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Narc – The 80’s Drug War Video Game

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Narc is a 1988 arcade game designed by Eugene Jarvis for Williams Electronics and programmed by George Petro. It was one of the first ultra-violent video games and a frequent target of parental criticism of the arcade game industry. The object is to arrest and kill drug offenders, confiscate their money and drugs, and defeat “Mr. Big”.

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It was the first game in the newly restarted Williams Electronics coin-op division, and features their notable use of digitized graphics (later made famous in games such as Mortal Kombat). In fact, the quality of the graphics in terms of number of colors would not be surpassed until the game Mortal Kombat II (released in 1993). The game features what in arcade terminology is termed a medium resolution monitor – higher resolution than televisions and normal arcade monitors, although often in a smaller physical size. NARC was also the very first arcade game to utilize the TI TMS34010, which is a 32-bit processor. The game was also notable for the numerous voice samples used during and between levels.

The game’s main characters are Max Force and Hit Man, who have received a memo from Spencer Williams, Narcotics Opposition Chairman in Washington, DC dispatching them on Project NARC. Their mission is to apprehend Mr. Big, head of an underground drug trafficking and terrorist organization.

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The player controls either Max Force or Hit Man, who are mowing down junkies, drug dealers and organized crime kingpins. Max and Hit are equipped with an automatic weapon and missile launcher. When an enemy is dispatched using the latter, they explode in a torrent of scorched and bloody body appendages. Some enemies can be arrested after they surrender and then float away with “BUSTED” over them, this is then added to a tally at the end of the level along with drugs and money confiscated from other enemies that they dropped when killed (the game actually awards more points at the end of a round for arresting enemies without killing them). The game’s objective is to reach and destroy various drug dealing ringleaders.

Rock group Pixies recorded a cover of the theme song from the original arcade game, originally written by game music composer Brian L. Schmidt, and released it as a B-Side to their 1991 single, “Planet of Sound“. They titled the cover “Theme From NARC”, and it consisted of frontman Black Francis singing the song title several times, while the band played the theme music. The song is also included on their Complete ‘B’ Sides compilation album.

A NARC arcade machine is being played by some of the youths in Shredder’s compound in the 1990 movie Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Another NARC arcade machine can be seen played by Jami Gertz in the 1990 movie Don’t Tell Her It’s Me.

Max Force, Mr. Big, Spike, and Joe all appear on the animated series, The Power Team, which is part of the video game show, Video Power.

1993 – “Mr. Big” a song about selling drugs by 8 Ball & MJG on their Comin’ Out Hard album was inspired by NARC’s Final Boss.

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File under Blast From The Past, Influences, Massive Consumption of Drugs, Music, SeMeN SPeRmS Approved, SeMeN SPeRmS BLArRrG

ZZ Top Afterburner (1985)

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Afterburner is the ninth studio album by American blues rock band ZZ Top, released in 1985 (see 1985 in music). Afterburner was a financial success, going several times platinum and launching several hit singles. The most successful single released from this album was “Sleeping Bag”, which peaked at No. 1 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks and No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100.

In the UK, it was the band’s second album to be certified by the British Phonographic Industry, attaining Gold (100,000 units) in 1985. In 1990, it was certified Platinum (300,000 units), to date their final Platinum certification in the UK.

The song “Can’t Stop Rockin'” was featured in the 1993 film Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III. The song “Velcro Fly” was an element in Stephen King’s The Dark Tower III: The Waste Lands; Eddie keeps hearing drums playing off in the distance and thinks it sounds like, then later realizes it is, the drum track for “Velcro Fly”.

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File under Arts 'n Crafts, Influences, Music, SeMeN SPeRmS Approved, SeMeN SPeRmS BLArRrG