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Updated November 20, 2004

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Shadow of Power
(Master Creating)

"A million adventures for glory and honor"
2000 QB Gaming Gold Award Winner for Best Graphics and Best RPG

Get ready some for sword-swinging action andreal-time spellcasting in this overhead RPG adventure from Master Creating.You play Holger, the not-so-bright but powerful fighter from the smallvillage. Your mission is to gather the four pieces of the lost gem anddiscover the mystery of the Mystic Tower before you are overwhelmed bya managerie of medevil-type monsters!

Each gem you must find is scattered withina vast universe of deserts, forests, castles, labyrinths. Sniffies, Orcwarriors,Goblins, and undead creatures await you at every turn. The bosses are especiallynasty because they can cast devastating spells! So master your own spellsand unsheath your sword, Holger! The world is against you!

Theuse of animation and visual effects to stimulate the senses
This is the thirdtime Shadow of Power has been reviewed by V Planet. The first two timeswere requested by Merlin of Master Creating. This third review is saluteto Shadow of Power v1.4, which now features a new voice actor. So sincemost of the improvements in the game involve the sound, the graphics scoreremains the same.

If you've ever playedZelda III, you're probably familar with the body of graphic elements thatmake up Shadow of Power, considering the fact that the game itself is outto be the premiere "Zelda III" clone. This is apparent from the very beginning,whenyou wake up in Holger's little world. You'd find yourself surrounded bynewly drawn Zelda trees and Zelda grass. You know it's redrawn, but you'veseen it before.

The scrolling andanimation for this game is very polished, and you get to see a lot of atmosphericeffects that you wouldn't usually see in QB. Some examples include raineffects, lighting, and explosions. In terms of art style, SoP doesn't compareto Zelda III, but it does come just one league below. Overall, I was impressedvery much by Shadow of Power's use of graphics. A point off though forlack of originality since it looks a little too overinspired by Zelda III.

Sound/Music (n.)
Thesmooth blend of atmospheric sounds and original harmonies
Let's start by talkingabout the sound effects, which was the emphasis of Master Creating's improvementplan for Shadow of Power for this latest version. Surprisingly, a lot ofthe sounds remain the same. The villagers sound just about right with theirprofanity and what-not, the enemies and sword-slashing are still as crispas the first time this game was tried, and overall the sound effects borrowedfrom the Net were unchanged.

The dialogue in Shadowof Power is a mixture of live speech and text boxes, with Holger (the maincharacter in SoP) doing most of the SB voice sampling. That's why I foundit very peculiar that Master Creating initially chose such a cowardly-soundingvoice actor to do the voice of Holger. I swear... when I was playing Holgerin Shadow of Power v1.0, I felt like I was playing an over-acting wusswho didn't know how to swing a sword if his life depended on it  (andoftentimes it did).

That's why it waspleasing to me when Master Creating mended the situation by hiring Lukasto re-do all of Holger's voice samples. Lukas has a much manier voice (althoughHolger still sounds high-pitched when he's a little dumbfounded). So thecentral character of the game is no longer annoying.

But as far as I'mconcerned, Master Creating has only rid of half of the sound dilemma thatmakes me cringe. Shadow of Power's choice of BWSB music includes one toomany popular video game tunes and radio songs (Act Raiser, Zelda, Alladinto name a few.) These are great songs, but the only way to truly give SoPit's individuality and get at least a four on the sound/music categoryis to spice up the game with some original music from a QB musician.

Gameplay (n.)
Theprecision of control and involvement of character within its universe
I'll say it beforeand I'll say it again: Shadow of Power may have an abundance of weaponsand magic, but there are only a handful that prove to be very useful. Allthe standard Zelda weapons seem to come into play as your quest in SoPdevelops. The gameplay is also similar to Zelda III, with overhead swordbattles and sparse amounts of gold. My best advice to you, since gold israre at first and a lot of the items aren't very practical, is not to buyanything unless you really need it.

In terms of the game'slayout, Shadow of Power is a dungeon-to-dungeon type game with some bosses,an auto-map feature, and an arrow pointer that helps direct you to thenext part of the game. Instructions are given to you every step of theway in terms of what to do, so the emphasis in SoP is focused on battling.There's no experience though; most of the time you have to battle to stayalive.

In terms of gameplayI have two complaints regarding the latest incantation of Shadow of Power.Exhibit "A" is the game's auto-save feature, which automatically savesyour game whenever Holger leaves to the next room. This includes the positionof the monsters, so oftentimes if you run away from a battle you couldforce yourself into a very sticky situation. l've also seen instances wherethe game's engine can't tell which room Holger is actually in, which causesthe game to go pitch black until you ease Holger left or right. Then there'salways the occasional walk into a room that doesn't exist and causing yoursavegame to crash (by the way, if that happens, click hereto get some tools that you'll need to restore your corrupt savefile.)

