Video Game: Shadowrun

Shadowrun is a Tabletop Game created by FASA in 1989. Since then, it has been adapted into several different video games, each sharing the name Shadowrun.

In 1993 it was adapted into a title for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, developed by Beam Software and released by Data East. It is loosely based on the tie-in novel Never Deal with a Dragon: Jake Armitage, a Seattle-based Runner, awakens one night in the city morgue with no memory of anything — save his name, conveniently written on the slab. Following an encounter with his animal spirit guide (a mutt, if you're wondering), Jake embarks on a quest to reclaim his identity and, more urgently, escape the long reach of his old employer. The game, obviously raunchy for the mid-90s, suffered from a Troubled Production and was a financial failure, but quickly became a Cult Classic.

A year later in 1994, another game was released under the Shadowrun name for the Sega Genesis; this version was developed by Blue Sky Software. This game had a much more Wide Open Sandbox type gameplay with more granular character customization and a less-linear story: A new hero, Joshua, is investigating the death of his brother during a botched run. To gather evidence, Joshua will have to get acquainted with Running and the various players in Seattle's underworld. Notably, this game inspired Greg Muzyka to leave medical school to work for BioWare; this version is also noteworthy for being extremely faithful to the tabletop game's mechanics.

In 1996 another game titled Shadowrun was developed by Compile and released for the Sega Mega-CD system. It was never released outside of Japan, had a much more anime art style, and was loosely based on a manga which was in turn loosely based on Shadowrun.

In 2007, Shadowrun was again made as an online only (or single player with AI players) first-person shooter Video Game, developed by FASA Interactive for Xbox 360 and Windows Vista. It was later cracked to work on Windows XP, confirming speculation that it was intentionally limited to Windows Vista. The game features a buying system which is greatly inspired by the game Counter-Strike. It is not set in the official Shadowrun timeline, but an alternate continuity invented by FASA Interactive. It was the first game to use Games for Windows - Live that allows for Windows users to play with Xbox 360 users.

In 2012, Harebrained Schemes declared their intention to make a Shadowrun game on Kickstarter - and exceeded its $400,000 goal in just 28 hours, making $1,889,416 total over the course of the next month. The resulting game, Shadowrun Returns, was released July 25, 2013.

Needs Wiki Magic Love.


Tropes specific to the SNES Shadowrun game:

  • Arbitrary Head Count Limit: At first, you can only hire one shadowrunner to back you up. Maxing your Charisma lets you hire up to three.
  • Big Bad: The Aneki Corporation.
  • Badass: Jake. He wakes up in a morgue, just barely clinging to life and with no idea of who he is or what he's doing there. He ends up taking out a powerful Seattle gang, binds a powerful spirit to his will, storms his way through a great dragon's fortified corporate tower AND the dragon's hideout and then kills a dragon, something almost impossible in the universe. His subsequent take-down of Aneki's headquarters is almost an afterthought.
    • And depending on how you play the game, you can do all of that solo.
  • Character Class System: Averted. The Player Character is classless, and can freely mix features without penalty. The biggest break from the original Shadowrun rules is how one character can do so many things which would be mutually exclusive on the tabletop.
  • City of Adventure: Seattle, being the "default" backdrop for Shadowrun.
  • Clark Kenting: The morgue attendants, previously more than a little miffed by you getting up off the slab and walking around, are later fooled by a nifty pair of sunglasses.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Averted, because there is no Essence in this game.
    • It's still given a nod, though. Jake having to go on a quest to atone to his totem in order to regain his damaged magical abilities is based on tabletop rules concerning Essence loss and ways to mitigate it for magic-using characters.
  • Cyberspace: A crude representation of the matrix exists in the game, represented by an orthogonal top-down view, with the player moving across a grid and attacking ICE which might occupy a square to obstruct them.
  • Damage-Sponge Boss: Quite a few "bosses" that you meet are barely a threat if you have the best armor available, doing damage in such low amounts and so slowly that you can easily heal yourself. However, they all take a ridiculous amount of punishment.
  • The Dragon: Drake is a straight, and literal, example. He and his company were engaged by the Aneki corporation for muscle to help destroy any threat to their AI computer that will eventually dominate the entire Matrix.
  • I Know Your True Name: Learning the Jester Spirit's real name is the only way to bind him to your services.
  • Isometric Projection: The point of view of the game.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Vladimir the Vampire is the Keeper of the Jester Spirit's true name. Asking politely doesn't work. Jabbing a stake into his heart multiple times gets him chatty though.
  • Medium Awareness: The Final Boss says during the Final Battle, "This isn't the end, Armitage! We'll meet again in Shadowrun II!"note 
  • Only Mostly Dead: The Player Character is shot several times and left for dead in the opening scene. A spirit intervenes to heal him with a spell, before the authorities arrive. The spell takes time to reach its full effect, and he wakes up on a slab at the morgue, with no memory of what happened before.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: They have Elaborate Underground Bases inside volcanos from which they secretly run Mega Corporations.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: They are Nigh Invulnerable to weapons, but have serious epileptic seizures when exposed to a strobe light. They're not a huge fan of stakes to the heart, either.
  • Plotline Death: Any partners you have except for Kitsune will die in the scripted fire fight in the ending sequence run to the helicopter.
  • Quest for Identity: The first act of the story takes the form of one of this. After that, the Player Character must complete his mission, since the enemies who killed him the first time are not going to stop until they succeed. By the end of the game, Jake's real identity is still mostly a mystery, with only a few hints about the person he used to be.
  • Short-Range Shotgun: Averted, the T-250 Shotgun has the same range as all the other weapons.
  • Shout-Out: The main character's name is pretty obviously a shout-out to Neuromancer.
  • Videogame Cruelty Punishment: Shooting Invulnerable Civilians will dock you Karma.
  • Waking Up at the Morgue: The start of the game. The morgue attendants do not take your sudden ambulating all that well, as(non-infectious yet fairly dangerous) zombies are about as common in the Sixth World as avian flu... along with every other kind of monster you can imagine.
  • Western RPG
  • Why Am I Ticking?: Having a Back-Alley Doctor tinker around in your head to unlock your head CPU accidentally sets off a bomb wired to explode in 24 hours. The doc gives you a refund though, so there's that.
    • Hilariously, he will only refund the money if you ask him...which isn't required.
      • Even more hilariously, he's the only non-combatant in the game whom Jake can kill. And as it's obvious that he's incompetent, many players take the opportunity.

