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Empire City: 1931 is set during the American prohibition era, when organized crime was rife. The player is a vigilante determined to stop the mafia's control over the city. The goal of each level is to scan the city streets looking for gangsters and then gunning them down before they are able to return fire. Though it plays like a light gun game, the home version did not incorporate one; rather, the player must use the D-pad to move the crosshairs around the screen.
Though neither the original Arcade game nor the NES game were ever localized outside of Japan (though the NES version was considered for localization at some point), the game found its way onto western home computers such as the C64, ZX Spectrum and Atari ST. This version, published by Infogrames, was called Prohibition.