Reviewed by Stan Stepanic, Posted on 2006-07-09


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.

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. Groan.

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 bullets.

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, E-SWAT.

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

Reviewed by Stan Stepanic