Flyer for the arcade version of Lethal Enforcers
Lethal Enforcers (リーサルエンフォーサーズ Rīsaru Enfōsāzu) is a 1992 shooting game released for the arcades by Konami. The in-game graphics consist entirely of digitized photographs. This caused controversy as it allowed players to shoot photorealistic representations of enemies.
Lethal Enforcers was followed by Lethal Enforcers II: Gun Fighters. Both games would later be released in the two-in-one compilation Lethal Enforcers I & II (Lethal Enforcers Deluxe Pack in Japan) for the PlayStation.
Years later, Konami released the Police 911 series as a Japan-themed sequel to the original plot. This was also followed by the arcade game Seigi No Hero, which localized and renamed as Lethal Enforcers 3 for Western audiences.
Set in Chicago, Illinois, United States, the player takes control of a police officer named Don Marshall, who has one day decided to go to the donut shop for a break. While sipping the last drop of coffee, he gets a call from the police department. They said that a major crime organization has invaded town, and they need his help. He is one of the two survivors of the elite group of officers. The rest have ended up in the hospital or killed. Once the call ended, he decided to check out the bank. From that point on, he is going to experience the toughest job that he would have during his years in the police force. He has been assigned and agrees to help stop a growing crime wave that puts the city's security in serious jeopardy, along with a helper (a second player can join in).
Initially armed with a standard-issue service revolver, the player can acquire upgraded weapons during the course of play: a Magnum Gun, a Semi-automatic pistol, a shotgun, or an assault rifle. When the player loses a life, his weapon reverts to the basic service revolver.
Enemies always wear sunglasses, ski masks or gas masks, while fellow police officers and innocent bystanders are always barefaced.
The series of Missions is as follows:
- The Bank Robbery: a group of criminals have broken into a bank in force with assault weapons. Don was sent to deal with the criminals in the area with assistance from police. The boss of the stage used a biological hazard truck to carry the money and attacked with a M202A1 Flash rocket launcher.
- Chinatown Assault: a gang war breaks out between two rival Triad groups after a car bomb went off. Sent to pacify the situation, the remaining gang members attempted to escape via the subway system. Pursuing the getaway subway train, the confrontation ended with a battle against the Triad Leader as he was assisted by his personal group of sharpshooters. In the Super Nintendo version, this was switched from Chinatown Assault to Downtown Assault.
- Hijacking: a General wanted for War Crimes, assisted by a group of well trained soldiers, has hijacked a passenger plane in order to escape the country to a nation which will offer him amnesty against his native country. The fight ends with him personally attacking as he prepares to take off with a Milkor MGL used as his personal weapon.
- The Drug Dealers: a group of drug dealers were caught in a sting at the Docks, fighting through the dealers near not only the freighter. The fight extended to the luxury yacht Heather II and then at the loading bay of the warehouse. Preparing to cut their losses, some criminals escaped onto the highway as a Helicopter armed with an Autocannon attacked. In the Super Nintendo version, this was switched from The Drug Dealers to The Gun Runners.
- Chemical Plant Sabotage: the ringleaders of the new crime wave, as a final resort, have decided to threaten to destroy a nearby Chemical Plant which, if sabotaged, could result in spilling a lethal dose of chemicals into Chicago's water supply, threatening millions of lives. Aside from professional gunmen, they were assisted by remote control attack rovers. The ringleader was defeated as he attacked in the AH-64 Apache helicopter.
The game also includes a 'Target Practice' level, that features shooting targets that get smaller and faster as the player progresses.
Home versions were released for the Super NES, Sega Genesis/Mega Drive and Sega CD. The home versions make use of a revolver-shaped light gun known as the Konami Justifier, which came packaged with the game. A standard controller can be also used in lieu of the light gun in these versions. A second-player Justifier light gun, pink in color, was available only by mail order from Konami. The CD version features higher quality CD-DA music. The game is also featured alongside Lethal Enforcers II in the two-in-one compilation titled: Lethal Enforcers I & II (Lethal Enforcers Deluxe Pack in Japan), released for the PlayStation in 1997.
Lethal Enforcers was one of the video games involved in the video game violence controversy of the early 1990s and at the time it was not sold in toy stores. Along with Night Trap, the Genesis version was one of the first video games to be rated MA-17 by Sega's Videogame Rating Council.
The Japanese arcade version of Lethal Enforcers contain several differences from the US and European arcade versions. These differences include the "how to reload" animation (the US and European versions show a woman shooting outside of the cabinet's screen to reload in-game, while the Japanese version shows the default revolver and how to reload it), and an additional enemy taunt, "Die, pigs!", which was removed from the US and European versions.
Electronic Gaming Monthly gave the SNES version a 6 out of 10 average. Though they noted that the port was technically impressive, they felt the brutal violence was toned down to the point where the spirit of the game was lost. GamePro gave the SNES version a rave review, citing the accuracy of the Konami Justifier, the realistic graphics, and the "appropriately hyper music".
In popular culture
A level in Konami's shooter Jikkyō Oshaberi Parodius is modeled after Lethal Enforcers and has the player character avoiding moving crosshairs. Both the blue and pink Konami Justifiers appear at the bottom of the screen during the stage.
The We Are Scientists album Brain Thrust Mastery contains a song entitled "Lethal Enforcer" in reference to the game. The album contains many video game related titles such as "Altered Beast," "Ghouls" (from "Ghouls 'n Ghosts") and "Gauntlet".
- Redburn, Tom (December 17, 1993). "Toys 'R' Us Stops Selling a Violent Video Game". New York Times. Retrieved June 18, 2012.
- "Review Crew: Lethal Enforcers". Electronic Gaming Monthly (57) (EGM Media, LLC). April 1994. p. 40.
- "ProReview: Lethal Enforcers". GamePro (58) (IDG). May 1994. p. 72.
- Mega magazine issue 26, page 74, Maverick Magazines, November 1994
- http://laist.com/2008/05/08/laist_interview_143.php. Missing or empty