Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Judge Dredd (SNES)

Adventures in Judge Dredd Games - Part 3

Judge Dredd video game 1995 Nintendo SNES title screen
Today I'm playing... Judge Dredd, aka Judge Dredd - The Movie as it's allegedly based in some way on the 1995 Stallone film, and even has him on the cover.

By 1995 there had been already been two Judge Dredd games released, Judge Dredd and, uh, Judge Dredd, both of them only on computers and neither of them much fun. But now it's the consoles' turn to show off what they can do with the licence. This one came out on the Genesis/Mega Drive, Super Nintendo, and DOS, and I'm playing the SNES game. Will it succeed where the other games failed, or will it be as bad as the movie?

Well they've already tripped at the first hurdle by calling it Judge Dredd again.

Scrolling text sets the scene for the game, over the skyline of futuristic dystopian ultra-metropolis Mega-City One. Basically it explains that in the third millennium things went a bit dodgy for humanity, and the legal system was combined with the police force to create the Judges. Grim dark cops for a grim dark future.

Luckily I caught a shot before all those boring words appeared so you can get a good look at the artwork instead.

Incoming call from the bored floating heads. It seems they've spotted a block war going on and I'm to go in alone and sort the situation out. Like always.

I have to admit I can barely remember anything from the first Dredd movie, but this does sound like a thing that could have plausibly happened at the start of it.

Dredd's most impressive trait in the other games was his ability to leap incredibly high into the air, and here he does not disappoint. Plus you can probably guess from the screenshot that this is far better animated than the earlier games. In fact it's far better animated than most SNES games too, it looks bloody amazing.

Plus the music doesn't make me want to instinctively put a foot through my speakers, so it's got that going for it as well. So far it's beating the other two games in every department.

Ow, that did not look good for poor Dredd.

But you know what does look good? The reflections in the HUD at the top of the screen. It's amazing attention to detail, and I can't remember ever seeing that in a game before. Also I'm giving the game +500 points for not having a time limit.

I'm still trying to get the hang of combat in this. Right now I'm just trading bullets with the perps until one of us falls down (and they are all perps this time, no innocents). I've got a number of melee moves available to me, activated by hitting punch while pressing in a direction, but I'm not sure yet why I'd want to headbutt someone when I can just shoot them with my infinite bullets. I mean besides from it being a laugh.

Oh and by the way, enemies just evaporate in this when they're killed, even if I just gave them a good kick to the face. No corpses and definitely no blood. I guess they wanted it violent, but not too violent. 

Well this isn't working. I guess these brightly shaded obvious looking crates are just part of the scenery.

I like how it's scrolled over to give me a good view of what's in front of me though. It's the sort of thing I end up taking for granted in games, until I find myself playing something that has my hero's nose pressed up against the right side of the screen, trying to react to things I barely have a chance to see.

Hey, it seems that criminals actually surrender in this occasionally. If I stop firing and arrest them, they're taken off on a little flying disc. There's no harsh penalty for just shooting them some more though.

I wonder if I can use that computer terminal he's standing in front of. I wanna see if I can play Snake.

Current progress 0.0%. I guess I was supposed to break the obvious crates somehow, though it's not obvious how.

Oh crap, this is going to be just like the last Dredd game isn't it? I'll have to search every corner of every level for boxes, or switches or whatever it wants me to find next. That's a clear sign that they didn't put many levels in, and they want to drag things out.

It turns out that I'd somehow picked some grenade rounds for my Lawgiver pistol along the way, and they sorted out the boxes just fine. I only found enough to destroy this pile of ammo crates though, and surprisingly they didn't leave behind any extra ammo for me when they exploded.

Fortunately I found some more grenade rounds lying in the road on the way back to the other boxes. I guess the game took pity on me. Turns out the mean streets of Mega-City One aren't so mean after all.

These C1 crates on the other hand aren't mission critical items, but can be destroyed with a couple of bullets so I can collect the treasure inside. Though I've got a another, slightly more ingenious plan for this pushable box. It involves that wall I can't jump over on the right.

Using the box as a ledge got me over to the secret treasure room. Full health, an extra life, and... uh, money. To be honest I don't know much about Judge Dredd or his views on money, but he doesn't seem the type to go out of his way to pocket bags of cash he found lying in the street.

More street money! Plus a thug with a fire trail. Probably not a good sign.

I feel like this guy might be someone a Judge Dredd fan would recognise, but if it didn't show up in the 1995 film I don't have a clue, and the game isn't giving away any hints.

