Update: Jim Valentino has since gotten in touch to clarify that he did not give permission for the game to be reproduced:
Please be advised that Rose Colored Games did not have my blessing to make this game and I filed a suit against them over it.
Original story: Jim Valentino's ShadowHawk was one of many super heroes birthed during the boom of the early '90s - one that fits snugly into the class of anti-hero (he was a lawyer, after all) that transitions from upholder of the law to blood-lust driven vigilante. Hey, we all have days like that.
At the time any comic book superhero's ultimate goal was to star in his or her own video game, and the console market was flooded with plenty of choice, either from Marvel and DC's finest to the more obscure, niche examples.
Shadowhawk was no different. Valentino financed a SNES game personally and it got quite far in development but failed to secure a publisher.
Fast forward to 2003 and a prototype cartridge surfaced online containing an almost complete version of the game. It eventually found its way into the arms of Rose Colored Gaming, who announced a single run of 100 black Shadowhawk cartridges with the apparent blessing of Valentino himself. Except the blessing quickly turned into lawsuit as Valentino set in motion legal action against Rose Colored Gaming, stopping the distribution of the reproduction cartridge - but not before at least thirty-six were shipped, meaning that is likely that the prototype that has recently surfaced online is a dump from one of those copies.
SNES Central got the whole scoop and upon being sent a dump of the original prototype ROM found out that the reproduction run had some alterations, mainly to make the game more playable with the player taking less damage and the knock-back from enemy damage severely reduced.
Shadowhawk plays a lot like Capcom's classic Bionic Commando but you can also jump if you so fancy. Besides the regular platforming antics, end of level boss fights turn it into a Street Fighter II-style one-on-one affair. It's an interesting game, and is paired with Valentino's own comic strips for presentation and mid level plot development. We are left wondering if a few more months of work would have made this an acceptable product for publisher at the time.
It took decades, but Valentino's anti-hero now has his own game preserved for retro gaming enthusiasts to enjoy. Feel free to leave something in the comment section below if you happen to have been a fan of Shadowhawk's delightfully dark adventures back in 1992.