Shadow Fighter logo Amiga Computing Platinum Award

Just when you thought there were too many beat-'em-ups around, Gremlin comes kicking and punching into the genre with one of its own. Jonathan Maddock fights in the review corner.


What with the recent release of Rise of the Robots and Mortal Kombat 2, you'd think that it would be rather a bad time to release a beat-'em-up of your own. Gremlin Interactive have done exactly this with its latest offering, Shadow Fighter, so they must know something we don't. Gremlin believes, that its beat-'em-up, created by Italian developers, NAPS Team, will kick its competitors out of the ring and claim the spot at the top of the charts for its very own.

Some of you probably haven't heard anything about Shadow Fighter, mainly because of its low-key release and the fact that the other two contenders have been backed my massive TV advertising campaigns which have been practically force-fed and rammed down your throats.

Shadow Fighter features everything you'd want in a beat-'em-up with its special moves, secret manoeuvres and its 16 characters, all with their own fighting styles and personalities.

So how does Gremlin Interactive's game fare up against the combined might of Mortal Kombat 2 and Rise of the Robots?
Will the big boys beat it up and toss it aside like a rag doll, or will the underdog, Shadow Fighter, put in a sterling Rocky-style performance and claim the beat-'em-up championship belt for its very own, after knocking its opponents down with a strength-sapping punch in the last minute of the final round of the fight?


Kioya Mishuma is a seventeenth century Samurai held in high esteem by his Emperor and the people for his honourable and disciplined life. He is a man blessed with an agile mind and his skill with a sword was unrivalled.

Plagued by dreams, he longed for more fame and wished to become a living legend. Chronozon, keeper of the abyss and gateway to the after world, found Kioya's dreams very interesting. He dispatched his personal servant to claim his noble soul, for such a soul would be highly prized by his master.

One night, Kioya woke up with a start to find a shadow standing at the foot of his bed with a globe of light in its hand. All the dreams that had troubled him were in the globe, there for the taking Kioya has been blessed by the silent messenger.

His feats across the kingdom became legendary, and it was said that Kioya could achieve the impossible Soon his confident swagger was despised by the other Samurai. Kioya had begun to abuse his status and people saw him for the false idol he was.

Kioya rebelled against his doubters and in a rage, killed countless of his fellow Samurai. This deed did not go unnoticed. Chronozon despatched his demons to curse Kioya's now worthless and foolish soul. Cursed to become one of the walking dead, Kioya's only wish now was that of release from his torment.

Eventually he offered a tremendous award to the individual who could give him peace, someone who could overcome his formidable combat skills. Fighters from all around the world began combat, for the honour of pitting themselves against the Shadow Fighter - perhaps the greatest fighter who ever walked the earth.



Audio have been a bit of a problem for the latest beat-'em-up releases. Brian May's guitar twiddling in Rise of the Robots is pathetic, and the so-called tunes in Mortal Kombat 2 are bog-standard coin-op compositions and I wouldn't dream of letting them damage your ear-lobes. Shadow Fighter, on the other hand or should that be ear, is superb, simply because it has an extremely strong soundtrack.

The menu music, with its fast break-beat, sounds okay, but the fun really starts when you start fighting. A range of tunes with a banging beat and some mad acid squelches really do enhance the overall atmosphere.

The sound effects aren't anything to shout about, but they do the job adequately enough, with plenty of thumps, bumps and smacks in all the right places. The simple fact that Shadow Fighter sounds better than any of its recent competitors is a good enough reason to rave on about the soundtrack, and thus it gets a big thumbs up from me.




The first thing that you'll notice when you pick up the Shadow Fighter box is the artwork on the front and just how good it looks. Gremlin Interactive hired Greg Staples, the highly-rated 2000AD artist responsible for the art in strips such as Slaine and ABC Warriors, to produce the cover art and provide illustrations for all sixteen characters. So, before I even loaded the game I was already impressed by the presentation of the product.

Thankfully, this style continues when you start to play. There is no fancy and mind-numbingly dull introduction, so you're able to get straight into the action without any trouble at all.

The characters are superb and whichever one you choose, you won't be disappointed because each has an astounding set of moves, special or otherwise and,to be perfectly honest, they're so original it's like a breath of fresh air in the world of beat-'em-ups.

The backdrops are nicely drawn and are linked with whatever country the fighters are fighting in. The countries aren't even bog-standard ones. You can scrap your way around the world in places such as Denmark, Thailand, Pakistan, Tibet and to make things even more different, there's even a space level for you to enjoy.

For an A500/600 game, Shadow Fighter really does perform at the highest level. OK, so maybe the characters are lacking colours in places, but this isn't an AGA version and with sixteen characters you'd be hard pressed to find 32 colours that suit every fighter. A1200 owners have no need to fear though, because a super-enhanced version will be forthcoming, complete with 256 colour graphics, and I'm already drooling at the mere thought of it.




This A500/600 version of Shadow Fighter may not look as tasty as its other two beat-'em-up rivals, but it plays a lot better. The characters are as original as anything I've seen in the genre, as are all their special moves, and there are so many nice touches I simply don't have the space to tell you about them all.

For example, the training session, where you face another character called Pupazz who is basically a stuffed training dummy, is a brilliant idea. This allows you to test all your special moves and although Pupazz looks harmless, he packs quite a few surprises.

The way the control system is set-up is well done and it won't be long before you're going through various combinations of moves with the greatest of ease.

Shadow Fighter works well as a two player, but surprisingly enough the one-player game is just as good. It's very tough and you'll need plenty of hours practice before you meet the Shadow Fighter, but at least you progress unlike Mortal Kombat 2.

