The Retro Critic



The following game’s violent, ultra-violent even, so you might want to look away at certain points of this review.

Forget the new GTA games, NARC is where it’s at.

Released for the Arcade in 1988, here was a game with an anti-drugs message but also sadistic tendencies. You remember those crazy, way too violent games Bart Simpson played in old Simpsons episodes? NARC was kind of like that.

Those more perceptive of you might recall seeing the game briefly in the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie.


Whoever said The Shredder was a bad role model?

The game encourages kids to say no to drugs!

Besides, we can’t have mutant turtles running around town eating all our pizzas. You know, I think I’m starting to see things from Shredder’s point of view and it’s all making sense!

Except that NARC is not exactly a kid-friendly game and you’ll soon see why.

I’m actually surprised that Rare and Acclaim released the game on the NES a couple of years later since Nintendo usually prefers to steer clear of violent stuff. Sure the mention of drugs was cut from the game but that only made the anti-drugs message even less relevant and the violence all the more gratuitous.

To be fair, though, the game went from looking like this:


With loads of blood on display and exploding bodies being burnt to a crisp.

To this:

NARC Bodyparts

Pretty tame in comparison.

Then again, those ARE still body parts scattered around all over the street.

The game, while looking more cartoonish and less detailed, remains violent as your character walks around town shooting bad guys dead on the sidewalks in classic run-and-gun fashion as some of them explode into bits.


Yes, that is a severed human head.

I bet the guy on the right is seriously considering walking away right about now.

If you’re not a big fan of blowing these drug-crazed weirdoes up, you can always walk up to them and arrest them. Something which, comically, results in them flying off screen with the word “BUSTED” written on their chest for some reason.

NARC Busted

This also earns you more points, I believe.

Who has time for arrests, though?

Can’t overcrowd those jails with endless junkie, trench coat-wearing clones, that’s a hassle. Besides, I already have a big gun in my hands and it’s loaded. What’s a baby-blue onesie-wearing vigilante to do?

I mean, look at these guys:

NARC Baddie

They have needles, mullets and ear-rings: a deadly combination.

Plus they wear sunglasses at night and that’s just silly.

And they’re purple.

They’re not the only creeps out there, by the way. Killer clowns with knives are also loose in the streets causing mayhem. Now, I’m not sure how this society got like this exactly but if I’m going to buy the whole ludicrous Hunger Games scenario in those movies then I guess I should accept this little piece of nonsense.

Clowns NARC

Now, as you can see, clowns rule the red light district for whatever reason. I’m sure there’s a perfectly rational explanation for all this, though.

It’s also interesting to see adult book stores in an NES game. Seems like Nintendo could have easily edited that out if they were concerned about how appropriate the content of the game would be for younger gamers.

Clowns 2 NARC

See? Fixed.

Took me 10 seconds.

Even I can do what Nintendon’t.

Putting clowns aside for a minute, I should point out that human beings are not the only enemies in this game. The animal kingdom also plays a significant part.

Oh look! What a cute little doggie!


Come here, buddy!

I’ll give you a treat!

There’s a good boy!

Dog Kill NARC

Sorry, did I say “treat”?

I meant “throat”.

MY throat.

Enjoy… ?

Yeah those dogs are evil and annoying. They’re too short to shoot so you have to keep crouching to reach them properly plus they’re fast and really feisty. And since you’re only using like two buttons on the controller when you had four on the Arcade, it’s not always super easy to fight these dogs off.

I don’t like how they gloat whenever they win, either.

Happy Dog NARC

No-one likes a sore winner.

Human or otherwise.

On the whole, yes the game is violent but it’s hard to take it too seriously, especially by today’s standards. It’s not exactly Manhunt! Besides, by the time you get to the end of the game, it all gets so silly you’ll forget all about those killer dogs and psychotic clowns.

Putting the violence to one side, NARC is a pretty cool game. It looks and plays much better in the Arcade version, of course, but unless you’re planning to join Shredder’s Foot Clan it’s more likely you’ll be able to find the NES port to play. That one’s still pretty fun, even if it’s mostly all about you shooting everything on screen in a much less detailed setting.

You can punch down helicopters:

Copter NARC

You’ve got a multiplayer option:

Multiplayer NARC

What more could you ask for?

A final boss so goofy it makes the game quietly awesome?

Everyone, meet Mr Big:

Mr Big Pic

I guess he looks like a normal villain, so much for my goofy final boss idea.



Mr Big Boss NARC

I knew I could count on NARC.

Why is Mr Big an oversized spaceship skeleton head, you ask?

Play the game and see for yourself. It won’t answer your questions but you’ll have a great time trying to find out, at the very least.

Good stuff.

There’s aN ARCade game I can get behind.

(there’s a pun in there somewhere)

(it’s really subtle but it’s there)