Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Narco Police

In the future... or rather... back in 2003 most of us were heavily dependent on hardcore drugs and our addiction made the dealers very rich and powerful. So the various nations of the world all got together to form an elite anti-drug unit: The A-Team. No, I meant NARCO POLICE who have been trained to rid this filth from existence!

Three Narco units are deployed to infiltrate the drug lord's hive which is located on a remote island, off Columbia. But it won't be easy because they have invested in extra security, including lots of marines and combat soldiers. You start with the 'option' of choosing your team's equipment and weaponry with an overhead map view of the island. This will allow you to view the landscape and chose an entrance into its network of dangerous underground tunnels.

It's here where we encounter lots of henchmen, security systems, and heavy artillery and, as we venture deeper, the enemy will surprise you by jumping out from hidden sidewalls or fall down from the ceiling for an ambush. So use the joystick to direct your gunfire at their location and reign an onslaught of gun violence! Controls can take a little getting used to with movement first feeling a little too sluggish which becomes all too apparent when trying to dodge a thrown grenade.

Other defences cannot be destroyed with your machine gun and require a more tactical approach. It's now that you realise your team needed the correct equipment... Interestingly, a terminal is also available with which to enter basic control commands, such as 'C' (which stands for 'chopper') to display information about your teams. The 'K' command is helpful in restoring vitality and the 'M1' command is rather entertaining in those sticky situations. A command list can be displayed using 'DIR'.

Now, I've always had a passion for 3D shooters, especially the first-person variety and, even though this is third-person, it's still a game I've enjoyed since the early 90s. Narco Police uses a pseudo-3D engine which pushes our old 8MHz processor quite well by using clipped graphics which increase as you walk, giving the illusion of movement. I even remember drooling over my ST's keyboard the first time I got to see this in action!

All characters are made from huge sprites which are nicely drawn and well detailed. However, animations can be hit or miss; baddies are a little wooden as they pop-up from nowhere to jerkily roll across our path. I do, however, like our hero who is nicely animated - even if he appears to walk with a suspect limp. A stomping title tune plays during the display of an 80s retro-styled image and all in-game sound effects are made using samples, which are quite nice. However, it's odd having no footstep sounds - perhaps our hero is just too stealthy for his own good?

Technically, this is a cracker and I always enjoy fighting idiot henchmen during my repetitive tunnel explorations. Sadly, my fun doesn't last because, once again, Dinamic have created another game that is ludicrously hard and I never last very long. I fear they tried to be too clever and should have simplified this as an arcade shoot 'em up without the stressful strategy and a fiddly terminal. Narco Police is great for a quick game or two but nothing long term unless you're gonna cheat... Perhaps they should just take the easy route and nuke the island instead? :-)


 - 8BitChip recently released an awesome adapted version for hard drive installation.
 - All the floppy disks can be downloaded via Old Games Finder and I recommend Fuzion CD #28.

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