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Video Game / NARC

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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 one of two members of N.O. (Narcotics Opposition) 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 was very much a byproduct of The War on Drugs. It’s notable for being the first arcade game to use the 32-bit TI TMS34010 processor, which would run many of Williams and Midway's later titles, most notably the early Mortal Kombat entries.

The Nintendo Entertainment System version, developed by Rare, was released in 1990 by Acclaim. It was also released on various home computer formats in 1990 courtesy of Ocean Software. An emulation of the original arcade game was included in the compilation Midway Arcade Treasures Vol. 2, released for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox.

Max Force appears as one of the main characters of the "Power Team" animated segments in the Acclaim-sponsored TV show Video Power, where Mr. Big and his henchmen, Dr. Spike Rush and Joe Rockhed, also served as the show's main villains.

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 provides examples of:

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  • A Winner Is You: A very odd example; after defeating Mr. Big, players are rewarded the message, "You have completed the NARC training mission... Nice work. CONTACT YOUR LOCAL DEA RECRUITER."
  • All There in the Script: The name of the dynamite throwing enemy is never revealed in the game. The manual for the NES port refers to him as "Bevon Face".
  • Amazing Technicolor Population:
    • Hypoman will occasionally appear with purple-toned skin.
    • When first brought up on the police monitor, each one of Mr. Big's mooks appears using a different color: Das Lof appears orange; Spike "Hypoman" Rush, purple; Joe "Dumpsterman" Rokhead, teal; Kinky Pinky, red; Sgt. Skyhigh, brown; the HQ posse, a light tan; and Mr. Big is green.
  • 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 Rockhed) 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.
  • BFG: Your rocket launcher. It can bring down a mass of mooks, a few can be killed at a time with one rocket. Even those you couldn't touch: Joe Rockhed (who would beat you to death) and Kinky Pinky (who'd use his butcher knife) among humans, and the dogs (who'd rip you apart) and bugs (which would drain life until you died).
  • Booby Trap: Sergeant Skyhigh has a few of his ganja plants rigged with explosives. You've got to hope the plant you take won't explode. Joe Rockhed might also grab a plant so he can hurt you when he throws it, then you WANT the plant to explode and take Joe down (same effect as hitting him with a rocket).
  • Bowdlerise: All from The NES version:
    • The blood spray on the title screen has been removed.
    • The blood spatter color was changed from red to yellow.
    • "K.R.A.K." was renamed to "K.W.A.K."
    • The game's catchphrase was edited from "Say no... or die" to "Just say no."
    • The prostitutes—rather, the "innocents"—from Kinky Pinky's introductory stage have been taken out of the NES version.
    • Oddly enough, considering this is a game on a Nintendo system in 1989, there are several surprising aversions:
      • The Ludicrous Gibs that result from a rocket impacting the Das Lofs, Hypoman, and HQ Posse mooks are still intact—probably due to the system's limited color palate.
      • Kinky Pinky's introductory stage still has building that have "adult books" and "XXX" markings on them.
      • All visual references to marijuana remain intact.
  • The Brute: Mr. Big has three:
    • Muscle-wise Joe Rockhed, The Juggernaut and PCP addict. You've got to blast him with lots of bullets or one rocket; he'll kill you if you try to bust him.
    • Gun-wise, Sergeant Skyhigh. His machine gun and his flamethrower can keep up with your own machine gun and BFG.
  • Cap:
    • The counters for both cocaine and dirty money top out at 99, but it's possible to collect 100 or more and get bonuses for each and every pickup.
    • Rewards for busts aren't as plentiful, maxing out at 50 perps, limiting this particular end-of-stage bonus to 250,000.
  • Car Fu: You can run over some of the bad guys with the Porsche — the exception is Joe Rockhed, but he can be blasted with the Porsche's machine guns. If an enemy chopper is on the ground, you can go at it with the Porsche, then jump out before impact to take down the chopper and score the points for the drug bags in it.
  • Collision Damage: Inverted with the weaker mooks: Colliding with them immobilizes them, and if you can keep them that way for about a second you slap a pair of cuffs on them and they disappear. Played straight by Elite Mooks Joe Rockhed and Kinky Pinky, as well as the attack dogs. Averted both ways for Sergeant Skyhigh; you and he will pass right through each other.
  • Color-Coded Multiplayer: Max Force has light skin and wears a blue outfit; Hit Man has dark skin and wears a red outfit.
  • Cool Car: The Porsches on the Bridge stage. They have Bottomless Magazines for the machine guns inside them, so you won't run out of ammo if you stay in the Porsches AND don't get them destroyed (by crashing into stuff, driving onto a mine or getting bombed by an enemy chopper).
  • Cover Version: The 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. (Shooting might drop cash worth 1,000 points or drug bags worth 2,000, while a "BUST" gives you 5,000 points.) 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. However, it's a pretty high number, and grinding for it is risky. "Wasting him" IS the only option against Joe Rockhed: he'll kill you if you try "busting" him. Same with Kinky Pinky and Mr. Big.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Why else would the cops walk down Main Street shooting all the drug users with fully automatic weapons?
  • Elmuh Fudd Syndwome: The NES port's "K.W.A.K."
  • Every 100,000 points: Every 100,000 points grants a 1-Up, and if you get hurt, it's a Wound That Will Not Heal. There are NO healing items in NARC, nor is your current player's life replenished at the start of the next stage. So you have to hope you can get plenty of extra lives (though 20 busts is a quick way to get an extra life, as well as loading up on cash and drug bags.)
  • Evil Genius: For his organization, Mr. Big has two: Spike Rush is the drug maker, Kinky Pinky runs the porn operations. Given that Sergeant Skyhigh grows the marijuana (ganja), he might be a third.
  • 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?
  • Gonk: Mr. Big. He's a Fat Bastard with about five chins chomping on a cigar.
  • Goomba Stomp: Your only defense against giant flying roaches.
  • Guns Akimbo: You dual wield a machine gun and a rocket launcher.
  • Gratuitous Laboratory Flasks: There are giant flasks and beakers (which can be shot and blown up) in Dr. Spike Rush's "clandestine drug lab."
  • Improbable Weapon User:
    • Spike Rush flings hypodermic syringes with enough drug to take a good bit of your life bar.
    • Joe Rockhed picks up and throws garbage dumpsters. And trash cans. And in Sergeant Skyhigh's stage, ganja pots (but a few were rigged to explode on impact by Sergeant Skyhigh, so you WANT Joe to grab the rigged ones).
  • Kaizo Trap:
    • Think you're home free after defeating Mr. Big's skeletal head form? Those huge deadly cockroaches will start spawning from his corpse to destroy you until you quickly enter the door.
    • After beating Mr. Big and taking all the gold, don't dally around in the final room before entering the final door, otherwise mooks will actually spawn in and try to end your victory.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: What happens when you hit a baddie with a rocket launcher. Surprisingly, this visual element was not removed from the NES port.

