I can’t say that Shadows Over Mystara was a game I ever played as a teenager growing up in the 90s. I’m not even sure if I even saw it in the arcade. With that said, I’m definitely glad I played through it once and I look forward to giving it another playthrough in the future.
When you start Shadows Over Mystara, you can select from several classes. You can also change classes (or characters) when you inevitably die. I played through the game as an Axe wielding maniac (not the official class name) for the most part. There were a few continues I tried other classes out too. In the end, I preferred the Axe wielding maniac over the rogue, swordsman, or mage.
My immediate thoughts when starting level 1 of Shadows Over Mystara was that “This is Golden Axe” – It’s not Golden Axe, but it certainly has as similar feel.
The gameplay is easy to learn. It’ll only take you a few minutes of playing to figure it out. Exactly what you need in an arcade game. It’s as simple as mashing buttons and moving your character to the right when the screen says “GO!” That’s right, Shadows Over Mystara is a typical beat em up game with Dungeons and Dragons slapped on the name.
This game had a pretty generic storyline that you had to follow almost exactly. That’s to be expected from an arcade game though. There were times the game lets you decide how to proceed, but in the end, all paths lead to the same end result.
I feel that CAPCOM did a good job at bringing roleplaying elements into a format that felt good as an arcade game. The arcade is not an environment I would think of playing in RPG in, especially as late as the 1990s when home consoles were common to find in any gamer’s house.
The game itself is short, I had beaten it end to end and under 2 hours. I may seem like a long time for arcade game, but it’s certainly a short game when you think about role playing games.
There were times, especially near the end of the game, that I felt “the game was cheating.” For example, the boss has a move that instantly kills you, even at 100% health. I supposed if you knew it was the last fight of the game, CAPCOM damn well knew you’d cough up every last quarter could to finish the battle… and I did. Well, kind of. And it was well worth it!
I would recommend Shadows Over Mystara to anyone who enjoys games loosely based on Dungeons & Dragons mechanics or arcade games requiring you to “fight and go right.” There’s something fun about playing a hero who can win battles while constantly outnumbered.
I look forward to playing the next Dungeons & Dragons game, but that’ll have to wait until I’ve completed Metal Slug 2.
Below are additional screenshots I took while playing.