Quite possibly the only Shadow Madness web site on the Internet.
I’ve been toying with the idea of writing a giant thing on the hugely underrated PS3 shooter Haze for a long, long time, and this morning I came to the realization that it comes from the same place that made me obsessed with Richard Kelly’s Southland Tales and a million other ambitious failures. It’s what made me want to create a Shadow Madness fan site in 2002. The site no longer exists on what is called the “Live Web,” only on the Dead Web. You can visit its grave site on archive.org, linked above. I actually updated the site in 2008 or 2009, but the Wayback Machine never caught it before I took the site down.
I’m not going to defend anything written on the site. I probably wrote a couple thousand words total and it’s full of mistakes and “cutesy” internet grammar and casual misogyny. That’s how old I was. That’s just life man, and you have to get over it!
Niche PS1-era titles like Alundra, Galerians, and Destrega are so close to the core of my personality that if I met you and you claimed to have completed any of these games I would immediately trust you enough to let you babysit my 18-month-old daughter. If you make a Legend of Legaia joke in my presence you might just end up in my will.
What I’m trying to say is that I’m always looking for a niche club. I’m always shying away from large groups because I’m afraid of competition. I’d rather feel like a victim, subjugated to live in this hellworld where no one remembers Future Cop LAPD along with a small band of survivors, tasked with the burden of preserving this knowledge for future generations. So, the Haze article casts a shadow over my future like the shadow of Nectar addiction cast over Shane Carpenter.
Until then, here is the only letter I ever received on the subject of Shadow Madness Classic, a fan site inspired by my internet friend Brian Carper, who runs FFClassic, a thriving community revolving around the original Final Fantasy for NES and its endless remakes. The letter came to me during a dark period in 2009. I’d made some decisions that made me question who I was as a person, decisions that I don’t regret to this day but will always remember painfully (not unlike the decision Shane must make to abandon his PMC compatriots at Mantel Corp in favor of the technologically inferior but morally righteous resistance fighters). And in the first week of September 2009 I was living right in the deep dark gooey center of all that uncertainty. And then, out of the blue, my Fake Life, a life I’d all-but-abandoned for years, bubbled up to the surface, and everything was okay for like a day.
I saw your website and I thought it couldn’t be real - nobody would make a website around Shadow Madness.
It is a funny coincidence that I discovered your site. I was cleaning out my closet this weekend and ran into some old games - one of which was Shadow Madness. I was going to sell some of these games on ebay and googled SM to see if I could find some used copies, to get an idea of how much I should sell it for. Your site was about the fifth one down.
I was shocked that there existed a place on the internet that was devoted to this game and that your site had been updated within the last ten years. What really surprised me was that you found this game as intriguing as I did. I rented it back when it came out, when I was thirteen, and about three years ago bought a used copy while walking through a mom-and-pop game store. I replayed the game and found that it held up better than I thought. After finishing it I discovered that the story and the writing really held up, keeping me engrossed til the end and oftentimes making me laugh out loud. In fact, my old roommate watched me play the whole game and commented that it was one of the best games he’d ever read (laughs).
To this day there isn’t really a game like Shadow Madness. The graphics weren’t particularly good, though pre-rendered 2D backgrounds help keep the game looking decent after all these years. What really helps keep the game semi-current is the music (orchestral and dark) and the story (surprisingly deep and well written with excellent dialogue) . I saw in your 2009 update that you said “you’d be scared to play it again because you fear it hasn’t aged well.” Whether the game has or hasn’t aged well really depends on you. Let me say that if you overlook the gameplay and focus purely on the story - pretend the game is more of an interactive novel that requires occasional button mashing - you’ll find it enjoyable. I know that sounds weird, it is a game after all, but the story, writing and music were Shadow Madness's strongest parts since it came out ten years ago.
I feel privileged that there is somebody else who shares my appreciation for Shadow Madness. We are probably the only two people on the planet who are still talking about this game. If you’re still looking to get into it again, trust me - set the difficulty to easy, blast through the battles and focus on the story, dialogue, music and enviornments. I am confident you’ll get something positive out of it after all these years. Also - find a FAQ on the internet to help you with those maze parts…beating them quickly helps you get back to the story faster.
Thanks for the memories.