Video Game: Shadow Man

"I am the Lord of Deadside."

Shadow Man is a two-part series of multi-platform action-adventure games, the first released in 1999 by Acclaim Entertainment for the PC and Nintendo 64 (later ported to the Sony Playstation and Sega Dreamcast), and the sequel, Shadow Man 2econd Coming, released on the Playstation 2 in 2002.

In both games, the player takes the role of Michael Le Roi, a member of a long line of 'Shadow Men' - African voodoo warriors charged with protecting our world (Liveside) from the threats of the afterlife (Deadside).

In the first game, Mama Nettie, the powerful voodoo priestess who commands Michael, has a prophetic dream - a dream in which five serial killers, under the command of the evil Legion, bring about the Apocalypse on Liveside. Under Mama Nettie's instruction, Michael travels to Deadside to search for a way to stop Legion and his minions from in initiating the Apocalypse - the End of All Things.

In the second game, Michael returns to Liveside after the fallout of Legion's defeat, only to find a new threat on the horizon - Asmodeus and his Grigori Sephiroth, looking to seize the opportunity to release Asmodeus from The Pit and bring about the Apocalypse as told in the Book of Revelation.

The Shadow Man video games were based on a comic book hero created in 1992 at Valiant Comics, a company later bought out by Acclaim.

Not to be confused with the other Shadow Man. Or the other one. Or the other other one.

The games provides examples of:

  • Armor of Invincibility: Gaining immunity to fire and lava was a major part of gameplay in the original. Surprisingly, you don't have to regain it in the sequel.
  • Bag of Spilling: Seemingly justified in the sequel by Shadow Man's entire arsenal being stolen while he was dormant in Deadside... though you have to wonder how that could've been possible.
    • Thankfully, his shadow power is still maxed out from the first game.
  • The Big Easy: Mike is from here, and the sequel even lets you explore The Theme Park Version of N'awlins (that is, The French Quarter makes up the entire city, and instead of Chalmette or Metarie, there's swampland on the outskirts).
  • Bonus Feature Failure: The ports of Shadow Man had all of their extras gutted out and replaced with concept art you could access after gaining max Shadow Power.
    • The two highest-quality versions traded the second Violator for sharper graphics, better music and lighting, larger, more expansive areas to explore, extra dialogue and more background on The Five's prior murders in Nettie's file. A pretty fair trade, considering that unequipping the Shadowgun isn't a very good idea; it never runs out of ammo and finishing enemies with it gives you more health.
  • Captain Ersatz: Avery Marx is a combination of Ed Gein and H.H. Holmes
  • Catchphrase: Legion and the five all use "for we are many" quite a lot which doubles as a Shout-Out to the bible.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Both games end up using the S word a LOT. Gotta love that M rating.
    • The PC and Dreamcast versions included some extra lines of dialogue from The Five, one of which includes two F-bombs from the "Video Nasty Killer," Milton Pike.
      Pike: Fuck you, motherfucker! I know where you live!!
    • This was on the N64, of all systems, and while Conker's Bad Fur Day was hyped as being the system's "mature" game with cursing, this was out quite some time before.
  • Collection Sidequest: The Cadeaux, keys, Accumulators... nearly half of the first game was this! Thankfully the sequel toned it down, but it's still present.
  • Continuity Nod: While the games usually only relate to the original comics through the general backstory, if you talk to Jaunty after going into the Asylum, he'll mention Tommy Lee (Bones), who was the antagonist of the first four issues.
    • Oddly enough, the files on The Five namedrop the protagonist of the pre-Acclaim comics, retconning him into being one of Mama Nettie's informants.
    • Maxim St. James, the "original" Shadow Man from the Valiant era, is named several times and is said to have sealed off the shadow gates- retconning a bit to claim he was able to travel to Deadside with some handwaving as to why Jack Boniface never went there.
  • Cosmic Keystone
  • Deadpan Snarker: Jaunty who guards the entrance to the halls of shadows is this.
  • Death Is Cheap: Played straight in both games. Dying in the first one just takes you to the first Deadside warp point (aside from the final battle), and dying in the second allows you to respawn at whatever warp point you choose, making boss fights simply wars of attrition.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Mama Nettie
  • Dual Wielding: One of the main gameplay mechanics of the series.
  • Eleventh Hour Superpower
  • Eternal Engine: The Asylum is one, so vast in fact that it spans multiple levels.
    • One has to wonder if Shooter forgot that it was Acclaim who gave him his chance with these characters again with Unity 2000, after the Valiant shareholders booted him out of his company.
    • The PC version is now available on Steam as of November 2013.
  • Fake Longevity: The first game has many fans, but it's definitely in spite of the insane amount of backtracking you'll have to do.
  • Foreshadowing: The Prophecy. It's so accurate because it was planted by Legion.
    • Asmodeus, the name of the villain in second game, is mentioned twice in the first. Once in an in game document, the second in the PC version's book of concept art as a Sequel Hook.
    • Also, each time you warp, you'll hear Luke's disembodied voice say "Come on, slowpoke!" Turn up the volume and listen carefully to hear Legion's voice echoing behind it.
      • If you pay attention to Luke when he appears in the Asylum you'll notice he's bleeding from the mouth.
  • Gangsta Style: Used by Mike in the first game.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: A plot point in the comics, after Mama Nettie made herself young again(she'd been elderly in the Valiant era) was that she had to have sex with Mike constantly to maintain her youth- this point is never brought up in the game. In the opening cutscene they're both lying in bed together, and later on when Nettie uses the blade to bring eternal night, she's sitting on Mike's crotch with his hips wiggling to match her movements, and if you read the comics it implies she's having sex with him during the ritual.
    • It does get a winking reference from Jaunty:
    "Giving 'er one with some o' that righteous voodoo so she can stay forever young, eh?"
  • God of Evil: Legion claims to be this. In fact, he claims that he used to be the only god, and was able to insert the prophecy into the dreams of The Ancients.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Mama Nettie opposes evil, but her methods are pretty amoral. Mike himself can be rather sinister when he changes into Shadowman.