As far as beat-'em-ups go on the Amiga, I've been more than pleasantly surprised by Shadow Fighter. It could go on from strength to strength after the release of the AGA version and finally take the beat-'em-up crown away from games like Body Blows and Mortal Kombat.

Shadow Fighter logo

Steve McGill challenges beat-em-up Shadow Fighter to a bout against Shaq Fu. But which of these new contenders will match the mighty Mortal Kombat II?

As surprises go, beat-em-ups don't come much more surprising than Shadow Fighter. Programmed and designed by an unknown, unheard group of Italian ex-conscripts, this beat-em-up rates as one of the best available on any 16-bit platform. It incorporates all of the features that make a computer combat simulation enjoyable.

Sixteen characters that are player-selectable. A control system that's easy to get to grips with. Special moves that make sense and can be pulled off 90 per cent of the time that the combatant demands them.

Backdrops that feel as if they're part of the game rather than just a bit of lushness tacked on for the sake of appearance (à la Elfmania). And finally, move combos that not only look good but also become intuitive and are repeatable by a skillful player.

Add to all of the above a manga-esque, cartoony-look to the characters and you're looking at a presentation that's not only going to delight you visually but will appeal to you atavistic primeval urges and keep you playing until you've mastered the special moves and intricacies of every character.

The special moves make more sense, because the actual combinations of joystick action required relate to the movement on screen and so feel natural. Unlike the more mechanical responses needed for Mortal Kombat II.

The icing to the cake, there's a training mode which, while helping the player to learn special moves and combinations, feels more like taking part in a horrific, hallucinatory cartoon. Hurrah for Pupazz the demonic vengeful spirit of all shop dummies!

While the training mode is hilarious, the two-player option is the most fun. It doesn't offer anything unusual in terms of structure, such as the fighter in IK+ or the tag teaming of Body Blows. But it's passable. The players choose a character each and fight a duel. Best out of three bouts wins, and that's it.

Meanwhile, the one-player tournament is pleasing while at the same time being a bit less predictable than normal.

To earn a bout from the Shadow Fighter himself, medium or hard must be selected and a certain number of bouts fought; 10 and 16 respectively. It's a good idea, because it discourages the temptation to play through and win all the bouts at easy level and then never play the game again.

So, to sum up, Shadow Fighter is one of the favourite contenders to take the Amiga Format beat-em-up crown.

Shadow Fighter logo Shaq-Fu logo

N ach "Rise of the Robots" und "Mortal Kombat II" kämpfen zwei weitere Raufbolde um den Titel des besten Nasenbrechers am Amiga - Ring frei zum Schlagabtausch!


Zunächst scheint Shaq-Fu die Faust vorn zu haben: Mit Electronic Arts, Ocean und Delphine waren drei renommierte Häuser an der Entwicklung beteiligt, zusätzlich könnte man den Basketball-Superstar Shaquille O'Neil als Zugpferd verpflichten. Bloß verstand der schon am Mega Drive mehr von Dunks...

Und so wird hier bereits beim Wechsel zum Optionsscreen (wo sich der Cursor erst nach dem Abstöpseln der Maus bewegt) tüchtig nachgeladen, später tritt die Floppy noch häufig in Aktion - selbst mit einem Zweitläufer ist man dauernd am Diskettenwechseln.

Warum eine HD-Installation unmöglich ist, bleibt unverständlich, liegen die sechs Scheiben doch ohnehin im HD-tauglichen DOS-Format vor.

Und auch die Unterstützung von Zwei-Button-Sticks und -Pads vermag den angeschlagenen Spielspaß nicht mehr über die Runden zu retten: Egal, ob man im Story-Modus zwecks Schauplatz-Wahl über eine Oberwelt streift und die versammelten Feinde bis hin zum finalen Oberbösewicht Scatt niederkämpft, ob sich zwei Spieler duellieren oder ob bis zu acht Turnierteilnehmer auf des Gegners Energieleiste einkloppen, die Kicks, Schläge und Special-Moves sind wegen der trägen Steuerung nur zäh an den Mann zu bringen.

Tja, schade um die zwölf anwählbaren Charaktere mit ihren teils recht spektakulären Fähigkeiten, schade um die Möglichkeit, das Zeitlimit zu regeln oder im Duo-Modus eins von zehn Kampfszenarien bestimmen und sich auf ein Handikap einigen zu können.

Schade nicht zuletzt um die zwar eher kleinen, aber astrein animierten und vor hübschen Kulissen rangelnden Sprites. Auch die gelungenen Musikstücke und Sound-FX sind mehr oder weniger für die Katz, bleibt nur zu hoffen, daß die geplanten AGA- und CD-Versionen mit verbessertem Handling aufwarten.


Der Kontrahent steigt für Gremlin in den Ring, stammt vom italienischen Newcomer-Team N.A.P.S. und spielt sich sehr viel besser. Auch hier geht ein Fight über maximal drei Runden: Sieger ist, wer sein Gegenüber zweimal K.o. schlägt.

Abgesehen von der obligaten Duo-Keilerei unterscheiden sich die Optionen aber völlig: Storymodus und Turnier fehlen, statt dessen üben Solisten zunächst an einer mit Kreissäge und Flammenwerfer ausgestatteten Punching-Puppe, bestreiten dann vielleicht einen Trainingskampf und legen schlußendlich alle Gegner bis hin zum Oberschatten auf die Matte.

Obwohl extra ein "Blutmodus" zugeschaltet werden kann, geht es hier aber sehr friedlicher als etwa bei "Mortal Kombat II" zu, denn die Körper- bzw. Stickbeherrschung steht klar im Vordergrund.

