We'll Send The Next Of Kin A Copy Of The Warrant.
Drugs and other illegal activities have run amok thanks to Mr. Big and his criminal organization. While many people wanted Mr. Big put out of business, no one had the guts... until now. The chairman of the Narcotics Opposition has commissioned his two toughest officers, Max Force & Hit Man, to put a stop to all this debauchery and send Mr. Big to the slammer for good!
NARC is a side-scrolling shooter game where your goal is to eliminate the criminal element in your city through superior firepower! Each level consists of blasting through drug dealers and other offenders as you walk from the starting point to the exit which can only be unlocked by retrieving that levels "safe card"- found as a random drop from a fallen foe. You have two main attacks, your machine gun and missile launcher, with which to cause damage to enemies but you can also "arrest" some by touching them with your character and holding still on them for a few seconds which gives you additional points. Further bonuses like contraband can be picked up for more scoring options and you can also drive the Porsche in the Bridge stage!
Teach these lawbreakers what "just say no" is all about as you aggressively uphold the public trust across 7 levels in either single or multiplayer and bust/eliminate all sorts of crazy deviants in your quest to clean up the streets! Each area brings a new type of wacky criminal such as Dr. Spike Rush, the cities local underground chemist who hurls giant hypodermic needles at you or Joe Rockhead, the hopped-up garbage man with superhuman strength who requires many more bullets than the normal bad guy to take down. Make your way through each level and into the darkest underbelly of Mr. Big's drug running organization to confront the drug kingpin himself and destroy him to complete the game.
- Gameplay: 4/5 (I like it)
The game won't get any points for originality in design (find key, reach locked door to exit level, etc.) and it does have redundancy problems but overall I will always love the simple nature of arcade style games such as this as it bypasses having to wade through lines of text and jumps you directly into the action. I absolutely love the enemies as well who contain way more personality in their little 8-bit bodies than most sprites of this time period. Come here Joe Rockhead , I'm gonna shoot you directly in the face with a tomahawk missile!
- Controls: 3/5 (Meh)
Even though I've been able to sort of adapt to this games odd control scheme over the years, there's still no way for me to not accidentally shoot a missile or jump in the air even today which still annoys me. Games like this made me wish that the NES did what Sega did later on and release a controller with additional buttons on it which would have been awesome. They work okay enough however and at least respond well in every other way especially after giving them enough time to marinate in your mind.
- Music/Sound: 4/5 (I like it)
I would consider this department excellent if the sound effects were a little more memorable but the music is great and I find myself humming random tunes from the game after playing it. Every stage has a nice beat-driven theme to it that pairs nicely with the seedy crime backdrop and it keeps you pumped as you blast through Mr. Big's crime syndicate. Let's see what kind of sound system this Porsche has got!
- Graphics: 3/5 (Meh)
Nothing too memorable here though it's certainly not anywhere near the worst graphics you'll see on the system. I actually like the range of colors in NARC and the character sprites and dossier screens look nice but the backgrounds are pretty lame and don't add much to the game at all. The "finger" that types within the Porsche's on-board dossier screen (and also picks your letters for your high score name) is hysterically bad looking and probably lowers the rating a notch by itself.
- 'Tude Meter: MAXIMUM (Coolness guaranteed)
No question NARC spares no expense in the 'tude department with its tale of Narcotics officers punishing crime by making arrests, punching it to the max in their Porsche and blasting away dudes with weapons that seem more like army issue. However it goes even further with super rotten criminals who badly need rehabilitation and all the cocaine bags and dirty money that you can stuff in your pockets (...to be turned in of course)! Being able to blow up enemies into a pile of burnt chunks is truly one of the gnarliest things you can do on the Nintendo and I would rank this near the top of the 'tudiest games on the NES list without a doubt just based on this one bodacious thing alone!
Final Verdict: 4/5 (Good game)
While many direct ports on the NES were disappointing compared to their arcade big brother (*cough* Bad Dudes), NARC certainly ranks as one of the better ones and is a great addition to your Nintendo collection especially when you factor in its overall 'tude appeal. I'm surprised at how much R-rated material was allowed to make it into the final product on the kid-friendly 8-bit console considering how many other games had to go through the strict Nintendo censoring process when transferring their I.P. to the NES but it's here. We should be thankful too because much like Mortal Kombat, this game would have suffered greatly if you altered it too much from its source material which would have alienated fans from an otherwise pretty decent multiplayer action game. In other words, NARC is one of the TRUEST examples of 'tude, showcasing its direct impact to its subject here perfectly adding flair and pizzazz which polishes up the final product to a blood-splattering/drug-infested shine just like its stand-up cabinet cousin intended. ...Almost brings a tear to my eye.
Without question, NARC's most criminal gaming offense lies within its strange controls adapting a 4-button layout poorly to the NES' limited 2-button rectangle requiring unnecessary appropriation. I swear, having to double-tap buttons to jump and shoot your missiles just feels wrong and never reaches a point of comfort for me no matter how many times I play it. Overall though, NARC's crimes are misdemeanors compared to the litany of transgressions that many of its contemporaries have committed, helping it add satisfactory gaming "meat" to its robust portion of 'tudey "potatoes." In the end, NARC is certainly far from perfect but it's still a good time with friends or not and should be played by everyone at least once if for no other reason just to experience the 8-bit magnificence of blowing up an enemy to shreds with your rocket launcher (guaranteed laugh)! So if Porsche's, big guns and justice are your thing (...and they better be), sign up for NARC today and take down Mr. Big and his band of misfits dead or alive... whichever you prefer.
*Oozing 'tude out of the seams
*Instant action-packed gameplay
*Great over-the-top characters
*Not enough variety
The 'Tude Dude's Bottom Line-
Though not complex or innovative enough to stand out gameplay-wise, NARC's b-rated movie quality cheese combined with its simplicity and multiplayer ability make it worth walking a beat through these oddball streets if even just for a quick laugh if nothing else.
Thanks for reading!