DEVELOPER: Gremlin (port by Razorsoft)
RELEASE DATE: 01/1991
“Who will save us from bad computer games that inexplicably get ported to the Genesis? TECHNOCOP. With his fast car, explosive gun, and unwavering resolve, he vows to hunt down all remaining bad computer-to-Genesis ports, so that loyal Sega fans will never have to play them or acknowledge their existence again!”
If only. If only this absurd premise was what Gremlin, Razorsoft and Sega had in mind when they developed/published Technocop, a Very Bad Game that, yes, made its debut on computers. Originally released in 1988 for the Amiga, ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, etc, before it was brought to the Genesis in January 1991 (or late 1990, depending on your sources), Technocop was seen as mediocre or worse upon release on its original platforms. This makes its presence on the Genesis even more insulting. Two years after its initial release, Razorsoft and Sega had time to make Technocop into something worthwhile, but they didn’t.
You play Technocop (this is his actual Christian name), a tired looking human who has little time for drugs, perps, or the electronica subgenre that shares his name. Your task is to defeat the D.O.A., a group of punks who kidnap old grannies and live in run-down motels. The D.O.A. underlings are belligerent and numerous, but your main focus is the Most Wanted. Depending on the day and how generous you’re feeling, kill or bring in alive these deadly crime bosses.
The game begins in Technocop’s VMAX Interceptor, a snazzy red car that also comes equipped with a roof-mounted cannon. Start driving, and . Cyclists and other motorists crowd the road and look at you cock-eyed. Blow them away with your cannon or pass them by, just don’t let that time limit run out.
These driving portions are more boring than they are offensive. The easygoing road design, the soft countryside backgrounds, the Sunday drivers that surround you – none of these elements evolve into anything interesting over the course of the game. Rather than immerse you into Technocop’s world (a world that should be full of gritty urban decay and extravagant neon), the driving exists only to increase the game’s length.
Once you arrive at your destination, the game shifts from boring driving to horrible platforming. Technocop can shoot, jump, and switch between weapons, but he can’t perform these basic actions with any skill. I’m not sure if Technocop controlled this slow and laggy on any of the computer versions, but he plays like a wounded animal on the Genesis.
Your goal in the platforming sections is to kill/capture the Main Bad Guy before time is up. Your time limit is short and moves faster than any countdown I’ve ever seen. Most time limit counters usually emulate real-world seconds, but not Technocop. For longer levels in particular, you’ll need to jump nonstop through the level (walking eats up precious seconds), and avoid the D.O.A. lackies that surround the area without getting killed. Forget shooting them, just jump past them (easier said than done) until you find your suspect. Apprehend/blow apart the MBG, then repeat the driving/platforming portions until Technocop is beaten or your soul gives out. Not the best choice!
Technocop is as violent as it is a pain to play. The titular character’s gun is a force of nature that instantly blows apart any enemy into a pile of bloody, quivering guts. Worse yet, atop the gut pile sits the enemy’s open eyes, looking at you from beyond the screen, asking why you would do such a thing. This is pre-ESRB, pre-Doom, pre-Night Trap, pre-Mortal Kombat. The game supposedly got a sticker on its box warning parents of the violence, but that’s it.
So why weren’t parents and lawmakers up in arms over Technocop? Simple. The game was never popular. Technocop is so clunky, so uninteresting, so very bad, that even the promise of blood and gore via a warning sticker wasn’t enough to make people buy it. While it would be naive to think that I’ll never have to play a terrible computer game on the Genesis again, it’s refreshing to know that Technocop was, at the time, rightly and rightfully ignored.