Sämtliche Schläge und Tritte sind bequem mit einem Feuerknopf zu handhaben, nur die meist unspektakulären Special-Moves wie der Elektrosmasher oder die Erdbebenfaust erfordern etwas komplexere Manöver - jeder der 16 anwählbaren Schattenboxer (darunter zwei Damen und ein Terminator-Klon aus Flüssigmetall) hat drei bis sieben davon in seinem Repertoire. Doch auch wenn das Spieling überzeugt, ganz ohne Nachladezeiten und Wechseleien geht es auch bei den hiesigen vier Scheibletten nicht ab.

Der Lohn der Mühe sind teilweise übergroße und stets fein animierte Kämpfen, die vor 13 nur selten etwas farbarm geratenen Szenarien auftreten, welche mit Parallax-Scrolling und einen hübschen 3D-Effekt des Bodens aufwarten.

Auf die Ohren gibt es haufenweise Kampf-FX und Sprachfetzen sowie auf Wunsch Begleitmusik oder sehr atmosphärische Hintergrund-Geräusche.

Kurzum, der Außenseiter gewinnt das Duell - wer weiß, in den auch hier geplanten AGA- und CD-Fassungen dann vielleicht sogar gegen dem aktuellen Prügel-King "Mortal Kombat II"? (rl)

Shadow Fighter logo

Follow me on this one. Everyone in beat-'em-ups hates each other, right? If they're not the brother of another one who's chosen a path of the Dark Side, then they're a pupil gone off the rails and forever chased by their good and frustrating teacher. They've murdered each other's sisters, cheated on their wives and maybe, just maybe, stolen each other's winning lottery tickets. These are all good reasons to kick each others duodenums out, and on this level bat-'em-ups make sense.

But hang on a minute. These fights aren't swift, impromptu brawls fuelled by alcohol, macho task, and years of embittered hatred. They're organised, three round matches which involve at least one, and usually both combatants flying half way round the world to meet at a set place ina foreign country to fight each other.

It's Jeux Sans Frontiers, only without Eddy Waring and with the risk of serious injury elevated to an art form, and would take a massive amount of good will and cooperation for both fighters to book the tie off wor, buy their tickets and turn up at the same place at the same time. Hardly the actions of two individuals who have worn to beat each other into a bloody pulp, are they?

So that's the entire concept of story lines discredited and rubbished then. I don't care whether the Sorcerer didn't get enough attention from his mother as a boy, or if Liu Kang is the love child of Marilyn Monroe and Bruce Lee, and to be honest, until I played Shadow Fighter, I didn't really care if beat-'em-ups existed at all.

I'd always thought that they were limited exercises in reactions and button pushing, and pretty dull. I also thought (mainly because it's true) that most beat-'em-ups on the Amiga weren't as good as beat-'em-ups on other formats.

Times have changed though. Shadow Fighter's a great game by any standards, and everyone in the office (apart from Sue, who's far too busy to bother with games these days) has been playing it continuously since we got it. We've got the thumb blisters to prove it.

It's great because Domenico and the two Fabios (three Milanese kids who, according to the Gremlin legend, simply sent the game in practically finished) have taken a look at the world around them and taken note.

Although I've only ever played it about twice, Super Street Fighter 2 in the arcades (apparently) the world's greatest beat-'em-up, combining short-term playability flawlessly with long-term appeal, and consequently sucking change out of pockets across the world faster and with greater ease than a giant vacuum mounted to a spy satellite in geosynchronous orbit.

If you've ever needed a blueprint for a perfect game, then it's out there in most arcades. It's consequently a bit baffling to see "combat simulations" such as that CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY Rise Of The Robots, which fail to take into account any of the lessons learned by other games, and are consequently about as playable as underwater tennis.

Shadow Fighter steals shamelessly from here, there and everywhere, snipping all the best bits from everywhere and squashing them all into one. There's a scary butch bloke who looks and moves a bit like Blanka, a scary thin bloke who's clearly a non-rubbery Dhalsim, and even a cute girl with lethal hair, not entirely unlike a character from the disappointing Elfmania.

Oh sure, once you've mastered the fireballs

Then it grabs a few bits from Super Street Fighter 2 X and Mortal Kombat - whoever gets the first hit in gets a point bonus, and if you manage to land three different blows in succession, you get an "excellent" rating and momentarily stun your opponent, allowing you to get a few more punches in. These are admittedly small things, but they add considerably to the game and also break up all that tedious punching and kicking stuff.

With loads of locations and masses of characters to play, Shadow Fighter's good for at least a week of novelty value, with you and a friend trying out all the possible combinations of characters and locations.

Thankfully though, once you've lost the initial buzz of playing such a great-looking game (for even on the humble and increasingly neglected A500, you've got mock Mode 7 floors, parallaxing backgrounds and more colours on screen than are supposed to be possible) there;s still loads to see and do.

The control system's excellent, and makes us think that the programmers actually love beat-'em-ups, and didn't just simply try to cash in on the craze. We've not gone to the bother of counting them, but most character have over 20 easily-accessible moves, and that's with a bog-standard one-button joystick.

All the punches and kicks are dealt with using standard directions or directions-plus-fire, and the special moves tend to use simple swirls of the D-pad with a fire at the right moment rather than the fiddly UP, DOWN, RIGHT combos of MK2.

Forever chased by their good and trusting teacher

Different moves work at slightly different distances, so rather than having close attacks and missile/fireball distant attacks, there's a number of grades in between. Fat Kraut Cop for instance, can perform all his punch attacks holding a truncheon, thus extending his reach, so his ranges of attack are punching, swinging a truncheon, kicking, jump kicking and using his gun.
I'm not into beat-'em-ups enough to know if other games have this kind of flexibility, but it's the first time I've seen it on an Amiga.

