Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Shadowrun (Genesis/Mega Drive)

Welcome to the latest episode of 'Ray Hardgrit is Easily Confused by Old School RPGs'. This week starring Shadowrun (the Genesis/Mega Drive game).

This is apparently a very different rpg to the SNES Shadowrun that guest poster Kraed played a few weeks ago. I've heard it sticks closer to the source material in content and gameplay.

The choice of archetype seems to be the limit of my character creation options, and the pictures are the only clue I have to what makes each class different.
  • Samurai: Like the traditional samurai he's armed with a semi-automatic and Wolverine blades.
  • Decker: Armed only with a keyboard plugged into his tiny head, so I guess he has to type his attacks out. "Shoot lasers from eyes at goon #2." Nah, I don't see him working out for me.
  • Gator Shaman: Has the power to summon giant alligators from the sewers to rise up and maul his enemies. Perhaps.
I think I've got to go with the Samurai here, because he seems the most likely not to die in every fight.

There are more dystopian cyberpunk stories set in near-future Seattle than you'd expect.

These shadowrunners made the beginner mistake of not running in the shadows. They couldn't even manage to stay out of sight in complete pitch blackness.

I don't know much about the Shadowrun universe, but I 'd have imagined that mercs like these would be dropping like flies on the harsh streets of cyberpunk Seattle every day. Seems a bit weird that this particular ambush made it onto a national news broadcast.

I really hope we get to keep that helicopter, it looks awesome. Not enough rpgs give you your own helicopter to ride around in. In fact only the Deus Ex games spring to mine, and they don't count as you don't get to choose where you're flying to.

Well, that intro cutscene was brief, informative, and totally skippable. I gotta give them high marks for that.

My currently nameless hero can't avenge his brother Michael's death until he knows what exactly the guy was doing to get himself killed. And for that I need to search through his belongings for clues.

The dude automatically walks off the street into his brother's motel, only to find that the manager won't let him collect Michael's stuff until I pay his back rent. The manager wants 250¥, and our hero spent the last of his cash on a helicopter tour of cyberpunk Seattle, so he's going to have to head to the Jump House bar to find work.

But first I'm going to check out my inventory screen. Hey, my character has a name.

Joshua's 100% mental, totally physical and he's carrying a gun and armour. There's a posture slider there too to adjust his attack and defence, but I won't mess with that.

The game has a journal, thank fuck for that! No map though, unfortunately.

Okay, the motel manager said "head up the street", but does that mean left or right? Or do I keep walking until I find a street heading up the screen?

The way Joshua walks is really throwing me off. He doesn't immediately flip around to face in a direction when I turn around, instead he slowly rotates through the whole arc, dragging the screen around with him as he goes. It's a really strange way of handling it and I'm not sure why they did it that way.


Oh shit, I'm being chased by a gang of thugs and I didn't even do anything! I was just tapping left and right on the d-pad and watching Josh do his dopey turning thing, when they all turned up and started being aggressive.

Okay, I guess it's time to whip out my pistol and show these two clowns how a shadowrunner handles shit.

Oh right, I forgot shadowrunners handle shit by being filled with bullets and keeling over.

Fortunately Joshua was saved from certain death by a kind samaritan, and the doctors only charged him a 20% percent of his cash for their service. The joke's on them, I barely have any money!

Okay, so this is the hospital then? These people need to invest in some proper signs.

I've still no idea where the Jump House is and now I don't even know where the motel is anymore, so I'm doubly lost. At least I know I won't be going right.

I took a couple of steps to the left and triggered a random event. I was given a choice to attack the well-dressed doctor, try to talk this over, or help them capture the haggard patient.

I chose to talk, and convinced them to leave the guy alone. For picking the lazy option I was rewarded with 100¥, bringing me almost halfway to my goal!


Hey, this place has a glass on the sign. Looking at all the pipes on the roof it could just turn out to be a place that makes glasses, but I think there's a fair chance this is the bar I've been searching for.

And the door's locked. Fuck.

Oh wait, it's locked because those enemies have found me again. Well I'm ready for the fuckers this time. I know exactly which button fires the gun towards enemies, and... well, I'm not sure there's actually anything more to the combat in this. I thought one of the other buttons might use the Wolverine claws, but they just cycle through targets. Snikt denied.


Of course they killed me in seconds. And then again, and again, and again, and again... Everywhere I go, they're there, and if I'm very lucky I can take one of them down before waking up back at the hospital with my wallet 20% lighter.

Okay, I know what I need. Guns, armour, and stuff to stick on my guns. Sadly I can't even afford the cheapest weapon mod right now, I'm pathetic.


Wow, classy colour cycling. Pay no attention to the backwards pool table.

I finally made inside the bar without getting my head kicked in along the way, only to find that it's the wrong bar. Though I did find another potential party member here that should add some additional asskicking potential to my team.

Son of a bitch. Couldn't you just join me forever for free, like in most rpgs?

Fuck him. He said he doesn't like fighting anyway.


After 20 minutes of gameplay I finally find the bloody Jump House bar. It was right next door to the other one.

I have no idea how these people afford to run two bars next to each other with this many customers around. I suppose they cut costs by not hiring staff or buying stock.

As the motel owner promised, I find someone at the back of the bar offering work. A simple delivery job. Well, it'd be simple if I knew where either of those places were anyway. Dude, give me a map, it'll make this go much faster!

Sadly the job pays less than the money I lost trying to find my way here, but at least now I know where to get work.


No idea what the Rat's Nest looks like, but I'm fairly certain this is the Nuke Plant. Man, I wish I had a map right now, or clear directions. Or even a big floating arrow pointing me in the right direction.

