Game Review #220: Beat Cop (Nintendo Switch)
Updated: Oct 8, 2019
Reviewer: Chad M.
Developer: Pixel Crow
Publisher: 11 bit studios
Category: Adventure, Puzzle
Release Date: 3.5.2019
Price (at time of review): $14.99
Buy Beat Cop from the Nintendo eShop here.
The Boys In Blue Are Back
Being a fan of cop procedural shows like NYPD Blue, I’m always on the lookout for games that fit into that space; and I’ve found a couple on the Switch, but I was excited to see that the developers, Pixel Crow, have their own project that throws you into the shoes of a beat cop.
As a simulator, this is what I need. I need to be thrown into the mean streets to find out how it feels to serve and protect my fellow man. Will I rise to the occasion, or will I end up on the take for the mafia and be just another corrupt cop? Let’s jump in and find out how it works to be a beat cop.
T.J. Hooker Reporting For Duty
Beat Cop is a 16-bit pixelated cop simulator set in the 80s. The game starts with an action-packed cinematic that shows the main protagonist, Detective Jack Kelly. As Jack shows up to a certain senator's house, the senator is murdered and his prized possession is stolen. Jack is framed for the murder and robbery, demoted from a detective to a beat cop, and is given three weeks to clear his name before it's curtains for our main man.
So, as Jack, you will do day-to-day normal beat cop duties. The story trickles out, little by little, as the game plays out. As I said before, the game takes place in the 80s, and the dialogue stands out in kind with how things were in that time. Some dialogue may be a little crude or racist with its dark humor, but I felt it was perfect for the time period, and really sucks you into this gritty and fun game.
The story itself is laid out in a non-linear fashion with multiple endings. A lot of your choices have consequences, which adds another layer to the game, as certain decisions will change the overall game—and this is in the main story as well as the side stories. There is also a reputation system in play that can alter things, including different endings. The story is a very strong aspect of Beat Cop, as it’s filled with humor—though sometimes dark—and an overall engaging narrative that can take you in many different directions. This lead to me playing through the campaign three times with different outcomes.
Shoot the Bad Guy or Shoot the Breeze
As a beat cop, Jack will go patrolling up and down a block in Brooklyn. As a 2-D side-scroller, everything is laid out in front of you. You have main objectives to push the story along, as well as side objectives, and both will effect your character; for example, you have to write tickets everyday, and will be given a number objective to hit. If you can’t hit that number, it will affect how much you receive in your paycheck.
You’ll really need to be careful how you manage your time, as the clock is always ticking. As the game goes on, the tasks and objectives will grow to what may feel like an impossible amount, because when 6 o’clock hits, your shift ends and you clock out to go home. So, knowing what you want to focus on and prioritize will help you move along quicker as you progress.
Once you hit the beat, you’ll find that your captain rides your ass just like those old 80s cop movies/shows where the captain only seems to know how to yell when communicating with you. As you go along doing mundane tasks like ticketing cars and chasing down local thieves, you will encounter the local gangs and mafia. You have to balance between how far you are willing to work with these shady organizations, because working with them can help you financially—and also help get you information on what happened that fateful night—but going too far down that rabbit hole will have you turning more and more corrupt.
This became a real struggle while I was playing. I was always worried about how much money I was making, because you have to make alimony payments to your ex-wife, and if you miss payments you’ll get a game over, so it was always a struggle to make sure I was paying her. At the same time, I was always working to maintain my relationships with the police force and shop keepers, all while dealing with the normal riff-raff, the gangs, the mafia, and the outside political interests. Taking a story adventure and mixing it with a core mechanics simulator and time management was a pleasing experience.
Audio & Visuals
The audio is done well, but what that really stood out were the city sounds. As you hear the cars zoom by and the horns honk, the city seems to have its own heartbeat. The visual style of the game is retro in look, with a 16-bit pixel style. The city looks great, and the attention to detail is very impressive. On the screen you see the watch, walkie, handcuffs, gun, and note pad. It has the look of a PC game, but it transitioned well to the Switch.
It’s a Wrap!!!
Simulator-based games that use time management are a big hit on Nintendo, with games like Animal Crossing and Stardew Valley. Taking that and spinning it with a dark-humored, hard-nosed 80s cop edge really found a perfect space that left me having a lot of fun and coming back for more. The overall story is well done, and they don’t hand hold. I’d still throw out a warning for the 80s hard R racist dark humor, though. The developers even bring this up and say to just enjoy the game and have fun, which I did. I had a lot of fun playing Beat Cop.
Buy Beat Cop from the Nintendo eShop here.
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*Review Code Provided by Terminals