The characters have, well, character. Oh sure, there's a couple of fairly forgettable ones such as Boxing Gloves Fella and Beardy Bloke, but even they're quite fun to use once you get into them. Cute Tiger Girl's the one we'd all fancy if she were real, and even though she's a bit weak and puny, especially against Stout Blond Lass, the fact that she shouts "Judith!" and rolls around with her opponent more than makes up for it.

They're already planning a data disk with eight new characters (To be designed by YOU, the readers of AP. See page 69 - Ed), but these will keep you happy for ages, simply because they're NOT all evenly matched.

Oh sure, once you've mastered fireballs and burning kicks, 14 Year Old Boy proves to be rock hard, but in a stand up fist fight against the adults, he WILL get a righteous kicking.

There's a certain amount of suspension of disbelief necessary to fully enjoy the game. Why does Cute Tiger Girl's hair inflict as much damage as a punch? How come Fat Kraut Cop can carry a gun into the compo, and how come Hat Geezer's sword doesn't cleave some of the thinner contestants in two? Where does Basketball Player keep his basketball? And where does Obvious T1000 Rip-Off go when he turns into a blob of liquid and vanishes up his opponent's trouser leg? Who knows and who cares? It's all jolly good fun.

If you can fault the game on anything, it's the one-player game, but then again, what kind of friendlies saddo buys beat-'em-ups to play them on their own? The computer player annoyingly accesses the special moves all the time, and on the easier levels it's possible to "Do a Rise Of The Robots" and get half way through the game using just two or three of the moves all the time, which is plainly silly and self defeating.

They really have thought of everything. Yes, it's hard disk installable (well, the A1200 version will be), yes it supports a second disk drive (which is just as well, as there's often a lot of disk swapping if you're playing against a friend. If you're playing a tournament against the computer the disks go in one at a time and stay there until you've beaten all the fighter's stored on them) and yes, you can replay a match with the same characters without going back to the menu screen, something that Mortal Kombat 2 won't do.

The sound's fun, with heavy crunching blows and people shouting "Judith!" all the time, the graphics are superbly animated and everything zips along at a sizzling pace. It's a superb game, and when the CD32 version emerges, eliminating all that tiresome disk swapping it'll rank alongside Guardian (the game of champions) as a powerful reason to buy one.

Ignore the hype, pour scorn on MK2's bland set of characters and limited moves, and buy the best beat-'em-up on the Amiga.


Every character's got a stupid name and daft reason to fight, which we can't be bothered to go into. Here's a broad cross section of them though.

Shadow Fighter
BOXING GLOVES FELLA: A bland, generic, identi-kit type of guy. With boxing gloves.

Shadow Fighter
SCARY HULK MAN: He has to hunch over just to fit on the screen.

Shadow Fighter
CUTE TIGER GIRL: Rooaaargghh! Right lads?

Shadow Fighter
14 YEAR OLD BOY: Just don't talk to him about girls, alright?

Shadow Fighter
COKE ("-A COLA - ED") DEALER: Hot off the streets of Medellin, Colombia, he looks mean and turns into a panther.

Shadow Fighter
FAT KRAUT COP: Complete with baton, handgun and silly haircut.

Shadow Fighter
SCRAWNY MYSTIC BLOKE: Has harnessed the power of the universe. Or some old tat like that.

Shadow Fighter
HAT GEEZER: Despite his misleading title, Hat Geezer sports a massive, but curiously non-fatal sword. Nice trousers too, don't you think?

Shadow Fighter
STOUT BLOND LASS: Just an average girl. With electric powers. In lycra.

Shadow Fighter
KICK BOXER: Just like the guy out of that Jean Claude van Damme movie.

Shadow Fighter
BEARDY BLOKE: Behold, he is a fearsome warrior. Fearsomely dull. With a beard.

Shadow Fighter
OBVIOUS T1000 RIP-OFF: Complete with 'hands turn to blades' attacks.

Shadow Fighter
THE SHADOW FIGHTER: Scary end of level baddy that we haven't actually got to yet. Oops.


Shadow Fighter
ZZAPPP!! Pupazz grins sinisterly as he blaps several kilo-volts through your bod.

Shadow Fighter
BZZZZT! Death from afar as a massive and sharp buzz saw rips through bone and flesh.

Shadow Fighter
HISSSSS-KA-BOOOM!! Quaintly old fashioned bombs protect the king of scary mannequins.

Shadow Fighter
SPONGGGE! There's no getting away from that old favourite - the comedy cartoon fist.

Shadow Fighter logo CU Amiga Superstar

Price: £25.99 Publisher: Gremlin Interactive 061 832 6633

Christmas, traditionally a time of peace and harmony, has been turned into a bloodbath by unscrupulous software houses. Alan Dykes reports from the scene...

It's really heating up down here in the battle of the beat 'em ups. The best looking contender 'Pretty Boy' Rise Of The Robots was knocked out in the first round with duff playability, but the remaining two combatants, the son of last year's champion Mortal 'No Hype... honestly' Kombat 2 and Shadow 'Italian Stallion' Fifhter, a relatively unknown outsider from the land of pasta and parma ham are still in the running.

Blood is everywhere, joysticks have been broken and the referee has been beaten up by a German cop and had his spine ripped out by a man with a mask. Oh it's terrible...

A month or so ago Gremlin Interactive announced that they had signed up the fighting game of the year, and few believed them. Come on, how can you have the fighting game of the year and not tell anyone about it until it's almost on the shelves?

If it's that good they'd want to hype it up a little. But the reason for this lack of hype is simple: Gremlin didn't know they were going to release it themselves until roughly November of last year. And they weren't telling fibs either - it is good.

