|Platform(s)||Arcade, Super NES, Genesis, Sega CD, PlayStation (as Lethal Enforcers I & II)|
|Genre(s)||Light gun shooter|
Lethal Enforcers[a] is a 1992 light gun shooter released as an arcade video game by Konami. The graphics consist entirely of digitized photographs and digitized sprites. Home versions were released for the Super NES, Genesis and Sega CD during the following year and include a revolver-shaped light gun known as The Justifier.
The game was a critical and commercial success, becoming one of the top five highest-grossing dedicated arcade games of 1993 in the United States. However, it 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 was localized and renamed as Lethal Enforcers 3 for Western audiences.
The player assumes control of a Chicago Police Department (CPD) officer named Don Marshall in Chicago, Illinois, who is at a donut shop for a break. While sipping the last drop of coffee, he gets a call from his dispatcher. They realize that a major crime organization has invaded town, and they need his help on the double. 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).
The game is viewed from a first-person perspective. Initially armed with a standard-issue .38 service revolver, the player can acquire upgraded weapons during the course of play: a .357 Magnum, a semi-automatic pistol, a combat shotgun, an assault rifle, a submachine gun, or a grenade launcher. The submachine gun and grenade launcher can only be used once while other weapons can be reloaded like the service revolver. Losing a life reverts the player's weapon to the revolver. The game ends when all lives are lost, unless the player chooses to continue. Along the way, extra lives can be earned per 2,000 points scored. There are bonus points (10 each) for destroying certain targets. 8 points per enemy shot.
Lethal Enforcers has six stages (including the Training Stage): "The Bank Robbery", "Chinatown (on SNES, Downtown) Assault", "The Hijacking", "The Drug Dealers (on SNES, Gunrunners)", and "Chemical Plant Sabotage". During each stage, the player must shoot the armed robbers without harming any civilians or fellow policemen. One shot is enough to kill most enemies. At the end of each stage, a boss must be killed in order to complete the stage. A dip switch setting in the arcade version allows operators to let players progress through the stages in a linear fashion ("arcade mode") or select individual stages ("street mode").
Enemies always wear sunglasses, ski masks or gas masks, while fellow police officers and civilians are always barefaced. The boss character sometimes will have his face exposed; this battle is fought where there are no civilians present.
There are different ranks that the player can attain based on performance. The ranks are Patrolman, Detective, Sergeant, Lieutenant, Captain, and Commander. When the game begins, the player's rank is Patrolman, and after each stage the player is promoted, provided they have not killed any civilians. Killing civilians will cause the player to either be demoted or stay the same rank, although the ranks do not go below Patrolman.
Home versions were released for the Super NES, Sega Genesis and Sega CD. The home versions make use of the Konami Justifier, a revolver-shaped light gun 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, sampled from the arcade original. 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), developed by Konami Chicago and released for the PlayStation in 1997. A Sega Saturn version of the compilation was also announced but cancelled.
The Super NES version features traditional Nintendo censorship; no blood is shown when a player or criminal dies. Instead, the screen will flash light green or light blue to indicate that a player lost a life. Also, "Chinatown Assault" (which is basically a gang fight) is renamed "Downtown Assault" and "Drug Dealer" is renamed "Gunrunners".
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.
|Computer and Video Games||80% (Genesis) |
82% (Sega CD)
|Electronic Gaming Monthly||6/10 (Genesis,|
Sega CD, SNES)
|GamesMaster||93% (Sega CD)|
|Electronic Games||95% (Genesis)|
93% (Sega CD)
|Mega||89% (Genesis) |
89% (Sega CD)
In the United States, RePlay listed the game as the third top-grossing upright arcade game in November 1992, and then as the top-grossing upright arcade game from December 1992 to January 1993, before becoming one of the top five highest-grossing dedicated arcade games of 1993 in the United States. In Japan, Game Machine listed Lethal Enforcers on their January 1, 1993 issue as being the top-grossing upright/cockpit arcade unit of the month. It was later the top-selling Sega CD game in the United States in November 1993.
GamePro gave rave reviews for the Sega CD, Genesis and SNES versions; for the SNES version, they cited the accuracy of the Konami Justifier, the realistic graphics, and the "appropriately hyper music". Electronic Gaming Monthly scored the SNES version 24 out of 40 (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.
The Lethal Enforcers I & II compilation received mediocre reviews, with critics saying that while the conversion is arcade perfect, the gameplay is simplistic and the graphics are highly static compared to contemporaries like Time Crisis (1995). Electronic Gaming Monthly gave the compilation a 4.875 out of 10, with Dan Hsu commenting that, while the Lethal Enforcers games were very good, they were both too aged to stand up against other 1997 releases and not classic enough to make a credible retro compilation.
Mega placed the game at number 35 in their Top 50 Mega Drive Games of All Time and number 6 in their Top 10 Mega CD Games of All Time. Screen Rant listed it as the ninth best light gun shooter of all time. In 1995, Total! ranked the game 58th on its Top 100 SNES Games. In 1995, Flux magazine listed the arcade version 43rd on their "Top 100 Video Games".