Tropes specific to the Genesis Shadowrun game:

  • Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: Played with. The inns are more expensive past the Redmond Barrons, but the prices vary and are based on how ritzy the places are. Likewise, basic supplies (clips, medkits, etc.) tend to vary in price, again based on how easy it would be for the shops to gouge you.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: Yourself and two other runners. Any you can't fit have to be dismissed and bought back later.
  • Awesome but Impractical:
    • Shotguns and SMGs. The former is flat-out the strongest class of weapon in the game, but you only get two choices (one trades a bit of power for a larger clip) and they can't be modded, so stealth is right out. SMGs hold the most ammo of any weapon class, can be modded, and do decent damage, but they fire in a three-round burst (making the effective clip size one third of advertised) and are the least accurate weapon.
    • Any program not called Deception, Attack or (in certain places) Sleaze is useless in your deck except as fodder for Tar IC. These two programs are simply the only way to deal with most of the threats in the matrix. Anything your other programs could work on is a job these two will handle just as well.
  • Boring but Practical: Pistols aren't as flashy as an SMG or as powerful as a shotgun, but they're cheap, accurate, and easy to mod. They also have the advantage of not requiring an expensive weapons permit. Really, you can get through almost the entire game with the Predator pistol.
  • Character Class System: Played with. At creation, the player can choose to play their character as a Street Samurai, a Decker, or a Gator Shaman. Afterwards, it's a Point Build System.
  • City of Adventure: Seattle, being the "default" backdrop for Shadowrun.
  • Climax Boss: Ito Ogami, Renraku's corporate troubleshooter and in command of the local Strike Teams. After you deal with him, Renraku is effectively off the board, Vigore and Jarl disappear, and you can start hunting for a map to the final battle. Also, Lone Star Security issues a kill-on-sight order against you, though you only discover this if you go rooting around in their database.
  • Combat, Diplomacy, Stealth: Any time you have to infiltrate a building, you have these three options. Combat is possible, but it sets off the alarms until you go long enough without fighting or disable them (most floors have terminals you can use to disable security with a high Electronics skill; the higher the skill, the more successful you are at it—you either disable the alarm temporarily, you also shut down the cameras as well, or best, you find out what floor your goal is in the building). You can hack the computer system and crash it to disable security, but this only works for as long as you don't piss off the guards. Stealth is possible, but cameras make getting to the elevator undetected rather difficult unless you disable them. However, stealth also lets you dodge random event traps that tend to trigger alarms. Finally, with high negotiation skill you can talk your way past the guards (there's almost always one at the door), which can be aided with fake badges.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Played straight, in line with the source material. Installing cybernetics reduces essence, which is necessary for magic, and there is a limit on how much essence a character can give up total. This means that characters who cyberize will need to make some careful choices about what they will be incorporating since there is not enough essence to have everything. This is a plot point when you're forced to do a run for an artificial heart because the recipient is cybered to the point magic cannot heal him.
  • Cyberspace: The game represents the matrix by a third-person over-the-shoulder view of their avatar. You move across a digital landscape, confronting various nodes. By executing various attack, defense, and support programs, you breach the ICE and get access to the nodes they guard. This includes just as many RPG Elements as the rest of the game, with the Decker's cyberdeck and its installed programs, along with the Decker's own skills, being a factor. Notably, at least one game review magazine noted how the matrix dives in this game include some of the best graphics that the Sega Genesis can put out. The reviewer noted that this was in contrast with the rest of the game which, while not bad, was rather bland by the standards of its contemporaries.
  • Dungeon Town: Everywhere.
  • Evil Pays Better: The evil Johnson pays better than the next-best option by a fair margin, but only gives half karma.
