Take on the NES Library

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#115 – Street Cop

Just your everyday police officer.

Street Cop is a good cop.

To Beat: Reach the ending
Played: 2/27/19 – 3/2/19
Difficulty: 5/10
My Difficulty: 4/10
My Video: Street Cop Longplay

We are dipping back into the world of Power Pad games for this one. Street Cop by name alone would not provide any indication that this is meant for the Power Pad. It seems to me like it would be some kind of action or adventure game instead. It turns out that’s exactly what it is! There is nothing else like this game on the NES and I’m excited to share it with you today.

Family Trainer: Manhattan Police is the sixth game in the Family Trainer series of Power Pad games on the Famicom. The game was developed by Sonata (later known as Human Entertainment) and published by Bandai. The Famicom version came out in August 1987. The NES version, renamed Street Cop, was released in June 1989. The NES versions of the Bandai Power Pad games did not appear in the same order of release as Japan. Super Team Games, for instance, was the next game in the Family Trainer series in Japan but appeared on NES several months before Street Cop debuted.

Street Cop is an action/adventure game that uses the Power Pad controller. You play the role of “Little Ben,” a new police officer fresh out of the academy. He always hoped from a young age to be a detective, and you get to help make his dreams come true. In this game, you take to the streets of Manhattan. There are six stages in the game, each one featuring a bad guy on a wanted poster. You beat the game once you arrest all six main criminals.

Gonna take a walk in the park real quick.

Before we get into the game description, let’s recap briefly on the setup for this game. You will plug a standard controller into the first controller port on the NES. Then plug in the Power Pad to the second controller port. This game uses Side B of the Power Pad. In this configuration, there are three rows of four buttons each. All buttons are numbered from 1 to 12. The first row contains buttons 1 to 4, the middle row is 5 through 8, and the last row is 9 to 12.

Here is how you control Little Ben with the Power Pad. The neutral position is standing on buttons 6 and 7, right in the middle of the Power Pad. Alternate presses by either walking or running on those buttons to move forward. There are three different running speeds depending on how quickly you move. If you jump in place, Little Ben will jump, but you need to be standing on both buttons before you jump and sometimes it doesn’t respond like you would expect. You face either left or right and you are locked into that direction. To turn around, step once on either 10 or 11 in the bottom row. To move sideways, step on either 5 or 8 to sidestep one time in that direction. You will move in or out on the screen depending on the direction you are facing. If you need to walk into a building or down an alleyway, turn right by standing on 3 and 7 or turn left by standing on 2 and 6. The idea is you need to turn your body and face in the direction you want Little Ben to turn. The corner buttons are for using items. Thrown items can be tossed by pressing 1. Little Ben wields a baton at the bad guys by stepping on 4. Either 9 or 12 is used for any secondary items you may be holding. You also have the option to use the controller for a couple of options. Press B to use throwing items and press A to swing the baton.

Not sure throwing bombs is legal, but whatever.

All six levels have similar structure. In each stage, you see a wanted poster with the main bad guy you need to arrest. At the bottom of the wanted poster are images of some cohorts of the criminal along with a count. First you need to track down and capture all the cohorts. Then you will be able to track down the primary baddie. Some levels have two different types of cohorts. Each stage has a different layout you must explore.

The bottom of the screen shows information you need. On the left is the stage timer and Little Ben’s health meter. You get ten minutes to clear each stage. In the middle is the map of the level. Your position is represented as a blue dot, while an X appears where a bad guy is located. The right side shows how many cohorts are left to track down, as well as ammo for any items you find.

Capturing criminals can prove to be a little tricky. You can only go after one at a time. If his or her position shows up on the map, you first have to chase them down. When you catch up and see them, then you have to line yourself up with the criminal. The city streets have three running lanes. You can do the sidestep maneuver to change between those lanes at any time. The bad guys also switch lanes frequently. Once you get lined up with them, then you need to draw close enough to use either your throwing items or your baton. While enemies move relatively slowly, it’s tough sometimes to get everything to line up while navigating the controls. An easier way to catch a criminal is to knock them down by running into them at full speed. It doesn’t always trigger, but it works often enough that I found it to be the preferred method of fighting. Many enemies take more than one hit to defeat. Sometimes it works out where I can run into them once, and when they get up they walk right into me so I can baton them.

There is some straight up platforming here.

