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Video Game / Shadowrun

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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.

The 1993 Shadowrun for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, was 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 Zeschuk and Ray Muzyka to leave the field of medicine to co-found 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 the Xbox 360 and Windows (intended to work only with the then-new Vista operating system, though later easily cracked to work on Windows XP). 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. The PC version was the first game to use Microsoft's Games for Windows - Live Digital Rights Management system, and it was also the second game on the 360 to allow cross-play between it and PC (after the 360's 2006 port of Final Fantasy XI) as part of a heavily-advertised but very short-lived attempt to make cross-play between 360 and PC games standard.

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. It now has two "expansions" (which are much more like full-blown sequels), Dragonfall and Hong Kong.

Another game came out in 2015, Shadowrun Chronicles: Boston Lockdown (previously titled Shadowrun Online) after its Kickstarter campaign made $58,863 over a $500,000 goal.

Tropes specific to the SNES Shadowrun game:

  • Anti-Grinding: An unusual example: Ghouls give a lot of Karma when you kill them, especially at the beginning of the game, but the more of them you kill, the more powerful they become. This prevents you from grinding endlessly at the beginning of the game, as eventually, the Ghouls will be too tough to kill with your beginning weapon before they disappear.
  • 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.
  • Blindfolded Trip: Jake is blindfolded by Glutman's employees while they escort him to the Caryards.
  • Big Bad: The Aneki Corporation is the corp looking to rule the world, with The Dragon Drake and CEO Aneki himself in particular being the ones to cause all of Jake's trouble.
  • Canon Immigrant: The 2013 tabletop adventure Splintered State features a brief appearance by an AI copy of Jake Armitage, along with a summary of the game's events, canonizing the overall plot.
  • 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 in the actual tabletop game — while one could feasibly be a hacker and a street samurai at the same time, you can't load up on cyberware without taking a big hit on the Essence needed to use magic, which Jake can also use given the proper leveling up.
  • City of Adventure: Seattle, being the "default" backdrop for Shadowrun.
  • Clark Kenting: The morgue attendants, previously terrified by a corpse getting up off the slab and walking around, are later fooled by a nifty pair of sunglasses.
  • Commonplace Rare: You only find one Slap Patch in the entire game to recover 15 HP. Yes, it will be very tempting to do so in the first part of the game when you don't have access to your room to rest yet. But using it means missing out on a permanent party member. You can buy up to six at a time in the car yard if you ask the little boy about "Heal", but good luck finding that out without a guide.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: The Invisibility spell is close to a Game-Breaker, as it prevents enemies from targeting you and therefore hitting you. A sufficient amount of mana points and a leveled Invisibility spell will get you through most of the game, including the Final Dungeon, with no trouble at all. However, it is completely ineffective against Drake and the Jester Spirit, as they will see right through it and hit you anyway.
  • Cutscene Power to the Max: On both sides of the "fight" at the end of the game, Aneki and his goons will kill off all your party members instantly, yet they can't seem to land a hit on Jake. Kitsune is similarly invulnerable if she's there, despite being exceptionally weak in gameplay.
  • 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 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. Drake himself is a gigantic dragon that's immune to gunfire, meaning he's also a literal example.
  • Gladiator Games: The only real source of entertainment in the Caryards. You can (and should) fight there yourself, as the cash rewards are very handy and the karma bonus is also very good. You can even challenge the King to a battle instead of paying him off, though he's skilled and your weapons and armor are terrible.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • If you hire the shadowrunner Jetboy to come along while you take out the leader of the Rust Stilettos gang, he will somehow find a hidden 2000 nuyen there. There is absolutely nothing hinting at this.
    • Want more Slap Patches to heal yourself with? Ask the Little Boy in the scrapyards about "Heal" and he'll sell you some for 100 nuyen a pop. However, there's nothing in the game that indicates this.