The game has been designed and programmed by an Italian team consisting of programmer Domenico Barba, graphic artist Fabio Capone and Fabio Cicciarello, the man responsible for its music and sound effects. They started work on it at the beginning of 1994, and it was some feat getting it all ready for release by Christmas - by the time you read this Shadow Figther should have been on the shelves for two or three weeks - less than a year later.

Looking at the screenshots you could be forgiven for thinking that this was an update of Body Blows, the scaling of the sprites and graphic backgrounds are similar, but the game itself is different, in as much as any beat 'em up could be 'different'.

Not for Shadow Fighter the beautiful rendered graphics of Rise or the realistic sprites of Mortal Kombat, these are pure cartoon fighters, but the level of animation is good and the separately scrolling backgrounds are smooth, if a tad colourless. That said, you can fight in 16 different countries, so you're never short of variety in the background stakes. There are three options available in the main menu as far as fighting is concerned: single player vs computer in championship mode, training which involves a single player Vs the practice dummy Pupazz, one player single battle against the computer or human vs human.

In the championship fight you can select one of six lower level characters and then battle your way past the other 15, while in any of the other three modes you can pick whichever character you like and fight against any other - except for the Shadow Fighter himself, who is reserved only for those who deserve to fight him.

The first thing you'll notice on Shadow Fighter's box is the 2000AD inspired artwork, the second is the flash in the corner which claims there's 'an amazing 17 different fighters'. Jolly good, no fibs here either: there are 17 fighters and they are all amazingly different.

The range of characters goes far beyond the standard Streetfighter-inspired Ken and Ryu to include a fighting basketball player, a cop, a magic carpet riding Pakistani guru and a shape altering blob of T1000 type metal, not dissimilar in idea (but visually nothing like) the Supervisor in Rise Of The Robots.

Each character has a wide variety of standard blocking and hitting moves and up to five special moves. These range from the form morphing antics of Khrome, the flowing metal man to the rather Blanka like moves of Kury, the Tibetan monster.

Special moves are carried out in the traditional joystick back-forward-fire style combination of sequential movements and it is essential that they are learned. Each fighter will have one or two which are really easy to carry off and some of these enable long range attacks. None of the moves will take all of your opponent's power away but a well timed combination will finish him or her off pronto.

Although the manual claims are up to five special moves it doesn't tell you how to do all of them, and in the process of finding out you may find some other moves which look pretty special. Suffice to say that trying all possible joystick combinations will reap plentiful rewards.

I loved Shadow Fighter from the moment I first played it. The players' moves are fluid and the special moves aren't too difficult to discover and master. The game doesn't have as much hype surrounding it as Mortal Kombat 2 and it looks more old fashioned in terms of graphics, but it comes well on playability and on the number of fighters you get to play.

If MK2 hadn't been such a stunning conversion then Shadow Fighter would have walked all over it. As it stands we're divided over the two. In terms of the Amiga, Shadow Fighter is without doubt the best indigenous beat 'em up on it, but Ed Laurence who reviewed MK2 for us is a console fanatic too and has got caught up in the sense of excitement that has generated - so there's no doubt that beat 'em up purists will agree with him.

For my money though, and hype aside, if you were a Body Blows fan then Shadow Fighter has got enough characters and impact to keep you playing for a long time - and Gremlin have promised an expansion that will include eight more fighters early next year.


Every fighter has either four or five special moves, and in order to win against the computer or a human opponent you will need to master these. The manual gives a full list of the special moves but only tells you how to do two. The rest aren't hard to find though, provided you're used to beat-'em-ups. Slam Dunk, the Danish basketball star's five are shown below.

Shadow Fighter: Slam Dunk's Special Move
The jumping basketball slam, a useful close quarters move, but leaves Slam Dunk vulnerable if unsuccessful.

Shadow Fighter: Slam Dunk's Special Move
The spinning fire kick, a powerful move with a range of about half a screen, can be defended against in a crouching position.

Shadow Fighter: Slam Dunk's Special Move
The speed attack is a shoulder ramming action that's fast and powerful. This is one of Slam's long range moves.

Shadow Fighter: Slam Dunk's Special Move
The fireball attack involves Slam throwing a flaming basketball, the longer the distance the easier it is to avoid though.

Shadow Fighter: Slam Dunk's Special Move
The head spring kick is a flaming overhead powerkick which is effective but difficult to do, and it can leave Slam vulnerable.

Punchbag practice

One of the really nice touches in Shadow Fighter is the provision of a training dummy to practice your moves against. Called Pupazz, he will defend himself vigorously with a variety of the most bizarre weapons, and a padded bag which jumps out of his stomach. Although he looks easy to defeat (he's so cute) when you make him mad he'll drop dynamite in your path, attack you with a saw on an extendible arm, or a flamethrower and, funniest of all, he'll try to hit you with a gigantic fist that pops out his neck after his hinged head flies off. However, if you don't attack him, i.e. when you're positioning yourself to practice a special move, he won't do anything to you.

Shadow Fighter: Slam Dunk's Special Move
Here he is, Pupazz, made in Taiwan. Something so cute could never cause any problems, could it?

Shadow Fighter: Slam Dunk's Special Move
Don't you believe it! Here's just one of his vicious moves, the extendible saw. Practice turns out to be not so easy.

Shadow Fighter: Slam Dunk's Special Move
But he's just a dummy after all, and even that punch bag with the sad face on it can't save him from a Top Knot move.

Shadow Fighter: Slam Dunk's Special Move
Once it's all over Pupazz comes out the fight with a small every time. If you intend to fight the computer Pupazz will really help.

Shadow Fighter AGA logo AGA Amiga Computing Platinum Award

Tina "couldn't knock the skin off a Rice Pudding" Hackett looks at Gremlin's beat-'em-up.


