Video Game Vocal Trax: NARC (Arcade)

In 1988, Midway released NARC, a side-scrolling arcade shooter in which players waged a literal war on drugs. And prostitution. And dumpsters.

While it’s admirable that someone finally had the guts to craft a revenge fantasy against the armies of jean-jacketed PCP addicts and perverted clowns that once terrorized the streets of America, Midway’s fascination with extreme violence undercut the anti-drug message a bit. Though arresting drug dealers is presented as an option, NARC makes it explicitly clear that the preferred solution is to explode them with rockets and let their severed limbs rain from the skies like confetti in a Fourth of July gore parade.

NARC is also a very loud game that wasn’t afraid to show off its digitized voice samples. When a NARC cabinet is turned up to maximum volume (as is its default setting), an otherwise unassuming video arcade is transformed into a dissonant carnival of UUUGHs and BLAAAAGHs and YOU’RE BUSTEDs. And whenever a player’s credit ends and a new high score is earned, everyone within 200 feet of the machine is treated to this:

Also worth mentioning is the background music that plays during NARC’s second level. It’s not a vocal track…or at least, it wasn’t, until it was covered and released as a B-side by the goddamned Pixies.

Lyrics are here, if you’re having trouble deciphering them.

I guess if man is five, then the devil is six, and if the devil is six then AW NAW NAW NAW THE NARCS MAN

7 Responses to “Video Game Vocal Trax: NARC (Arcade)”

  1. Spinner 8 Says:


  2. Laser Ghost Says:

    I actually completely unironically like original NARC. It’s a fun gory shoot’em up with lot of enemies and stuff happening, and with two players on one machine makes an excellent entertainment, together with hamfisted “say-no” message.

  3. Daniel Feit Says:

    From a pure score perspective, I think arresting the criminals is actually the best option. But many of the game’s deadly drug fiends cannot be arrested, so it becomes moot after the first few stages.

  4. Ross Patrol Says:

    A typical NARC’s day on the job:

    1.) Drive to seedy neighborhood
    2.) Spin out, leap out of Porsche
    3.) Terminate vaguely suspicious people, dogs, or giant disembodied heads with high-powered weaponry*
    4.) Snag their drugs, cash, ammo, and gold bullion

    (*or arrest them, if you HAVE to)

    I love NARC- it’s delightfully over-the-top. If being a narc was anything like the game, I would have contacted my local DEA recruiter years ago.

  5. klarthailerion Says:

    I rented the NES version from a Movietime Video (or one of the other pre-Blockbuster-dominance video chains), and my mother actually ripped the game out of the console and brought it back to the store. I guess she didn’t like the flying limbs after giving someone a bazooka shot to the head.

  6. BBH Says:

    This is one of those arcade games I never got to see the end of until emulation. The most infuriating thing about NARC is the final battle with Mr. Big – using a continue starts the fight over from the beginning, and it’s nearly impossible to beat him unless you go into the fight with a lot of rockets. Since you have no way to pick up extra rockets after continuing, you’ll be practically throwing your tokens away and dying to him over and over with no choice but to start over from the beginning. I mean, I’m sure technically it’s POSSIBLE but I still can’t figure out how to do it without jumping and firing lots of rockets and hoping for the best. It’s hard to be precise when you fire regular shots from a jump.

    Shoutouts to the first TMNT movie for giving the arcade machine a cameo

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