Shadowrun - Retroview
Seattle's a Scary, Scary Place.
By: Anton North
||Medium - Hard
"The year is 2050, and the Megaplexes are monsters
casting long shadows.." So says the intro sequence to Data East's
Shadowrun for the SNES. If you're not familiar with the pen-and-paper
game, Shadowrun is a futuristic cyberpunk romp, complete with elves, dwarves,
orcs and dragons. Throw in ballistic weapons and cybernetic implants,
and you've got one heck of a good time. The game takes place in Seattle,
and lucky for you, there's no Microsoft Way in sight.
The battle system is really quite simple: Once you've
armed your character, you push a button to draw your weapon, which also
brings up a handy firing cursor. The same holds true for magic, as well.
The slight hitch to this idea is that you can't move while targeting or
firing at an enemy- so you might want to make sure your armour can take
a few hits. Another system which I'll mention here is the Matrix; no,
don't worry, you aren't going to have to listen to Keanu say "Whoa"
yet again. Once you've progressed far enough, you can access computer
systems directly with your mind, using an implant. Once inside, there
are little impediments called ICs, or ice, meaning intrusion countermeasure.
In order to successfully raid the system and unlock the door or steal
the money, whatever your objective was, you've got to get past them. Unfortunately,
this is a rather uninspired process involving blind luck and your computers
skill. If you fail to destroy too many IC units, you're flashed back to
reality to see your character drop dead. For this reason, I'd suggest
saving before attempting feats like someone out of a William Gibson novel.
The non-combat system is also quite simple, with one
button bringing up a cursor allowing you to interact with your surroundings
and another landing you in a standard status menu. It takes a little getting
used to, but is really quite basic in its execution.Conversing with characters,
however, is where this game really shows off innovation. Talking with
NPCs and other characters is achieved through a menu system consisting
of different keywords. By talking with someone about a certain subject,
you may open up more topics for your character to mention. With a few
exceptions, most characters only respond to one or two keywords, giving
a sometimes humorous message of disinterest to the others. Though this
idea has seen wide use, when this game was released in 1993, it was quite
|Hey, didn't we see this
in Blade Runner?
The musical score has a few excellent mood setting
tracks, although some of the others get quite tedious and repetitive as
you play through the game. The sound effects are fairly basic, but they
fit the game well. Expect to here a lot of gunshots, and even a few dogs
barking. The club music, though often reused in the game, is quite noteable.
In 1993 when Shadowrun was first produced for an unappreciative
public, it was quite an original idea. That is, unless you played a lot
of cyberpunky role playing games. Some of the plot elements have been
duplicated today, but most still remain rather unique.
When the game begins, your character wakes up in the
city morgue, much to the surprise and terror of the two med techs who
brought him in. He, of course, has amnesia, and his mission in the game
is to find out who tried to kill him and why. This takes you pretty much
through the entire course of things, and is used somewhat effectively,
even if it doesn't win any big points for originality. There are a couple
of points where things can get rather confusing, but for the most part
it's all pretty straightforward. Though, whether busting vampires or raiding
systems, Jake Armitage is never *TOO* sure what for.
Do yourself a favour and take the lady's advice.
Unfortunately, this game sorely lacks in replay value.
The only reason, aside from all-around fun, to play it again would be
to find the elements necessary to get any spells you may have missed.
There's only one ending, and though it promises a Shadowrun 2, Data East
never got around to publishing it.
The graphics in this game were largely average. The level of detail
on some of the character sprites was quite nice, but for the most part
the visuals were comparable to those of other games at the time. The character
portraits in the talk menu weren't too bad, but by the end you've seen
most of them reused a half dozen times.
All things considered, the game isn't too difficult, though there are
a few points where it's easy to get stuck. Missing keywords can force
players to start over in the worst cases, and simply being underpowered
can cause difficulty in others.
Mad Hatter gone postal in Seattle is after our hero.
All in all, when you weigh the negatives against the positives, the game
only comes a bit above average. While rather unspectacular, it is quite
fun, so I do suggest giving it a try sometime if you haven't already.
The game is fairly short, barring major mistakes, of course, and should
only take between ten and twenty hours to complete. Final word: Decent
and worth playing.