Lethal Enforcers gained controversy for its use of photorealistic imagery and was one of the video games part of the 1993 United States Senate hearings on video games, led by senators Joe Lieberman and Herb Kohl. Lieberman, during C-SPAN's coverage of the hearings, showed Nintendo and Sega the Konami Justifier that was bundled with the game and that it looked too much like a real revolver. At the time, it was pulled from toy stores, such as Toys "R" Us. Along with Night Trap and Mortal Kombat, which were also part of the hearings, the Genesis version was one of the first video games to be rated MA-17 by Sega's Videogame Rating Council.
Lethal Enforcers popularized the use of digitized sprites and backgrounds in light gun shooters. Its release coincided with the release of another popular game using digitized sprites around the same time, Mortal Kombat (1992). Lethal Enforcers subsequently became the yardstick by which later light gun shooters were compared to up until the mid-1990s. Digitized sprites also became the most popular graphical representation for light gun shooters up until the mid-1990s, with the arrival of Sega AM2's Virtua Cop (1994) which replaced them with 3D polygon graphics.
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".
In the "St Hospitals" episode of Peep Show, Mark plays Lethal Enforcers in an arcade while Sophie is in labour.
- Akagi, Masumi (13 October 2006). アーケードTVゲームリスト国内•海外編(1971-2005) [Arcade TV Game List: Domestic • Overseas Edition (1971-2005)] (in Japanese). Japan: Amusement News Agency. p. 122. ISBN 978-4990251215.
- Leadbetter, Richard (February 1997). "1997 Starts with a Bang!". Sega Saturn Magazine. No. 16. Emap International Limited. p. 18.
- "Coming Soon". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 94. Ziff Davis. May 1997. p. 29.
- Computer and Video Games, issue 144 (November 1993)
- Computer and Video Games, issue 146 (January 1994), page 72
- "Sega CD". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 1999 Video Game Buyer's Guide. Ziff Davis. p. 141.
- "Genesis". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 1998 Video Game Buyer's Guide. Ziff Davis. p. 86.
- "Review Crew: Lethal Enforcers". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 57. Sendai Publishing. April 1994. p. 40.
- GamesMaster, issue 11 (November 1993), pages 44-46, published 21 October 1993
- Electronic Games, volume 2, issue 3 (December 1993), page 120
- Kunkel, Bill (November 1993). "CD GALLERY". Electronic Games. p. 118.
- Mega, issue 15 (December 1993), pages 38-40, published 18 November 1993
- "Lethal Enforcers (SNES) Review". Archived from the original on 16 November 2014.
- "Lethal Enforcers (Arcade) Review". Archived from the original on 15 November 2014.
- "Lethal Enforcers I & II Review". Archived from the original on 15 November 2014.
- "The Player's Choice - Top Games Now in Operation, Based on Earnings-Opinion Poll of Operators: Best Upright Videos". RePlay. Vol. 18, no. 2. RePlay Publishing, Inc. November 1992. p. 4.
- "RePlay: The Players' Choice". RePlay. Vol. 18, no. 3. December 1992. p. 13.
- "RePlay: The Players' Choice". RePlay. Vol. 18, no. 4. January 1993. p. 4.
- "The AMOA Awards". RePlay. Vol. 19, no. 2. November 1993. p. 87.
- "AMOA Award Nominees: Game Awards". RePlay. Vol. 19, no. 1. October 1993. p. 59.
- "Game Machine's Best Hit Games 25 - アップライト, コックピット型TVゲーム機 (Upright/Cockpit Videos)". Game Machine (in Japanese). No. 441. Amusement Press, Inc. 1 January 1993. p. 35.
- "EGM Top Ten". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 54. January 1994. p. 58.
- "Top Video Games: As of November 22, 1993". Electronic Games. Vol. 2, no. 5 (February 1994). January 20, 1994. p. 24.
- "Sega CD ProReview: Lethal Enforcers". GamePro. No. 62. IDG. November 1993. pp. 74–75.
- "Genesis ProReview: Lethal Enforcers". GamePro. No. 63. IDG. December 1993. p. 68.
- "ProReview: Lethal Enforcers". GamePro. No. 68. IDG. May 1994. p. 72.
- "Review Crew: Lethal Enforcers 1 & 2". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 97. Ziff Davis. August 1997. p. 51.
- "PlayStation ProReview: Lethal Enforcers I & II". GamePro. No. 107. IDG. August 1997. p. 72.
- Mega magazine issue 26, page 74, Maverick Magazines, November 1994
- Draven, Derek (18 March 2021). "The 10 Best Light Gun Video Games Ever Created, Ranked". Screen Rant. Retrieved 24 April 2021.
- "Top 100 SNES Games". Total! (43): 46. July 1995. Retrieved February 28, 2022.
- "Top 100 Video Games". Flux. Harris Publications (4): 30. April 1995.
- Redburn, Tom (December 17, 1993). "Toys 'R' Us Stops Selling a Violent Video Game". New York Times. Retrieved June 18, 2012.
- Perry, Dave; Nick; Nick R; Adrian (November 1994). "Reviews: Virtua Cop". Games World. No. 7 (January 1995). Paragon Publishing. p. 21.
- "Finals". Next Generation. No. 1 (January 1995). Imagine Media. 8 December 1994. p. 105.
- "Stunning". Next Generation. Vol. 2, no. 14. Imagine Media. February 1996. p. 162.
- "Game Players - Awards - Best Game Gear Game". Game Players. No. 79. Signal Research. Christmas 1995. pp. 15–41 (36).
- "LAist Interview: We Are Scientists". Archived from the original on 2008-05-15.