Retrograde: A brief history of Shadowrun

This week on Retrograde we bring you a brief history of the Shadowrun series.  Since AS will have retro reviews of both the SNES and Genes versions online today, I thought it only fair to give a brief overview of all the entries in the series.

 The series has been around since 1989 and is a dark cyberpunk take on the typical settings found in many RPG games.Although the game features elements common in fantasy, such as elves and dwarves, it was edgier and often features much darker storylines than normally found in fantasy gaming.

The game quickly grew popular among Pen and Paper gamer and it wasn’t long before the property was picked up for the home video game market. To date there have been four games released based with the Shadowrun license.

Shadowrun for the Super Nintendo was the first to the market in 1993. The game was created by the Australian company Beam software and released by Data East in the USA. The game is an action RPG featuring an amnesiac main character searching for the reason he was ‘brain burned’ and left for dead. It has a decidedly dark story for a console known for light hear ted romps with Mario and friends.

The second game to hit the market was for the Sega Genesis. Once again simply titled Shadowrun, the game was created by Bluesky Software and published by Sega. The plot revolves around the main character is trying to find out what happened to brother after seeing him gunned down on the news. This game was an early attempt at a open world, sandbox game and presents the world from a top down point of view.

The Japan only entry, again simply titled Shadowrun, was the third game released. Described as “interactive fiction,” it relied on a quasi comic book style of storytelling along with a turn based battle system. This entry was developed by Group SNE and published by Compile.

The last and one of the most divisive entries iss again simply titled Shadowrun. This game forgoes the RPG roots of the setting for a team-based action approach. The game has often been compared to the classic Counter-Strike. It is a multiplayer game created by FASA interactive and released by Microsoft Game Studios for the PC and Xbox 360.

Although there hasn’t been another Shadowrun game released for a few years, there is still some hope for those wanting to play a digital version of the game. Cliffhanger Productions is bringing a browser based MMO based on the Shadowrun universe to PCs sometime in the future. Although the game is really just in pre-production, the look of the released screen-shots is in keeping with the dark cyberpunk roots. For more information on this project, titled Shadowrun Online, click here.

Next week we start our look in to the world of Wonderboy, a series that took a surprising path with entries on the NES, SNES,  Sega Master System, and Genesis. Don’t believe me? Tune in next Sunday!

 

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