    • In the Rusty Ship, one particular room has you ambushed by four orcs that will kill you quickly and are invincible, despite the fact that they don't seem any different from the orcs you've been tearing through the whole game. You have to close the door to the room and push an otherwise-hard-to-see button that floods the room, killing them. This is the only battle with humanoids enemies in the game that can't be won through force of arms, and comes out of nowhere.
    • Defeating the Jester Spirit emphasizes that you'll need to know his true name, but when you go into his boss room, there's no indication of how you're supposed to use his true name. The answer is to damage him until he mocks you, at which point you can use the hand to talk to him. There is no indication that this is possible.
  • I Know Your True Name: Learning the Jester Spirit's real name, Laughlyn, is the only way to bind him to your services.
  • Isometric Projection: The point of view of the game.
  • Invulnerable Civilians:
    • Shooting civilians won't hurt them. Also, if you keep doing it too long, the Dog Spirit will dock Karma from you.
    • If you shoot a recruitable shadowrunner before you hire them, they won't take damage, and they'll shoot back. Strangely, you can still shoot them after you purchase their services, and they'll just sit there and take it.
  • It's All Upstairs From Here: Drake Towers and the Final Dungeon, Aneki Corporation, involve going from floor to floor, fighting your way through security so you can find the terminal that will allow you to unlock the elevator to the next floor until you get to the roof. Inverted with Drake Volcano, where you need to unlock the elevator to get to the bottom floor.
  • 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. Make sure to use the stake one more time for a big karma and cash bonus!
  • Luring in Prey: One encounter at the docks consists of Jake finding his ex-girlfriend Sassie, telling him she's sorry she broke up with him and asking him to come closer. As Jake approaches, "Sassie" transforms into a giant octopus and attacks him.
  • Medium Awareness: As Drake says during his boss fight: "This isn't the end, Armitage! We'll meet again in Shadowrun II!"note 
  • Non-Action Big Bad: Aneki's a wimpy human businessman who was reliant on Drake for protection. You kill him in a cutscene, and he incidentally shares the same sprite as the common "mage" enemy you've likely killed hundreds of.
  • Only Mostly Dead: The Player Character is shot several times and left for dead in the opening scene. A shapeshifting fox 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 due to his brain being burnt.
  • Optional Party Member: You're only required to use Jake, without recruiting anyone else. However, the shadowrunners all leave after enough time has passed. Kitsune can end up as the lone exception under certain conditions, which keeps her in your party permanently once she's hired.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: They have Elaborate Underground Bases inside volcanoes 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.
  • Out-Gambitted: The way to learn the Jester's true name. Jake threatens the vampire with a stake to the heart, who tells Jake a name, but it's a fake name that won't do any good. Only repeated threats of death get the vampire to break down and say the jester's real name.
  • Overrated and Underleveled: In the Volcano, you can spend a lot of time finding various file fragments that, when reconstructed, give you the vidphone number of a mage so powerful that Drake specifically sends out orders saying that Jake is not to be allowed to contact her under any circumstances. If you leave the Volcano, go back to Seattle, and jump through the hoops to recruit her...she's a really good mage, but she's just as squishy as all the other mages, having less than 100 hit points. She can cast almost any spell in the game, but she will die in the battle against Drake. She's only really useful for the run on Aneki at the end of the game, and even then, you're better off doing it solo with the Invisibility spell.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Jake only needs a police badge and dark shades to become unrecognizable to the morticians that saw him awaken.
  • Peninsula of Power Leveling:
    • The basement of the Dark Brotherhood hideout has a crypt where zombies spawn. Its possible to hide behind the coffins in a way that makes it difficult for them to reach you, then gun them down for easy (if somewhat slow) karma.
    • The Volcano Lair has a room with a naga miniboss that gives a good amount of karma when killed, and will respawn if Jake doesn't pick up the scale it drops.
  • Pixel Hunt: Especially harsh, where items crucial to advancing in the game are often a jumbled mess of pixels hidden in plain sight.
