Good God almighty, this version is fucking awful. I knew it was going to be bad going in, as I’ve briefly played it before, but it’s probably been… 14 years? It’s definitely more than 11 years because I’m sure I haven’t played it in my current house.
Where to begin…
The controls are just awful, complete jank from start to finish – the developers have added in additional frames of animation to make things look better (and I’ll be honest, it’s probably the best looking version – albeit a little too bright) but this is problematic because you can only jump when stood up and attack when standing, crouching, jumping, or holding on to a rope – and NOT during the animations between these states or when (much more slowly than the other versions) changing side on a rope. What this causes is prolonged periods of time where you are completely unable to defend yourself and you can’t queue commands in advance.
The mace attack animation has completely changes, presumably to make ol’ Aarbron look more realistic – but it turns a giant, head sized ball of death into one of the most pathetic attacks I can remember in a video game. One of the beautiful things about the mace in the other versions is that you could determine the range of the attack by pressing the attack button for a longer period of time – this has completely been removed. You now have a fixed range attack that’s surprisingly hard to chain together in combos and makes certain enemies MUCH harder to kill than normal.
I think the developers were aware that they’d broken the game as a couple of the enemies have had all of the their RNG removed; Ishran no longer has his lightning attack and can only move backwards, not forwards, meaning he can be beaten by correctly timing jumps and attacks, the Leviathan now attacks in a set pattern and, once again, can be beaten by correctly timing jumps and attacks, and the mace twins will only attack low if you’re crouched.
It’s not all doom and gloom, however, there are actually two things that I PREFER about this version; you can change direction whilst in the air – this allows you to fall off of a ledge and not fall into a rope, it’s possible to steer yourself away from the rope and fall all the way down which saves time and the Zelek has been completely remade and has a pretty decent intro animation – he still has, fundamentally, the same attacks but his fireballs now have a spread.
These two points are not enough to redeem the entire game – the leader board for Sega CD is empty, I’ve set a time, and hopefully will never have to play this piece of shit again. That’s 3 of 4 WRs for Shadow of the Beast II.