All I Want to Play is Shadowrun Returns
I am excited for one particular release later this year and that is:
Oh, and let me tell you why.
My golden age of video gaming is the Super Nintendo 16-bit console. The level of clarity and graphics were stunningly beautiful for my 8-year old eyes (a very important shout out and thank you to my parents for purchasing this the first Christmas it was available in 1991). The funny thing is, I have never played the Shadowrun SNES game. My favorite games for the 16-bit were three unique, and relatively unheralded, games: E.V.O., Ogre Battle, and Metal Marines.
E.V.O.: Search for Eden is probably the hardest to describe. It’s an evolution game. You start as a fish, then move on to an amphibian, then a full-blown dinosaur, and then a mammal with the possibility of achieving humanity. Between these steps it was possible to customize your creature. There were unique heads, ears, necks, horns, tails, body-types, etc. for everything. Creating and customizing my unique beast was the best part and I appreciated the bevy of options available.
Ogre Battle: March of the Black Queen is a unique mix of genres as a “tactical” RPG where you are the general of an army consisting of knights, samurai, wizards, monsters, ghosts, angels, and dragons. The magic and medieval elements sucked me in, plus there was complete tactical and creative customization of your fighting units within the game. The fun part was organizing and evolving these units to become new, unique, and powerful forces.
Metal Marines is a strategy/tactical game that combined some of the great elements of Sim City and put a military mind in charge. It was the SNES version of Command & Conquer before they had the ability to create real-time strategy that worked. Gameplay involved creating an army base , defending that army base, then building a force (consisting of 50m tall robots) that venture out and destroy neighboring bases. Yep, following a theme, the best parts were the building and customizing of these robots and bases.
So you see, I really like the customization and creation areas of my video gaming. Its the same sort of activity that really gets my brain moving for Magic: the Gathering, Dungeons & Dragons, and fiction in general.
Anyway, I loved all those games until I hit my teens and found a new drug of choice. An expensive and habitual drug: table-top gaming. Being a teen with little money or painting acumen, I chose Necromunda as the game to play.
So, you see the small leap it is from Necromunda, a dystopian future set in the slums of a giant hive-city, to Shadowrun, a dystopian future set in the slums of Seattle. Necromunda gives you control over a gang, usually 8-10 members, in their never-ending warfare for survival and turf. Shadowrun the RPG puts you in the driver seat as a member of team of spies/thieves/thugs performing daring and illegal jobs for or against powerful corporations, organized crime syndicates, or even ancient dragons.
Shadowrun Returns represents the culmination of all and every thing I want to play in a video game. It promises untold customization for your main character, recruitment options for your shadowrunners, equipment options, gear & weapon options, a fantastical/scifi world, and control over a small squad of illegal operatives doing awesome and impossible things. Not only that, but Shadowrun Returns promises actual world customization. The designers want you to be able to design and create streets, buildings, and obstacles to then pit against yourself or others.
I just want the designers and developers to know that. Their game is exactly what I want. There’s so much choice and customization involved, I could probably play it until the end of time. I’m looking forward to it immensely, especially playing it on a tablet. When I saw the Kickstarter for Shadowrun Returns last summer, they had my interest. When I heard tablet gaming, they had my attention (and then my money). You can still pre-order Shadowrun Returns through Harebrained Schemes’s site.
I also wanted to bring attention to a fantastic blog, The Lost Levels, which focuses on classic gaming (yes, I’m doing an awful lot of pimping here). It appears to me that he and I must have shared the same video game library as kids. The Lost Levels is a fantastic read and I cannot recommend it enough, especially his endorsement of Final Fantasy IX.
TL;DR: OMG SHADOWRUN OMG.