Format: Sega Genesis
Genre: Run n' Gun / Driving
Region Reviewed: NTSC
Year of Release: 1990
Whatever happened to the likes of RoboCop and other cyborgs, I wonder? No, I’m not talking about that bad looking remake of the first RoboCop film released a couple of years ago, I mean the really good movies of the 80s and 90s. The times where you cheered lads like Alex Murphy until the very end, where you bit your lips and close your eyes when a gang of thugs were shooting at him in a desolated warehouse… Stories such as that don’t come out anymore in a world filled with people taking offence for silly reasons, where social justice warriors are kings. So, once more, let me take you back to a place in time where good (and bad) cyborg-related games flourished. And today, I’m going to introduce you to a tough character; he goes by the name of Technocop.
When you talk about violence in videogames, everybody thinks Mortal Kombat, it being so mainstream and the flagship example of a game some groups pushed forward as a reason for parental control laws to become a norm for the gaming industry… but the thing is, violence existed a long time before Sub Zero ripped his first head from a body. Technocop is one clear example of that.
The Genesis game was, in fact, a port from the Amiga and the Atari ST. The company responsible for porting the game in 1990 to the magnificent Sega console was RazorSoft (also known for Stormlord, or Death Duel), a label that decided to push things to the very edge and add some colour to the child-friendly titles of the time. The colour they chose was crimson red, of course. Because red = Blood and Blood makes games way cooler!
Technocop starts with a digitalized voice that screams BUSTED at you without any mercy for your unprepared ears. After you hit the start button, the first stage begins and you are driving a car in a way that resembles RoadBlasters way too much to be a coincidence. So, is this a driving game? Yes and no. The game is constantly divided into two parts, a driving stage and a side scrolling one. The objective of the driving bits of the game is for you to either dodge or shoot your way through the enemies on the road (something that would come in handy in certain real-life situations) offing other cars, motorcycles and trucks that simply don’t know that you are in a hurry to get to a crime scene. Although there is a time limit thingy, there is no penalty whatsoever if you don’t make it on time, however if you crash your car excessively and the energy is depleted it’s instant game over for you, lad, no continues, no nothing. As you progress through the game you get promoted for catching the bad guys, gain new weapons like side-mounted guns and even some sort of portable nuke bomb that becomes available for your vehicle. Fortunately, the driving stages are not that hard and do not last too long, which is something of a relief considering the tasks that lay ahead for our Technocop.
Your job is basically to get rid of a band of thugs that control the crime in this catastrophic future (NOTE: Have you realized the lack of faith in the future developers had back in the day? There was always a nuclear war or devastating event that had taken place…), they call themselves DOA. If you forget the name, don’t worry as you will see their tags on the walls throughout the whole game. The heads of this band operate in eleven buildings across the city and you will need to either arrest them or kill them. In some cases it will be your decision while in others, dispatch officers will tell you that they need them alive or dead. How thoughtful - lol.
Every side scrolling stage takes place in one of the buildings that you need to navigate in order to find the perp. You get five full lives to accomplish your goal represented by red dots on your wrist gizmo. Locating the stage boss is not the easiest thing to do despite the fact that you have a localizer mounted on your wrist that you can check at the bottom of your screen. This GPS system points an arrow to where the perp lies but that’s about it. The best way, in my opinion, to find your objective is to memorize the route by heart, as it never changes. What complicates things is that some buildings are really tall and the time limit you have to complete the mission doesn’t take a break. Crime does indeed pay… If you rent a large enough building eh?
All hideouts are packed with members of the DOA. You can deal with them by using a net throwing weapon that captures the thug which takes its good time to reload, or you can use your faithful pistol that will cause your enemies to explode in a puddle of gory blood. As if DOA thugs were not enough, these tenements have some regular inhabitants that don’t seem to like the Technocop very much either. Such is the case that occasionally some little boys will kick you in the leg and some old ladies and baby carriages will appear that make you stumble, etc. Lucky for you, you can use your pistol to send them to a pixelated hell and no one will care; there is no penalty or demotion for shooting civilians just a couple of points taken, after all, in this future, they are all on their own. Somebody was reading way too many Judge Dredd comics when designing this game methinks!
Controlling the car was a bit awkward for me at first, considering that I’m mostly used to pressing one of the available controller buttons to accelerate or break. Technocop however requires the player to push the up key to accelerate and down key to break, leaving the B button to shoot. During the scrolling sections, “C” switches between your weapons (your current selection is highlighted on your wrist device), “A” jumps and “B” shoots. You can also crouch by pressing down to avoid bullets, knifes and other harmful things that the Technocop attracts.
Graphically the game is not bad during the side-scrolling sections. The main character and the enemies are well detailed and the backgrounds are carefully drawn, though they repeat incessantly which is sloppy and lazy design in my book. There is hardly any differences between stages at all and that‘s a real shame. The driving sections seem rushed and needed a lot of work to really stand apart. The sprites of your car are ok, the cockpit computer looks fine, but the background looks like an Atari 2600 game, very few details except for some mountains, poorly drawn trees and other vehicles that really don’t say much.
Sound effects you say? Some digitalized voices that sound good, shots and other FX are properly done, but that’s it. That is the only good thing I can say about the sound aspect of the title. The music is non-existent and the few segments that have some, I certainly would have preferred silence. Truth be told a lot of this game feels like somebody made a template for something really cool but just decided not to fill it in with detail.
Verdict:- A game that gets some stick every time it is reviewed, and though the score may not encourage you to actually try the game, you definitely should. The title might be repetitive at times, the driving parts might be a little dull, but when you look at the whole picture, the game turns out to be fun and certainly original which should compensate for any boring stages.
A little more work on variety in stage look and design could have elevated this a couple of points because somewhere inside all of this is a great idea that just never got taken as far as it should have.
Second Opinion:- Back in the 1990's a ton of games originally released on systems such as the Amiga, Atari ST and PC made their way to the 16-bit consoles. A lot of them were either equally as good or in some rare cases actually better thanks to the cartridge format of systems like the Genesis. No loading!
Technocop is a strange beast because without a doubt there's a game hidden underneath it's exceptional example of average level design and overall graphical looks. The main problem is that on it's own it's very empty and lacking any real change from the moment you press the start button to the moment you complete it. Against other games either in genre or in the systems library it's so far down the pecking order it's insane. Put simply it's not one you will cry about if you never play.
That being said though this "Type D" firing hero loves Navy Seals on the Gameboy and everyone else thinks that's dull so give it a go and find out for yourself. You may just adore it!
Transbot Scores:- 4 out of 10