Pictured: The war on drugs.
"Say no or die!"NARC
was an Arcade Game
released in 1988 by Williams Electronics
where one or two players take part in the War on Drugs.
The player controls members of N.O. (Narcotics Opposition) officers code-named "Max Force" or "Hit Man" as they wage war on drugs. And we do mean war. The entire game consists of shooting drug dealers and other crooks with machine guns and rocket launchers en masse.
For a bit of variety, sometimes you run them over with your car instead.note
Your ultimate goal is to defeat the man behind the entire operation, "Mr. Big". Naturally, the players do this by making him explode. Turning the murder-factor Up to Eleven
was essentially the only way to make teenagers pay attention to a game with an anti-drug message.NARC
is notable for being the first 32-bit arcade game, using the TI TMS34010 processor.
The Nintendo Entertainment System
version, developed by Rare
, was released in 1990 by Acclaim
, who licensed out several characters from the game for Video Power
A remake was released in 2005, changing the formula from an arcade shoot'em up to a Grand Theft Auto
-style experience. It had rather mixed reviews.
NARC contains examples of:
- Aesop Amnesia: The original arcade game treated drugs as bad. The 2005 remake treated the drugs as power-ups.
- Animated Adaptation: Max Force was one of the main heroes in the Acclaim's Power Team cartoon, while Mr. Big and his lackeys (Dr. Spike Rush and Joe Rockhead) were the main villains.
- Attack Its Weak Point: The true Mr. Big is only vulnerable when shot in the eyes. Then after he turns into a skull, his spine has to be blown apart vertebra-by-vertebra starting at the top.
- Beating A Dead Player: If Max Force or Hit Man loses his last life to a dog, the dog will drag his body around the screen during the continue countdown.
- Bowdlerize: The NES version, which changed the color of the blood spatter from red to yellow, renamed the "K.R.A.K." stores into "K.W.A.K." stores and changed the game's catchphrase from "Say no... or die" to "Just say no."
- Car Fu: In the third stage, you can run over some of the bad guys with your car.
- Cool Car: The Porsches on the Bridge stage.
- Color-Coded Multiplayer
- Cover Version: Pixies covered the game's main theme as a B-side. The lyrics are literally just Black Francis wailing "Theme from NARC!"
- Cowboy Cop: You are playing a police officer...one who solves his problems with mass murder. In a slight subversion, you are encouraged to bust enemies whenever you can, instead of shooting them.
- However there is a limit to the number of busts you can make per level (perhaps the local lockup fills up?) After that you can no longer arrest perps and wasting them is the only option.
- "Wasting him" IS the only option against Joe Rockhead: he'll kill you if you try "busting" him. Same with Kinky Pinky.
- Do Not Do This Cool Thing: The game attempted to avert this by making the addicts look mostly creepy and pathetic. The cops, on the other hand, stride through the streets blowing people up with rocket launchers.
- Disowned Adaptation: Eugene Jarvis has all but disowned the remake.
- Drugs Are Bad: Why else would the cops walk down Main Street shooting all the drug users with fully automatic weapons?
- Amusingly, the remake reverses this by treating drugs as powerups (for instance, crack temporarily makes you a "crack shot.")
- Dumb Muscle: Joe Rockhead in the above "Power Team" cartoons.
- Fun with Acronyms: Our heroes are employed by a group called the Narcotics Opposition, or "N.O." for short.
- Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: So... why exactly does Mr. Big turn out to be a disembodied big giant head that shoots fire out of its eyes and spits out an endless stream of severed tongues?
- Guns Akimbo: You dual wield a machine gun and a rocket launcher.
- Improbable Weapon User:
- Spike Rush flings hypodermic syringes with enough drug to take a good bit of your life bar.
- Joe Rockhead picks up and throws garbage dumpsters.
- Ludicrous Gibs: What happens when you hit a baddie with a rocket launcher.
- Monster Clown: One of the villains, Kinky Pinky. For even more creepy, he's the one running Mr. Big's porn business.
- More Dakka: The players, and one of the Mook in stage five utilizes this.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: The identities of the player characters, according to the manual of the NES version, are Max Force and Hit Man.
- No Animals Were Harmed: For all the geysers of blood in this game, shooting an attack dog simply makes it turn into a puppy and run away.
- No Indoor Voice: Once you put a coin in the slot, you're almost knocked backwards by how loud the speakers are turned up (the synthesized quality of 80s video-game sound effects didn't help).
- Smash Mook: Joe Rockhead, a PCP addict who's super-strong and can lift dumpsters to hurt you. He takes a LOT of bullets or one rocket to bring down—don't even THINK about trying to "Bust" him as he will manhandle/kill you if you get within physical-grab range.
- Ultra Super Death Gore Fest Chainsawer 3000: Although the remake trades off the ultraviolence for...the glorification of drug use, oddly enough.
- A Winner Is You: After defeating Mr. Big, players are rewarded the message, "You have completed the NARC training mission... CONTACT YOUR LOCAL DEA RECRUITER."