  • Fetch Quest:
    • Courier runs have you go to a place to pick up a package, then deliver it to another location (where you get paid). Acquisition runs have you go into a corp to retrieve a package they took from your Mr. Johnson, who pays you for its return.
    • Bodyguard runs have you pick up someone at a place, then take them safely to another (where they pay you). Extraction runs have you find someone inside a corp building, and safely get them out. They split once you reach the front door, and your Mr. Johnson pays you for succeeding.
    • One type of Matrix Run requires you to locate a specific datastore in a system and download a file. A recognition program automatically finds the file once you get there, and your Mr. Johnson provides a passcode which leads to the system in question. It will take up one of the five data file slots, and Roscoe won't touch it if you meet him before you get to your Mr. Johnson to be paid.
    • Spirit Eyes has three of these for his quest to help you find the name of your enemy: first you need to find and bring a gargoyle horn to him, then the pelt of a fresh-killed Hellhound, and finally the scale off of a still-living dragon. The first two are fairly easy; just wander around an abandoned building until you kill one of each. The dragon is a bit more difficult. You end up saving it from a Renraku strike team, so it gives you the scale in return, and it shows up during the final boss battle to help you win.
    • Lady Gillian has one where you must deliver a gift to Red Buffalo Woman, then get the gift Red Buffalo Woman had for her to help with her trust.
  • The Fixer: The "Mr. Johnsons": they have work for you, they have contacts who might know others who can help or have stuff you need, and direct info you can use.
  • Fragile Speedster: Rianna Heartbane has a 7 in Quickness, but a '1' in Body (the absolute minimum stat score). Meaning she can't take much damage from bullets, body blows or Black =ICE= unless she improves her Body score greatly.
  • Futuristic Pyramid: The Renraku Arcology is present in this game, and can be visited by the player. It has a kind of chic, clean "shopping mall" feel inside.
  • The Medic:
    • Shaman characters (Joshua if you play as a Gator Shaman) have "Heal Wounds" spells that can be upgraded with training (the higher the spell level, the more you can heal at the least; a level 6 Heal Wounds could cure a severely-hurt runner with one cast!). Those only heal physical health (the vertical red gauge; if this is gone, you're "incapacitated"), though. If you must use the spell, use it out of battle or in a room you know no battle will happen in (as using it takes one player out of fighting) if it's a lower-level Heal Wounds. Otherwise, a level 6 Heal Wounds can bring a really-hurt runner back to full health.
    • Biotech skill helps a player get better results with a medkit the higher it is. The medkits heal both physical health AND mental health (the horizontal blue gauge, if this is gone, you're "knocked unconscious"). The catch is, each use of a medkit can restore some health, or possibly none at all. This depends on the user's Biotech skill and his/her own health as well. Stark has the highest Biotech rating of 5 in the beginning, so he makes the best combat medic. Pausing the game to the character screens lets you use a medkit in a character's possession (or give it to another character with a higher Biotech skill). A character with a high-leveled Biotech skill can bring back "dead/KO'ed chracters" on a run provided the party isn't already all killed/knocked-out.
    • Slap patches let any character be this, providing a straight 20% healing per patch: trauma patches heal physical health, while stim patches heal mental health. Gator Shaman Joshua will have these as his sole non-spell health aids, while Decker Joshua has two medkits and Street Samurai Joshua has one medkit. They're good in a pinch, but spells and medkits are much more effective and compact once you've built up the skill.
  • My Greatest Failure: Harlequin put together the ill-fated shadowrun to destroy Thon's magic source that claims Michael's life in the Sega Genesis version. Harlequin underestimated Thon, who in turn had a Renraku strike team kill all but Stark. When Joshua confronts Harlequin, Harlequin deeply apologizes to Joshua, and asks for his help in completing Michael's mission and end Thon's menace once and for all.
