I like cop shows, but I feel I missed the golden age of them. Magnum P.I., Miami Vice and Knight Rider are beloved by their respective fanbases, but they all finished being made before I was born, so I never really watched them. In this day and age of Netflix and Amazon Video, it is possible for me to go back and watch these shows, but Pixel Crow have helped me out here. With their game Beat Cop, I’ve now got an 80s cop show in video game format. With it being heavily inspired by the aforementioned shows, I can now put myself into a fictional cop from the 80s and fight crime.
A blast from the past
When you start up Beat Cop, you’re treated to a short intro video which achieves two things. It first sets the scene for you, so you are aware of what’s going on and the events leading up to the game. The second thing it does is give the player a glorious intro sequence that any 80s cop show would be proud of. Stunning 16-bit artwork, action packed scenes and a wonderful background track got me all pumped to begin playing the game. There was a slight worry, during the intro, that the team blew their budget on that and the rest of the game would fall slightly short. That worry was quickly put to rest. Every part of the artwork is glorious, pixellated and gorgeous. Admittedly, there isn’t that much to the game, only a few separate screens, but they really show just how great a 16-bit game can look.
As you’d expect in a game like Beat Cop, there’s going to be a cheesy, trope-filled story, which makes for one of the more enjoyable tales out there. Pixel Crow make sure to ram as many 80s references as they can in, but they never go over the top with it. I never felt that I was clueless, or missed a joke or anything. They managed to write it absolutely perfectly to ensure everyone could enjoy the game. Aside from the tropes, there are some decent side-missions to progress the story. Having to prevent a guy from self-immolating, or trying to eat through twenty doughnuts are some of the interesting things to busy yourself with, when ticketing cars becomes a bit tedious.
Despite the razzle-dazzle the introduction gives you, the game is actually pretty mundane. I get that it’s trying to pull off the Papers, Please vibe, but it does fall a little short. You’re plonked down on the same road and told to ticket cars for one of three different infringements. Occasionally, people will run up to you and plead with you or try to bribe you to put your pad away, but they all repeat the same lines. In Papers, Please, you get recurring characters, and day-specific dialogue, but that doesn’t happen in Beat Cop. Other than the shopkeepers, you don’t really build any relationships with the day to day people, and that is kind of a shame.
The other issue I found was with drawing my gun. I stood right next to a guy and must have unloaded around twelve shots into him, from point blank range. One of these hit the guy and killed him, while his two accomplices ran off, probably laughing at my inability to aim. I have no idea how none of my previous eleven attempts managed to bring the criminal to his knees, as I was only shooting when the target was on him. Not only did I suffer the humiliation of wasting so much ammo, but I even had my pay docked by my boss! All jokes aside though, it was really weird that I was getting shot at but had no real way of knowing why my shots were missing. Massive oversight by the devs.
The Final Word
I quite like Beat Cop, but the negatives are quite sizable. Some users have reported a very buggy affair with the game, but that’s not been my experience at all. It’s not a game that I could play for hours on end, just because of the mundanity of it. Despite that, the side bits that you’re treated to are really quite good. There are plenty of different ways to play it, and walking the thin blue line is really fun in this game.