Thursday, 28 October 2010

Arcade - NARC

Continuing with the theme of controversial games, how about this gory little side-scrolling shooter?

My history with this game is accompanied by an amusing back-story. Back in the days of regular holidays to Cornwall, we stayed at a little holiday site which had a large shed for a games room. It’s one of those things, I always loved going on holiday to a new site because I wanted to see what gems were in their games rooms. This particular one had a Ghosts & Goblins, Gladiator (a.k.a. Great Gurianos), Mat Mania (with only 1 button instead of 2, making things nearly impossible), Chase HQ, and a Q*Bert. Because they were working on a new building, we were offered a cheap return to the site for the October holidays, which we took up.
When we returned, not only had they finished the new pool and the block of new buildings, but they’d removed the old shed, and all the games from it. Instead we had a new games room, with a Pac-Land, Renegade (the only time I’ve EVER seen it in the wild), Iron Horse and Enduro Racer. And not much else. I was disappointed they’d removed the Ghosts & Goblins and Mat Mania, mainly because in the previous holiday someone had knocked open the coin doors on them and we’d been playing them for free for 2 solid weeks.

Part way through the week, Enduro Racer was removed, only to be replaced by NARC. And here’s where I manage to bring the review back on topic.
Y’see, Pac-Land, Renegade and Iron Horse were all excellent games. Iron Horse is in fact one of my all-time favourites, and fairly rare. But I didn’t play any of them again for the rest of the week, saving all my 10p coins for NARC instead. It didn’t matter that it was twice the price per play (a massive 20p!) of all the other games. It didn’t matter that parents who saw the game in there didn’t approve of the disconnected limbs flying round the screen when you shot people with a rocket.

Nope, all that mattered was getting as far as I could. Which wasn’t greatly far in one credit to be honest.
So, on to the game. First off, nice big cabinet, excellent hi-res graphics, partially digitised, and sampled speech a-plenty. Nice simple concept, you (and a friend) are part of some kind of special anti-Narcotics squad, and must find and stop Mr Big’s drugs operation. Mr Big has a LOT of people on his side, from the thousands of trenchcoat-wearing pushers, to syringe-throwing maniacs, muscle-bound PCP-addicts, perverted clowns and more.

You have two ways to deal with the enemy, kill them or arrest them. Killing enemies often leaves behind ammo, cash or drugs. Collecting these will go towards a bonus count at the end, as do all arrests, or “Busts” as they call them.
You’re armed with a machine gun and a rocket or grenade launcher, and each kill is nicely detailed, from blood splatters when hit by bullets to complete dismemberment when using your rockets. There are also dogs who simply shrink to puppy size when shot, detracting slightly from realism, but then again so is the whole plot of the game.
Once you discover how to “Bust” the enemy rather than kill them, you’ll discover it’s a quick way to rack up a lot of extra lives early on. You get points there and then for removing an enemy from the scene, and you get extra points in the end-of-level bonus. Busting an enemy is easy enough, just get close to them for about 3 seconds. Don’t be stupid with it, though, you can’t bust the tough, headbutting thugs or the dogs. And probably a few others as well.

But believe me, when you reach the end of the game, you’ll need those lives if you want to stand any chance at all. Mr Big turns out to be a fat guy in a motorised wheelchair, then a massive robot head thing, which takes an age to damage, after which he becomes a skull robot. After that, you gain access to a vault full of Gold for your final bonus.
I know I’ve still not mentioned the fact that you get to drive a big red sports car (It could be a Ferrari, but I wouldn’t know one if it ran me over.) on a couple of levels, and the enemy occasionally take to the sky in helicopters.
Overall, NARC is an enjoyable shooter, with an insanely difficult final few levels and boss. The controls take a little getting used to, but once you’re up and running, you’ll be having no problems controlling it and arresting to your heart’s content.


  1. I never really liked the graphical style of this game but it played nicely enough. Nice write-up :)

  2. Top Game - it munched loads of my coins when I was younger. The sound was wonderful especially at the end of each level as it counted up your money and drugs. The anti-drugs message was wonderfully tongue in cheek and it felt wonderfully rebellious to play it at all. Ah memories of a wasted youth...