Some people complain about quest markers in modern rpgs, but I'd definitely take them over not having a damn clue where I'm going, if those are my only options.


Amazingly I managed to deliver the package and make it back to the bar without being picked on by the local bullies, and now I have a new mission. A combat mission. Joy.

Well, maybe these Ghouls are far easier to kill than armoured gun-wielding street gangs.


They just keep coming and they won't die! And I get another free trip to the hospital.

Okay, new plan. I'm starting again as a Gator Shaman (who actually looks exactly the same as the Samurai and even has the same weapon and armour) and this time I'm going straight to the bar from the start. I'm going to skip any mission that involves shooting or escorting, and I'm going to save after every single successful job.


YES! After 1h 30m of gameplay I have finally gotten the motel manager to hand over Michael's stuff.

Inside are clues pointing me to people I should visit, and 500¥, which I plan to immediately go and spend on better armour.

Resting at the motel let me spent my hard earned experience on a single attribute or skill. From the descriptions it seems that Willpower will give me the biggest combat boost, so I'll throw my karma points into that.


It took me a while but I actually managed to kill a group of enemies! My first win in combat.

Now, I just have to find a way to get to the next section of town, so I can get my ass kicked by harder enemies meet with the first name on my list.

Dystopian cyberpunk Seattle doesn't look so bad actually. Lots of trees and lakes.

I didn't get to keep the helicopter, so I have to take a taxi to get around, which costs money. So I'm penniless again.


Puyallup Barrens is a whole new maze of streets for me to navigate, but I eventually stumbled upon the motel where my brother's ex-girlfriend has been hiding out. And of course the second I get there she's brutally gunned down.

Still, now I've got some new names to check out. Time to find another taxi stop.


Well, most of my leads turned out to be a total waste of time and taxi fares. One of them took 100¥ off my hands to tell me basically nothing, so now I'm really desperate for cash.

Fortunately one of the names on my list is another 'Johnson', like the guy at the back of the Jump House bar, and he has work for me. I'm still in no shape for combat, so I skip through the job offers until he gives me a package mission. The 590¥ payment will be more than enough to hire a taxi to the last name on my list.

Shit! This was supposed to be a package delivery job, not package theft. I must have missed something when I was reading the mission description.

I use up my entire supply of medikits and stim patches just to stay alive long enough to kill the first guard, but two more turn up and it's all over.

I wake up in an entirely different part of the city, with no money and I can't seem to cancel the package job. No money means no taxi. So basically, as far as I can tell I'm totally screwed. GAME OVER.

I spent half the game wandering around looking for places, and the other half getting shot or stabbed while I was wandering around looking for places. This really wasn't any fun at all for me, and I just couldn't get into it. I don't know, maybe next time I could do another thirty delivery runs while I'm at the start and buy some better equipment before I go further into Seattle.

Or maybe I should just play something else.

Shadowrun series:
1993 - Shadowrun (SNES)
1994 - Shadowrun (Genesis/Megadrive)


  1. I completely agree, I remember buying this game when I was very young because my older cousin who I looked up to like a brother played the tabletop game.

    Complete waste, I couldn't even make it to the bar, because of that goddamn gang, and it wasnt like Ghouls&Ghosts where I eventually came to appreciate the difficulty somewhat, even if I still wished it was easier. The guns do nothing and everyone who attacks you basically might as well have a rocket launcher because they can kill you in a few quick hits.

    It seems that you will never completely run out of money since it does take a true 20%, and it has a decimal space so you can never run completely out of money, but I hear that if you die enough that it gets down to fractions of a yen, the game can crash, so that's basically the same thing as a game over. I couldn't even stand to die that many times, I traded it in for some other piece of shit that I could at least kill an hour on without my heart filling with hate and rage.

    Years later I tried it again and had no better luck, but I hear that its actually not meant to be like this, that the reason its so hard is some bug in the game that allows higher level enemies to wander/spawn away from where they are supposed to be by the intended design, and that if you grind enough to actually get somewhere or just get lucky enough it can actually be really easy, but I wasnt going to waste enough of my time to test that theory, and there was no such thing as a bug fix for the early consoles so this fucker gets the crown of the shit pile.

  2. Try different versions of the roms, sometimes its hard to tell, but if you download them from 3 or 4 sources, you will probably find a good one. I had the same problem, and was willing to give up entirely, but a couple of years later, i came across game genie codes, as well as a debug code, which can be a pain to use, since its limited to a single use, then you have to reset/reload to use it again. The game genie codes can beef up your character to get through those early encounters, so i gave it a try once more, only to find out that i had a much easier time this go around, not even needing the codes, and playing it on my phone is one of my favorite wastes of time.

  3. Not trolling or anything through here, but I didn't have that much of a problem with the early game about eight years ago when I played through a good portion of it.
    First couple of tries, yea, I got my ass kicked, but I learned what to do and avoid. I always played the decker; which I highly suggest, due to the hacking part being a very big, fun, and very detailed part of the game. Also very profitable.
    That gun you show in the screenshot, the Ares Predator (something they need to make in real life), is a weapon you'll keep throughout. Get ahold of that and you'll have a much easier time. The handblades are a good backup, too.

  4. I cut my teeth on this game in my early teens. It was the most fun, and I get that warm glow of nostalgia every time I re-play this beauty.
    Have you not played a lot of RPGs?
    Original Zelda? Final Fantasy? Phantasy Star?
    I know that old school games don't "hold your hand" the way modern cake-walks do. You have to invest some time and learn. Don't forget to READ the text. It's not decorative, its there to help you.
    That said, I enjoyed the review. Almost everything you hated was something I loved ^_^


Semi-Random Game Box