This brings me tomy second complaint about the gameplay, which involve the lack of fairnessin battle. You see, when Holger gets hit he bounces backward like a pinballuntil he hits the corner. So I see enemies that hug the corner of the roomsso that Holger is instantly killed before he can move or lay a hit (makinglife bars useless). I've even seen enemies that teleport right on top ofHolger, which will kill him outright. Yeah, it's great to make a game challenging(SoP is border-line impossible on Hard mode), but at least give Holgersome space to make a decision before he's put into a compromising position!A few routines that assure that the enemies don't just appear on top ofyou as you walk around, or even a "blinking" state which gives Holger achance to physically recover after he's hit once, would make SoP a lotmore fair.

Story (n.)
Thecreativity and presentation of the game's critical plot
Shadow of Power'sAchilles Heel. I found SoP's plot to be very ambiguous, and full of thingsthat I've already seen before from one Playstation or SNES RPG from timeto time. Of course, a lot of RPGs, both QB and console, suffer from thissame fault. But SoP didn't have the flow or the depth of a grand storyeither... these are things to think about, perhaps, if Master Creatingdecides to make a Shadow of Power 2.

SoP features livespeech, which has its ups and downs. Sometimes I couldn't hear what washappening next, which made me lose an important clue. Then, I tried speakingto them again but they mumble the equivalent of "So don't forget what Itold you" or something like that. The result is a lot of guesswork. Theplot is also a lot of "Find this! Now find this!" in ways that didn't makea lot of sense.

Replay Value (n.)
Thetimelessness of the gamer's delight, such that the experience can be repeatedagain and again
With three challengelevels, there are some parts in Shadow of Power that are a joy to playagain, and some parts of Shadow of Power that you'd rather not. For example,it would be great to enjoy more of SoP's treasure-hunting and enemy bludgeoningelements. But when there are rooms with ten wizards and two orc warriorswhile you don't have the magic or the elf boots to protect you, then you'drather pass on repeating that experience. Stay especially wary of the Hardchallenge level, in which the enemies are just too cheap for the game tobe playable. 
Challenge (v.)
Tostrike the mental nerve in such a way as to stimulate human thought andreflexes
Shadow of Power'sdefinite high point. Shadow of Power features a lot of puzzle elements,especially when you have to find the blue crystals. Also, you can't stockpileitems like bombs from stores like you usually would in most other QBRPGs.You have to find the items you need in the vast SoP world, which meansyou have to solve more tricky room puzzles. The layout of the game alsooffers many hours of solid play.

As if the challengewasn't thorough enough, the battles are so difficult that SoP would makeGauntlet Legends look like a cakewalk. Sometimes the difficulty of a roomwill border the impossible mark, not only because the enemies outnumberyou, but because the enemies will try to smother and cheap you to death.Again, it would be nice to get a little more fairness every now and thenhere, because sometimes I would get a chain of Game Overs before I canescape or have an open shot  to cast a big spell in a trafficked room.

Fun Factor (n.)
Theoverall entertainment value as maintained throughout the adventure
Shadow of Powerstill has some ways to go in indvidualizing itself from being just a "Zelda"clone. The first step involves making some new music, which will allowpeople to stop subliminally comparing SoP with the console games with whichthese music tunes come from. If I was going to add another suggestion,some changes in gameplay need to be done. Fairness in battle somehow needsto be increased without getting in the way of Shadow of Power's high challengerating, and some over-similarities to the gameplay formula need to be tweaked,if not changed. But then again, being a full-fledged Zelda clone isn'tsuch a bad thing considering that so many QB games try to be a Zelda clonewhere only a limited few succeed.
Players 1player Genre:RPG/Adventure Game
Rating To solve: 4-12 hours Final Rating:20/35

Todownload Shadow of Power (3.90MB), click here.
wIfyou're unzipping this program in DOS, use the -d option.
wShadowof Power will not run without Microsoft Windows or Microsoft Windows 9x.
wIfyou're using Microsoft Windows 9x, right-click each .EXE file. Choose "Properties",then click on "Screen". Change the "Usage" to Full-screen. Then, clickon "Program" and change the Run Selection to "Maximized." This should preventWindows from interfering with the game. 
wToplay Shadow of Power, run "Shadow of Power.EXE".

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20out of 35 points

TheHighs: Huge game-world and top-notch graphics.
TheLows: Some unoriginal sounds, characters,and game concepts get in the way of enjoying Holger and the rest of thegame.

V Planet! Archive
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