  • Plotline Death: Any partners you have except for Kitsune will die in the scripted fire fight in the ending sequence run to the helicopter.
  • Prison Episode: When you find Glutman, he promises to get you to a safe location, assuring you that he owes you for something. When the blindfold comes off, you're in the Caryards, a junk-town populated by outcasts and debtors run by the King. You can't leave unless the King says you can, and that costs a lot of nuyen. Most people in the Caryards give up and stay there for the rest of their lives. You don't have that kind of time.
  • Quest for Identity: Subverted. 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.
  • Squishy Mage: Kitsune has excellent magical abilities, but she is tricky to keep alive, especially if you go down the route of making her a permanent party member. The issue is not her hitpoints, but the fact she has a strength value of 1, which limits the armor she can wear to a leather coat.
  • Twice-Told Tale: As mentioned, the plot is a very loose retelling of "Never Deal With A Dragon." Jake Armitage replaces Sam Verner. Like Sam, he's a new Shadowrunner who becames a Dog Shaman. The villain of both is a non-Great Western Dragon named Drake who is too arrogant and young to know when to call it quits and use his "Exit Villain, Stage Left" ability "Edge" that all dragons have in abundance.
  • Undying Loyalty: If you bring along Kitsune to the Rat Shaman fight, after you trigger a dialogue between her and Jake, Kitsune will be this. Of all the Shadowrunners you hire, in a world where loyalty is bought and sold as a commodity, she'll never leave your side so long as you keep her alive. She'll even survive the ending shootout when everyone else is killed.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: Shooting Invulnerable Civilians will dock you Karma. Shooting possible recruits before you've hired them will make them shoot back.
  • 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: It's an Action RPG based on a Western tabletop game. There's still things like party members, equipment, and magic. But every fight is in real time.
  • 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 without penalty. 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.
  • Androcles' Lion: Saving Licourtrix the feathered serpent from a squad of Renraku hunters will result in him owing you a favor, which he repays by pulling a Big Damn Heroes moment during the Final Boss and providing you with a strategy to defeat him.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • Shotguns. They are 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. If you're doing corp runs, they're worthless. It's still worth keeping the Allegiance shotgun on hand, though, because its incredible armor penetration will do much more damage to the boss enemies than the pistols or SMGs.
    • 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, Rebound, Degrade or (in certain places) Sleaze is useless in your deck except as fodder for Tar IC. These 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 that Attack will handle just as well.
      • Even THEN, Rebound, while a pretty good program in its own right, can only be bought at a max level of 6, which means it still stands a good chance of failing against high level IC. Also, unfortunately befitting its status as an experimental program, Rebound has a risk of the program simply "shattering", failing outright and being obliterated from your deck. Given it's NOT a cheap program, nor is this the kinda thing you want to happen when facing down a Black IC, this severely hampers its effectiveness.
    • Grenades and AOE spells like Mana Storm or Hellblast. All of them do a lot of damage in the right hands, but grenades require quite a bit of skill in Throwing in order to be handled well enough to make sure they go where you want them to. Also, all AOE attacks do not discriminate friend from foe, so you can easily kill off your own team, including your extraction guy for a run.
    • Compared to the other Johnsons, Caleb Brightmore is this. You need a fairly good reputation to speak with him to begin with. All his contracts offer the big the cost of being among the hardest as he primarily offers high-end matrix runs. Put simply, you'll get a lot of money working for Caleb, but you're going to bust your ass for every buck.