The best has just got even better! It sounds a bit of a sweeping statement to make but believe me it's true. Gremlin Interactive's excellent beat-'em-up arrived in the office a couple of months back and we were gobsmacked by it then. Then this morning we got a mysterious brown envelope. No it wasn't Gareth's usual supply of 'Foreign Art' magazines either, it was in fact Shadow Fighter, enhanced for the A1200 and A4000.

Now the original received 90 per cent and a Platinum Award, which believe, we don't hand around lightly; so it had to be something really special to get this. Not only that, but in the same issue it beat off its challenger, Mortal Kombat 2 by a thumping 10 per cent. Why? You may ask. Then read on.

The story behind Shadow Fighter isn't all that original but it gives an aim to the game. To cut a long story short, the Shadow Fighter was a 17th century Samurai who got a little on the greedy side. After killing off some of his own kind, his punishment for his bad deeds was eternity as one of the walking dead.

Needless to say, he starts to regret this a bit and annoucnes a challenge to any fighter if they can beat his formidable fighting skills.



There isn't a great deal of difference between this version and the original as regards sound. This is because there doesn't need to be. Shadow Fighter has an extremely strong soundtrack with plenty of variety. It doesn't just stop at one tune throughout either - the fights are accompanied with a variety of music. Loud, pounding tunes and a fast dance track fit in well with the pace.

The sound effects are the usual yelps and thumps but they work well enough - and there is quite a nice electrocution effect!




Although Shadow Fighter may not have looked as hot as its rivals, it really surpassed them in the playability department. And now even this slight grumble has been more than rectified. 256 colour graphics really enhance the look of the game and detail, in both the backdrops and the characters, add enormously to the visuals.

I must admit, I liked the graphical style of the original anyway. It wasn't as gory as Mortal Kombat 2 (although it did have the option to turn blood effects on and off) but the Special Moves made up for this. High, lightning kicks, electrocutions and slick throws and punches looked spectacular, and it's just an extra bonus that this can be seen in full AGA glory.




Never trust the quiet ones, that's what my Mother told me anyway. And in this case it's true. The big, brash Mortal Kombats, Rise of the Robots and Shaq Fus were backed by huge advertising campaigns, shouting the odds. But it was the quiet one in the corner that came along and had these other featherweights begging for mercy.

Shadow Fighter really was the surprise contender that stole the show. And now if you're lucky enough to have an A1200 or A4000, an enhanced version can be yours.

The joystick controls work like a dream and special moves are easy to carry out after a little practice. This provides longevity and unlike some other beat-'em-ups, they don't require a ridiculous amount of manoeuvres to work.

Another nice addition is Pupazz - the training puppet. This allows you to try all your moves before you get battered in the real thing! The many different fighters will keep you battling for a long time yet and with a data disk containing eight new fighters in the offing, you're promised hours of entertainment.

Shadow Fighter excels in all departments. The added bonuses in this version, such as being hard disk installable and having enhanced graphics, make this a highly recommended title. It's a credit to NAPS and Gremlin that they have found a way to cater for bother the A500 and the A1200 and whatever your machine I strongly advise you to go out right now and buy it.

Shadow Fighter AGA logo AGA

Gremlin 0114 2753423 * £29.99 * A1200/A4000 * Out now

A quite simply fabulous selection of characters," says Gerald Hoppington of Ashford in Kent.
"The Shadow Fighter AGA combatants look like they've just jumped out of a cartoon from the telly," according to Terry Simplins from Horbury, West Yorks.

"I can't believe the amount of special moves your man can make. It's absolutely phenomenal. As beat-em-ups go, this is really smashing," enthuses Victoria O'Malley of Wexford, Republic of Ireland.

"One can simply indulge in awfully large number of special manoeuvres. I found the whole game frightfully amusing too," writes Jasper Whittam-Bunter, Moss Side, Manchester.
"Oh ja, clinker von fumpeta fumpeta fumpeta, Shadow Fighter ja ja," exclaims Johan Johanson of Sweden.

These are just some of the statements I've recently made up.

Shadow Fighter is one of the Amiga's best beat-em-ups - indeed, it is one of the finest on any platform. And now the graphics are even prettier and the game hard disk installable. Good work programmers.

Pupazz the demonic dummy is the games' finest protagonist and is surely deserving of a platform run-out in the future. You can practice your manoeuvres on the evil little punch bag or type in the secret word and play him in the game.

Pupazz is backed by a huge range of protagonists - some carry basketballs, other wear bandanas similar to the little chap who appears on all the video games programmes. Details - 16 characters, one and two-player options, 25 moves and more per character, difficulty options and the squeamish can turn off the blood.

Even the people who cross the street to avoid beat-em-ups will enjoy this game.

Aus dem Schatten

Shadow Fighter logo AGA

So stellen wir uns eine spezielle AGA-Version vor: Zwei Monate nach der Standardfassung fighten Gremlins Schattenkämpfer nun in verschönter Grafik und mit verbesserter Handhabung im 1200-er Ring!

Das an sich schon gute Gameplay ließ das italienische Programmierteam N.A.P.S. sinnigerweise unangetastet, weshalb sich Solisten nach wie vor mit den Schlagmännern der CPU prügeln, während gesellige Haudraufs zum Duell schreiten dürfen.

So oder so sucht man sich zunächst seinen Favoriten unter 16 Kämpen aus, wobei es auch zwei Damen oder ein Flüssigmetall-Terminator sein dürfen. Dann steht die Entscheidung für oder gegen den Blutmodus an; die einzelnen Tritte und Hiebe können im Practice-Kampf eingeübt, an einer mit Kreissäge und Flammenwerfer bewaffneten Punching-Puppe perfektioniert und schließlich gegen einen Prügelknaben nach dem anderen zum Einsatz gebracht werden - bis irgendwann auch der ominöse Schattenkämpfer selbst auf der Matte liegt.