  • Noob Cave: The Redmond Barrens are the starting area. It's the least dangerous part of the city (ironically, it's much safer to walk the streets in the Barrens than in Downtown Seattle), controlled by the city's weakest gang, the Johnson there only gives missions that involve that district, and the Lone Star presence is minimal. It's played with, however, in that it remains a relatively important location throughout the game.
  • One Bullet Clips: Averted; if you force a reload, you lose any bullets you had in the last clip.
  • Opening the Sandbox: Until you complete the game's first quest (earn enough nuyen to get your brother's stuff), you're locked in the Redmond Barrens by a traffic jam. After you get that taken care of, you can explore Seattle to the limit of your skills and your nuyen.
  • Optional Party Member: The runners don't necessarily have to be hired, but it certainly helps to have ones that specialize in other areas.
  • Peninsula of Power Leveling: Some players advocate heavily grinding the Redmond Barrens for a while before Opening the Sandbox, since the missions are quick and easy and build karma rapidly, and prior to getting the DocWagon contract, you wake up in the Little Chiba hospital if your Health or Stun is reduced to zero. Given you want your attributes, skills and gear to be up to par to the meaner parts of Seattle, going for Michael's stuff right off the bat can actually make the game harder.
  • Point Build System: After the start, how you develop your character is up to you. The only difference is that only magician characters can use magic, and shamans are stuck with their totem taking up an item slot.
  • Procedural Generation: The player is able to take on many little sidequests and clear out dungeons which are procedurally generated in order to grind for money and karma.
  • Random Encounters: Ubiquitous. You can be attacked by gangers or worse anywhere, even inside the Renraku Arcology. However, some areas are more dangerous and prone to this than others.
  • Shaggy Dog Story: The first thing the Player Character has to do is earn enough nuyen to get his brother's personal gear from his hotel room. One of the things he gets back is a credstick with double the amount he paid in the first place.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: Shotguns are the most powerful weapons in the game. This is balanced out by their low clip size, lack of mods, and inability to be silenced.
  • Skeleton Key: The maglock passkeys, rated from 1 to 5. Once you have 5, no door can stop you.
  • Three-Quarters View: The point of view of the game.
  • Twenty Bear Asses: The Ghoul Bounty runs are a variation of this: Mr. Johnson pays per ghoul kill, up to twenty. Killing gargoyles or mages pays nothing. If you have a great weapon and both the ammo and the skill with it, as well as enough in your stats, this could turn into quick cash.
  • Universal Ammunition: Clips cover everything from pistols to shotguns. Moreover, a clip always has the exact number of bullets the weapon needs.
  • Warp Whistle: One of the contacts can fly you to and from the Hidden Elf Village, bypassing the extremely long walk through a maze-like wilderness filled with monsters.
  • Western RPG
  • Wide Open Sandbox
  • You Killed My Brother: The Player Character's driving motivation is the death of his brother on a run. He comes to Seattle to investigate and settle the affairs, but things kind of snowball from there.

Tropes specific to the Mega-CD Shadowrun game:

  • Five Races: Averted. Like in the source material, Japan exiles all metahumans other than stock humans and elves. Since this game is set in Japan in the Shadowrun universe, only humans and elves are available as party members.
  • No Export for You: It was never released outside of Japan, and was the last game ever released for the Mega-CD in any region.
  • Random Number God: Literal six-sided dice would roll across the screen to determine results, in a deliberate callback to the tabletop rules.

Tropes specific to the Xbox 360 / Windows Shadowrun game:

  • First-Person Shooter: The point of view of the game.
  • In Name Only: The project for this title originally began as a series of multiplayer gameplay experiments using the Halo 2 engine. An exec at Microsoft noted that they had the Shadowrun license lying around, and figured that they ought to slap it onto this experiment. That way even if the gameplay sucked, it would still sell on the title alone. The product's producer tried to argue this with the exec, but got overruled. He was able to successfully get the company to admit that it was only "inspired by" Shadowrun rather than trying to spin it as something canonical.
  • Magic Knight: All the Player Characters. However, they have to choose what magic they want to use, and different races will have different relationships with magic.