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Review Crew
Shadowgate: Did Critics Love this Graphic Adventure in 1989?
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on August 18, 2014   |   Episode 83 (Show Archive)  

   

Shadowgate (Nintendo Entertainment System)
Ever wonder what Electronic Gaming Monthly, GamePro and other popular magazines thought of your favorite 8-, 16- and 32-bit games? Now you can find out, thanks to Review Crew! This is the only show on the internet that is willing to go back in time to find out what old school critics thought of retro games at the time. Did they pan your favorite game? Did they love something terrible? Find out every week as Defunct Games presents Review Crew!

For many console gamers, Shadowgate was their first taste of the graphic adventure genre. These days, everybody is used to pointing and clicking their way through difficult puzzles and dungeons filled with monsters, but that wasn't the case in 1989. Were critics ready to embrace this new genre of gaming, or were they left bored by the slow-pace and emphasis on puzzles? We dig through old issues of Nintendo Power, Video Games & Computer Entertainment, and Nintendo Magazine System for answers.

(NOTE: Although we occasionally cut for length, no other edits are made to the review. Defunct Games does not change any of the wording, grammar or punctuation use. Also keep in mind that our score is the average of all critics at the time, not just the sample that is reprinted on this page. If you still have more questions, I recommend you check out the Review Crew FAQ, where we address the review guidelines, converting scores, magazine covers and more.)

Shadowgate
[ Company: Kemco | Console: NES ]

NINTENDO POWER (Nov/Dec 1989)
4.6 out of 5

"Like most PC-type games, in Shadowgate you will save your progress while collecting items, tools, weapons and treasure. Every new chamber presents new mysteries for you to meet in a head on view and to solve with the assistance of a mobile cursor and extensive option screens. Prepare yourself for a gaming experience like no other!"

VIDEO GAMES & COMPUTER
ENTERTAINMENT (March 1990)
7 out of 10

"Shadowgate is a marvelous introduction for NES owners wishing to experience this type of gaming. I only hope that it will meet with enough success to assure that many other text-adventure games will be released on this format. If you like real adventure, Shadowgate is a must." -C.W.

NINTENDO MAGAZINE SYSTEM #1
26% out of 100%

"Shadowgate is an icon-driven adventure game crammed with frustrating puzzles and thousands of unfair sudden death scenarios. The solutions to each puzzle are completely illogical (OPEN a skull to find a key? We think not), making for an annoying adventure with crappy graphics and nauseating sound to boot."
REVIEW CREW AVERAGE: 56% - Did critics love Shadowgate in 1989? I guess that depends on who you asked. Nintendo Power loved the game, giving it one of their highest scores. Believe it or not, only three 8-bit games scored higher than Shadowgate -- Castlevania III, Ninja Gaiden and Three Stooges. They called it a "gaming experience like no other."

On the complete opposite side is Nintendo Magazine System, which gave Shadowgate an awful 26%. They hated just about everything about this graphic adventure, especially the illogical puzzles. And if that wasn't enough, they also hated the presentation, specifically calling out the "crappy graphics and nauseating sound."

Nintendo Magazine System's score was the lowest we've seen in 83 episodes of Review Crew. At the same time, this was Nintendo Power's highest score yet. Shadowgate was incredibly polarizing at the time, and the awful 56% average doesn't tell the full story. Console gamers may have been confused by this style of game, but that didn't stop Kemco from releasing two additional graphic adventure titles on the NES - Deja Vu and The Uninvited.

NOTE: Normally we like to publish more than three reviews, but that simply wasn't an option in the case of Shadowgate. While other publications eventually reviewed this NES classic, several decided to assign a score without publishing a full review. As such, these reviews are included in the average, even if they do not show up in the sample above. Even though this is an admittedly light episode of Review Crew, we feel it's still interesting to look back at these three very different reviews as we anticipate the brand new reboot. So quit your bitchin'.

ON WEDNESDAY'S EPISODE: We're moving from one classic adventure game to another when the Review Crew tackles Legendary Axe 2 for the TurboGrafx-16. Were critics in love with this sequel or did they prefer the original? We dig through old game magazines to find out, and now you can read all the old reviews this Wednesday. Make sure and check out the Review Crew archive for more old school reviews, and don't forget to tweet me @DefunctGames to let me know what games you want to see next!

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