Obwohl sämtliche Aktionen mit nur einem Feuerknopf ausgelöst werden, klappt das Handling erstaunlich präzise; der Einsatz der pro Charakter rund drei bis sieben Special-Moves geht dank (nicht vollständiger) Beschreibungen in der Anleitung sogar noch einen Tick leichter von der Hand also anno A500.

Hinzu kommt, daß man sich nun mittels Festplatte auch die einst recht exzessiven Diskwechseleien sparen kann. Sehenswert war das Game dagegen schon immer, denn die hübschen 3D-Effekte am Boden, die parallax scrollenden Szenarien (Dschungel, Tunnel, Natur etc.) und die großen, fein animierten Sprites sind fraglos eine Augenweide.

Doch auch wenn jetzt mehr Farbenpracht geboten wird, erreicht Shadow Fighter immer noch nicht ganz das technisch Machbare: Einzige Szenarien wirken nach wie vor etwas blaß, und die Farbverläufe und Porträts müssen weiterhin ohne 256 Farben auskommen.

Am Sound wurde ebenfalls nicht geschraubt, es bleibt also bei Kampf-FX und Sprachfetzen sowie optional entweder Begleitmusik oder atmosphärischen Hintergrundgeräuschen.

So schön diese AGA-Version aber auch ist, das grundsätzliche Manko teilt sie sich mit dem 500er: Shadow Fighter fehlt es an Originalität. Wer jedoch ein rundum solides Beat 'Em Up sucht, braucht nicht unbedingt auf die noch ausstehende CD-Fassung zu warten - das gibt's schon hier in Perfektion! (rl)

Shadow Fighter AGA logo AGA CU Amiga Superstar

Price: £29.99 Publisher: Acclaim 071 344 5000

The Mortal Kombat 2 hype machine was definitely in full flow at Christmas. The second coming of Kitana and Co outsold Gremlin's Shadow Fighter in the shops. Despite the fact that it didn't really deserve to.

OK, if you read our February issue you'll ntoce that MK2 scored an incredible 95% while Shadow Fighter scored 93%, but this reviewer still thinks that it's better. The difference in scores does not reflect the true long-term playability of Shadow Fighter.

If I had reviewed MK2 instead of the console obsessed crusty who did so it would have scored less. Shadow Fighter would have been top of the pile!

Rant over, the reason for this review is that a shiny new A1200 version of the game has arrived in the office. It's basically the same game, with 17 fighters, of which you can choose from six in single player mode or 15 in two player.

The only two non-selectable characters are Pupazz the practice dummy and the Shadow Fighter himself. There are tournament, single fight, practice and Vs (two player modes), three difficulty levels, 'stun' and 'blood' options.

Upon loading up Shadow Fighter A1200 I was hard pressed to immediately tell the difference between it and the older version. The concept is identical, the copy protection is, the music is and the amount of disks (four) is too. It plays exactly the same as well, so I had to get out my old A500 Shadow Fighter to make a genuine comparison.

Although there were a few noticeable differences at first it was only when identical matches with identical characters and backgrounds were compared side by side on screen that they were easily identifiable. The backdrops have been improved by the additional colours, though not as much as you'd expect, while the sprite outlines have been smoothed out and their colours enriched. The fluidity of their movement has also been improved, though it's still not quite up to arcade standard.

In the final analysis Shadow Fighter is still top of my list of Amiga beat 'em ups. If you've got an A1200 and you've already bought the non AGA version then for God's sake don't buy this one - the differences are not really worth it. If on the other hand, you don't actually have Shadow Fighter then I would advise you to get it. It's excellent.

Shadow Fighter CD32 logo CD32 Amiga Computing Platinum Award

You can keep your Stright Fighter and may as well chuck Mortal Kombat away because Jonathan Maddock has got his hands on a CD version of Gremlin's superb beat-'em-up.


The beat-'em-up is now the world's most popular genre in the world of computer gaming. For the last few years they've been extremely popular with console owners simply because their machines are ideally suited for that type of game.

Amiga owners have had to put up with second-rate console ports. Street Fighter 2 and Mortal Kombat 2 are just a couple of examples where a game has been released upon the back of hype taken from all the console versions.

In February of this year, Gremlin Interactive released one of the greatest beat-'em-ups on the Amiga. Okay, so it looked and sounded great, but it had it where it counts in the playability department. Gremlin have now taken their game to the CD32, but does it still kick ass?



I hate the majority of computer game music and even though Shadow Fighter features loads of different tunes, there hasn't been one that's got on my nerves yet.

The range of tunes are superb and sound like they belong in the 1990s and not the 1980s. Most of the tunes are laden with breakbeats and this tends to make the game seem even more action-packed than it already is. This CD version of Shadow Fighter features the same musical masterpieces you'd find in the floppy disk version, but thanks to the wonders of CD technology they now sound a lot clearer and all the better for it.

You can still choose between music, background music and sound effects, but whichever you decide upon you won't be disappointed with your choice. The sound effects still impress and the tunes still roar out of your monitor, so I don't have any major complaints about he sound in Shadow Fighter, but maybe an extra couple of tunes for CD owners might have boosted the score a tad.




I sat back and took a good look at the screen in front of me while I was playing Shadow Fighter and I have to be honest it looks as good as anything I saw in the arcades a year ago.

The graphical changes aren't instantly noticeable, but the capabilities of the CD32 means the game has now got a proper lick of paint using all the proper colours. This gives Shadow Fighter a new quality to it and the other computer versions look dull in comparison.

