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Released: 1990

Genre: Racing

Format reviewed: Atari Lynx

Publisher: Tengen

Developer: Quicksilva

Submitted by: Lucas Williams

I love having the odd stab at this, I think this is one of the most overlooked games in Atari’s canon.

You’re Officer Bob and you have been given targets to meet by the chief of police. Basically, this involves driving your police car around a top down, perpetually wrapping, “Spy Hunter” esque view of the city, catching a set number of litter bugs, taxi drivers honking their horns and other perps whilst also, rescuing nubile hitchikers, drivers who have broken down, and catching the APBs of the title.

‘Course, things are never quite as easy as that. You have to avoid crashing into other drivers (using your siren offers some protection), the scenery and meet targets. Each collision incurs a demerit, 10 demerits and you are sacked, cuffed and thrown off the force. You are also working against a time limit and a limited fuel supply. Mercifully, both time and fuel are in plentiful supply, fuel via a gas station, time is gained from driving through the donut shop, (alerted, in the words of our hero by the phrase“ sure could use a donut”), also available are power ups from the speed shop, in the form of higher top seed, acceleration, a gun and brakes.

I have to confess, I am pants at it. But it doesn’t stop me coming back to it again and again. A perfect example of Atari ingenuity and wit (admittedly with police gags that are hardly original, but still very funny) when Atari was actually Atari and not an imprint of a French software company, and a great example why Atari are still one of my all time favourite developers.

Playing it on the Lynx is not without its difficulties. Graphically and sonically it’s a great representation of the original, but the d-pad is not the ideal method for steering your police cruiser.

A top port of a great game. Sure gets tricky later though.


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Released: 1987

Genre: Racing

Format reviewed: Arcade

Publisher: Atari

Developer: Atari

Submitted by: Darran Jones

The pub across the road from where I used to work was home to the largely unmentioned, yet highly addictive bird’s-eye-view driving extravaganza, APB. If it weren’t for that sticky, beer-soaked beauty flashing its marquee mounted police lights and goading me with intro screens of hippies loafing around in VW vans and going unpunished for it, my arcade education would be sorely lacking. As it is, many an afternoon was extremely well spent chasing down semi-criminals in Atari’s politically incorrect cat ‘n’ mouse-athon – all while getting nicely lashed.

Cast as the lackadaisical Officer Bob, it’s your duty to patrol the fringes of acceptable law enforcement by taking to the mean streets and harassing would be criminals into behaving responsibly.

An inspired cross section of society’s mid-level dregs provide the antagonistic, semi-felonious fodder for Bob to exact his irresponsible misuse of authority upon, including litter-bugs, hippies, stoners, hikers, honkers, bikers and speeders. All these mid-to-lowlifes are brought to precarious justice by fixing them in the sights of your car and pounding them into submission by strategic abuse of the police siren. Crash without the siren blaring and it’s a demerit for Bob, which ultimately leads to expulsion from the racket. Er, I mean Force.

This aspect of gameplay subtly (yet naughtily) suggested it was fine for him to do as he pleased so long as the siren and lights were ablaze – something the cynical public have suspected is true of law enforcement agencies for some time.

This quirky, divisive game surely provided a major influence for much of the controversial titles that litter the videogame charts today; another notorious driving game with an acronymous title leaps to mind…The sharp, vaguely pastel cartoon graphics and smooth animation granted the game a ‘we’re just clowning around’ atmosphere that beautifully camouflaged the subversive anti-message APB was infused with: it’s okay to act irresponsibly, so long as you don’t get caught.