    • Of any of the various runs available, runs against the Renraku Corp. offer much higher rewards in both money and karma. The catch? Renraku is by far the absolute most difficult of the corps to do runs against. For starters, you won't even get in the door without security stopping you and requiring you either have a corps badge or a hell of a charisma score to talk your way out of it. Renraku Strike Team encounters can take place inside the building, an unavoidable combat sequence which triggers the alarm. There are absolutely no terminals on the first floor, so you have to wait out the alarm if it goes off. All that aside, it's the biggest corp to run against due to the sheer size of the building (6 floors). All in all, only the best Shadowrunners stand a chance of making it out alive.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Ito Ogami is on the "competent" end of this trope. He is Big Bad material in his own right, his forces are a continual threat to you and will probably take you down more than once, and even Harlequin respects his ability, but he came into the game late and simply doesn't have enough intel on the situation to be more than an Arc Villain in the grand scheme of things.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The music track that plays at the Jump House Bar in Redmond Barrens repeatedly uses a vocal one-liner that says "Schattenlauf," which is German for "Shadowrun."
  • 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.
    • You can affiliate yourself with certain gangs in the city, gaining a unique benefit for doing so. The best one to align with is the orcs. Why? Because orcs drive all the cabs, and being in the gang means free rides.
    • For spells, Mana Blast and Flame Bolt are the best spells to use for combat purposes, doing fairly good damage without too much risk to yourself. The only thing that would hold Flame Bolt back is its utter uselessness against hellhounds.
    • Negotiation, for skills. All it does is affect prices, particularly with buying items or Shadowrun payments, but dumping a lot into this stat can see vastly significant returns over time as many items are very expensive in this game. In particular, runs have a base price the Johnson is willing to offer, with your negotiation skill how much is added to that base for the contract, meaning you can earn a lot more money quickly with a high enough skill.
    • Gunderson, surprisingly enough, is actually a usable Johnson throughout the entire game. True, his jobs will get you at best 50 nuyen a run, but ALL of his runs are in the Redmond Barrens, meaning you could do many of them in a few minutes. At 1 Karma per run, you should have enough by the time 10 minutes is up to gain several upgrades to your stats.
    • The Power stat in weaponry actually is more useful than you think. While the game doesn't explicitly tell you, the Power stat is effectively staggering strength. Light power, usually a trait of light pistols, means an enemy will barely flinch, while Brutal power, only available to the Allegiance shotgun, Warhawk heavy pistol, and Frag Grenades, will halt them for a moment and give you better chance to reposition or take them down with another shot. In a game where firefights need to be ended quickly and efficiently, staggering your enemy and giving yourself more time to finish them off before they act can sometimes mean the difference between a milk run or a botched one.
  • Bowdlerise: Those familiar with the Shadowrun setting would notice a few setting staples toned down or left to be read between the lines. Frag grenade dealers replace chip and drug dealers. An event of a panicked "escaped mental patient" being chased by a shady doctor strongly hints that he's faking it for Organ Legging, although it may also be exactly what it looks like. An almost certainly a necessity to get the game made and released mainstream, back in the 90s.
  • Broken Bridge: The cab service is (in)conveniently unavailable to take you out of the Warrens until you manage to pick up Michael's belongings from the local motel.
  • Brutal Bonus Level: All the high-end corp systems have a piece of a password hidden in their datastores. Collecting the whole password opens up a new system belonging to the local nuclear plant that is larger and tougher than any that came before. If you fight your way through and crash it, you're told that you just foiled a virus trying to cause a meltdown, and you stole 200,000 nuyen on the way out.
  • Cast from Stamina: If a magic-using character has an attack spell on an "offense" setting, there is a chance if that if the character has no "fetish" (which is a device that prevent the drain on a character) then the Mana Meter aka "mental health" of a character (the horizontal blue line on the bottom of the character's picture) might take a few hits. High willpower helps minimize the drain if it happens, but a stim patch and a medkit dose can help as well (the Stim Patch is good for a flat 20% restoration, and a medkit dose's restoration all depends on the Biotech skill level of a medkit user). A night's rest in a hotel gives you full restoration, while needing a Medwagon call is 50% if you're "knocked out" (which can be trouble if your enemy lands punches on you, which affect your mental health as well). One caution, though—if the drain adds up, the character is "knocked unconscious" as it could totally deplete the mental health bar. This is different from mana/spell points as in other games, totally depleted mana/spell points do NOT normally incapacitate a player. Also, "Heal" spells only heal physical health, not mental health.
