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North American NES box art.

Shadowgate is a puzzle adventure game created by ICOM Simulations and first released on Macintosh in 1987, and then ported to a bunch of different platforms including the NES by Kemco on 1989-03-31. This was the third game in the MacVenture series, and the third to use the MacVenture engine.

When my step-brothers came from out of state to visit, my step-father gave them preferential treatment. I was rare that we would be allowed to rent NES games at the video rental store, but when they were visiting, we were allowed. However, since my brother and step-brothers were older, they always got to make the decisions about which games we would rent. I complained about this, and my step brother assured me that the next time we came, he would let me rent a game that he thought I would really like, Shadowgate. I had already seen the box art, and, as a fan of swords & sorcery games, was pretty sure that I would indeed like the game, so I relented. Of course, the next time we went to rent a game, I picked out Shadowgate, but the special discount that we got last time allowing us to rent two games was no longer valid, and my step-father didn't want to pay the full-price fee of a second game, so I again wasn't able to rent it. Years later, when I was working at Kroger, they were phasing out their video and game rentals, and I bought it along with Uninvited and Déjà Vu. After all those years, the game didn't let me down, and I eventually beat it without hints. However, a couple of the puzzles left me scratching my head for hours.


I own this game on the NES and have beaten it.


  • Overall: 5/10
  • Best Version: NES

— This section contains spoilers! —


  • The game has great artwork and the NES port has wonderful music composed by Hiroyuki Masuno.
  • The interface is nicely intuitive.
  • The script is well-written, and a lot of the scenes are pretty scary.
  • The sphinx is a nice addition and adds more depth and make use of the otherwise useless items.
  • The magic spells are a nice addition.
  • Several ports lets you print a certificate upon completing the game.


  • Death is far too common. Thankfully, the game is pretty forgiving with the reloading.
  • Due to the style of the game, there isn't much replay value.
  • There are a lot of useless items that clutter up the inventory, which adds a little complexity to the puzzle solving, but is really annoying.
  • The spells are usually only used in a single place in the game, making them kind of arbitrary.
  • I don't like the unnecessary timer added by the torches. It requires you to have to reset the game until you get good enough to progress further.
  • There is a mild amount out-of-place elements which hurts the Medieval fantasy feel. For example, "death to the Philistines," doesn't fit in this game world.
  • In the original game and some of ports, the spells can only be cast a single time. So, if you miscast the spell, you put the game in an unwinnable state.


  • There are a couple puzzles whose solutions don't make any sense at all and require you to try every item on every other item until it suddenly works. Other puzzles have solutions that only become apparent after you've been killed, which ruins the idea of a single-life run.




Fan Art



Language Native Transliteration Translation
English Shadowgate
Japanese シャドウゲイト Shadogeito Shadowgate


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