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E-SWAT Review

Developer: Sega Publisher: Sega
Release Date: 1990 Also On: None

Arcade titles are sometimes the best thing to use to make console games.
That is, if you’re able to produce something either resembling the original
as closely as possible depending on system specs, or if you’re able to do
something new with the idea for a specific system using the original as your
starting point. Either way can be good, and of course, in order to keep the
universe from imploding, the bad must exist as well. Do I even need to go
further with this as a lead-in? E-SWAT is a terrible port of a great arcade
game. Done.

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What graphical vomit, what hideous sprites. Good lord, this is one of the
worst programming attempts I’ve ever seen coming from a respected company.
This wasn’t third-party, unlicensed or other such muck. This actually came
from the hands of Sega, who programmed such masterpieces as Sonic the
Hedgehog and Alex Kidd in Miracle World. Considering this fact, it makes me
score even lower as they had every resource available to make this good.
Only a few characters, such as the giant robot-like boss near the end, are
pretty detailed, the rest, like the main character, are just incredible.
Incredible in terms of how much they suck. Your police officer fellow looks
like a civilian with this ugly red, wait, is that a wife-beater? Yes, it is,
combined with awful looking pants and one of the most crippled walks I’ve
ever seen. I can’t even explain how stupid this animation is, it looks like
he’s limping, that’s all I can say, but in such a way that he sort of slides
along while one leg remains straight. Anyway, it sucks. The way he holds his
gun hardly suggests he’s in the heat of the action, and in fact I’d say it
looks closer to a toy than an actual weapon it’s been designed so poorly.
Even when he finally dons the robotic armor he doesn’t look any better. The
majority of enemies are animated poorly and look terrible, twitching,
shuffling, skipping animation frames and so forth. Terrible. The only
redeeming graphical feature was the in-between level screen showing your
officer in this robotic suit. That’s it, everything else, including the
backgrounds, is hideous.

E-SWAT, in order to keep on sucking, also provides the player with some of
the most awful and unfitting music in history. It’s programmed well, for the
most part, milking the sound chip of the Master System to its fullest, I
think, but regardless it doesn’t sound good at all. The boss themes are so
out of place it isn’t even funny and the track for the first level sounds so
childish I had to quickly turn down the sound and put in some Cannibal
Corpse to feel the action. As it stands it’s terrible all the way through,
even the sound effects are pathetic. Some of the explosions, bullets, and
the sound of enemies being shot are nice, but that’s it, everything is
complete garbage in the sound department.


What was Sega thinking when they ported this? Not only was it
released much later in the life of the SMS, but it was released around the
same time as Castle of Illusion: Starring Mickey Mouse, which somehow
received less production than this stinking mass of human waste. Basically,
it’s a standard platformer where you control your character, who is first
training to join E-SWAT, which stands for Enhanced Special Weapons and
Tactics, to take on the world of crime that has swamped the city. Good one,
did you think that up yourselves? As your officer you shoot at enemies,
take on bosses, gather power-ups to help, and go through the levels. You
start out with no lives and only three continues, but you do have a life bar
that gives you a few hits, almost three times that when you have the suit
on. There are five rounds in all with two levels each, totaling ten levels
in all. There are only two difficulty settings in this game, each leading
you to the same ending, so if you actually want a challenge go for the
normal mode. If you just want to beat it, go for the easy mode. The only
difference is that there are a ton more enemies coming at you in the levels
and at a quicker rate. Some of the bosses seem to move a little different
too, but I didn’t notice much other than this and the fact that you get less

So you limp around, firing, gathering special shots (only in the suit since
you can’t use them without it), and blah blah blah. Enemies come at you from
all sides, but luckily, due to the great programming here, you can just keep
on moving if they appear behind you, thus hindering any more from appearing
until you make it to the end of the level, where you can finish off the few
that followed along and a few more before going to the boss. The bosses are
a total waste. If you save your special shots for them, you typically down
them without ever getting struck. Even without the special attacks their
patterns are so obvious and short you’d hardly need them in the first place.
I must say though, the special shots are a nice touch, at least this game
has power-ups. The one trumps them all though, I’ve seriously completely
destroyed the most difficult bosses in this game by using one or two shots
with it.

The main problem I have with E-SWAT in the gameplay department is that when
you first put it in you’ll find it incredibly difficult. The enemies come at
you so fast you have to move your character at a snail’s pace at times in
order to keep them off of you since they can take off life if they touch
you, as well as if you they hit you with whatever they fire or throw. Once
you get used to the tempo, though, even on the normal setting, you’ll fly
through this game no problem. It actually seems to get progressively easier.
I’d say the first level is probably the hardest of all because you don’t
have your robotic suit and extra hits, as well as having to button mash to
take out numerous enemies, whereas the robot suit enables you to fire
several shots with one press. Once you’ve got the action down, it’s way too
easy. Besides, I’d say the poor programming is probably the only reason it
seems difficult at first. The final boss is a waste of time, you get the
most powerful shot right before, and then all you have to do is sit there
and let loose the flames. He even has the same pathetic pattern as the first
boss when he shoots at you. Please.

Even in it’s day E-SWAT wasn’t exactly a creative game. It was just another
platformer back then with guns to fire and bosses to kill and power-ups to
collect and quarters to waste. As a home port it’s even worse. I would
probably never play the original version, let alone this waste. When you
have something as totally awesome as the arcade version of Robocop before
it, don’t even bother giving this the time of day. It drained the life out
of the good around it, and the fiends at Sega even let it loose upon the
unsuspecting masses of Master System fans, so saddened already in the states
for getting poor support. There’s just nothing here that’s original at all,
it draws off of everything else I’ve ever seen.

I played this twice, I did and that’s why the score is what it is, but never
again. The only reason I did that was to check and see if the ending was
different for the two difficulty settings. Since it isn’t and it isn’t a
good ending anyway, I doubt you’ll come back to play this on the more
difficult setting or to see anything. It’s not fun at all really, merely a
waste of time. At least it’s short, I’ll give it that, it’s nice and short
so you don’t waste too much time on it. However, because a game like this
should be a little longer in the first place, that doesn’t mean I’ll raise
this category score any. It can’t be short to save us from suck and get more
points in the process, not going to happen. Down to the floor with you,

All should stay far away from this game, even diehard collectors. It’s
awful. I’m half-tempted to run my car over it a few times. So, I do agree
with the back-of-the-box blurb when it asks, “Are you read to ‘Hit The
Streets’?” Yeah, sure, I’m ready, I’ll hit this game with all I can, man.
Guess that wasn’t the most clever abuse of a box blurb ever, but whatever,
just let it be know this is a terrible game, hardly worth anyone’s time. I
think the terrible, ridiculous box art does the game itself justice, just
take one look at that and all will be revealed. For once, the cover speaks
the truth.

Graphics: 3.5
Sound: 4
Gameplay: 3
Creativity: 1.5
Replay Value/Game Length: 2
Final: 2.8
Written by Stan Review Guide