Each stage has a unique criminal to capture as well as some minor differences in the gameplay. In Stage 1, you capture Snatcher Joe. This is a basic level with only one strip of street to explore. This is a great introduction to the controls with plenty of time to meet your goal and get acquainted with the movement. As you walk through the city, there will be other pedestrians walking around, but you don’t interact with them and just walk right past them. It should be clear enough who is good and who is bad. Along the way you may find soda cans. Just walk into them to collect them, then press 1 to throw them. This simple stage does have one little trick to it. You might meet up with the enemy on the map but don’t see him walking around. In that case, he is hiding in one of the trash cans on the top row. Go up to the trash can and smack it with the baton to lure the bad guy out. He won’t hide again unless he goes off screen. Once all the cohorts are gone, then track down Snatcher Joe. He takes several hits to capture.

Stage 2 has you looking for Speedy Louis. This stage is more expansive than the first one, with a larger map connected with various alleyways. You will need to learn the turning controls to proceed down those paths. Another thing you need to learn is watching yourself on the map to make sure you are going the way you expect. When on the top row of the map, if you run to the right for example, your position on the map moves left instead. Just something to be aware of. This stage introduces a couple of new elements. There are some sewer entrances as holes on the street. Avoid them. Falling into one is always a setback and there is nothing down there for you to find at all. If you get stuck there, you need to move all the way to the right, jump onto the rightmost step, and then jump again to get out of the sewer. This level also introduces some other powerups. A clock adds one minute to the stage timer, up to the initial ten minutes. Picking up a can with a heart on it refills a portion of your health meter. Specific to this stage, you will find throwable bombs used as projectile weapons. One guy also holds a V-Max Turbo Drink. Just having this in your possession lets you run fast enough to chase down Speedy Louis.

You can just walk in and take the mustard.

In Stage 3, you must locate and capture Animal S. This stage consists of two long streets connected by a warehouse. If the enemy shows up on the other side of the street, then you need to cross through the warehouse. That section is a pure side-scrolling area with a single lane through to the other side. You’ll have to jump over boxes to get across. This stage has oranges you can pick up for throwing weapons. You also find a hyper drink useful for capturing Animal S. Animal S is one tough character. He has a charge attack that knocks you down on contact. He is very tough in a straight up fight. Here you will want to press 9 or 12 to use the hyper drink. You will turn red for a short time and Animal S can’t hurt you. Throwing items are also effective, especially when the drink effects wear off.

In Stage 4, you go after Big Burger. He can be found at the top of a skyscraper under construction and you will need to climb up after him one floor at a time. This level features stores that you can enter. Go inside and look for useful items. Mustard is the throwing item of choice in this stage. You can also find dog whistles in pet stores. Pressing one of the rear corner buttons blows the dog whistle, calling a dog on screen that attacks any bad guy in sight.

Stage 5 features Bloody Betty. She likes to shop so you will find her in one of the stores. You’ll need to explore all the doors here looking for items and her cohorts. The special items in this stage are throwing bombs and dog whistles. This level also features the subway. If you find Bloody Betty but let her get away, she will escape to another town. In that case, you will use the subway to travel over there, but you’ll have to search for her and defeat more cohorts all over again.

Bosses can be hard to find and tricky to beat.

The final stage squares you off against Don Mayonecheese. This level is a tricky one. There are three separate towns in this stage connected by the subway. Each town has a hideout where you might find the final boss. First you need to defeat the baddie that holds the key to the hideout. Then you can enter the hideout and search for Don. Of course, you have to defeat all the cohorts first per usual, both on the streets and in the hideout. You’ll be able to find bullets for your gun in case of a shootout as well as dog whistles in the stores. However, neither of those are effective against Don Mayonecheese. You’ll have to use all of your skills plus a little luck to finish the game.

There are no passwords, saving, or lives in this game. You can run out of health or run out of time, and then it’s Game Over. The good news is that you have unlimited continues. The bad news is that, if you are like me, you will need a rest break in between attempts. This is a more cerebral game than the other Power Pad games I’ve played so far, but it can still wear you out with all the footwork needed.

This was my first time playing through Street Cop. I didn’t bother testing out any of the Power Pad games beyond making sure they booted to the title screen. I remember watching TheMexicanRunner play this game so I already had an idea of how it works. This is an uncommon game that sells for around $20-$25. The only copy I’ve ever seen in person was the one I bought. I think I snagged it for around $8. This was at a game store where the owner didn’t yet understand how to value games using the Internet, so I ended up buying several uncommon games there for great prices before he caught on.

This is why he really wanted to be a cop.

