:47 pm
The death animation [at least, when you hit the spikes] is hilarious. The character just seems to crumple into pieces.

I'm gonna hop on the bandwagon and tell you: The game looks a lot better in game. Like... more pretty than scary, even though the screenshots may suggest otherwise.

Also: What's up with the zeppelin in the background?

Offline AdamTierney

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Re: Commercial Critique - Shadow of the Beast

Reply #6 on: November 08, 2006, 08:38:06 pm
The palettes, inconsistent light and occasional pillowshading are driving me nuts. There's some okay pixelling in terms of dithering and design, but it's hard to focus on it with so much bad in there as well.

- Adam

Offline Helm

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Re: Commercial Critique - Shadow of the Beast

Reply #7 on: November 08, 2006, 08:49:05 pm
I like this effect: everything having its own little monochromatic palette pushes things into being very visible. For a game as difficult as SotB such a thing is very important. The gameplay elements are very visible and clear at all times. However, this makes everything seem very much on its own plane and not cohesive with everything else. The design is concurrent thankfully, most of the time, bar the occassional flying technocyber ship of absurdity, so it's held together stiill. As usual, a big of good and a bit of bad for SotB.

Offline Ryumaru

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Re: Commercial Critique - Shadow of the Beast

Reply #8 on: November 08, 2006, 09:27:13 pm
for its age, very well done. the tecniques used hadnt been fully examined enough for people to recognize how horrible they are i suppose. the scrolling is really quite beautiful and gives energy to these monochramitic pieces.

Offline Lackey

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Re: Commercial Critique - Shadow of the Beast

Reply #9 on: November 09, 2006, 01:09:06 am
I noticed when I did my put high contrast sprite remake over one of the actual SotB backgrounds that large parts of it disappeared.  All the sprites in the game are drawn with colours from the upper half of the palette.  This is an interesting reversal of high contrast sprites on low contrast backgrounds.

The paralax effect in the plains, which the game is probably best known for, deserves further examination.  It's pretty much the pinnacle of paralax backgrounds.  There's just enough detail in the different layers to give a very definite sense of perspective: look at the rocks which are present in each slice, they get progressively smaller but are never positioned so as to break the horizontal lines.  The rest of the field, the noisy green parts, blends really well together.  It's practically seemless on the Genesis version which I'm most familiar with.

The sprites in the game are hilarious though.  I mean really, consider that there are loads of enemies which are functionally identical.  They're like notebook doodles made real!  I'm certain the artists had no unifying plan in mind when they were doing them; just draw more enemies.  There are still a few surprising moments.  Like the monster who bursts out of a statue only to be punched down like everyone else.  Also notable is that many of the plains enemies in the Genesis version share the same legs.  I'm not sure if they actually combine sprites and palette swap them or if they were just lazy about making a four frame walk cycle.

Oh, and the orbs/owls/eyeballs!  I have this notion that it's meant as a coy reference to the demoscene origins of many of the psygnosis team members.  I doubt it, but still; being attacked by oscillating orbs!  I can't help but form the association.