Uh, I guess I exorcised him with my boot? A little floating skull cloud thing came out and starting flying around, which I thought was a bit weird, but it didn't lead to anything. I just walked off and left him to haunt in peace.

And that's all the enemies and all the boxes for level 1. Primary and secondary objectives complete, and I can finally head for the exit and move on.


Level 2 was basically more of level 1, right up to the point where the floor collapsed and I was dropped into a fight with Dredd's evil yellow doppelganger. So far this is turning out like every other fight though, a war of attrition with each of us soaking up damage. Except he's taking a lot more damage than the average enemy, and I'm a lot more on fire than usual.

I think I'm getting better at dodging his Molotovs though. Well, I haven't actually dodged a single one yet, but feel like I could manage it any time now.

I got bored with being set on fire and decided to confront him head on. This turned out to be a mistake. Well okay fine, my new tactic is to unload infinite bullets on him and see which of us runs out of lives first.

I'm not really a fan of bosses in general, so I often find it hard to tell whether it's the boss fight that's rubbish, or just me. But this time I'm leaning towards this being a crap fight.

Success! The bored heads in the sky give me a new mission, tasking me with ending a prison riot by closing security doors and arresting perps. Then they wished me all-good luck and sent me on my way.

Well Dredd did end up heading to Aspen penal colony in the film, but not exactly like this. You know, I'm starting to suspect that this actually doesn't have a damn thing to do with the movie.


Straight away I walk into a fire jet some idiot thought they'd install into the wall. I thought I'd left crap like this behind when I left the city. The future truly is a harsh place, full of baffling architectural idiosyncrasies.

I gotta say though, the future also looks awesome. Very nice pixelwork.

You know, I've noticed it's rare I have to fight more than one enemy at a time in this, at least so far. They've gone for tough enemies over a screenful of cannon fodder (like the 1991 game had).

Fuck. Well there goes life #2, I really need to get my head around the combat in this game, because I'm sure there must be a way to kill these enemies without taking a chunk of damage in the process.

Well there goes life #3. Beautiful backwards dive though.

The problem I'm having is that Dredd has all these moves, but he's just not very nimble or responsive. I have to tap down to crouch or else he just fires his gun into the ground, I can't duck while moving, and even when I manage to do it right, it still takes just too long to actually dodge anything.

I lost life #4 a second after this screenshot and that was that. You know, it occurs to me that I'd totally forgotten to look for security doors to close, so I was doing pretty terribly anyway.

Dredd is pulled in to answer for the crime of being shot too many times. They judge him guilty, with the sentence being 'game over'. Seriously, that's what it says! Also, no continues. Didn't even give me a password, even though there was a password option on the title screen.

Well that's the SNES version of Judge Dredd (3) then. Slick, well made, and incredibly pretty for its time, but not so attractive in the gameplay department, unless you really like searching a level for the last box/switch/whatever. Definitely better than the last two games though by far.

But wait, there's more!

Adventures in Judge Dredd Games - Part 3.5

Game Gear
The game was also released on the portable systems: the Game Gear and Game Boy. Or at least it's supposed to be the same game. It's got the same box art, the same name, the same missions, the same enemies, pretty much the same gameplay. But the mechanics are slightly different, and the levels are entirely different, and to me that makes it a separate game. So yeah, that means we're up to four different games now all called 'Judge Dredd'.

Game Gear
At least now I've started doing a little better in the fights. My trick is to hit them from a place they can't hit me back. I have eight-way aiming, and they don't, and I hadn't been using that to my advantage as often as I could in the SNES game.

Game Boy
Of course there's also their Achilles Heel, which in this case is actually is their heel. They can duck all they like, but they can't shoot me here. And if that doesn't work, I just spray some grenades around and hope I can find more before the next set of boxes.

The Game Boy version has the gameplay stripped bare, without the pretty graphics to cover it up, and it reveals there's really nothing that interesting going on here, in any of the versions. Every level is a maze of platforms and ladders with no map, and I have to explore it all before I can move on. If there's any imaginative platforming challenges or clever concepts in this, they've got them all hidden until after the missions I played.

Though on the plus side, no Rob Schneider character following you around. Can you imagine if they'd made this one long escort mission where you have to keep him alive?

If you've played the game and have an opinion, have a game request, or just want to yell at me for wasting your time with so many Judge Dredd games, comments are always welcome.


  1. I haven't played this game in years and I feeling too much like law abiding citizen today too look for a warez copy to check if I remeber this right, so take the following 'tips' with bagfull of road salt:

    "Hey, it seems that criminals actually surrender in this occasionally. If I stop firing and arrest them, they're taken off on a little flying disc. There's no harsh penalty for just shooting them some more though."

