Shadow Man Review

Shadow Man Featured

Shadow Man Boxart

Developer: Acclaim Studios Teesside
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Platform: Console – Dreamcast, Nintendo 64, PlayStation 1 PC – GOG*, Steam (Reviewed)

The 90s were an incredible era for comic books. We were seeing creative new heroes hitting stands and one of those new names was Shadow Man. Launched in 1992, there was a time when the Shadow Man series sold more than longtime favorites such as Batman! Of course, with such popularity, it was only a matter of time before a video game was produced. The first game, Shadow Man, came in 1999.

Shadow Man Screenshot 1

The story in Shadow Man follows lead character Michael who has become the “Shadow Man”. With this power, he is able to venture between the realm of the living and dead, otherwise known as Liveside and Deadside. Using a host of magical powers he is able to navigate the underworld and work to stop Legion who are preparing to destroy Liveside.

Even with a neat little story, the gameplay ends up being fairly standard especially for the time. It plays as an action-adventure title with platforming and tons of enemy encounters. Unlike most platformers of the era, it definitely has a very distinct look about it. Deadside is dark, ominous, and full of creepy aspects. It also features unique level design which offered some surprises despite my familiarity with platformers.

It would be a lot more fun to check out the landscape if there weren’t so many enemies dotting the landscape. No matter where you go, it’s always likely there will be at least one creature there to slow your progress. Killing them is not too hard, but usually requires firing a weapon four or more times to defeat them. This is slow and bogs down exploration because it can be hard to platform when they’re firing projectiles back at you. So basically, you’ll have to kill most you come across, although this is made a bit easier by a decent auto lock on mechanic.

Shadow Man Featured

Another high point of the game is its music. It fits in well with the themes of the game and is better than expected. It seems there was definitely a lot of work put into trying to make Shadow Man something far better than the average game adaptation. Of course, when you’ve got contemporaries such as Superman 64 to compare against… perhaps there wasn’t much competition at all. The PC release is by far the best version to play, but if you need a console copy, consider Dreamcast as your choice. Here’s a video comparison of the three home system versions.

There is a devoted following around this game and it makes sense why. Shadow Man was unlike any other action platformers out when it came around. It also still stands as one of the rare games to feature an African American protagonist. With a release on PC and all main consoles of the time it also managed to be successful. Although it doesn’t hold up in the same way today, Shadow Man is still a noteworthy part of gaming history worth playing.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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