In a world of awakening magic and rapid technological advances the worlds of spirit and circuitry meet. The planet has become privatized, between the Mega Corps and Dragons there are few things that are not owned by. Massive urban sprawls clash with wilds that grow more untameable with every newly rediscovered magical monstrosity. Humans are being born as elves, dwarves, orcs, and trolls. In this world, crime is a necessity. To fight corporate control people of exceptional ability work in the shadows cast by these Mega Corps. We follow the story of Joshua. His brother was a high class shadowrunner and was killed in a run that was so important that it made national news. Now, Josh has to figure out who killed his brother.
That’s just a solid title screen. Skulls, computers, sweet fonts, that’s just everything 16 year old me could want.
Not unlike the Speed Racer post, I couldn’t find any developmental information about the game. In lieu, I’ll be writing about its source material.
Shadowrun was published as a roleplaying setting in 1989 by the FASA Corporation. FASA was founded by Jordan Weisman and L. Ross Babcock in 1980 with 350 $. Jordan’s father, Mort, was able to generate more capital by selling his book publishing company, although the experience of owning such an enterprise would be invaluable later on. It got its start producing supplements for the Game Designer’s Workshop such as Shadowrun and Battletech.
Battletech, founded in 1984, would more commonly be known as MechWarrior and involves people getting in giant battle suits and shooting rockets at each other. It was originally released as a board game and would later be expanded into a table top war game. It would then go on to be represented in computer games, bringing the stunning visuals to life.
Shadowrun has had four editions over the years, each keeping to the same basics and back story. But the main difference being an advancement of technology to keep it ahead, or at least in line, with the modern day. In 1989 hooking up someone’s brain to the internet (Decking) was a piece of science fiction and today we don’t have to because of the existence of hand-held devices that do the same thing, thus 4th edition introduced wireless decking. The plot of these advancements being spurred forward by the videogame adaptations and a series of novels.
The series met with disaster with the 2007 release, which forwent all of the interesting world building and character development, and turned the series into a first person shooter. This spurred Jordan Weisman to take the reins with his own, Kickstarter funded, project, Shadowrun Returns. As the title implies, it brought the series back to its roleplaying driven, combat spiced, storytelling. Shadowrun Returns has extensive developer tools which allow anyone and their friends to try to make a campaign for the rest of the world to play. Although most of these aren’t very well constructed, there are a few that have seen a lot of effort put into their creation. The next project for Shadowrun is Shadowrun Online, an MMO.
Shadowrun was released for the Sega Genesis in 1994 going up against Sonic the Hedgehog 3 for the Sega Genesis and Final Fantasy VI for the Super Nintendo.
When is the internet going to be like this?
My cousin Zach and I would play this game for hours. I would go over to his house in the winter just to play it. We were taken in by the hyper technological world filled with magic and its crazy lingo. Vernacular that any 16 year old could grab a-hold of instantly, curses and compliments that just make sense. It was a single player game so we would take turns with different playthroughs. He took save slot 2 because it was easy to accidentally overwrite save 1 which would be mine. My got overwritten so many times, but I didn’t even care (Alright, I got fired up a few times). It was his game and he was free to do what he wanted with it.
He would play as the Street Samurai archetype because he was the bigger and stronger between us and I would play the Decker because I was more technically inclined. We were playing the same game with the same story but there was so much to do and so many different decisions to make in every moment. There were small encounters in every area, women getting pulled into alleys, astrally projecting mages that are getting mugged, people taking your picture, injured men in the streets, men offering cheap grenades. Do you try to rescue the woman? She might be on the wrong side of a police investigation, that you have now gotten dragged into. Save the mage? Get ready for a fight. Help the man? Might not be a man, might be a creature waiting for you to get close. Those grenades might be cheap but is the price too good? I never knew what the outcome would be and I was always psyched to see the next weird thing.
We never got very far in the game. We got a quest to find a “feathered serpent” and neither of us ever did find it. We would just go on the craziest run or see who could survive the longest getting attacked by corporate security (Seriously, we got pocket watches out for that one). I was so taken in by The Matrix (the internet in the game) and trying to figure out how exactly it worked. This game didn’t come with a manual so it was pretty tricky trying to figure out how everything worked. Zach loved how all the skills were so useful in the game, he liked how there was always a different option for problems. Is there a locked door ahead, blow it off the hinges (thank goodness you bought those grenades from that creepy guy in the alley) or use your keen electronics skill to screw with the lock, or use your hacking skill to break into the computer and unlock all the doors. I love talking to all the characters in the game. All of the other runners I met had interesting backstories. My favorite runner was Winston Marrs, he’s a giant troll that salutes you (if he likes you) and talks about how life would be so much better if he could only shoot more bullets at the same time (When fans of the game talk about Winston they say, ‘beware the god of war’).
Marrs at the bar and Mortimer Reed in the corner. The Big Rhino is my kind of bar.
I love this game and if you disagree then slot off frag face (Actually, I respect your disagreement). I play it from time to time nowadays, but it’s definitely not the same. Expecially considering I already know all the twists and turns the game takes me on. That was the big driving factor, anything could happen, anyone could die. Nothing is safe from the reach of corporations. That being said, the mechanics are enough to carry the game on their shoulder. I’m still challenged by activity in the matrix (I still don’t know how to contend with a Tar Pit Program).
I prefer this game over the Super Nintendo version because I reached a point in the SNES version where I couldn’t continue. The character has a time limit to get a bomb out of his head and I never figured out where to go. I had to look up a walkthrough to figure out where to go and although I had to do the same to find the Feathered Serpent there was so much more to do in the Genesis world (and if I failed to find the Feathered Serpent my head didn’t explode). I also think that the free roaming adventure and auto-aiming served the game better than the point and click aiming of the SNES game. Yes, I said point and click, the game requires the played to activate aiming mode and move the cursor to the target while they’re getting shot all the time.
My major complaint with the game is that there’s no real character growth. The main character levels up and gets stronger but he’s still the same person at the end that he is at the beginning. He doesn’t actually grow or change. The player can, he can create additional motivations for the character, but there’s nothing there.
Auto-targetting is awesome, at least in games where it works (Like this one).
This game is has held up really well. It can be a little grindy but the types of missions open up the longer the game goes. It’s important though to get through the whole game in one short period of time because the plot twists are interesting but aren’t interesting twice.
Next week: Super Mario World 2, Yoshi’s Island.