Melbourne House‘s Judge Dredd on the ZX Spectrum was released slightly later than the 1986 Commodore 64 version, coming out in early 1987. It was again programmed by Australian software company Beam Software, and it plays similarly to the C64 original. That is: it’s a bit of a travesty.
The game starts with a view of a series of buildings in Mega City One, where crimes are occurring. Each crime has an objective, either “warn”, “halt” or “kill”, which is shown on-screen before starting. You must move the icon of Judge Dredd over to a crime and press fire to start a platform shooter section. It’s worth noting that if you dally too long on this city screen then crime builds up and will eventually run out of control and the game will end, so you can’t hesitate too long.
In the platforming sections you then have to find the criminal (the “perp”) in a maze of screens, and either arrest or kill them. Depending on the crime, Dredd will be able to fire his gun or not, which is stupid, really. Especially when you can’t fire but have a criminal firing at you… I just don’t understand this strange mechanic.
Dredd also has a very strange jump mechanic that makes him look like he’s in low gravity. He can jump up and down to higher and lower platforms. Again: this is another weird mechanic that doesn’t really fit with Judge Dredd, but he must keep changing platforms to avoid being damaged by robot dogs and rats… Rats… This is Judge Dredd we’re talking about here… He doesn’t get damaged by rats – except in badly-designed video games!
Another strange feature are platforms that disappear under Dredd‘s feet, often dropping him onto lower platforms or even onto damaging litter crushers. Honestly: this game is such a mess… Whoever designed it clearly hadn’t read any Judge Dredd and didn’t give a hoot about trying to capture the spirit of the comic series. Or even make a playable and engaging game.
Judge Dredd is a clusterf*ck of confusion and bad ideas and deserved the panning it got at the time of release. I did read that Sinclair User magazine awarded this game five out five stars, which demonstrated just how utterly corrupt and devoid of integrity the reviewer and magazine were.
See also: 2000AD Special.
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