Enter the world of junkies, punks, thieves and murderers and be thankful you’re on the good guys’ side in this action blaster produced by the excellent Sales Curve team (St. Dragon). Elite cop team Hit Man and Max Force have been assigned the job of destroying the K.R.A.K. criminal syndicate and protecting the innocent in this drug crazed world.
The cops you control have their special brand of justice. Armed with machine guns and rocket bombs their main objective is to blow away anything and everything they meet — although you can also arrest the drug dealers if you’re feeling particularly nice. You start the game on foot and really have to work hard to avoid ending up in a body bag. If you survive to later levels, you’ll be rewarded with a high powered sports car and specially equipped helicopter which are handy for quick getaways!
The action in NARC takes place in some of the worst places you could wish to go. Ghetto streets, abandoned warehouses, subways, and bridges all have to be cleaned up before going on to the ultimate showdown with Mr Big at the corporate crime headquarters. Seizing evidence is a great way to build up a bonus. Evidence is uncovered when you blast a criminal, they drop whatever they were carrying: usually it’s money and drugs, if you’re lucky it’s a rocket to power up your weapons.
What really makes NARC special is the wide array of criminals you meet on your assignment. They all have different characteristics and weapons, right down to the vicious dogs that snap at your heels! The graphics and animation are stunning — especially when you blast a junkie with a rocket! Watch his arms, legs and head go flying all over the screen, bouncing when they hit the ground (yuk)!
The game is a great success when you play it as a two player team too: you can help each other out — but be careful, you can also blow each other to kingdom come! You can wave goodbye to the boring beat-em-up and say hello to the new craze in computer games — gratuitous violence simulator! At least it’s all in a good cause...
NICK ... 94%
Hah! This is what we want! Plenty of good old fashioned blood, guts and violence (steady on —Ed)’ All credit must go to NARC’s programmers for doing such a brilliant lob on the conversion of one of my all time favourite coin-ops. Sadly, due to the Spectrum’s limitations, the game is monochrome but the attention to detail is amazing! The moving sprites are highly defined, as are the backdrops. Also impressive is the amount and variety of bad guys you’re up against. They’re all vicious but as you near the boss’s mansion they become suicidal. Full marks go to Ocean for this rip, mangle and maim game!
MARK ... 95%
Hmm, this NARC business. I really don't know - I'm not that big on it at all. I don't it's really Ocean's fault (it's more down to the original Williams arcade machine) but this is one of the most objectionable Speccy games I've seen in ages. It's very (very) violent, it's pretty repetitive, and the plot is utter nonsense (yes, I know the plots are utter nonsense in most coin-ops, but this one's particularly bad).
All that having been said, I'm sure it'll prove to be very popular indeed. It's packed with action, there's lots of it (about 12 levels at a guess) and every so often a neat little touch crops up that actually quite endears you to the whole thing. But I'm also sure that if I had any kids (I don't - well, none that I know about, ho ho) I wouldn't be massive on them playing it. It's not really the limbs, heads and bits of bodies bouncing around the screen when you blow people up that I object to (all that stuff's actually rather fun, and was fine in a fantasy sort of setting like Altered Beast). What I don't like is that it's all so heavily based on the war against drugs in the inner cities but it actually has nothing to do with them at all. I guess it's the trivialisation of important real-life problems, and the idea that you can solve it all by shooting lots of people, that I don't like, it's a theme that's cropped up in a lot of computer games, but never so blatantly as it does here.
But anyway, how does the game actually work? Well it's a monochrome, horizontally-scrolling two-player shoot-'em-up. There aren't any platforms or anything in it - it's just a case of walking in a straight line basically - but each level has a different sort of backdrop. Quite a few are street scenes, but tube stations, bridges, office buildings and drugs labs all crop up too. Here, apparently, is a city where every inhabitant (there are no civilians it seems, though you do meet a few prostitutes) is a potentially murderous drug fiend, where baddies throw hypodermic needles at you (to try and inject you with lethal and addictive drugs), where 'krak' is made just down the street from ganja greenhouses and where the inevitable Mr Big controls the whole operation from an office just over the road.
It's also a place where policemen (Max Force and, if you have a partner, Ice Man - there only seem to be the two of you in the whole city) wear serial-killer style hoods, carry giant machine guns, and arrest hardly anyone. All that the tramps and addicts of Krak Street seem to do is stumble around aimlessly - hardly threatening you'd think, but no, you'd be best to shoot them anyway the game seems to be saying. By the time you get to the Rambo types who guard the greenhouses the game actually forces you to kill people - if you don't you won't get the key to the next level, and be able to continue the game. I'm being a bit unfair here I suppose - arrests are possible - but I've yet to see anyone play the game who didn't shoot twice as many people as he booked.
But anyway. I'm not going to go on about this moral stuff any more - it's rather boring I know - but let me just say this. Any game that (for instance) thinks growing ganja is a similar sort of crime to making crack and deserves the same reward (ie death) has a screw loose somewhere and leaves a very unpleasant taste in the mouth.
So where does that leave us? Well, with a lot of levels (and you do get a lot of game for your money, as I said before) full of more or less the same type of action, but occasionally surprising you with a nice touch here and there. The dogs that attack you in one drug lab are quite neat, for instance, as is the parallax scrolling and the exploding baddies (their arms and legs zoom off in all directions). Also neat are the car you can leap into and drive off at one point, the drugs, money and ammo you collect zooming off-screen coin-op style, the baddies entering from behind tube train doors and so on.