  • 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. (A magic-user with an "Invisibility" spell though can cloak the player's characters and help with stealth.) 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.
  • Disc-One Nuke: The Predator pistol is one of the most well-balanced guns in the game (see Boring, but Practical above) and will serve you well in any fight you get into regardless of your starting class. You can purchase one from the gun shop in Redmond Barrens, the first area you arrive in.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Averted in a somewhat odd manner. You have a reputation value, but this is treated as a skill like any other. This means you can pump points into your reputation even though you've just been doing ratty package delivery jobs in the Warrens, and somehow people all over the city will know your name.
  • Dungeon Town: Everywhere, as enemies may randomly attack you in any area of the game, or even while entering a bar or Stoker's Motel. Even the random events may result in combat.
  • Early Game Hell: The beginning of the game can be brutal to new players. You have shoddy armor, a lousy little gun that's hardly better than throwing rocks, skills that will hardly get you anywhere, and the only Johnson available is Gunderson, whose contracts basically amount to 20-30 bucks per run and 1 karma each unless you're brave (or ignorant, or overconfident, take your pick) to do the ghoul hunting for higher pay. Granted, you can do a lot of his jobs quickly and rack up a decent haul of cash and karma, but that's assuming the local gang doesn't punch your face in and ruin everything first. Basically, you're going to have to be persistent if you hope to get beyond Redmond Barrens.
    • Even once the sandbox is open and all of Seattle open to you, it still is very rough for a while. Many of the new Johnsons available require either a decent rep, payment at the door to see them, or both in order to even speak with them. Then, there's the fact that they will start offering Acquisition and Extraction jobs, which you're even MORE likely to be unprepared for than anything else, not to mention the Matrix jobs which are out of your league unless you are a decker with a decent deck or find one to hire. Also, the random events increase significantly and you'll find mundane and dangerous encounters happening all the more frequently.
  • Easy Logistics: Averted. Unlike the SNES version and the later Shadowrun Returns games, ammunition in this version of the game is finite and so you'll have to buy new stocks of clips at the local weapons dealer after depleting your ammo reserves in a firefight. Since Universal Ammunition is in effect here for all of the guns and that combat is in real-time instead of turn-based, this means you could end up running out of ammo at the worst possible time if you're not careful. Those who are used to the SNES version (although the combat in that version is no different, except for the Easy Logistics trope being played straight there) or the later Shadowrun Returns games will be in for a bit of a rude surprise when transitioning to the Genesis version of this game.
  • Evil Pays Better: The evil Johnson pays better than the next-best option by about 20% or so, but cuts a point of karma off each run because you're actually helping your enemy, though you don't know that at the time.
  • 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.
  • Figure It Out Yourself: Frosty won't meet with you until you've completed Spirit Eyes' quest and learned that Thon is your enemy. She or her boss could easily just come out and tell you all of that, but instead you need to "find the wisdom of your ancestors." You also make a vital ally on this quest, but that doesn't make Frosty any less unhelpful. Though in hindsight, it's a good way of ensuring you're tough enough to succeed where your brother failed.
  • The Fixer: Two types:
    • The "Mr. Johnsons," who are your employers. They also have contacts who might know others who can help or have stuff you need, and direct info you can use.
    • Actual "fixers" who generally have info and equipment you can purchase. Examples include Boris Erascoe, Roscoe, and Max.
  • 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.
  • Life Meter: The vertical red meter to the side of a character's picture is their Life Meter aka "physical health," which is reduced by direct damage.
  • Mana Meter: The blue horizontal meter on the bottom their Mana Meter if playing a magic-using character, otherwise it's your "mental health" which takes hits from punches/melee blows.
  • 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 characters" 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, 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.
