Archive for William Gibson

Shadowrun Returns

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on July 27, 2013 by Bradley Hall

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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:

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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.