Welcome back for the Top 3 games on our list of the best Cyberpunk themed video games. These are the cream of the crop and should be found, and played immediately. In fact, don’t even read this; go and buy these games. And for those of you who have already played them, here they are:
#3 – ShadowRun
Developer: BlueSky Software / FASA
Release Date: 1994
Based on a series of pen-and-paper role playing games from the 80’s, Shadowrun for the Sega Genesis is actually the second game to take place in the Shadowrun universe. The first, also titled Shadowrun for the Super Nintendo was released a year earlier. The Sega Genesis Shadowrun is not a direct sequel, and is in fact universally regarded as the superior game due to it non-linear sand box style of game play. You are trying to track down clues to solve your brothers murder. You arrive in the outskirts of Seattle with no money, and only the address of the hotel your brother was staying at before his death, From there, it’s up to you how you want to play the game. You can contract yourself out and take part in shadowruns, which can be anything from escorting a business man down the street, to computer hacking and corporate espionage. This is an excellent game, but have no illusions; it is very hard.
#2 – Final Fantasy 7
Release Date: September 7th, 1997
At the heart of the much beloved seventh entry in the Final Fantasy series, it is the story of the Shinra Electric Power Company and the lengths they will go to to control not only the world’s electricity, but by extension, the world itself. You play primarily as Cloud, an outcast with what can be described as ‘skeletons’ in his closet. This game has all the hallmarks of a cyberpunk story; fantastic technology, a ruthless and faceless corporation, the outcast rising above to become a hero, piles of tragedy, a villainous nemesis. As an example of cyberpunk, this game stands out for the sheer size of it’s epic and genre defining muscle. However, Final Fantasy 7’s legacy as the greatest Final Fantasy game is not entirely justified, especially considering that previous entires such as 3 and 6, and later entires such as 8, 10, and 12 that ultimately out preform 7 in plot and game play. Much of Final Fantasy 7’s legendary status can be attributed to romanticism and fond memories of a game that introduced new generation to a fledgling genre.
#1 – Snacther
Release Date: December 15th, 1994
Hideo Kojima struck first on this list, and he gets all the glory with his point-and-click noir classic, Snatcher. Released in 1994 for Sega’s struggling Sega CD Genesis add-on, the game was released in small numbers (my research has revealed estimates that range from 3000 to 10,000, although none of it can be accurately substanciated) and failed to find a broad audience. The game’s limited release as well as it’s status as one of the greatest stories told in a video game has propelled to Snatcher to be one of the most sought after games for a Sega system. A complete copy of the game frequently fetches between $150 and $300 on Ebay and has been consistently praised for it’s mature themes and riveting plot. Retrowaretv.com‘s John D. put together a spectacular video on Snatcher, which I must admit proved to be the stimulus that encouraged me to finally get a complete copy of my own. The video was included in Retroware TV’s debut episode, and you can see it here.
The game follows an amnestia plagued man named Gillian Seed as he takes on his first case as a JUNKER ( Japanese Undercover Neuro Kinetic Elimination Ranger), an organization whose goal is to hunt and destroy SNATCHERS, a class of cybernetic organism that can imitate human beings. You follow Gillian through the gritty underworld of Neo-Kobe, Japan, part of an area devastated by a biological disaster years earlier. You are accompanied by Metal Gear, a small robot who assists you in your investigation and it is your job to solve the mystery of the SNATCHER epidemic as well as put together the enigma of your own past.
The game was marketed as a Cyberpunk Adventure and it’s dedication is even written for those involved in Cyberpunk culture. If you are the least bit interested in Cyberpunk fiction or culture, this game is a must, as it completely embodies the themes, paranoia, and bleak darkness that is Cyberpunk.