    I think, you started with some rubber bullets for your pistol, that would make the enemies surrender (it might take few shots) so you can easily arrest them.
    And you need to arrest them to get money, there aren't that many money pick ups in the levels. You don't lose any money if you kill the perps, but you don't gain any either.

    And what you need the money for?

    "Fuck. Well there goes life #2, I really need to get my head around the combat in this game, because I'm sure there must be a way to kill these enemies without taking a chunk of damage in the process."

    From the screenshots it looks like you only used the standart infinite bullets. The thing with the Dredd's pistol even in the comics is the riddiculous kinds of different bullets it can fire.
    Specialized ammo pick ups are rare treat too, so you need to use the money you get by arresting people to buy more special rounds from the computer terminals.
    Riochet rounds for instance can be used to get rid off enemies without going too close.

    I thought it had some interesting tactical choices for a snes era run n' gun platformer.
    Still for some reason I never finished this game or indeed remember too much of it. I can't even remember what happened after the prison level... Was there some mission where you had to destroy food supplies, or am I getting that mixed with some other Judge Dredd game?

    Anyway this game showed some promise, but might have been crap anyway.
    No saves and/or 'collect X items to reveal' -passwords are always a thing that puts the game in question to my "Yep will probably newer finish" -pile, like original Crash Bandicoot.

    1. It's been a while so I can barely remember playing this now, but after glancing through the screenshots I agree that it doesn't seem that I adequately explored my ammunition options. You've gotten me curious about those computer terminals, so maybe I'll load it up again and see what I can get out of them. I'm sure better ammo won't make searching for boxes and switches any more fun, but I've always had a weakness for pretty 16-bit platformers, and this is as pretty as they come.

      "Was there some mission where you had to destroy food supplies, or am I getting that mixed with some other Judge Dredd game?"

      This much I do remember! Well I recall that it was a mission goal in the 1991 Atari ST/Amiga game at least.

    2. I've grown quite fond of this game lately, but looking up random reviews of it online have made me a bit sad.

      That said, you are the only reviewer I've seen that realized missions requiring grenades will spawn them on the map if you run out. Every other review complains that running out of grenades means a reset.

      It might seem odd, but the default bullets are actually the weakest damage you have. Dredd's melee attacks are mostly stronger, at the obvious risk of placing yourself in punching range.
      Punching(forward melee) does the same amount of damage as a bullet.
      Headbutts and uppercuts(up and down melee respectively) do twice as much.
      And kicks(jump/neutral melee) are actually three times stronger than your default rounds.

      Since your default gun is so weak, using that against the bosses makes them quite a bullet sponge. The grenade rounds are often best. Typically having enough leftover grenades to make quick work of bosses, if you don't, you can pick up three shots from the resupply points in applicable stages.

      While there's no technical penalty for killing every perp you come across, arresting them typically gives you rewards in the form of ammo, so you're missing out, though some enemies are impossible to arrest.

      In regards to evasion and ducking, ducking is pre-evasive action - mostly it's for crawling through hidden passages - a fair number of enemies fire standing up first, or use some sort overhead projectile. If you're trying to dodge bullets while standing or moving, jumping is the most responsive option.

      As mentioned in the other comment, the rubber ricochet shots are generally your go to disarming shot. While nonlethal - to enemies, the ricochet can kill Dredd - they will force most if not all arrest able enemies to surrender in one shot.
      Also mentioned in the comment was buying ammunition with the cash - sadly the cash pickups are only for points, which earns you extra lives.

      Passwords occasionally show up at the mission results screen, but I honestly have no idea what prompts them to do that.

  2. guys do you know of a game at SNES a pink hair girl carrying a club like weapon. the setting is supposed to be in a jurassic era, a super mario kind of platform... Her enemies are hairy primitive people... and bosses are like dinosaurs.. there are some diamond prizes in that game... really need to know what that games is. thanks

  3. Hi! Thanks for reviewing this game. I was the main level artist and created the HUD you said such kind words about :).
    An artist called Eric Bailey did all the sprites and animations. Not sure what he is up to now?
    I found this page because I am updating my portfolio website and needed some screenshots of this game. So once again, thanks for making this review. It's very handy for me.

    1. I've already said your art looks amazing, but it's been a few years now for me so I'll say it again: your art looks amazing. And I've stared at screenshots from hundreds of 16-bit games now so you know I know what I'm talking about.

      It's always a nice surprise for me when someone who worked on a game finds their way to my site (doubly so if I didn't say horrible things about their work), and if I've managed to help you out with my screenshots then that's great too.


Semi-Random Game Box