  • Guide Dang It:
    • A lot of the Dark Soul locations in the original take a great amount of work to find without a FAQ.
    • Cadeaux are even worse, because once you've collected the obvious ones, you still have about 200 to go.
    • Possibly the biggest offender would have to be figuring out how to get to the locations of The Five. You need to find three items called retractors to access portals leading to three members of the Five. The first two are fairly easy to find through diligent exploration of the levels; the third is hidden in the Undercity, which is behind a Shadow Level 9 door- requiring a LOT of exploration to get 95 Dark Souls before it can be found.
    • The key thing to remember though is that finding all the dark souls, cadeaux or weapons was not necessary to beat the game. The final shadow door only needed soul level 9- the only door that required all souls contained an extra violator and nothing more. A full life bar of 10 was also not necessary to beat the game.
  • Handicapped Badass: Deacon in the second game. Despite losing his legs and being confined to a wheelchair, he manages to fight off and kill dozens of Papa Morte's goons in an Offscreen Moment of Awesome.
  • Headless Horseman: 2econd Coming features the Dullahan as one of the Grigori Sephiroth, and his head detaches and flies about the arena while his invulnerable body chases the player.
  • Incredibly Durable Enemies: Subverted; it doesn't take that much ammo to kill most enemies, but they don't register damage when in their falling animation. This makes it seem like they soak up far more ammo than they actually do. Best to stop shooting them until they've fully dropped to their "vulnerable" position, then resume firing.
  • Instant Marksman Just Squeeze Trigger: Marco is one hell of a good shot with his pistol. Cover will be required to defend adequately against him or he'll rip your life apart quickly!
  • Insult Backfire:
    Michael: You bastard!
    Legion: Thank you.
  • It's a Wonderful Failure: Being defeated by either of Legion's two forms results in this.
  • Jive Turkey/Uncle Tom Foolery: Blissfully, wonderfully and beautifully averted. Michael LeRoi is an extremely intelligent, well-spoken English major who never acts in a stereotypically "wacky" manner. He even pronounces "damn" with one syllable!
  • Large Ham: If you keep a kosher table, it's not recommended to listen to the The Five's voice acting, apart from maybe Jack the Ripper. Shadowman himself gets in on it too.
    Shadowman: The horror! The HORROR! I! EMBRACE IT!
  • Law of 100: In the first game, delivering 100 Cadeaux to the shrines in the Temple of Life grants you an extra segment for your life meter. You have to collect 500 total. The game has a modicum of fairness in that there are about a dozen more Cadeaux than is necessary to reach the cap.
    • The sequel is much better about this, though, as there are only 100 Cadeaux to collect throughout the entire game.
  • Letters 2 Numbers: 2econd Coming. Have fun figuring out how to say that.
  • Leitmotif: Several characters have them; most notably Jack the Ripper, who has the Moonlight Sonata's first movement.
  • Literal Genie: The unnamed Bokor in Michael's backstory. When Michael asked for the Bokor to grant him protection, he didn't say anything about his family.
  • Load-Bearing Boss: Legion. So much so that it makes Shadow Man dormant in Deadside until the sequel.
  • Lost Forever: There's a secret on the 3rd floor of the New York tenement building across from a breakable floor. If you fail to make the jump and then save your game, you can never unlock that secret because collapsible walkways stay permanently collapsed.
  • Luckily My Shield Will Protect Me: You can get a voodoo shield that blocks pretty much everything, but drains in proportion to how much it blocks. One of the bosses will also disappear if you use it, forcing you to trek out of the arena and come back to make him fight.
    • However, it seems to only work against projectiles. Weapons such as Jack's knife won't be blocked by it.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: When an enemy is killed using the Shadowgun, they will scream, shout and thrash/spin in the air for a moment before literally exploding into chunks.
  • Mana Meter
  • Mask of Power
  • Metroidvania: The first game, at least, had tons of areas that you could visit or backtrack to if you had appropriate upgrades that let you pass through. Some of them included tattoos that made parts of your body impervious to fire (so you could shimmy across flaming hangways, and so on).
  • Mommy Issues: Avery Marx.
  • More Dakka: The MP-909 and 0.9 SMG/GPMG in both games, and the Violator handgun in the first one. If you manage to fully complete the first game's Collection Sidequest, you can use two at once in the N64 version!
  • Nice Hat: Jaunty's tophat.
  • The Night That Never Ends: In the first game, you have to collect an artifact which immediately summons night, as simply waiting for night to come is out of the question. Presumably the night would end at some point, but functionally you're changing permanent daylight into permanent night.
    • Handwaved as Nettie implies that sitting around until nightfall would probably allow the Five to achieve victory- she wants them stopped right now!