I am glad that this ended up being a Power Pad game that I didn’t have to completely exhaust myself to play. I can’t help but break a sweat playing these games, but Street Cop took longer for me to get to that point. I even played it while I was a little bit sick and that seemed to have no effect on me. Once you get a handle on the controls, this game isn’t too difficult. You are free to pause with Start at any time to take a quick break. The enemies move slower to compensate for your lack of reaction time. The only real danger was running out of time, which happened a few times. I only had to continue at most twice per level before I cleared it. When I recorded my video longplay, I didn’t need to use any continues and only took small pause breaks in between levels. The only blemish on the run was skipping a cohort in the fourth stage. I was able to find the final boss in the second building I tried. Quite a solid run overall. I noticed I have the best completion time for this game (I can’t imagine that many people would try speedrunning it) so I have submitted it to speedrun.com as a new world record! I wonder how many more accidental speedruns I am going to get out of this project.

Street Cop is a basic action game. The graphics are simplistic but carry the idea well. The music is fine, nothing special. The controls work well and are more responsive than I would have guessed. The only tricky move is jumping which doesn’t always trigger. The gameplay is simplistic, but that’s what you want when playing a game with your feet. This is a notable game because this is the only game on the NES, and maybe one of the only games ever, with this kind of control scheme and gameplay merged together. There is strategy and exploration in what amounts to a fitness game. I think the developers did a great job of varying your goals and designing the stages. Sure, combat is usually the same, repetitive action, but there’s just enough variance and some clever boss encounters to make this game worthwhile. Good on the developers to try something different while getting it to work well. While it is tough to recommend any of the Power Pad games today, if you happen to own one and are looking for something that’s a little bit different, I think you might have fun with this game.

#115 – Street Cop


#108 – RoboCop

Dead or alive, you’re coming with me!

I don’t usually see a “subtitle” before the title like this.

To Beat: Reach the ending
Played: 12/9/18 – 12/14-18
Difficulty: 4/10
My Difficulty: 4/10
My Video: RoboCop Longplay

Usually when I play a game based on a movie, I always end up saying something about how I never saw the movie because my childhood was deprived and all that stuff.  This time I actually have seen the original RoboCop.  It’s just that it was several years ago and even then I barely remember anything about it.  RoboCop is one of those gritty late 80’s action movies that is ripe for a video game.  I would say it’s a pretty decent one.  Let’s take a look.

RoboCop is a 1987 action movie written by Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner and directed by Paul Verhoeven.  The film is about a dystopian, run-down Detroit, Michigan that makes a deal with a huge corporation, giving them control of the police department in exchange for renovating part of the city.  RoboCop was born out of an idea from one of the company executives where a recently-deceased person would have most of his or her body replaced with cybernetics, transforming the person into RoboCop who will help drive down crime.  The movie was a financial success and had relatively positive reviews from critics.  RoboCop would become a big media franchise including three feature films, a 2014 remake, two live-action TV series, two animated series, and several runs of comic books.

There were also several video games based on RoboCop.  All three feature films received a video game adaptation.  There was a RoboCop vs. The Terminator game based on the comic mini-series.  There is a Game Boy Color game that appears to have been released only in Europe.  A PlayStation 2 and Xbox RoboCop game came out in 2003.  There were also two mobile games.  The NES received three RoboCop games while a RoboCop vs Terminator NES port was developed but never released.  The NES RoboCop game was released first on the Famicom in August 1989.  The North American version came in December 1989, and the PAL version launched in April 1991.  The game was developed by Sakata SAS who ported many Data East games to the NES.  The game was published by Data East except in PAL territories where it was published by Ocean Software.

Just casually punching thugs on the street.

This game loosely follows the plot of the film.  You play as RoboCop over six different assignments.  Your first missions don’t seem to be based on the movie.  You follow RoboCop as he cleans up the streets, takes out some bad guys, and deals with a hostage situation at City Hall.  Later, you encounter and go after Clarence Boddicker and Dick Jones, both villains from the movie.  You beat the game once you complete all six missions.

RoboCop is a side-scrolling action game with basic controls.  Use the D-pad to walk around Left and Right.  You can’t jump in this game.  The B button punches while the A button fires weapons.  If RoboCop doesn’t have a weapon drawn, the A button also punches.  RoboCop can take the stairs by pressing either Up or Down while standing near the stairs, but the positioning for this is a little tricky at first.  You can press Down to duck and fire low.  You can press Up to enter doorways.  RoboCop can fire his guns in any direction including diagonals by pressing the desired direction when shooting.  The Select button with the Down arrow is used to block punches.

The lower portion of the screen contains your useful information.  The left side shows your energy level and your power level.  Below that is your score.  Your currently selected weapon is in the center followed by your ammo count and maximum ammo.  You can switch between weapons by pressing either Up or Down when the game is paused.  The four boxes on the right side are your function indicators.