    • Roscoe the data vendor is the easiest way to grind cash in the game once you've passed the Redmond Barrens. He pays fairly well for data files you steal during Matrix Runs. Once you're good enough to reliably hit low-end systems, it essentially becomes a self-reinforcing loop: hit a system, sell the data, upgrade your deck, repeat. A lot of content (contacts, passkeys, etc.) is gated behind significant cash expenditures, making Roscoe the best way to keep yourself solvent. And for ease of rinse and repeat, there's a public matrix jackpoint literally right outside his door.
  • 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.
  • Power-Up Letdown: Of sorts. The various gangs all have contacts that the player can purchase after meeting with their leaders. Of them, Mr. Faradouchi, the Mafia leader whose contact details are given by the Eye-Fivers, is a major letdown as his benefits (Free stay at Wylie's Gala Inn in Penumbra District, discount at Crime Mall, keep Lone Star at bay) only serve to save a bit of money and little else. Inn stays aren't usually that expensive as is, and Lone Star can be kept at bay with a sufficient charisma and the proper equipment, so already two of his services amount to nothing. Aligning with Mr. Faradouchi also prevents you from aligning with Agira Tetsumi of the Yakuza, locking you out of the best armor and the Lvl 4 Power Focus to increase spellpower for all spells.
  • 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.
  • Religious and Mythological Theme Naming: Michael and Joshua are both Biblical names.
  • Resignations Not Accepted: The Extraction runs offered by Mr Johnsons involve an employee of one of the corps who wishes for a career change, but their employer disagrees and has imprisoned them in their office.
  • Rotating Arcs: There's three major subplots loosely tied together by a major villain, each composed of several missions before they merge into the endgame storyline. The order in which you handle them is mostly up to you.
  • "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.
      The irony of this discovery wears off after a moment.
    • This can actually happen to the player during certain runs, but shout-out for this goes to the Acquisition runs against the Corps. Not only do you have to bust in and find the package in question, you also have to get back to your Johnson in one piece before you can get your payment. Depending, the RNG may decide to screw you over by throwing a nigh impossible battle at you. If you're felled, the run is a bust and you get NOTHING.
  • 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.
  • Shout-Out: One of the characters you have to deal with during the course of the main story is named Ito Ogami.
  • Shown Their Work: Many mechanics are based off of the Tabletop RPG even when not mentioned or directly contradicted. The Slow program says that it reduces an ICE's response frequency, hit enough times to drop its response to 0 and it crashes, making it a viable alternative to Attack. Unarmed skill also helps with melee defense. Even random events based upon attribute checks use the same Target Number system as the tabletop game behind the scenes.
  • 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.
  • 20 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.
  • Unwitting Pawn:
    • Renraku is mainly interested in profit. This makes them vulnerable to being manipulated by Thon, and even Ito Ogami doesn't have more than bits and pieces of the whole story.
    • You, if you work for Vigore and Jarl. They pay well, but it turns out that they're agents of your enemy, Thon, and they're using you for information to find Ellisia's tomb. When you work for them, you get one less Karma for every mission because you're being manipulated against your own interests.
  • Warp Whistle: One of the contacts can fly you to the Hidden Elf Village, bypassing the extremely long walk through a maze-like wilderness filled with monsters. The village, in turn, can hire out its copters to take you back to the Salish-Shidhe entry/exit checkpoint.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Among the random events are coming across a wounded person in the street who may potentially be a vampire.
  • Wide-Open Sandbox: The game lets you travel around the different cities at your leisure. Actually getting to the story is a matter of following leads and clues you get to the relevant places.
  • 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:

  • Anti-Grinding: The game has only scripted battles which come as dictated by the linear story, and only set karma rewards. The player still gets to allocate karma as they see fit, which given the linear nature of the game can easily lead you to hit a brick wall as you are faced with a battle you cannot win because you did not improve the abilities of your characters properly.
  • 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.