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Remake This… Shadowrun on the SNES


A cyberpunk RPG classic begging to return…

Shadowrun_4There are often gaming gems that not too many other people got to play, but were formative in crafting our gaming tastes. The rather excellent Shadowrun by Beam Software back in 1993 on the SNES was one of those games for us (there was a very different and inferior game of the same name on the Mega Drive, just to avoid any confusion).

Based on the fantasy cyberpunk pen-and-paper RPG by FASA, Shadowrun was an isometric RPG, which threw you into a future world populated by humans, orcs, dwarves, vampires and even dragons – all living and fighting in a grimy, violent Seattle in 2050. You played Jake Armitage, a courier shot and nearly killed by assassins, who is resurrected by a mysterious dog (which transforms into a woman) while in the morgue. With almost total amnesia, Jake must travel through the Seattle underworld with assassins on his tail to discover who he is and just why someone had tried to kill him, and why he was resurrected by this magical figure.

Shadowrun_1An action-RPG, Shadowrun combined real-time action with skill-based abilities that determined how successful your attacks were. It was really quite in-depth, as Jake built up karma killing enemies, which you then allocated to different attributes, skills, and magical powers. It meant you could play as you liked, either becoming adept with guns and weapons or taking a more magical focus. You could also hack and enter the cyberworld – a computer realm all its own, and if you died there, you died in real life.

As well as a robust combat and progression system, Shadowrun‘s RPG element was unusually sophisticated for the time. During interactive conversations, whenever Jake heard a new word it would be added to a word database, and he’d be able to ask questions based on it. which moved the story forward piece by piece. It was a great narrative, with myriad twists and turns that kept you as hooked – when you combined that with all the abilities you could power up it was hard to put the controller down.

Once Jake discovered he was a ‘Shadowrunner’ (a kind of mercenary) he became able to hire other Shadowrunners to accompany him on missions in the open world. One of the best things about the game, and rare at the time, were just how these henchmen worked with you in real time.

Shadowrun_3Shadowrun would be a perfect game to remake as a Mass Effect-style RPG – perhaps with the conversation system of the sadly much-maligned Alpha Protocol. Quite why Microsoft attempted to make a tacky FPS with the licence a few years ago is totally beyond us. The dirty, urban cyberpunk world of Shadowrun, with its violent gun and magic battles, assault weapon-toting orcs and crazy corporate assassin elves is perfect for a modern RPG. The attacks and powers you wield could take on an impressive new dimension, and the henchmen you recruit could either be Mass Effect-style companions or even friends online.

It’s unlikely to happen as Shadowrun was critically acclaimed at the time, but not played by a great many people. Still, the licence is out there, and hopefully someone will be brave enough to bring us a modern take on this little-known classic.

4 comments on “Remake This… Shadowrun on the SNES

  1. Edd Haddon

    I agree with you 100%. This classic should be both available to download as it is on xbox 360 live AND be remade (plus the promised sequel while they are at it!). I played this game to death back in the day. I love the setting, feel and universe of Shadowrun. I bought a snes a few years back and had to buy the imported NTSC version and a convertor to play it as the PAL version is rare. It’s always the way with these classic games. They either sell badly or are ignored and become classic through word of mouth etc.

    Cheers for the great article and shining a light on this little gem :D


  2. mike

    I still have the original SNES Shadowrun cartridge if you wanna buy it! And I completely agree, this game could be re-made into something seriously awesome.

  3. Kracus

    I’m a huge fan of Shadowrun. I played the original on the SNES and it was a great game, I’ve even replayed it recently on an emulator for nostalgia and it hasn’t lost it’s charm.

    I wouldn’t put down Shadowrun for the xbox 360 however and label it as tacky. It’s one of the few FPS games I play on a regular basis mainly due to the awsome gameplay it provides. Arcade FPS games unfortunately are rarely good and this is one gem a lot of people pass up due to poor reviews or bias based on nothing since the person never played the game.

    There was also supposed to be an RPG element to the game I beleive as I saw some footage fo the single player game that unfortunately never made it to release cause the project got canned. It could have been a very good single player game had it not been abandoned.

    Anyway, thought I’d give my 2 cents, Shadowrun for the 360 is definitely worth trying. The community is still strong and it’s without a doubt my most played FPS game on the 360.

  4. flodgeston

    was just thinking this would be an awesome remake … so i agree with what sam says – i started thinking it when playing vampire masquerades bloodlines several months back – even a cheaply done version of a shadowrun RPGFPS would be mad – so long as the game studio are old school shadowrun fans.

    so many elements of great games can be chucked in – for one the fallout – action boy ‘pause and choose how you want to kill things’ would be perfect for magic users – also saving the makers from making a stramlined magic system to keep things realtime. using the mirrors edge – ledge and wallrunning system would be awesome for adepts and acrobatic characters too (combining that with a sound and visibility meter system like in thief and you have the makings for a nifty ninja game on its own) apart from these mass effect 2 got pretty much everything right – so yeah me2 with shadowrun world would be a winner

    itd also be great to see the story not change much though to keep more true to shadowrun rules the negatives to choosing a character class would probably have to be incorporated – ie shamans cant really use cyberware. given a platform shadowrun could play out some great stories http://www.deckerm.net/ – if you have the patience ‘blackout’ story thread is worth reading

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