  • Mad Bomber: Bevon Face will toss dynamite at you.
  • Made of Iron: Joe Rokhed can take a lot of bullets before dying. A rocket is still a One-Hit Kill for him, but it doesn't even reduce him to Ludicrous Gibs as it does with everyone else.
  • Monster Clown: One of the villains, Kinky Pinky. For even more creepy, he's the one running Mr. Big's porn business. His butcher knife means you can't bust him; one bullet or one rocket kills him.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The identities of the player characters 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).
  • Oh, Crap!: In the first cutscene when a Das Lof Gang member emerges from the Pipeline hideout and realizes the NARC duo are coming for him:
    "Oh no, the NARC, man!"
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: Every mook other than Joe Rockhed, Kinky Pinky, and the wheelchair-bound Mr. Big.
  • Police Brutality: Perhaps the rocket launcher was a bit excessive, as it blows enemies to smithereens.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: Kinky Pinky's theme is a sinister version of "Pop Goes the Weasel".
  • Pyromaniac: Sergeant Skyhigh can also use a flamethrower as well as a machine gun.
  • Rewarding Vandalism: In Spike Rush's stage, destroying his drug-filled lab equipment grants bonus points.
  • Smash Mook: Joe Rockhed, 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.
  • Stalked by the Bell: Hanging out in the same area for too long after collecting the keycard will spawn large groups of attack dogs. Fighting them off will just invoke the wrath of black-furred dogs, the fastest enemies in the game who will quickly tear you to shreds. They dart off-screen after taking a life, but they'll be back soon. Fighting them off spawn deadly roaches the size of a television set who will just latch on and suck you dry, and they respawn with faster flight speed. The roaches also spawn from the final boss's corpse, so hurry to the right.
  • Super Wheelchair: Mr. Big's wheelchairs come equipped with machine guns.
  • Ultra Super Death Gore Fest Chainsawer 3000: Although the game has the simple name of "NARC", its style is very much this trope.
  • Violence is the Only Option: With Joe Rockhed (he'll kill you if you try to bust him with his brute strength), Kinky Pinky (he'll stab you repeatedly with his butcher knife), and Mr. Big (you've got to first nail his weaponized wheelchair with a rocket three times, then take out his "giant head" form), you've GOT to kill them as you can't "Bust" them. And of course, the dogs can only be shot to turn them from full-grown into whining puppies.
  • Your Head Asplode: Dealing enough damage to Mr. Big causes his skin and muscle to violently blow clear off his skull.