This 1986 adaptation of Judge Dredd – the infamous cop of the future who debuted in 2000AD comic – was developed by Beam Software and published by Melbourne House, and it’s a bit of a travesty to be honest.
If you’re a 2000AD fan you might want to look away now, because this Judge Dredd game neither looks good nor represents the true nature of the comic book character. In fact it was written by someone who didn’t understand, or care about, Judge Dredd. The designer/programmer lazily created a sloppy platform shooter with a bizarre jumping mechanic and only a tentative connection to Judge Dredd as a character.
Upon starting the game you are presented with an overview of a section of Mega City One (Dredd‘s home) and icons flash up, representing individual crimes that are being committed at that moment. You must select one of these icons before crime runs out of control, and then the game cuts to a flick-screen platform shooter. You control Judge Dredd and must explore a maze of screens, looking for the perpetrator (“perp”) of the crime, who is located among wandering citizens and robots.
Depending on the crime, Judge Dredd can shoot or not shoot. If you can’t shoot, all you can do is shout “halt!”, which seems bizarre. You sometimes end up confronting a perp who is shooting at you, but you can’t shoot back. To quote a famous film: what is Judge Dredd supposed to do? Use harsh language?
Sometimes Judge Dredd must enter doors in the level, by lining-up with them and pushing up, but doing so is not always easy. If he’s slightly too far right he’ll just jump up and he’ll usually end up on the platform above. If he’s too far left and wants to jump to the platform above he’ll often end up entering the door. The door entering mechanism is dodgy at best and broken at worst.
In fact, the whole game is badly programmed and designed. The jump mechanic is ridiculous. Not only is it not in keeping with the character of Dredd, but it’s also badly implemented and unsatisfying. Shooting Dredd‘s Lawgiver gun is patchy at best too. It just doesn’t work that well. Another buggy ‘feature’ is the way the game ends when you die. Usually you die while mashing the fire button (because you’re often in a shoot-out with a perp at that point), so when Dredd is killed you’re instantly dumped back to the title screen unceremoniously. Not that there should be a ceremony when he dies, but the programmers should have at least noticed this and done something about it (a slight pause wouldn’t have gone amiss). Things like this just demonstrate a lack of care on the part of the programmers. The game is full of issues – and I’ve not even mentioned them all – that it makes playing confusing and frustrating.
This Judge Dredd game was pretty much universally panned at the time of release, and rightly so. As a fan of 2000AD comic (having read it since issue one, and having grown up with it), I must admit to having little interest in playing this until now. When it came out I actually had a Commodore 64 (and a Spectrum) and don’t remember playing it. I certainly didn’t buy it. Which demonstrates just how much Melbourne House missed hooking 2000AD fans with such a bad adaptation of a great comic character.
See also: 2000AD Special.