COPS, the Atari arcade videogame from 1994 based on the now-cancelled "reality" TV show

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A year before in 1993, Sierra had released a sequel to one of their game series - Police Quest 4: Open Season - it’s, uh, certainly something. Vice did an excellent write-up about it. (Link)


It would be interesting to compare the sales numbers for this game with those of the Grand Theft Auto franchise.


Not sure I get the rationale for pulling the show since it tends to portray cops as “good guys.”

That said, good riddance, I never understood the appeal of the show.


The rationale is “the public’s appetite for pro-cop propaganda is not as high today as it once was.”


Sure, I just figured until the ratings tanked they’d keep running it. Along with all the other garbage on TV that’s only appreciated by a small segment of the population.

I always thought the NARC arcade game was a pretty good representation of the DC policing scene in the late 80s.


I imagine Tarantino making like a racist last starfighter like movie.

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Cops is, I think one of those show’s that’s particularly good at showing the issues with policing. The police officers, and the police departments think they’re putting their best face forward; that they look good on camera doing what they do. I think the show demonstrates that the police are not on your side, that they often don’t care about a resolution that doesn’t result in a criminal charge, and how flimsy the pretext is for most interactions.

If this is what they think good policing looks like, then they’re making their own case for the abolishment of police and prisons.


I never understood (but do suspect) why it showed Fort Worth so often.

Also, laugh all you want about Atari’s COPS game but it was miles and away better than the Cop Rock video game*, derived from the TV show.

*No, I made that up

Where do you insert your neck?

I think the theory is people might not stop at not watching it, but decide not to watch anything else that airs on the same channel, and maybe call advertisers and let them know why they will not longer be buying the products and so on.

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That show will always remind me of its classic Star Wars mashup parody:

TROOPS is filmed on location with the men of the Imperial Forces. All suspects are GUILTY. Period. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be suspect, would they?


I’m assuming this is a Boing Boing Store post because that’s all that’s ever on Boing Boing anymore, but I have to say that this is definitely one of the weirdest things I’ve ever seen advertised on the Boing Boing Store.

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Great article. I’m a big fan of point and click adventures, which of course included the entire Sierra lineup. I remember really enjoying the original Police Quest games. I even found the punishing pedantry of “you didn’t do a walk-around of your police car, game over” to be curiously endearing.

That being said, I never played PQ4 as I just couldn’t get over the taint of Gates’ attachment to the title. From what the linked article says, it sounds like…something indeed.

A long while back I picked up some box sets from Fry’s containing all of the Leisure Suit Larry, Police Quest, Space Quest, and Quest for Glory titles that were out at the time. I’m almost tempted to fire this one up to see how bad it really is for myself.

As a kid I loved that game – it was jUsT sO eDgY with its cool music, guns, explosions, ultra violence and drug paraphernalia. I sunk a lot of quarters into it. I decided to revisit it recently and …eh… if you strip away all the attempts at being edgy, it’s just really not all that fun.

(I also recall there being a D.A.R.E. advert at the beginning – almost as if to say, “don’t do drugs or you’ll get horifically murdered by Max Force and Hit Man” – yes, those were the actual player character names.)

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After I binge-watched both the UK and US versions of Life on Mars, another spin-off series came to me, I called, Life on Earth, about a young safety officer on Mars who is transported back in time to Earth, circa 2015 or so, back in the “bad old days” of policing.

I’m not gonna lie, it is so much better to see this reality make that show idea obsolete, than it ever would have been to develop that show idea into a real product.

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Back before ftp meant file transfer protocol, I had my introduction to the immorality of law enforcement offenders through this show. Cops broke more laws in one episode, on national TV, than I had in my lifetime.

Since then every interaction I have had with cops who were investigating me has involved at least one illegal action by the cops.

Today I have no interest in giving them another viewer when I can watch the unedited version on YouTube.

“No running red lights for pure convenience unless you turn your siren on first”.

The civilian sticking her head in front of the protagonist’s gun is just superb.

Does anyone know how the driving game is supposed to work? There’s a wheel but it’s FMV so is it just for effect?

Perhaps games like this are used in the police academies for training.