Review by majikmonkee75

Reviewed: 06/03/03 | Updated: 06/03/03

The verdict? A pretty good game!

There are a lot of great games based on comic book characters, though it takes some care and work for the characters to successfully survive the transition from paper to platform. However, complications arise when a producer takes a comic character that was turned into a movie, and then tries to make a game based on the movie. Given the room for error in turning a comic into a movie, then taking into account the high percentage of movies that are turned into games that suck, you would think that this one wouldn’t stand a chance. Does it? Well, the magic of “Judge Dredd” is that it’s based on a British comic series, which most Americans have never read, so all most of us know is the movie. Considering the “thumbs down” this movie got when it came out, it’s highly likely that most of us Americans passed it by, even on video, so there’s potential that many folks who play this game will have had exposure to either the comic or the flick. Well, if that’s the case, you’ll miss out on a lot of chances to laugh at some of the differences between this game and it’s namesake movie, but for the most part, this game is pretty decent. Here’s my take:

Story 6/10

If you saw the movie, it’s pretty much the same thing. I say “pretty much” because it follows the plot straight up until the ending where you think that it’s over, then it keeps on going, and you’re like, “Whoa...did I fall asleep when I watched this or something?” Judge Dredd (played in the movie by Sly Stallone, in case you didn’t know) is one of the toughest “Judges” (basically cool looking cops with high-tech guns that are allowed to kill crooks on the spot of the deem necessary) of the future. He’s framed for the murder of one of the sitting council Judges by his evil clone brother, Rico, who wants to rule Megacity-1 with an army of clone Judges. It’s up to Judge Dredd to return from exile to Megacity-1, prove his innocence, and stop Rico in a melodramatic battle atop the Statue of Liberty. Well, that’s where the movie ended, but as I said, the game respects no such boundaries, and continues on after you thought Dredd could hang up his snazzy body armor and go back to practicing corny catch phrases in front of the mirror (“I AM the law!”). And as I said before, there’s some fantastic laughability ahead if you’ve seen the movie but are reaching the end of this game for the first time...that is, assuming you’re not hideously maimed in the process.

Gameplay 7/10

Dredd doesn’t do too badly in the gameplay department. Controlling him is pretty easy. Run and jump and shoot, pretty much, and you can switch between a variety of weapons to help make your life easier (a little easier anyway). Dredd can totally waste “perps” or, if they’ve had enough abuse from you, they’ll throw up their hands so you can arrest them (or still shoot them if they really pissed you off before). Enemies come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from litterbugs (who still merit shooting at because they toss their crappy cans at you) and shotgun wielding thugs to ABC Warbots and skinless clones...and then beyond. Some enemies are extremely difficult do deal with head on, like Judge Hunters, while others of them are laughably easy, like the litterbugs. With the wide variety of enemies they’ve got in this game, I would like to take issue with one thing...why did they feel the need to incorporate that 7 foot mutant roach that pops out of nowhere and can take away all of your health instantly? There’s already plenty of challenge in this game. My guess is that Phil, the disgruntled programmer who got kicked off the Dredd project got pissed and snuck back into Nintendo in the dead of the night and stuck the roach in there as his revenge. Anyway, roach aside, the enemies will keep you busy throughout the game. There are a couple “bosses”, but not very many, so I hope that’s not why you play this game. They aren’t too tough, unless you count the roach (that damn roach!) who you need to battle to the death at the end of the game, who will undo all your hard work of saving lives and ammo by killing you off over and over again. This game seems to drag on after a while, and you will begin to feel your interest waning over time, as many of the levels look very similar. Each level requires you to complete some objectives which are explained prior and during the level. Many of them are hard to complete, as you must destroy a certain number of objects or find a number of terminals, which can be tedious when you haven’t yet memorized your way around the level you’re in. Most likely you won’t feel like playing anymore after you beat Rico in this game, and if you manage to endure the levels that continue where the movie left off, you will discover the ultimate frustrating and corny boss battle. This game does give you a break, a little over half way through, in a mode 7 bike flying level that doesn’t last very long and isn’t very challenging. You’ll probably wish there was a little more variety in the level types like this, but instead, for the most part, it’s all about running, jumping, shooting, and getting killed by the giant roach. Fun for a while, but progressively frustrating and difficult near the end.

Graphics 9/10

The graphics in this game look pretty good. Very good, actually. The characters have excellent animation, which looks almost as good as those done with the rotoscoping process used in Blackthorne and Flashback. The scenery and characters are very colorful, and actually resemble the movie locales to a strong degree, except for the last levels that resemble the fiery bowels of hell, and weren’t even in the movie. The detail and shading the warbots was especially nice. This game definitely shines in the graphics department.

Sound 8/10

Not bad...not bad at all. I don’t really remember much of the music from the movie, to be honest. I’ve only seen it twice. I do know that the music in this game set the mood quite nicely, though, and the sound effects are pretty darn good to. Only after being stuck in a particular level for an hour or so will you begin to dislike the tunes, and that only happened fairly frequently to me. I don’t know if I’d rush out and buy the soundtrack to this game, but still, it’s easy to listen to while you play the game.

Judge Dredd the movie may not have blown away American audiences or established Dredd as a cultural icon, but it’s a fun, if not a bit difficult, SNES title. The lack of character recognition you may have if you haven’t seen the movie won’t keep you from enjoying this game...the in between briefings tell you all you need to know about the flick to keep the game interesting. It’s definitely worth checking out if you’re a fan of traditional side-scrolling action shooter games. It won’t set your world on fire, but it ought to keep you out of trouble for a while. The verdict? Not a bad game...not bad at all...

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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