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Seattle, WA, USA

Posted Sun Mar 17, 2024 10:32 am

In the midst of playing a D&D Gold Box game by SSI, last night I ran across this interesting advertisement for Prophecy of the Shadow on the inside jacket of one of the manuals.


The advertisement describes the game like this:
PROPHECY OF THE SHADOW... is SSI's exciting single-character role-playing game that uses state-of-the-art technology to breathe life into a mystical fantasy.
  • Stunning cinematics with over fifty digitized art and animation sequences, including characters in full costume.
  • Simple point-and-click interface with icon-based commands and graphical inventories makes the game fast and easy to play. Learn words and converse from an icon bar by simply clicking on the word.
  • Over 50 sound effects and a continuous FM soundtrack enhance the action.
  • Three perspective viewpoints: An adventure view allows you to explore this exciting world and engage in combat; an up-close-and-personal mode lets you converse with Non-Player Characters; and through
    the use of magic, an eagle's view of the world.
  • A large, complex world - both above and below ground - that you must save!
At a high level, it kind of looks and sounds a bit like Faery Tale Adventure or the Ultima games, except with full-motion animated cut-scenes! I'm thinking, "From SSI? This sounds super cool. How've I never heard of this?" When I hear Amiga and cut-scenes in the same breath, my mind usually wanders to Wing Commander. Sign me up!

And it's being marketed to Amigans with a pre-order push.

IMG_5881 2.jpg

Naturally I run to Google and search it up. Wikipedia only mentions MS-DOS as a platform... I hunt a bit more.

According to CRPG Addict, an Amiga port had made it pretty far but died before getting to the finish line:
but the team had problems working out several bugs, and just about then, the Amiga market began to collapse. Rather than finish the port, they turned their attention to the sequel--which would have brought the son of the original protagonist to a larger continent--but unfortunately never finished that, either.
What a damn shame. I would love to play this game on Amiga hardware. It sounds like a fun twist from SSI standards while most people seem to have never been made aware of its existence.

CRPG Addict:
A sole character, presented throughout the game from an axonometric view, is thrust into the world when his mentor is assassinated as part of a political purge of mages. As he grows in power and skill, he learns of a prophecy that foretells the return of an ancient enemy named Abraxus. In his quest to counter the prophecy, he kills an evil regent and restores a princess to her rightful throne. The world is small and easy to explore. RPG elements--including combat, inventory, and character development--are simplistic but effective for the scope of the game. Graphics are mediocre in quality but are thoughtfully drawn to create interesting scenes and scenarios.


A lot of contemporary reviews suggested that Prophecy was a new direction for SSI, that we'd be seeing a lot more single-character role-playing adventures from the publisher in the coming years. Scanning ahead, I can't quite tell if this forecast comes true. SSI certainly offered a diverse variety of RPGs in its prolific 1992-1996 period, including the last of the Gold Box titles, the third Eye of the Beholder, new Dungeons and Dragon series based on the Spelljammer, Ravenloft, and Dark Sun settings, and a handful of one-off titles generally developed by other companies. But judging from screenshots and summaries, it's hard to find any that feature quite the same simplicity as Prophecy or that even make use of a similar engine.
Holy smoke, early 90's video cinematics could be crusty, tho. But keep in mind this was packed onto only 3 PC floppy disks.

Regarding Prophecy's full-motion, photographic stills, the designer of the game Jaimi R. R. McEntire admitted:
We were really making it all up as we went along. The actors were captured with a video camera straight to the computer via a targa board - hideously expensive at the time. We really had no idea what we were doing.
I like to hope it would have played beautifully on Amiga hardware had this game been published in the 1990-1991 timeframe (or earlier!). Reducing it to 32 colors might have been an improvement. I wonder if anyone ever held onto any of the Amiga port's code? Considering the advancements in today's Amiga dev scene, it seems a shame to have gotten so far and abandoned even though I'm sure the financial decisions made by SSI at the time were entirely sound.

User avatar
Detroit, MI, USA

Posted Sat Mar 30, 2024 7:28 pm

I wouldn't necessarily take what the company says at face value when it comes to why something didn't come out, especially if it was nearing completion, such as the 2nd Buck Rogers game not coming out on Amiga. There's at least a couple SSI titles that came out for the Amiga in 1993, including the Gold Box construction set thing. The blanket statement that the Amiga market crashed, I mean yeah it died pretty quickly in terms of U.S. developers in 1993, but when games are nearly finished or finished but they don't get released for a machine that regardless of how many new ones were being sold was still the 2nd biggest computer market in terms of people who had actual machines and could buy the product (and also there's the fact that no matter how many PCs were sold most of them were doomed to rot in an office or with people who only had them for one or two programs, further shrinking the potential market there for people who might actually buy a game), there's something more to the story. The 2nd Buck Rogers not coming out on the Amiga or the 3rd Eye of the Beholder had more to do with those games not selling well on the PC, and I would imagine that's a far more likely scenario with this one as well. Why release Dark Queen of Krynn or Treasures of the Savage Frontier if the market has collapsed? Why release a construction set of all things if the market has collapsed? Or is it more likely that a game which is not selling well for its initial machine, or reviewed badly or whatever it is which might place blame on the company itself instead of elsewhere could be the real reason they pulled back an Amiga release, or at least a thought that mixed with what the market was doing at the time? Surely this sequel that was being turned to would have gotten somewhere if the original game was so good, wouldn't you think?

User avatar
Seattle, WA, USA

Posted Sat Mar 30, 2024 8:00 pm

Yeah, it's all so murky. You raise some good questions, Shot.

When you said, "Gold Box construction set thing..." did you mean Unlimited Adventures? I'm not aware of an Amiga release for that but I'd be TOTALLY all over it if there was. That would be super cool. Is there an Amiga version?

To that end I've been looking for original disks for the Amiga's Bards Tale Construction for years. I've got a really nice box and manual that a friend of mine found at an estate sale, but totally diskless.

User avatar
Detroit, MI, USA

Posted Sat Mar 30, 2024 8:19 pm

On second look I can't seem to find the Unlimited Adventures online for the Amiga, perhaps it was like what you showed for this game, advertisements that said it would be out for the Amiga. I've seen sales charts in Computer Gaming World through 1993 showing separate lists for DOS and Amiga, and the last of the Gold Box games were always in there at the end. So it really makes no sense that if a game is done or nearly done you'd just cancel it like that. You've already got all that packaging and stuff, if the game was selling on the PC it would have been put out for the Amiga. It's only when it's failing on the original system that they'd eat up that kind of cost like that, making some kind of money, anything is better than eating costs like that. Plus there's still the European market which competed with the 16 bit consoles until 1996 over there, there's obviously sales potential in releasing for the Amiga at that point if the product is almost done so long as the product is good enough to not be attacked in the press, etc. Really since SSI didn't publish in Europe, they sold inventory to U.S. Gold who published the games over there, that's all the more reason to release it for the Amiga! Then they can just say here U.S. Gold, we've got 20,000 units for you, pay us and you can deal with it!

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