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The dilapidated tenement, home to Avery Marx. You spend a long gap of time with either a torch or a flashlight, without any supernatural types of enemies coming out to attack you, all the while hearing creepy music and on occasion corpses with tape recorders of victims repeating Mark 5:9.
  • Noodle Incident: "Did I ever tell you about the time me an' Attila the Hun went bowling with the guillotined heads of the French aristocracy?"
  • N-Word Privileges: Jaunty doesn't seem to take offense at Mike calling him a "Mick."
  • Oh, Crap: "The Sisters awake!"
  • Our Zombies Are Different: They have no heads.
  • Parental Incest: Avery's mother molested Avery. However, much of Avery's dialogue with regards to his mother "Momma, always said: Eat your Meat!" "My Momma Kisses Me, my momma would never, EVER kiss you!" implies that his mother was doing far more than molestation.
  • Phlebotinum Overload: How Shadow Man ultimately kills Legion.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Jaunty. His interactions with Mike/Shadowman in both games can be quite entertaining.
  • Precision F-Strike: Dr. Batrachian drops one right before his boss fight. "The end is EXTREMELY fucking nigh, Michael!"
  • Prophecy Twist: "And Legion took the power of the Dark Souls unto him. The end."
  • Relative Button: Marco Cruz jokingly makes fun of Mike's dead mom and kid brother during his wacky DJ rant, which pisses Mike off something fierce.
  • Scary Black Man: Averted by Mike in the first game, but somehow played straight in the sequel, where he transforms from a skinny, bespectacled guy with a badass voice into a huge, burly, sunglasses-wearing dude with a badass voice. His Shadowman form also changes into a much more gruesome-looking revenant with no skin or organs. With a badass voice. And Glowing Eyes of Doom.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Shadowman's dialog was clearly written by someone with a word a day calendar, or else someone who actually uses "suppurating" and "unctuous" in everyday conversation.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: The shotgun(s) is the best Liveside weapon that isn't your primary weapon (or magic), and there's even a cheat to enable them in Deadside.
  • Shout-Out: Milton Pike drops a lot of references to Apocalypse Now, yelling things like "This is the end, beautiful friend," and "Charlie don't surf!" as you fight him. Hell, a Suspiciously Similar Song version of "The End" even plays his arena after he's defeated.
    • "The horror. The horror. I embrace it!"
    • While we're mentioning The Doors, Dr. Batrachian would also like to remind everyone that HE IS THE LIZARD KING!!
      • It gets even better. Nettie's bar, the Wild at Heart, is named after a David Lynch movie, while the Asylum is clearly inspired by Pieter Bruegel's painting of The Tower of Babel (which is lampshaded by Jaunty), and Legion quotes T. S. Elliot's poem "The Hallow Men". The game is just jam-packed with delicious references.
  • Sinister Subway: Jack The Ripper's domain is an abandoned, derelict Down Street Station.
  • Smashing Hallway Traps of Doom: Certain sections of the Asylum are full of these.
  • Sunglasses at Night: Mike.
  • Super Not-Drowning Skills: When diving in his human form, Mike needs to regularly return to the surface for air, but when he is the Shadow Man, breathing seems to be optional.
  • Take Your Time: Despite Mama Nettie's sayings, you can just go out and just get upgrades and other such things. All while the world is supposed to end by nightfall!
  • Tarot Motifs: The Prophecy (or Les Cartes) is a set of tarot cards depicting various important characters, locations and plot points of the first game.
  • Temple of Doom: Four of them, even.
  • Hell Is That Noise: the squeaky-toy ambient sound effect in the Aslyum's Playpens. After a couple of normal sounding squeaks, it suddenly goes ballistic like something is frantically stabbing or strangling it (or worse).
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Mike gives a rip-roaring awesome one to the Lizard King in Gardelle County.
  • The Unfought: Two of the Grigori Sephiroth in the second game. One, Sammael, appears in the opening cutscene but is not seen at any point after. The second, Djinn, is completely absent. Both have passages in Gehenna that would lead to their lairs, but they're collapsed and inaccesible.
  • Trash Talk: One of The Five, Marco Cruz, does this in spades while spicing up it with lots of disco slang. And damn, if he isn't a riot!
  • Trick Boss: Two of the five are available to fight right at the beginning. Needless to say, fighting those two will send you right back to Deadside until you have the power to fight them.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Both Mama Nettie and Shadow Man in the first game, Shadow Man for both sides in the sequel.
  • Villains Never Lie: Played with in 2econd Coming. Morteth warns Shadow Man not to trust "the creature who calls himself 'Deacon'," which Shadow Man promptly blows off before killing Morteth. At the end, we find out that Deacon is indeed untrustworthy, but only to the Grigori Sephiroth, whom he pulled a Heel-Face Turn and defected from long ago.
  • Warp Whistle: Luke's Teddy Bear.
  • A Winner Is You: The ending is very brief for both games.
  • Your Head Asplode: Dr. Batrachian's MO involves using some bizarre power to make people's heads explode. Too bad for you that this explosive decapitation doesn't keep his victims down.