Written By Game Swap Shop UK Member – Michael Burnside…
I’ve said for years that pound for pound, the Super Nintendo was probably one of the greatest consoles ever. Already my fingers are itching to type out the names of some of the greats…
Super Mario World, Zelda A link to the Past, F Zero, Pilotwings, Castlevania IV, Super Probotector, Super Ghost n Ghosts, Super Mario Kart
Ok that will do. Anyway, as I was saying… Super Metroid, Street Fighter II, Starwing, Mortal Kombat 1 and 2, Yoshi’s island, the Donkey Kong Country trilogy.
Ok, I’m done. Oh no, hang on…
Zombies ate my Neighbours, Super Star Wars, Mega Man X, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 4, UN Squadron
Now that I’ve got that out of my system… oh wait there’s the RPGs some of which never made it to Europe…
Secret of Mana, Final Fantasy 4 to 6, Chronotrigger, Earthbound, Mystic Quest, Secret of Evermore, Illusion of Time, Super Mario RPG.
I think I’ve made my point. But one game that nobody mentions, apart from me and maybe a few other souls on this planet is the action RPG Shadowrun. Not only my favourite SNES game ever but easily in my top 5 games of all time.
What is it and why haven’t I heard of it?
Set in Seattle in 2060, Shadowrun was based on the tabletop RPG game of the same name where magic and fantasy creature such as orcs and elves and even dragons have returned. You play the character of Jake Armitage, a shadowrunner which is a mercenary for hire, who wakes up in a mortuary with no memory. He then has to piece together the mystery of what’s happened to him by exploring the city and questioning everyone using a unique key word system when communicating with the characters in the game. Back in the day before the internet, video game magazines were our lifeline of information out there for both news and reviews. Shadowrun got reviews and it got good ones as well. 90% in some mags (the idea that games could be rated as a percentage has always seemed weird to me but back then everyone went with it).
The problem was it never got the front cover of magazines. And while it got the blessing from reviewers it didn’t get more than 2 pages for a review which was the bare minimum a game got. Big games that scored 90 or 95+ would sometimes get a third page or maybe even 4 and the very big new Mario games could get 6 pages or more. 2 pages were all I needed to get hooked. Graphically it wasn’t stunning, the characters were quite small and the city where Jake would run around looked a little plain. Not bad looking but wouldn’t make you turn your head away from some of the mode 7 graphics of Super Metroid or Castlevania. But I could tell the game oozed atmosphere and the story would drag me in. A character waking up in a morgue with no memory? How can you not get hooked in by that?
I knew that was the game I would get for Christmas 1994. And I did and I loved it. By boxing day, I had made my way out of the mortuary, picked up a gun from a guy who was gunned down by an orc trying to kill me, found my way back to my apartment where I got a video message form my girlfriend dumping me, found an injured shaman in the cemetery, got into an exclusive nightclub where I was taken to a scrap yard where the only way I could leave is fighting in an arena and then a backyard doctor accidentally activated a bomb in my head. And there was still a tonne of the game to go…
Unfortunately, not everyone thought like me and hardly anyone bought it
Unfortunately, not everyone thought like me and hardly anyone bought it, although those who did loved it. There was a line during the end sequence where there was a hint of a Shadowrun 2 but that never appeared. The company that made Shadowrun, wasn’t a big company and you could tell in the game that there looked like potential for it to be even bigger. Perhaps if it had Capcom or Konami’s budget and resources it would be even better and with a big advertising campaign it would have got the 4 page reviews and the all too important big sales.
I do hold out for a little hope for Shadowrun appearing on the Nintendo online SNES virtual console someday and other people can get to experience this game. Although since that gets updated about twice a century I’m not too hopeful. So I recommend getting your hands on a copy somehow. I’m not going to suggest using emulation because…erm…that’s er, wrong….?
Shadowrun has been resurrected and several games have been released for the Xbox with my beloved Switch getting Shadowrun trilogy quite soon. I never got round to getting the Xbox version and I guess I was hesitant about being disappointed after holding the SNES game in such high regard. Still, I got to be a big boy, put on my big boy pants, and give these new games a go.
I’ll let you know how I get on.