If you were to tell me that Technocop was objectively a terrible game then, I definitely wouldn’t argue. After all, I’ve cataloged the game’s various faults above (in fact I forgot to mention some! There’s also no high score table AND the frame rate is marginally worse than the Zx Spectrum version. Oh, and the whip-wielding baddies are just weird.)
There is an important BUT however: on a subjective level, I actually quite like it.
You see, for all its faults, there are a couple of interesting things about Technocop. On an aesthetic level, it’s hard not to respect the level of extreme violence present in the game. As we’ve seen already, the enemies explode in a shower of blood and guts, but the fun doesn’t end there: You’re also able to blow (slightly less graphic) chunks out of both the vulnerable grannies and innocent kids that populate the games run-down tenements.
This was highly controversial and dangerous stuff. It’s worth remembering that in Road Rash, released a year later, the player wasn’t even allowed to lay meaningful blows on that titles’ antagonistic motorcycle cops. Yes, Technocop may be incredibly trashy, but it was also incredibly courageous on the part of porters Razorsoft.
Perhaps the most fascinating thing about Technocop, however, is its rather interesting structure. For a start, the bad guys you’re stalking aren’t bosses in any traditional sense. Though they look substantially different to, and generally have more powerful weapons than their underlings, One or two good hits is enough to put them down for the count (especially if you hit ’em with a good net shot.)
Though this robs Technocop of the sense of drama that can only come from a good ol’ fashioned boss fight, it does go a long way to reinforcing the relentlessly gritty atmosphere that (most of) the game seems to be aiming for.
Alongside this, Technocop does one thing that’s rather unusual: It allows the player to fail. While most games tend to treat both physical death and missed deadlines as one and the same, Technocop views them differently. In TC, you’re allowed to simply play on and try to bag the next bad guy if one happens to get away.
This doesn’t make things too easy, mind you. Catching wanted criminals is the only means you have for replenish the lives you’ve lost. This means that, while you can potentially refuse to play some levels by simply running down the timer, you can’t rest on your laurels forever. It’s a pretty good risk/reward mechanism all things considered.
Dodgy controls and mono-thematic backdrops aside, the driving sections are also actually quite good fun. Unlike the Technocop himself, the car receives some decent upgrades, so if you don’t like the standard armament you at least get some mushroom cloud-generating smart bombs and James Bondesque hydraulic rams to play with. Hurrah.
Though way too easy when looked at in isolation, the driving sections also act as quite a clever counter weight to the unrelentingly difficulty of the on foot sections. Like bacon and maple syrup, the individual elements work a lot better in action together than they do on paper.
As with the other games we’ve examined on past Review A Bad Game Days then, Technocop manages to be an unquestionably bad game that still manages to find a way to work in spite of this fact. Although it definitely won’t be for everyone, whether you play it as an important artefact in the history of ultraviolent video games or merely as an bit of an odd ball title in a forgotten genre, I reckon it’s worth a moment of your time.
I still prefer Vendetta though.