Thursday, November 4, 2010

NARC: Wholesale Dopeboy Killing

As I was getting dressed to head to my day job, I saw something interesting. Just days after prop. #19 was defeated in California, DEA agents raided a warehouse in San Diego and discovered a tunnel leading to Mexico. In this tunnel was about 30-40 tons of Marijuana, and there was even more on the Mexico side. You may be thinking, what does this drug bust have to do with video games? Well, one video game focused solely on taking out a drug kingpin, and it was great. The game I'm referring to is NARC (the original game, not that trash that came out on PS2 and Xbox)

Narc was amazing when it released, because it was a game that literally could have killed the game industry because of the level of violence, characters, and of course the numerous drug references throughout. Playing as a DEA agent charged with taking down Mr. Big, players run into all manner of dope fiends and killers. from heroin addicts who throw needles at you, to child molester clowns, to anti government pot growers, this game had everything.

It was ported to several different systems, including NES, Amiga, and ZX Spectrum, and a lot of the ports received great reviews. The NES version was pushed with a highly anti-drug message attached to it, but critics of the extreme violence in the arcade version made sure Nintendo of America enforced restrictions on the drug references in that version of the game. The arcade version of NARC saw new life when it was a part of the second volume of the Midway Arcade Treasures series, which probably led to Midway deciding to reboot the franchise.

The reboot of Narc featured a controversial gameplay mechanic, giving players the option to either turn confiscated drugs in to the police evidence room, or keep them to either use or sell. This mechanic led to Narc being banned in Australia, but that wasn't a bad thing for Australia, because the game was pretty bad.

Narc had a simple concept: stop the drug epidemic by taking out drug dealers, but a lot of folks couldn't see beyond the violence in the game. Good game, simple message that most people can get behind, what's not to like. If more cops were like the ones in the Original NARC, we might not be looking at Mexico fall apart.

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