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David Whittaker
Arcade: Action
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K

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Mark Caswell
Chris Bourne

In most buckle-swashing games there's a despicable bad guy. Y'know, the bloke who wears a black cape, and twirls his huge handlebar moustache while cackling in a nefarious fashion (a bit like our esteemed Ed, actually).

Sadly, Shadow Of The Beast doesn't fall into this category, but there is a villainous baddy. The Beast Lord's his handle and for years he's created strange creatures from old cornflake packets and assorted squeezy bottles to guard his stronghold.

Okay, we lied - they were actually transformed girly-wimp humanoids.

You play one such victim, kidnapped as a nipper and transformed into your present beastly form. You've recently recalled your past life (after a hard knock on the head from aforementioned squeezy bottle) so you're out for revenge.

Hold onto your hats, folks - it's kick-arse time! (Quelle surprise.) If you destroy ol' Beastie in his distant fortress you revert to your true self (I'd stay as you are, Corky - Ed), but before giving Beastie a good biffing there's a long yomp across the lands bordering his domain.

You're attacked by myriad ruthless creatures, but you ain't defenceless. Use your fists and feet to bash your way to collectable items such as keys (to open doors), potions (a la Alice in Wonderland) and a wide range of explosives and blunt instruments to give your extremities a rest.

Keep an eye on the energy meter-every hit that registers speeds up your heart rate. Eventually it explodes, killing you. Luv'ly.

Entrances to underground caverns aren't too difficult to spot, especially as they have a bleedin' great 'ENTER' sign above them. Its generally In these dark, dank places that the end-of-level guardians are lurking. These are huge phrrrt-inducing monstrosities that love nothing more than playing football with a failed hero's head.

Gremlin deserve a huge pat on the back (no, not of the cow variety, stupid) for cramming a 16- bit game into the Speccy. Although they're monochrome, the sprites and backgrounds are ace, a real credit to the programmer (gawd bless ya, guv). The only bugbear is it's difficult to spot some of the meanies on the mono Backgrounds.

Overall, Shadow Of The Beast is well worthy of purchase if you were stupid enough to miss it first time round.

MARK ... 90%