#180 – Dirty Harry

None more dirty.
Hugh Jackman stars as Wolverine in “Dirty Harry.”
The obligatory “shoot-out at the docks with French assassins.”


PUBLISHER: Mindscape

DEVELOPER: Gray Matter

GENRE: Action

RELEASE DATE: December 1990

It’s been said that “Winners Don’t Use Drugs.” Harry Callahan is, by his own reckoning, a one-man war against drugs. So what would Dirty Harry say about his game, a horribly controlled wreck that looks, plays, and sounds like it was made by drug abusers? My hope would be for Clint Eastwood to go all “Dead Pool” on these punk programmers, but Clint’s a director now and he’s turned all pseudo-spiritual in his old age so I think the folks at Gray Matter are safe.

There are two things I’ve never understood about a large portion of crappy games: they can never assign jumping to the “A” button and they are so proud of their abomination, they list their names in the opening credits instead of after the end of the game. If Capcom and other Japanese developers can make brilliant games like Mega Man and Sonic, only to hide their real identities behind pseudonyms that are only revealed in the end credits, there’s no reason small companies like Gray Matter should be proud of their crap. And who was hustling for a Dirty Harry game in 1990? “The Dead Pool” was the final Dirty Harry movie and it was released in 1988, but it wasn’t nearly as popular as its predecessors. Winning that particular film license in the ’90s is like winning the lottery the week after someone’s won the $320 million jackpot. A fake meeting between Gray Matter executives: “Alright, LJN just got the rights to Beetlejuice, The Addams Family, X-Men. Sunsoft got the rights to Batman. What’s left?” One slick-haired exec raises his hand and says, “Did anyone see “The Dead Pool?” Dirty Harry’s coming back, people, and we gotta snatch up the license before any of these hotshot companies do.” High fives and cheap turkey sandwiches were had in celebration.

Dirty Harry is about killing the bad guys and going to the next level, but you wouldn’t know it from the way Harry plays. “A” and “B” together is jump, for starters, which is an automatic letter downgrade for me. This is not difficult, people. If you’ve ever played one Nintendo game in your life, then you should know that “A” is always jump. ALWAYS AND FOREVER! But let’s forgo Harry’s jumping problem. Harry has two abilities, punching and shooting. Shooting is, of course, the preferred method as you don’t have to get too close to the constantly regenerating waves of thugs. Unfortunately, you have a limited supply of bullets, so your fists better be ready to do some talkin’. Unless you hit the thugs at precisely the right angle, they will always hit you or shoot you or drop a net on you (for serious). It’s easier just to avoid them if you can. When you press Start, you see that Harry has a lot of items to choose from in his inventory, but only if you collect them on your way. Entering buildings and smashing open dressers and drawers with your kicks (which happen by pressing “Up” and “A” – the epitome of convenience!) was the only way to collect said items and they were only necessary at brief moments. Also, for a game that’s all about killing, there was a lot of exploring that led to nowhere. Try to avoid the exploring portions if you can and just move forward. Or you could just turn the game off. No one would judge you for that.


The following two tabs change content below.

Latest posts by Dylan Cornelius (see all)

4 replies on “#180 – Dirty Harry”

This is a game I really want to like. I have tried it over and over thinking “this time will be different!”. I don’t even care about the license. I just think the gun mechanics are cool and busting up drug dens by smashing furniture is fun! Unfortunately I can’t get past the rest of the crap. If you at least had unlimited ammo I think it would be ok.

A lot of crappy licensed NES games have decent portions. Unfortunately, I just don’t think developers had the development time to make the entire game worth playing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *