Can you survive An Unholy Return: The 31 Games of Halloween?
NARC Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Rating: 1%
  • Review Score:

  • F
The 1980s was the height of the modern day drug hysteria. Nancy Reagan decided to "Just Say No," the D.A.R.E. program was created and arcades machines greeted eager gamers with a warning about illegal intoxicants. While most companies wisely ignored the hyperventilating about drugs, there were a few that took things a little too far. Never one to shy away from making a terribly obvious point, Midway answered the call to arms with NARC.

Forget about maturely tackling this country's complicated drug laws, Midway decided to turn the whole ordeal into an ultra-violent action game full of blood and guts. While this may have been a great way to attract kids to play your mediocre shooter, it didn't help the millions of people who were thrown in prison for non-violent drug offenses, effectively becoming a pawn in a tired political struggle.

This NES port ditches most of the gruesome gore, as if that was the most offensive part of this game. You play a cop on the trail of the Das Lof Gang. Before long you find yourself in an all-out war against buyers, pushers, users and growers. Oh, and if that wasn't enough, the game inexplicably takes on a California porn ring. First drugs and now porn, did Rick Santorum make this game?

In NARC you walk to the right until you see an exit sign. That's it. From time to time you'll have to shoot enemies, dodge bullets (and drug-filled needles being thrown at you), kill dogs and pick up a colored ticket, allowing you free passage to the next level. It's a lot like Gauntlet ... assuming your memory of Gauntlet is really hazy.


Along the way you'll fight a number of silly looking bosses, including Dr. Spike Rush, Sgt. Skyhigh and, of course, Mr. Big. These baddies make you fight through the subways, meth labs, nurseries, Sunset Strip and other Californian locales. Eventually the developers ran out of places to go, instead choosing "the red level" over an actual name. They must have assumed nobody would actually play past Sgt. Skyhigh. They assumed right.

This NES port is an absolute mess, with barely recognizable graphics and constant technical problems. There are only a few variations of bad guys, all of which repeat hundreds of times before the game ends. The backgrounds are also repeated, though at least they get a color swap from stage to stage. And like I mentioned before, all of the over-the-top gore has been removed.


Sadly, the biggest compromise involves the actual gameplay. With only two face buttons on the pad, Acclaim was forced to be creative in their design. Players shoot their automatic weapon by holding down the "B" button. If you want to fire a rocket, you quickly tap the "B" button. The same trick is applied to jumping and squatting on the "A" button. This is not a perfect solution, but is hardly the worst part of NARC.

I'm sure there are people who, when they close their eyes, get really excited about gunning down pot-smoking hippies and anybody who dares distribute pornography. I'm not one of those people, so NARC has always felt out of tune. Even if you can get over the questionable political message, the gameplay and visuals make NARC hard to stomach for long. Good thing the game only lasts 15 minutes.
comments powered by Disqus