The Arcade Graveyard: Ghoulishly We Play
NARC: Aware of the Absurdity
Another one of those titles that snuck under the radar of being super violent was the anti-drug shooter NARC, released in 1988. This one was particularly interesting as it had an FBI reminder to not do drugs as one of its attract screens. I wonder if it was a "don't do drugs or this will happen!" (*This may have been edited out of future versions of NARC, but I remember William H. Sessions warning me against drugs before playing Midway games.) What exactly happened? Heavily armed NARC officers literally mowing down dozens of druggies, crazies, lunatics, and various other denizens of the inner city, painted over in a nice coating of super and graphically violent deaths and dismemberments.
The main bad guys:
There all pretty much cookie-cutter enemies, attacking you in swarms across various levels of the city: the Red Light district, the run down district, the business district. You know the types, inner city blight and what have you. You can run through the game blowing everything up, or you can try to arrest the dealers and junkies, collecting what they drop along the way as contraband. This includes cocaine bags, giant marijuana plants, bullets, money, missiles.. the stuff you would expect drug addicts to carry. Especially the part about the missiles.
The Red Light district is especially amusing if you stop to read the signs or try to arrest the prostitutes, who are cataloged as "innocents saved" in your post-level point tally. But hey, who am I to judge who is innocent and who is guilty? The prostitutes adjust themselves while the coo at you when you try to arrest them. The signs on the buildings are suggestive yet sort of subtle, like "Hole In Juan" and "Enter In Rear." Good stuff!
All of this happens under the watchful eye of this guy, Mr. Big. Yep, the main drug lord's name is Mr. Big. He rolls around the next to last level in a wheelchair equipped with machine guns and flanked by tons of his drug dealers, hit men, junkies.. the guys up top, plus some other dudes that look like cowboys. Thing is, after you knock him out of his wheelchair 3 times, he turns into a gigantic rolling fucking head that will squash you. Yes, the person in charge is a gigantic fucking head.
One last thing in a nod to how the 1980s were: Player 2 is the black guy, while Player 1 is the white guy, which was the norm back then. Don't get me wrong on this one. I love NARC, and there's a few ways to enjoy the wonderful middle finger it wags at society and wags high. NARC is available on the Arcade Party Pack on the PSX (now known as the PlayStation 1,) on Midway Arcade Treasures in the eXBox/PS2 era, and also has a tolerable version available on the NES. Of course the blood and sex are pretty much gone, but busting, fiery body parts, and blasting are still there. The drug references are muted, and that could explain why the heroin junky was tossing jousting lances at me. But just imagine the parents today being around when this game came out in the 1980s on the NES. There may have been a bit more attention paid to what parents were buying for there kids with these "fancy Nintendo video games."
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