Shadowrun Returns


A long time ago, sometime before 1997, I encountered a SNES game called Shadowrun. It was based on a pen and paper RPG (like Dungeons & Dragons), but since I had never encountered the p&p version, I didn’t really care about that.

What did interest me was the game. It was a free-roaming Action-RPG that mixed guns and magic and a real world setting (Seattle of the 2050s) and computers. This was pre-Matrix stuff. But it was great.

Experience was earned through a system called “Karma” – gained through killing enemies. If you had a few hours to kill, you could actually earn enough Karma to level your character to super-powered status in the first area in the game. Then just blow through the game and grab new weapons as they came available to help out with killing everything.

The ending of the game is whacked out crazy, I have no idea what happened, Jake goes to meet his girlfriend and then has to re-fight all the game’s bosses. If I recall, one such boss says, “Jake, did you guess or did you just know?”

And then there’s this:



So, now the question is, “Is Shadowrun Returns the Shadowrun II we were promised twenty years ago?”

In a word, no.

While the SNES game’s Jake Armitage is a minor character in this game, it doesn’t do anything to explain what happened at the end of the original game. So Jake’s alive and it’s 2054, which means that the original game took place some time between 2050 and some time before the beginning of this game. (Though I’m thinking the original game took place in 2050 exactly, so it’s most likely been four years).

Returns doesn’t have a free-roaming aspect like the SNES game did. The entire story is on rails. There is one part where you can accept an actual Shadowrun job from a Mr. Johnson.

It would have been nice to have been able to hire Hamfist or Frogtongue or Norbert or any of the other Runners from the original game too. 

I still want to know what happened at the end of Shadowrun. I guess we know Jake lived somehow and that’s good.

There’s still the Berlin campaign to look forward to.



3 Responses to “Shadowrun Returns”

  1. Honesty, why does everyone always mention the awfull SNES game? There was a remarkably true Sega version of Shadowrun, with much more freedom, etc. but all the people only talk about the SNES game. I really don’t get it. Honestly, the Sega game was even better than Shadowrun returns – as the Sega game had multiple Johnsons, random runs, etc. – it felt like freedom, while Shadowrun Returns is a simple formula: Go to scene. Talk to people. Fight people. Go to next scene. Repeat until bored.

    • Bradley Hall Says:

      Probably because more people had a SNES to play on? I don’t know. I never had a Genesis and so never played the Genesis game.

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