How an 'immature smartass' helps Shadow Warrior reboot

By Ozzie Mejia, May 24, 2013 10:00am PDT

Devolver Digital surprised many with their announcement that they'd be reviving the long-dormant Shadow Warrior franchise. After all, it wasn't the most fondly remembered game, as the 1997 first-person action game was more recognized for racist caricatures and outdated stereotypes. However, Devolver and Hard Reset developer Flying Wild Hog says that their reboot will be a complete reinvention and will start with a clean slate.

"The teams at Flying Wild Hog and Devolver Digital were big fans of the original game," said Devolver Digital's Nigel Lowrie. "It brought some great gameplay innovations and a really unique setting and aesthetic to shooters. We think it would be incredible to reinvent the Shadow Warrior world in a modern arcade-style shooter with some new combat innovations of our own that expand upon what was started in the original game."

Those familiar with the original 3D Realms title will recognize the story. Zilla Enterprise's hired gun, Lo Wang, has been hired to track down a legendary blade called the Nobitsura Kage. Lo Wang quickly learns off the blade's connection to the ancient gods of another realm, putting our own realm in danger. To save our world from these otherworldly spirits, Lo Wang must master gunplay, swordplay, and magic, while tossing out the occasional one-liner.

Flying Wild Hog was chomping at the bit to take on Lo Wang's story, having been fans of his original adventure. However, much of the world's social and political landscape has changed since the original 1997 Shadow Warrior. So don't expect to see some of the more objectionable aspects of Lo Wang's previous adventures.

"We wanted to keep the humor and Lo Wang's sharp tongue but we didn't want to comedy built around stereotyping or cheap jokes about women," explained Lowrie. "The writing team has done a great job in keeping the game humorous and we never take it too seriously, but the narrative and exposition are a nice mix of smartass and wit."

However, don't expect this to be a completely different Lo Wang, as Devolver and Flying Wild Hog recognize what made the character so much fun in the first place. "While the game is a reinvention of the original, the team has maintained many elements from the original that will make longtime fans smile when they see them," Lowrie added. "Lo Wang is still a bit of an immature smartass, but if a different tone this time and he'll make some funny comments even when the action is turned up. Hardcore Shadow Warrior fans will love the double uzis, using enemy heads as weapons, the throwing stars and of course the bunny rabbits. Oh, the bunny rabbits..."

Those that have played Hard Reset may recall the story being a bit incomprehensible. As pretty as the graphic novel-style cutscenes were, I didn't recall them ever leading to a coherent narrative. Having seemingly learned from Hard Reset, Flying Wild Hog will tell Lo Wang's story in a more connected way. "The game uses a variety of methods to advance the story," said Flying Wild Hog lead writer Jan Bartkowicz. "Cutscenes, in-game sequences, and even some finely animated shorts will fill in the backstory for some of the key figures we've not revealed yet. We want to always keep the game engaging so these different devices are used in specific ways to keep the game moving along."

Shadow Warrior is an odd franchise to bring out of mothballs, but there's no denying that Flying Wild Hog, with their understanding of how to create a good 90's-era FPS, is the perfect developer to breathe life into it. It's set to arrive on PC this fall before arriving on next-gen consoles in 2014.

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