Welcome back to part 2 of my look at SEGA's 1990 arcade port of their robo-ripoff police shoot-em-up, ESwat. Time to shoot up some more criminals, so let's roll! Target one is Dirty Duffy – wanted for attempted murder, illegal weapons smuggling and having a name that guaranteed he’d never know the love of a woman.
His friends are rather aggressive as they rain bullets and grenades down upon you. Not to be outdone, you return fire with an arm-mounted minigun and a death-dispensing backpack that I demand to have in my next loot crate. This thing shoots either a deadly scattershot, a single hadouken (whose power-up logo looks like an electric sperm cell) or two columns of annihilation that, I’m a little embarrassed to say, made me a little moist in places.
It is a bit of a let down when you fight Duffy the first of three times as he mostly just stands there, wilting under my hot lead spray and then running off, his hard armour cast aside, flaccid and pointless. Giving chase, you flatten more flunkies, some in armour others with flamethrowers and finally catch up to him where, out of spite, the blighter demolitions a building with you in it. Okay, this part is legitimately cool: You must manoeuvre your way through the falling building gunning down henchlings, all the while avoiding the sequenced explosions. Gold star SEGA! The explosion complete, you blat Duffy and proceed to your next massacre.
Rats Lee (it’s not racist because SEGA’s Asian?) is wanted for a hit-and-run and narcotics trafficking… Was that first crime worth the mention? Arriving in China Town, you fight every white man on Lee’s speed dial, including some fellas with rocket launchers. Soon, you battle Lee, or rather his tiger… because drug dealer. Lee! You made me hurt a kitty! Yousa gonna die!
The next stage has you battling through several dozen purple suited ninja girls recruited from the local anime cosplay convention. Then Lee appears again and attacks you with Donkey Kong (no, really) before running off again. Having finally reasoned that the animal kingdom isn’t going to save him, the twit opts for a monster, truck that is, to be battled in a football stadium. Fun Fact: when you run out of bullets in this game, have no fear because after perforating all his helpers, I kicked Lee’s car to death and arrested his animal-harming butt.
Following a stage that would’ve made PETA cringe and wail, your next warrant in this carousel of crime is the devil… basically. He wears the same suit as you, only its black and thus must be taken down because no one can look cooler than you. Also, he’s a war criminal. But whatever. Onward! And oooooo, this prat doesn’t play nice! He has auto-turrets and flying hover bikes of the pew-pew-pew type! Me likey! Me dead, but me likey! Oh, and tanks too! Wow, you really are a douche. When you face off against them, and I mean two, because terminator twins are apparently a thing, you learn just how much of a pain that gun of yours can be. But after a failed double teaming, you fry their circuits and drive off. Horace! They were but programmed automatons. Could this mean, a super boss?! Duh.
Your next dastardly foe doesn’t even have a picture to go by, just a question mark. Seriously, the guy's picture is a question mark on a red and black background so for all I know I’m hunting an aggressive chevron… or The Riddler. I prefer the latter since that would mean that the city you’re in is Gotham and that Batman really didn’t rise like Christopher Nolan said he did. At least the file isn’t presuming guilt. The bad guy is listed only as an “alleged” war criminal. Oh well, no people means you keep shooting till you’ve “sedated” the baddy sufficiently.
Hold on, this twit has gone all out, having borrowed the arsenal from the previous idjit and he isn’t afraid to use it. Your first troublesome battle is a little gooey, as the enemy seems to be a James Bond villain’s kill factory sans the monologuing foe. The machine you’re trying to gank poops its molten babies onto a moving conveyor belt giving you the least fun game of ‘The Floor is Lava’ eva!
Having defeated that, you fight the 2D death skulls from DOOM (seriously SEGA, your kleptomania is showing) and then the cutest little halftrack you’ve ever seen. I think its primary weapon is using its sheer cuteness to throw you off long enough to cook you while you’re busy sating “Aaaw!” Still, cute isn’t bulletproof, and as the scent of smoking circuitry fills the room, you arrive in a control room blaring dogma lifted straight from the script for They Live! The screens display messages like “STAY ASLEEP”; “OBEY”; “WORLD CONQUEST”; “ASK NO QUESTIONS” and “TELL NO LIES”. Dammit SEGA!
The final battle is rather special at it looks like the lead villain thinks he’s M.BISON and he’s brought his drumkit of death for a battle of the bands. Luckily, you blow his pink Tesla balls – yes, I said it – and everything does a Michael Bay as the least hopeful epilogue on earth scrolls by. Really SEGA? You stole so much but you couldn’t steal an end-of-game cutscene?!
*Side Note: The score board is a rather sinister fixture to have in any game, especially the run-and-gun variety. It’s like they’re saying “Behold! Your supreme mass murderer! Drop to thine knees and worship, lest he shooteth thee in thine tender morsels.”
Guns. Lots of guns.
Where bullets fail, curb-stomping succeeds.
An ADHD workout any therapist would be proud of.
Fifteen stages of adrenal-soaked armpit sweat.
So many villains, so few bullets.
How can kicking a monster truck to death work?
You are forced to kill a big kitty. NOT! COOL!
ESwat was a great big lengthy game of rollicking fun that wears its console pedigree proudly. This was a game designed for a seated gamer, reigning justice upon the pixelated damned from a leisurely padded perch. However, a few minutes standing in an arcade, facing off against the thousand galloping hordes of the SEGAverse soon wore thin, especially when the sheer volume of IP theft became evident. However, there’s no reason to let that spoil this jaunt into this best-of pop culture referencing shoot-em-up. Surely there’s no reason to worry when creative ventures “borrow”, are “influenced by” or just outright “steal” from other works? If it works for Pop music, what’s the worst that could happen?
Comedian, Writer, Actor, Voice-artist. Host of the Urbane Myths podcast, Co-host of GeekXP's 'Release The Geek'. Opinionist Purveyor of Wanton Meanderings. And above all, Geek.
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