Best Games - Police 911 - The Keisatsukan
This one is a bit of a bummer. Not because the game is bad. The title right there says Best Games, and this game is fantastic. No, it’s a bummer because Police 911 is almost impossible to play now.
I think every game that I have written about in Best Games is pretty easy to get a hold of and play. A lot of them are available to play through your web browser with no special setup at all. While that might not be the best way to play them, they are available.
Police 911 is an arcade game that came out in 2000. It’s a lightgun shooting game that makes heavy use of motion tracking years before the Nintendo Wii would popularize motion controls.
First, here’s specifically why it’s a bummer. The only ways to play Police 911 are on an original arcade machine, or on a Playstation 2 port that was never released in North America. To play the PS2 port you will need to have a special Konami made usb camera and a Konami made light gun. You will also need a CRT screen. Also the PS2 will have to be able to play Japanese games. It’s worth noting here that none of this equipment is currently being manufactured so you would have to scour the used market to acquire any of it. It’s sort of a lot of kit to assemble just to play this one game, good as it is.
That aside, here is why it was so good. Police 911 is sort of slow. Well, it’s slow when it needs to be. You might say ‘hey that sounds like a bad thing for an action game to be’ but being slow is what makes this game great. This is the arcade machine. It has a place for you to stand so that you are the perfect distance from the screen, properly centered, and directly beneath some sensors. Those sensors keep track of where your head is at all times. This means that while you are playing the game you can lean, duck, and sway all over the place and the game will know where you are. This also means that the in game camera will move around changing the view on the screen to match your current position. There are no 3D glasses and no headset to wear, but the feeling of immersion and depth comes very close to a VR experience. An arcade game in 2000, displayed on a standard definition CRT and using some fairly common infrared sensors could offer up a VR like experience. It does that because the gameplay is sort of slow. Only a small handful of enemies will pop out at each checkpoint in a level and they will tend to wait until you are exposed before unloading on you. Most of them will go down from one of your shots. It is better in Police 911 to duck behind cover, lean out only as far as you need to, take careful aim, and fire only as often as you need to. Standing still and spraying bullets will get you killed very quickly.
The pace of the game forces you to use the movement mechanic and experience the immersion of having the view on screen track your head. That, in turn, makes you want to keep using the movement mechanic because just leaning around feels novel and fun. It’s a nifty feedback loop of joy. Konami could probably have made an entire game focused only on looking around corners using this same sensor hardware and it still would have been a hit because moving around in Police 911 is so much fun.
I like a lot of light gun games. I used to play Area 51 and Virtua Cop as both players with one gun in each hand. Getting an accuracy rating in the high 80s or low 90s on my left hand, my non dominant hand, was usually my goal. That is to say, I am pretty particular about how accurate light gun games are and how quickly you can move from target to target without the light gun letting you down. Police 911 (along with a lot of Konami light gun games come to think of it) is among the best. You can lean out, snap off 3 shots and drop 3 low poly bad guys in one movement. It plays great. If you can manage to play it.
So, that’s the conundrum. I thought about adding this game to the Best Games list a while ago, but I didn’t want to add something that is pretty much impossible to play. I thought, what the hell. If you do somehow manage to spot this cabinet in the wild, you should absolutely play it, because it’s one of the best games.