One of the main mechanics in the game is the connection between the energy and power meters.  The energy meter corresponds to your battery while your power meter is more like your health meter.  When you take damage from enemies, it always drains your energy meter a little bit.  Some enemies also deal damage that affects your power meter more drastically.  Your energy slowly drains away as you play, acting like a timer.  You die when either meter is depleted so you need to manage both as you play.

Both the lower indicator and wall flashing make this obvious.

The four indicators at the bottom of the screen will blink to notify you of certain things during the game.  The first is the infrared indicator which blinks whenever your infrared vision is turned on.  When this happens, part of the stage will blink and you have to attack it with punches.  The second indicator is the punch indicator.  When blinking, it means the enemies on screen can only be defeated with punches.  The third is the foe detector which blinks faster the closer you get to the end-level boss.  The final indicator is the energy and power alarm.  This indicator blinks either when you are low on energy or power or when either meter has dropped quickly.

There are a couple of different weapons you will acquire through the game.  Your default gun is the Auto-9, a handgun with unlimited ammo.  It is basic but effective.  There is a machine gun with rapid fire capability that burns through bullets very fast.  The best weapon is the cobra gun.  It launches huge bullets that do massive damage.  However, you don’t find the gun until late in the game, and when you do it can only be fired a few times before it’s gone.  Use it wisely!

There are a few pickups during the game that help you out.  Sometimes defeated enemies drop them, but mostly you will find them lying on the ground.  Walk over them and duck with Down to bend over and pick them up.  A lightning canister fills up part of your energy meter, while the canister with the letter P on it restores part of your power meter.  You can also find machine guns and cobra guns on the ground to give you more ammo.

Pickups aren’t usually this plentiful.

RoboCop is quite a straightforward game.  The levels are relatively small and self-contained.  You usually travel to the right with only a few stages that have different paths through.  There are simple enemies that run at you.  Guys with guns fire out of windows and you have to aim your guns to defeat them.  RoboCop does not always have access to his gun.  At certain points, RoboCop will either draw his gun or put it away.  This means you have to get used to punching, but often the enemies you get are suited to your weapon loadout at the time.  All levels end in a boss fight.  Simple stuff.

After the second and fourth missions, you get to play a shooting mini-game.  This is a first-person style game where you move a targeting reticle with the D-pad and press A or B to shoot.  Targets appear and you have to blow away as many open ones as you can.  You will get a feel for which ones appear quickly and which ones take a while to set up.  If you manage to take out all the targets, you will earn an extra life.  You also get a bunch of points here during the mini-game if you care at all about your score.

RoboCop has only one life in the game.  Your extra life is extremely valuable because when you die you get all your energy and power restored right away and can keep playing from that same spot.  Otherwise, you can continue up to three times.  You will continue at the start of the current mission with just your base equipment.  Normally you get to keep your weapons from level to level, but continuing is better than starting over.  One really annoying thing about this game is that when you run out of continues, the game freezes on the Game Over screen and you have to physically reset the console to start over.

Just a handgun? No problem!

I have played RoboCop many years ago as a kid.  I remember a babysitter had the game with her NES and I’m pretty sure that I even beat the game back then.  This was my first time playing the game in probably 25 years, so it might as well have been a new game to me.  I don’t think I owned a copy of the game until during my collecting days, though it is a common one and I have owned several copies.  You could probably get a copy yourself for around $5.

I only needed a few attempts to complete the game.  It wasn’t until the end that I managed enough shots in the target game to earn an extra life.  That pushed me over the top.  I can handle each level on its own well enough except the final level, but with the extra life I can make it.  Nowadays, I tend to play through games like this twice.  The first playthrough is casual, and then I do another one for video.  My casual playthrough and my recorded longplay ended up just about identical from what I remember.  I think I needed the extra life a little earlier in the longplay but it’s not a big deal.  Even with limited continues and no lives to start, the fact that I can now beat the game quickly after only a few tries makes this game a little bit below average difficulty in my view.

RoboCop is kind of a no-frills, average action game.  The graphics and music are pretty decent.  There are some animated cutscenes that are nice.  The controls are stiff and triggering the stairs could have better hit detection.  I like that you can fire in all directions and that shooting is responsive.  I think the boss encounters are pretty neat.  The energy and power meters maybe don’t make the most sense in gameplay, but it forces you to play quickly and effectively which I think is okay.  I like this game, but I admit that it is average and doesn’t really stand out so much.  It is far from an essential game and can probably be skipped, but I feel it’s worth a look anyway, especially if you don’t have to spend much on it.

#108 – RoboCop