#439 – NARC

We’re just trying to have a good time.
“No one had the guts…” to do what, exactly? Port this game with working code?
Are the monks going on a crime spree?

PLAYERS: 1-2 simultaneous

PUBLISHER: Acclaim Entertainment

DEVELOPER: Williams (port by Rare)

GENRE: Action/Arcade

RELEASE DATE: August 1990

Despite never seeing NARC in any of my hometown arcades, I knew it was a big hit when I was a kid. Why? Because it was featured prominently in the first “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” film. Remember the scene where all of Shredder’s young minions are hanging out, smoking, drinking, skateboarding, and of course, playing arcade games? Yeah, that’s where I learned that one of the bosses in Narc was a giant skull head, and I knew I had to seek it out. Today, my five-year-old self’s dream has been realized: after years of pondering, I stepped into the world of NARC. After giving it some time, I have also come to a conclusion: that skull head thing remains awesome, but NARC itself is a trash heap, no better than the thugs the game seeks to put away.

Yeah, NARC‘s failings are probably due to it being a terrible NES port, but that doesn’t excuse Rare’s sloppy treatment of the game. You play as a NARC agent (gasp upon gasp!) who shoots first because he never thought to ask questions. Busting people and collecting bags of drugs give you additional points at the end, of each stage. Unless you don’t want to die quickly, I suggest either avoiding people outright or shooting them and moving on; “busting” them involves standing next to them for a second or two, giving other sources of evil all the time they need to shoot you down. Abhorrent graphics don’t strengthen NARC‘s case (sharply pointed lines representing bullets? Seriously?), but the game’s real crime is the sloppy controls. Pressing ‘B’ allows you to jump, but only sometimes. You can also crouch down with ‘B,’ but only when you’re not jumping. Holding down ‘A’ is how you shoot your gun, while tapping ‘A’ fires missiles. Lastly, your NARC agent is slow, and in general, seems to lack discipline. NARC’s controls aren’t the worst I’ve ever played with, but they add to the general worthlessness of the game. I believe it was around Stage 3 when I hopped into a Porsche and thought, alright, this game’s gonna pick up! I immediately crashed into a green brick wall randomly placed into the middle of the road and my Porsche disappeared. This image perfectly correlates to my initial feelings about the game: I was excited to pick it up and play it for the first time, but within minutes, my young self’s dreams about how awesome NARC should be crashed and exploded into an out-of-nowhere brick wall.


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6 replies on “#439 – NARC”

Definitely a poor port. Though the arcade version was a quarter eating monster from another time. I can’t say I hated this game, but some tighter controls would have SERIOUSLY helped this game along.
My brother and I have made it to Mr.Big, but never beat him as far as I remember.

A perfect analogy if you ask me.


I got to the end guy with game genie as a kid infinite missiles too. I don’t think it is possible to beat the end guy.

Hold up… in that second screenshot… I see a LIQUOR STORE SIGN!?
How in Bob’s name did that ever make it into a licensed American NES game?


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