What it doesn't have though is any real variety in the gameplay - our heroes have precious few moves and shuffle about rather slowly (some of the baddies actually look like they're moonwalking!). The graphics are monochrome to a man, and though usually clear can look a little sparce. And finally we come back to the question of whether we really want games where the cops shoot almost everybody who moves, where possession of all drugs (even the least dangerous ones) is a capital offense, where the (utterly ridiculous) suggestion is made that we can solve a very serious social problem by shooting lots of people. Even the advert (though very well painted) is scary and horrible. Nope, I know I'm turning into a right old fuddy duddy and Mary Whitehouse type but I think this whole thing is very dodgy and not my cup of tea at all. (What a relief then that it's not that good either.)
Matt Bielby (remember him?) (Yes! Ed) complained emphatically about the drug-orientated plot of this game when he was first let loose upon it back in early 1991. Should, he asked, brutal death really be the happiest solution to drug dealing and abuse? Mass slaughter is something we're used to in computer games and, given a suitably fictitious plot, nothing that justifiably warrants arguing with. But when we are led to believe that people are to be murdered just because they have become caught up with drugs, surely this is not acceptable. Or at least, so Matt reckoned.
Gadgy also awarded NARC a not-to-be-sniffed-at 72'. Hang on - 72'? What was this man on? Frankly, this is one of the worst sideways-scrolling Rococop-esque shoot-'em-ups that I have ever played. Okay, so he complained that it was repetitive - twelve almost identical levels (give or take the backdrops) where the action consist solely of walking along shooting people may get boring. The fact that there's no inter-acterable scenery the way there are no baddies on-screen, or else loads of them congregating rudely about you doesn't exactly add to the game. The large number of credits available means that games tend to take ages anyway. The chances are that, without the precision shooting needed of a Robocop, you'll get very bored. It's also multiload (despite being 128K only), the graphics are jerky and badly drawn, the separate key for crouch/jump is annoying and the 3D effect is totally unconvincing. I tried to track Matt down to ask him how he could have given this game such a high rating. YS is a family mag, so we are unable to print his terse but pertinent reply here.
Software houses everywhere seem to have declared war on drug barons everywhere as this month's game theme seems to be bombing, shooting and killing anyone that has anything to do with drugs. This is a good thing keeping down the low life that inhabit the forever twilight world of drugs and their cowardly minions. Having said that, I do hope that only mean illegal drugs - I hope that no-one's going to try to cut off my supply of 2 litres of Diet Coke a day.
What has all this to do with NARC? Well, the game has you in the role of a narcotics busting member of D.E.A. (Drug Enforcement Agency) and it's your job, along with your partner if you choose the two player option, to bust all the slimeball drug pushers who are on the streets using whatever means at your disposal. They're dealing in their own peculiar brand of misery, the Pleasure Pill. You're dealing out your own brand of justice, in hot lead from a machine gun and the occasional rocket that you pick up on the way.
The dealers hide out everywhere, in warehouses, in the street, private houses even hotels and restaurants. And in each scenario you must try to arrest your main target. These guys are identified at the beginning of each stage when you receive your report.
Each time a dealer is 'terminated' he may leave behind a collectible item. These range from drugs that they were carrying, money, and even bullets which when picked up give you extra ammo, bonus, time and even rockets for your launcher.
Graphics, as you can see from the screen shots, are good, and the screen gets busy without action being lost. With good control and a very easy to follow gameplay, NARC looks set to be as popular as its Williams arcade namesake.
Reviewer: Garth Sumpter
Every day we hear stories about drug barons and their henchmen ruining peoples lives. Unfortunately we have to leave it up to governments, police forces and even armies to sort them out. Which is a pity 'cos it'd be good fun to personally get hold of them by the short and curlies and engage in some hammer throwing related japes in the vicinity of an electric fence.
Anyway unlike Narco Police (reviewed later on) Narc takes place in the present day where we have enough drug problems, thank you very much. You play the part of a DEA agent (isn't Drug Enforcement Agency a strange name for a unit trying to stop people from selling drugs - it sounds as though they're trying to force people to take them!) out to force said barons to bite the bullet. A lot of bullets in fact.
There are loads of drug pushers, dealers and henchmen to take care of in the mayhem packed city. Luckily Joe public has retreated indoors so anyone you see you can shoot, ie. there's no screaming mothers parading around with prams for the baddies to hide behind.
There are twelve levels, which is a bit of a mouthful for the Spectrum, even though Narc's only available on 128K. Thus it's a big, big multiloader. Luckily though each level should keep you occupied for a while so it's not as bad as it seems.
The druggies hide in all manner of places such as hotels, restaurants, warehouses, and all over the streets. On each level there is an especially bad head honcho who is your main target. They will be assigned to you at the beginning of each level and you must apprehend them to be successful.
Narc is not an easy game to play. Based on the coin-op of the same name it has a lot of built in difficulty as you shoot down wove after wave of the enemy. There is a very entertaining two player mode which only slows the game down a little but enables you to get through levels marginally faster and with less damage.
Graphics are business-like without setting the world on fire for their stunning portrayal of a drugs war, and sound has plenty of grunts and groans to keep those who insist on turning their telly up happy.
Not the most original or exciting shoot 'em up ever but still one which provides plenty of moderately difficult action that'll keep you going for simply ages,
Reviewer: Garth Sumpter
STEVE: Plenty of action, plenty of levels and plenty of baddie busting japes. I'm still not convinced that this game has very much lastability because it tends to get a bit samey after a while.
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