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Description official description

The year is 2058. Following an event known as the Awakening, magic has returned into the world. Native American shamans and elves reclaimed a vast area known as Salish-Shidhe, located around the free city of Seattle. A small team of shadowrunners - mercenaries working for powerful corporations - is brutally attacked in the wilderness. The massacre is captured in video and broadcast in the news. One of the slain shadowrunners, Michael, had a brother named Joshua. Arriving in Seattle, Joshua begins to investigate his brother's death. He must find out who killed Michael, and what was the nature of the shadowrun job he was carrying out.

Shadowrun is an action-oriented role-playing game based on the pen-and-paper RPG by FASA. It is entirely different from the SNES adaptation of the same license. In the beginning of the game, the player selects a character class for Joshua, choosing between a samurai, a decker, or a gator shaman, who specialize in combat, cyberworld, and magic, respectively. The game is fairly open-ended; the player navigates Joshua through predominantly urban overhead areas, talking to characters and gathering information.

The player can hire characters to join the party; however, only one character can be directly controlled by the player. Combat is action-based; characters can use melee weapons, firearms (with expendable ammunition), or cast magic. "Karma", an equivalent of experience points, is awarded for killing enemies and completing quests. Karma points can be allocated by the player manually to increase the character's parameters.

Certain characters can also enter the Matrix, a virtual network accessed through cyberterminals. Matrix navigation is done from over-the-shoulder third-person view. The player can upgrade and customize Joshua's cyberdeck, allowing him to hack through encrypted systems more easily and store data obtained from the Matrix. Nodes and ICs will try to protect the data, attacking the virtual representation of the character and trying to force him to log out of the system.

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Credits (Genesis version)

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Average score: 78% (based on 12 ratings)


Average score: 3.9 out of 5 (based on 38 ratings with 2 reviews)

Fantasy, science fiction and good gameplay.

The Good
The Shadowrun world has existed since the 80's in the form of pen & paper role-playing games. The world blends fantasy elements such as magic, elves and dragons wonderfully into a dark cyberpunk world. The term 'shadowrun' itself refers to black ops where freelance operatives are utilized. These are handed out by employers referred to by the pseudonym "Mr. Johnson". In the game this is the main source of cash and karma (=experience).

This game earns an honorary mention alone for the fact that there is no level-based character development, which is extremely rare for CRPGs. Health (both mental and physical) are measured by percentage. Completing shadowruns, killing enemies and advancing the plot earns you karma which you may use to increase your attributes and skills. Upgrade your endurance and buy better armor, and you'll be able to resist damage more effectively. Also, there are minimal class restrictions. The only definite thing is whether the character may use magic. Even dying is only a small hitch, since future medicine can perform miracles, though it doesn't come cheap. You can hire up to two other 'runners, and fire them to hire others if you want to. Just as your main character, other members of your group can also be developed any way you like.

The game world is also very open. Apart from the short beginning sequence you're free to go anywhere. Certain doors only open with a little tip or reputation, which feels more realistic than restrictive.

In the main mode of the game you control your character from a top-down view. You walk around dystopic Seattle, looking for work, buying better stuff and looking for clues. Oh yes, the plot. The game begins as the news broadcasts a video of the death of the main character's brother. You travel to Seattle to find out why and how he ended up dead. You have an electronic notebook in the game which automatically keeps track of all the clues, so having no idea where to go next is very rare.

Most of the game is in real time, including combat. Character stats define how fast you can attack or run away, and how effective the attacks are. Bigger guns do more damage, but that gives little comfort if you can't hit the broad side of a barn.

A very different part of the game is when you jack into the Matrix, the future replacement for Internet. Your silver-clad online avatar glides across the digital landscape, avoiding, fooling or fighting Intrusion Countermeasure (IC, aka 'ice') programs. The Matrix can be used for many beneficial effects. Databanks can hold valuable information you can fence, and if you're infiltrating a company building you can use the Matrix to shut down cameras, unlock doors and cancel the alarm. Also, if you're lucky you may find additional information pertaining to the plot.

The Bad
Especially at the beginning of the game there is tedious experience-gathering. However, very few RPGs are devoid of this, so if you can tolerate them, this shouldn't be any worse. This is of course greatly alleviated by the fact that you decide yourself in which direction you develop the character instead of generic level raising. As in many other RPGs you can keep treading the safe and easy path, building up your stats or try your luck with the big boys whenever you want.

For some reason there is a skill called 'reputation' in the game, which opens many doors (pretty much useless beyond level 6, though). This feels very artificial, and it would've been better if the main character's reputation had actually advanced by doing successful runs, fighting gangers etc.

This last bit of criticism won't probably matter to the average player, but being familiar with the original p&p Shadowrun, I would've liked for the Matrix to involve other deckers (cyberpunk equivalent for hacker) which could be sent to attack you if you manage to raise the alarm hacking into corporate systems.

The Bottom Line
Shadowrun manages to be unique and intensely playable at the same time. If you're looking for a good overall RPG, give this a try. If you're looking for something different, give this a try.

Genesis · by Timo Takalo (58) · 2005

Take all the great stuff from a RPG game and put it in one Genesis get this.

The Good
Pretty much everything. The fact it's different from most RPGs is one of the things I really love about this game. The gameplay is really awesome too. The graphics, although not the best, are beyond average. The composition of the music is great too, far beyond good (probably the best). This game takes everything good from a RPG game and puts it all in one 16-megabit Genesis cartridge. The characters are very original too, and so is the story.

The Bad
I don't like how the music SOUNDS like from an average Genesis game (although if it sounded kinda like Vectorman or Rocket Knight Adventures, it would the best Sega Genesis music ever). I dislike how some missions are random too. But other than that, there's nothing else I dislike.

The Bottom Line
A must have for the Genesis. Really awesome and enjoyable.

Genesis · by Mango Man (3) · 2010


Easter egg

The event date given in the opening cinematic (January 31) is the birthdate of the game's producer/designer Tony Van.


On "Extraction" missions, in which you must help a person escape from a company they no longer wish to work for, sometimes the name of the person you must extract is Alan Turing. (This is true for the Genesis version of the game only.) Alan Turing was a legendary real-world pioneer in the field of computer science around the time of World War II. In more recent times, he was notably fictionalized in Neal Stephenson's novel Cryptonomicon.


Some of the bars in the game have a German rave style music track with a voice sample that says "schattenlauf." This loosely translated from German is "Shadowrun."

SNES version

Sega sub-licenced the Shadowrun IP from Data East. Due to a number of factors, the Genesis version was completely different from Data East's SNES version and contrary to the popular belief is not a sequel.

Information also contributed by Adam Luoranen

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Identifiers +

  • MobyGames ID: 6649


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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Tony Van.

Additional contributors: Alaka, mailmanppa.

Game added June 8th, 2002. Last modified July 3rd, 2023.