Virtua Cop (Sega Saturn)

July 15, 2007 by · 2 Comments 

Virtua Cop - Title ScreenVirtua Cop - Beginner LevelVirtua Cop - Medium Level

Light gun games have something of a linear history.  Virtua Cop may have shaken up the genre by bringing into the 3D era, but its gameplay is not nearly as revolutionary as its graphics were.  In fact, you can trace the gameplay straight back to one of the earliest NES games — Hogan’s Alley.  In Hogan’s Alley, you were a cop, wandering through a seedy area, shooting down thugs while trying to hold back your itchy trigger finger when an innocent appears.  In Virtua Cop, you’re a cop, wandering through a seedy area, shooting down thugs while trying to hold back your itchy trigger finger when an innocent appears.  16-bit light gun games were much the same (see Lethal Enforcers) as are modern ones (see the Time Crisis and House of the Dead series).

But saying Virtua Cop sucks because light gun games are all the same would be unfair.  It’d be like saying Soul Calibur sucks just because it’s a 3D fighter, or Streets of Rage sucks just because it’s a side scrolling beat-’em-up.  The real question is whether or not I have fun playing it.  And, quite simply, I do.  It’s certainly not worth playing with the controller, but get yourself a Stunner, and you’ll be mowing down baddies left and right.

Though Virtua Cop may not be the stunning technical feat today that it was 13 years ago in the arcades (and the Saturn version even less so), you can still see the care that Sega put into the game.  Little details like enemies reacting differently based on where you shoot them are still noticeable and take the game a step above the likes of what we saw in the 16-bit generation.  And while the Saturn’s graphics are somewhat muddy in comparison to the arcade version’s, I think it actually works in the game’s favor.  It gives it the feel of a dark, gritty, animated film.

As far as gameplay goes, you already know exactly what to expect.  You’ll wander through three levels of increasing difficulty, shooting down enemies and picking up different weapons like shotguns, rifles, and magnums.  Don’t shoot the innocents that beg for your help, and take down the boss at the end of each stage.  For added depth, the game also offers a Training mode and unlockable Ranking and Mirror modes.

I’m not really sure where else to go with this review.  It’s a light gun game, so you know what the gameplay is all about.  The graphics are dated but appealing.  The music is catchy and fun, and the sound effects are generally solid all around.  The only major gripes I have are that there really needs to be a better variety of enemies and that the voice samples for the bosses are hard to understand.

Final Thoughts: Virtua Cop stands alone as a fun game, but taken in context of other light gun games, you can see that it doesn’t offer a whole lot that’s different.  Definitely check it out if you want a game that will be a fun way to kill half an hour at a time, but for added depth, it’s probably best to supplement the game with other Saturn shooters like Virtua Cop 2 and House of the Dead.

Virtua Cop - Shot!Virtua Cop - Expert LevelVirtua Cop - Target Practice

YouTube Pick: (via alexfung23) (Spoiler Alert: Shows ending… But there’s not much to it.)

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About Tim
My name is Tim. I live in Chicago, IL. I'm a retro gamer.


2 Responses to “Virtua Cop (Sega Saturn)”
  1. The Kid. says:

    Easily one of the best games ever. The Light Gun genre is actually older than any other genre (i think!). Only of cause if you include some of the shooting galleries. Look up “Seeburg Ray-O-Lite game” it’s an electronic shooting game dating back to 30s. Sega gaming was founded on a light gun game as well, I seem, hazily, to remember. One of their earliest games was certainly a light gun game.

  2. Tim says:

    Wow, one of the best games ever, you think? It’s definitely good, but I don’t know if I’d go that far! You’re absolutely right about light gun games being one of the original video game genres, though. I’ve actually been tossing around the idea of writing a “History of Light Gun Games” article.

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