I have this little glimmer of hope inside me that says other people remember the Shadowrun games for the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis, or at least one of them. At the time they were released there was really nothing else quite like them available on home consoles. They had a very dark atmosphere, unparalleled character interaction, and just a certain something about them that made them rock. It’s hard to put into words, but some of my fondest gaming memories growing up lie within these two great titles.
The first of the two I had the privilege of playing was the Super Nintendo version. My cousin had it and I used to watch him play it all the time when I was at his house. My parents would sit in the kitchen with my aunt and uncle and talk for hours, and I’d wander over to his (very unkempt) room and watch him play for hours. He’d explain things to me about the game, and talk about how he and his friends made up their own shadowruns to go on (at the time I didn’t know he was referring to the pen and paper RPG) and give me all the details about them. I believe I was about ten years old at the time, and I looked up to this guy immensely, so of course I just had to get my hands on this game. I rented it, played it until my eyes bled, rented it again, played it until my eyes bled…well, you get the point. Did I ever beat it? No. I spent too much time running around in circles talking to all the people in Seattle to worry about progressing too far into the storyline, and dammit, I had fun!
That’s what set the game apart from others right from the get-go for me: you could do whatever you wanted whenever you wanted to. Well, you had to set off a few events early on to open up the Monorail station, but after that, Seattle was yours to explore. The game was about as non-linear as games got back then, and I loved it for that. Not only that, but the dark atmosphere really intrigued me because it was so different to me. Even today I still have a tendency to go nuts over anything cyberpunk, be it comics, video games, movies, action figures…anything. I love the stuff. But anyway, back to the game.
What I would do during my rental is open the Monorail, then go and recruit some runners to help me out (once I built up the nuyen to do so) and run around to random locations and shoot everyone who got in my way. And I’d also ask every person in the game every question you could possibly ask them. I don’t know why…it was just really neat to me at that age to have such freedom. Maybe someday I’ll actually beat it (I have tried, but haven’t made it the whole way through; I suck at actually playing the game the way it’s meant to be played).
The Genesis version was a horse of a totally different color. Whereas its 16-bit cousin was story-driven, this one was done by the numbers. That is, fans of the pen and paper RPG would like this one more since it was all about the stats, baby. It was mission-based; you’d run around Seattle in search of shadowruns to go on, complete them, and get cash. You could buy information with the said cash, and that would move the story along. The different types of runs you could go on ranged from simple deliveries and escorts to sneaking into a building and stealing information from a computer without setting off any alarms or notifying security. No, it wasn’t exactly Metal Gear, but the concept was still very rad. Much like the SNES game, you had freedom in that you could go to whatever areas were open at the time, and run around and shoot everybody if you so desired. I never beat this one either; I was too busy pulling off the same types of shenanigans that I enjoyed doing in the SNES version. But I had a blast with it, dammit.
So what’s the point of this rambling, you ask? I want a new Shadowrun game. Right now, on all available consoles, the PC, and anything else a game can possibly be on. I mean, think about it: with today’s technology the game could easily go online. You could roam the barren wastelands of Seattle with groups of people on missions, act as a Johnson (that’s SR slang for a person who gives work to shadowrunners), or join a gang and rule over your turf with an iron fist. Character classes would be no problem since the Shadowrun universe is set in a time where humans, orcs, elves, trolls, and other beings coexist. Shadowrunners are typically samurai (those who shoot first and ask questions later), deckers (‘runners who hack into the Matrix looking for data to steal and sell), and mages of various types (those who have the ability to use magic). Call me crazy, but it just might work.
Even if it isn’t online, it would just be great to see the dark, doomy environments and grungy characters in full 3D. Running about the Matrix could be more like virtual reality than 16-bit systems could ever convey. There’s just so much that could be done…it surprises me no one’s jumped on this idea yet.
Actually, there were rumors years ago that Fasa’s game division was bought up by Microsoft, and Microsoft cancelled a Shadowrun project because it was too similar to a project they were already working on. I don’t know if this is true, or if Microsoft even has the rights to make a new Shadowrun game. Regardless, I wish whoever has them would just up and make a game already so I can die happy.
It goes without saying that I recommend the games (and books) to anyone looking for a darker sci-fi experience. After checking them out, I’m sure you’ll feel much the same way I do.