Shadowrun (SNES)

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  • System: Super Nintendo Entertainment System
  • Genre: Action RPG
  • Max Players: 1
  • Age Rating: Everyone
  • US Release: November 1993
  • Developer: Beam Software
  • Publisher: Data East

So, after last month’s review, I started thinking about other games with Western influences. At the top of my list was Shadowrun—a game I particularly remember for being impossible to play. With ten more years of gaming experience under my belt, would I finally be able to make it past the first stage, perhaps even beating the game? I prepared myself for the path before me and loaded it up.

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Not so fast! It’s not like me to jump straight into a review. It’s time for a little bit of history on the game. From the setting, I figured that the game wasn’t made in Japan, although it seemed possible to be a European creation. I came to find out that it was not from Europe, nor Asia, nor America. No, this game came straight from Down Under. Not only was the game programmed in Australia, but it was also apparently based on a pen-and-paper RPG by the same name. Check it out on Wikipedia for more information—it’s pretty interesting.

OK, that was your history lesson for today. The game seems to be a late jump on the dystopian future bandwagon that was so popular in the ’80s. The fact that it’s a game is somewhat interesting, however, considering that games following that genre were rather rare before The Matrix came out. Speaking of which, “the matrix” is a generic term for the ever-present Internet in this future world. This seems a little far-seeing for an unpopular game in 1993, even if the rest of the world appears to be the brain child of a group of drunken college students after watching RoboCop, Blade Runner, and Lord of the Rings. Did I mention that future Seattle has orcs, elves, magicians, and vampires?

That last line makes the game sound pretty stupid, but give it a chance. If there’s something that should turn you off from the game, it should be its controls, not its setting. Remember the control system used in those horrible NES point-and-click games like Deja Vu, Uninvited, or Kings Quest V? Imagine slowly and awkwardly pushing the cursor around the screen, except not in a static environment only requiring you to pick up items, but in a real-time battle system. That’s right—you get to aim your guns and spells in a way normally reserved for the mouse, instead using the directional pad on your controller. I suppose that this was a fairly creative concept at the time, but it made for a difficult battle, especially with moving targets or multiple enemies.

Actually, I lied. There’s one thing worse than the controls that truly make this game impossible. As with the previously mentioned Deja Vu and Uninvited, you are required to find impossible-to-recognize items laying around early on in the game and remember that they exist much later on. For example, if you were lucky enough to notice the crowbar lying on the ground during the first part of the game, you would probably have been rather disappointed that it did absolutely nothing. However, if you somehow managed to recall its existence more than halfway through the game, you might try to use it on the rusted doors you come across. But, wait, it doesn’t work on the rusted doors! No, it works on the locked door at the end of the hall! Why didn’t I just use the crowbar on all the locked doors earlier in the game? I had to get keys for all of those doors. I guess this must have been some sort of rusted locked door, and they just forgot to mention the rusted part in the description.

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Or, how about this one? Near the beginning of the game, you walk into a club and the bartender mentions that he can’t make iced tea because their shipment of ice hasn’t arrived yet. I guess in Seattle in the year 2050, you can’t make ice without a license, or perhaps the concept of the freezer had become a lost technology. Either way, this easily forgettable and useless piece of information comes back later. When you’re trying to get a boat to take you to the place with rusty doors, the captain mentions that mermaids have begun to congregate in the warm water from the sewer runoff. Yes, you’re reading that correctly. So, it’s at this point that you’re supposed to connect “warm waters” with the ice at the club at the beginning of the game. I mean, obviously! And, there was no reason for this part of the story other than to make the game longer.

Alright, enough complaining about the terrible logic in this game. Let’s move on to the mediocre graphics and barely tolerable music. I suppose that the graphics were about par for the Super Nintendo, possibly a little below average, but with the bonus of a few decent-looking cutscenes. The music was a little more difficult to handle, however. You could get used to it if you left the sound on, but you likely turned the volume down before that point came. All in all, these portions of the game don’t really add much.

So, after all of this, why did I enjoy this game to begin with? This question is as difficult to understand as the some of the plot devices. Nothing special in the graphics or music, horrible controls, awful ’90s-adventure-game puzzles, and a story that was only mildly creative at some points. What was it about this game that made me keep playing? Was it the drive to complete the impossible, similar to what makes some play with a Rubik’s cube?

Whatever the reason, this game was worth the play for me, despite its lacking merits. Others might not necessarily agree with me, but I suppose the overall rating of 5 is fairly accurate. While not a particularly good game, some people might like it. Worth a play if you have the time to spare, although you may want to keep a window with GameFAQs open.

  • GameCola Rates This Game: 5 - Average
  • Score Breakdown

  • Fun Score: 5
  • Novelty Score: 8
  • Audio Score: 4
  • Visuals Score: 5
  • Controls Score: 3
  • Replay Value: 5
1 vote, average: 6.00 out of 101 vote, average: 6.00 out of 101 vote, average: 6.00 out of 101 vote, average: 6.00 out of 101 vote, average: 6.00 out of 101 vote, average: 6.00 out of 101 vote, average: 6.00 out of 101 vote, average: 6.00 out of 101 vote, average: 6.00 out of 101 vote, average: 6.00 out of 10 (You need to be a registered member to rate this post.)
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About the Contributor

Alex "Jeddy" Jedraszczak is presiding Editor-in-Chief at GameCola, not only editing content but often writing it as well. On top of all this GameCola work, he also develops indie games.

1 Comments

  1. Compared to actual Shadowrun canon, this game takes some huge liberties. I could, in great detail, list them all. Also, Jake Armitage is the name of the PC in this game, and he reappears in Shadowrun Returns, so that’s cool.

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