SummaryLicense to be a Neuromancer
The GoodThis ambitious game looked to push the limit of what you could do on the SNES. Half RPG and half shooter the creators tried exceptionally hard to recreate the experience of a tabletop Shadowrun on your SNES, and succeeded in many elements.
The Cyberpunk noir detective story of your own past wasn't the height of gaming story lines, but it was straight forward and fun. There was plenty of opportunity to talk to residents, shady bartenders, and lewd strippers. If that isn't enough, you can also surf Web 3.0 as envisioned by William Gibson as a digital avatar shooting lightning. Hacking isn't guessing passwords or uploading a subroutine, instead you fight computer defenses in a cyberworld dungeon. And yes, it was done much better than "Johnny Mnemonic".
And the developers don't hold out on you with the goodie bag either. Not only do you begin the game as an elite "Decker" who hacks into computers for wealth and clues, but you progress onwards to also become a street Shaman with your own Totem. Fighting off zombie gangers with magic, machine guns, and hacking? In the Shadowrun world this is equivalent to letting you ride a unicorn wielding a burning flail that pulverizes your antagonists.
The BadThere just wasn't enough buttons on the controller to fit in all the features Shadowrun. Combat requires sitting still and moving your targeting reticule over targets while they can both charge and attack you simultaneously. The graphical limitations of the SNES aren't what holds the game back either, simply it is the lack of having 2 8-direction D-Pads. A potentially better combat system would involve an auto-target and target-cycling while allowing the freedom of movement on the D-pad.
Also there is a brief period where you have tag-along buddies, whom solely for personal reasons you don't want to die. Unfortunately they will die, and it will be a chore to keep them alive. While it amounts to only a minor story detail it is a failing that you are unable to control the AI tactics of your comrades.
And the music is completely unmemorable, meaning it must have been so bad I played the entire game muted or listening to the theme music to "Johnny Mnemonic".
The Bottom LineCyberpunk doesn't get much better than this. Shadwrun comes complete with stats, level building, the DayGlo world of the matrix, and the much loved Blade Runner ambiance.
There are hours of gameplay to enjoy after getting over/use to the combat system oddities, and even being a part of it's graphically appealing world is fun in of itself.
And it even tries to be an existentialist review of technology and humanity, even if it's a bit short on story. If there's a Sci-Fi element it's missing, it's an extra hand to use munching on popcorn. Because you will have to use a lot of thumb maneuvering to kill that ganger in the dumpster, let alone the charging street Samurai.