Retro Video Game Review: Narc (Nes)

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Overall Rating: 1/5

The Nintendo Entertainment System was a revolutionary home video gaming console that provided a step up from personal computer games at the time, while also being a definite advancement from the previously popular Atari systems.

However, some of the growing pains were evident in certain titles, as developers raced to take full advantage of a revitalized video game market. Some titles were crude, graphically deficient PC rip-offs; others had grand ideas but terrible or undeveloped execution; then, some were just bland, generic, non-fun, and not worthwhile.

One of these games was NARC.

The title is simply short for “narcotics” and allows the player to control a narcotics officer out to wage the then-headlining war on drugs. With its blatant anti-drug message, it seemed to send a mixed signal: While the officer is definitely making an effort against illegal drugs, what ethical message is he sending when he does so by killing hundreds of people?


This is a beat-em-‘up without the beating-up. The player can either fire the pistol, the rocket launcher (rockets are limited), or “bust” a perp. Busting a perpetrator is worth more points, supposedly to encourage arresting all these drug-users rather than outright slaughtering them. However, considering how much easier it is to just shoot them (busting requires direct contact), most players will likely end up blasting everyone in sight.

The enemies and levels are extraordinarily repetitive, offering no redeeming replay value whatsoever, with the game taking far too long to finish without any interesting creative flair along the way.


NARC looks okay, but just okay, with its generic character designs, bland cookie-cutter stages, and half-done animations. Blasting apart a foe into bits with the rocket launcher is the visual that gives the most reward, with two-tone body parts too-rapidly flailing and flying away.


Not worth mentioning, much less judging, on its own merits.

Creativity and Innovation

Especially at the time when so many anti-drug public service announcements were being released, it may have been a novel idea: Release a hot new video game that lets kids have fun but thoroughly pushing an agenda the entire time. While the concept is fair enough, the execution was poor, thus dooming any chance of success the goal ever had.

When all factors are considered, NARC was a victim of short-sighted preaching that put a highlight on a developer that, obviously, was not given enough time or effort towards making this a truly good game – all those involved were concerned with was the message. But since so many other games, even those is the same genre, were vastly superior, the fine message was lost amidst garbage gaming. For its broken, unplayable non-quality, NARC gets busted for a score of one star out of five. For an in-depth look at other disappointing titles for the otherwise classic Nintendo Entertainment System, check out


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