The characters are all well-animated and they now bounce around the screen as fluidly as alcohol goes down the back of my throat. Shadow Fighter looked so good the first time around there wasn't a lot for NAPS Team to enhance for the CD version.




I raved about Shadow Fighter when it first came out and I still firmly believe that it's the best Amiga beat-'em-up money can buy.

This new CD version, with its slight graphical and sound enhancements, just makes the game better and better. Gremlin Interactive have managed to take a home computer game and magically transform it into an arcade game of the highest quality.

One thing that still remains in the game is the difficulty factor. You can accuse me of being past it and over the hill, but the completion of a Shadow Fighter championship seems nigh on impossible even on the easiest level.

If I am right about the difficulty level and not just naturally rubbish, then at least you get your money's worth in the lastability department. Shadow Fighter was thumping good fun last time around, but it's now an absolute knockout.

Shadow Fighter CD32 logo CD32

Gremlin 01142 753423 * £25.99 * Out now

Shadow Fighter arrived with little fanfare. A few disks, a manual and a PR promise that this Italian-coded affair would be the best beat-em-up the Amiga had yet seen. And we were pleasantly surprised, for Shadow Fighter, with its glorious cartoon sprites, vast array of special moves and plethora of characters is one of the finest.

The training mode features a demonic little puppet called Pupazz, easily the most evil protagonist the Amiga has seen. He stands in the corner and grins before unleashing a chainsaw from his stomach. Wonderful. The characters each have their intricacies and many of the manoeuvres are amusing.

Shadow Fighter is up there with the best of the console beat-em-ups. Purchase it, why not.

Shadow Fighter CD32 logo CD32

Aller guten Tests sind drei: Nach der Standard- und der AGA-Version laufen Gremlins Schattenkämpfer auf CD nun zur Höchstform auf - Grafik und Handling sind so gut wie anno Floppy, der Sound is deutlich stärker!

An der Optik haben sich die italienischen Coder von N.A.P.S. Bei der Konvertierung zwar nicht vergriffen (kein Intro, die Grafik entspricht 1:1 der AGA-Fassung), aber das ist verzeihlich: Immerhin stellt Shadow Fighter den bislang spielbarsten Schlag-abtausch für das CD32 dar selbst wenn die Ausnutzung der Hardware nicht mit einem Präsentations-Meilenstein wie "Rise of the Robots" konkurrieren kann, machen die neu abgemischten Musikstücke direkt vom Silberling hier doch Freude.

Das feine Gameplay bliebt ebenfalls unangetastet; nach wie vor balgen sich gesellige Spieler zu zweit und Solisten mit CPU-gelenkten Prügelknaben. Die Teilnehmer sind aus einer 16 Mann bzw. Frau starken Riege zu bestimmen, welche neben Allerwelts-Fightern u.a. auch einen Terminator-Klon aufbietet, dessen Struktur aus Flüssigmetal bei Bedarf messerscharfe Klingen hervorbringt.

Weitere Entscheidungen vor Kampfbeginn betreffen die Wirkung der Treffer (vorübergehende Lähmung oder relativ geringe Blutungen), das fein variable Zeitlimit und den Spielmodus. So kann man erst mal sämtliche Tritte und Hiebe einüben oder an einer schwerbewaffneten Punching-Puppe ausprobieren - jeder Charakter verfügt über rund ein halbes Dutzend Standardtechniken, dazu kommen noch drei bis sieben komplexe Special-Moves.

Zur Sache geht's dann im Duo-Modus oder in einer Meisterschaft, wo Solisten unter Zuhilfenahme von zwei Continues einen CPU-Recken nach dem anderen auf die Matte legen und am Ende dem ominösen Schattenkämpfer persönlich gegenübertreten.

Dabei überzeugt das altbekannte Handling zwar nach wie vor, doch am CD32 wäre mehr drin gewesen: Von den sechs Pad-Buttons bleiben fünf ungenutzt, obwohl das Gameplay sicher davon profitiert hätte, müßte man nicht mehr alle Aktionen mit einem einzigen Knopf auslösen.

Andererseits fallen natürlich kaum noch nervende Ladepausen an, und mit seinem zeilenweise scrollenden 3D-Boden, den bunten Parallax-Szenarien (Dschungel, Wasserfall, Tempel etc.) und den großen, flott animierten Sprites zeigte das Game der Prügelkonkurrenz ja schon von Anfang an, wo der Hammer hängt.

Und der hängt wie gesagt jetzt auch in der Soundabteilung, wo zusätzlich zu Kampfgeschrei und anfeuernden Zuschauerrufen wahlweise Begleitmusik oder atmosphärische Hintergrund-Geräusche die Action am bzw. im Ring passend begleiten.

Mag es Shadow Fighter also auch ein wenig an Innovationen fehlen, schlagfeste Besitzer der Commo-Konsole dürfen sich auf farbenfrohe und enorm spielbare Gerangel freuen. Um so trauriger, daß CD-bestückte AGA-Amigas nicht zum Kampf antreten dürfen, ihnen bleibt allein der Trost, daß die Disk-Version auch nicht viel schlechter ist... (rl)

Shadow Fighter CD32 logo CD32

Amiga version: AP46 91%

There's not really that much I can say about Shadow Fighter, without repeating what we've said about the other (Pinball Illusions, Speedball 2 & Syndicate) three games on these pages. It's another case of no disk swapping (which in this game is a major bonus) and some CD-music added onto what is already a first-rate game.

It's a beat-'em-up second to none, with varied characters, usable special moves and graphics which don't just look good but feel solid and real. Along with this month's other three CD32 conversions, this is a game I urge you to purchase.