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Judge Dredd (1995)

May 29, 2011


5/10 Strong-fisted Judgements

With this patriotic day ahead of us, I thought of only one option for what I could review… Judge Dredd.  Yes, I know the comic is British, but it is set in a futuristic America, and I’ve always had a very strong “America” feeling when thinking of this game.  I mean, just watch the movie, it’s Rocky taking down bad guys as a violent police officer.  And since this game came out to compliment the movie, I can only picture “America” for anything Dredd.

But let’s be real here: the movie wasn’t a big hit, which means the game wasn’t a big hit.  When it first came out, it received some great reviews, but when taken out of context (time context, that is), this game isn’t remembered by anyone.  Countless times I’ve had friends sift through my collection of SNES games and pick out Judge Dredd in confusion. “Wtf is this game,” is usually what they ask.  But beyond all judgement, I used to enjoy this game. Do I enjoy it now?  Not so much.

Here, we have a platformer, action/adventure game, but the levels are more vertical than they should be.  I don’t think this was done on purpose (since it is unlikely that every setting should have the same vertical layout), but all levels seem to just take the futuristic cop down into the gutters and never really to the sides like a regular side-scrolling platform game would do.  Sure, on each level of the platforms there is some left and right movement, but eventually you just have to find stairs and head further down to reach the end of the level.  Each level has a different goal, but ultimately you have to find your way around the map and either kill or arrest the bad guys.  Other goals are to blow up their ammo barrels or shut down the building’s automatic doors, but its hard to miss these objectives since everything is on your path to the exit door.

When I dusted off the cartridge and popped it into the SNES, one thing quickly brought back some memories: “Password.”  Of course, I have not picked up this game is many years, but still I thought, “screw that, I wouldn’t even think about using a password.”  That didn’t last long.  As classic as a “password” option on the title screen, the game was classically hard as balls.  On the first level, it took me all of 6 minutes to die 3 times (the only 3 lives you get… no continues).  So, I Googled, and as fast as I could utter “hypocrite,” I had the password for invincibility.  Call me whatever you want, but time permitting, I had to do something to get through this game before I wrote this review.

I can’t say I remember the plot of the movie much, but as far as the game’s plot is concerned, it isn’t too important (like many platform games from this era).  The city is getting taken over and it’s your job to fix it. Boom. I still have no idea who the bad guy is, no idea why these prisoners are escaping from prison, and no idea why Judge Dredd hates these dudes so much that he made it his personal mission to end their lives.  So, putting that aside, the game’s purpose is to end lives (or be civil and arrest lives).  The controls are as basic as the graphic… ha, I got two talking points out of the way with one sentence.  Jump button, punch/kick button, shoot button, and arrest button.  4 buttons, 4 moves.  Boom, again.  Oh, you can also switch between ammo, but that is never necessary, since the different looking bullets barely show a difference in ability.  And the graphics, are eh. They are exactly what you would expect out of a SNES game.

bitch is guilty!

It might sound like I am bashing this game (maybe because I am), but back in the day this was one of my favorite games. Back when I had the patience to sit through the lost lives, sit through zero continues, and sit through the repetitive maps.  It might have been my childish eagerness, or whatever the nice way of calling a child plain stupid is,  but I actually enjoyed the difficulty of a game like this, and actually enjoyed playing it over and over again, restlessly, so that I could inch past the levels and hopefully reach the end one day.  Now, I just couldn’t sit through it. Even with a password for invincibility in this game, which allowed me to literally run through levels, I got bored and turned if off after a handful of levels.

So, even though this game could not beat out today’s most basic online flash games, it still deserves a 5 out of 10. I would have been too heartbroken to give it anything less because it took up so much of my time when it first came out. Just know that this 5/10 is because of a 2 or 3 point handicap that I gave this game. It really has nothing going for it, nothing to help it stand out, at all. I might be the only one stupid enough to give this game this much credit, but if you’ve seen the movie, or even read the comics (which I couldn’t think of one person that has), the game deserves a shot. It won’t take long to realize that it should never warrant more than 30 minutes of your time, but still, it wouldn’t hurt.

One prediction though: this game will be wanted very soon. The amazing Danny Boyle (28 Days Later, Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours) is making the new version (to be exact, the production company he owns is doing it), which is supposed to have no connection at all to the 1995 version, and it stars Karl Urban (Leonard McCoy in the newest Star Trek movie) as Judge Dredd. When the new movie comes out and people start to mention the 1995 version and the game that came along with it, don’t forget what I said, it might be a great conversation starter. I can see it now, you and a cute brunette at the bar, talking about new movie releases, and you mention Dredd, this game, and what you’ve just read… that will get you so much action. Boom.

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