Flyer for the arcade version of Lethal Enforcers
|Platform(s)||Arcade, Super NES, Sega Genesis, Sega CD, PlayStation (as Lethal Enforcers I & II)|
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 was 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 .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 basic service revolver. When the player loses a life, his/her weapon reverts to the basic service revolver. When the player loses all lives, the game will be over unless he/she chooses to continue.
Lethal Enforcers has six stages (including the Training Stage): "The Bank Robbery", "Chinatown Assault", "Hijacking", "The Drug Dealers", and "Chemical Plant Sabotage". During each stage, the player must shoot the armed robbers without harming any innocent 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 innocent bystanders are always barefaced. The boss character, however, sometimes will have his face exposed; however, this battle is fought where there are no innocents 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 innocents.
If any innocents are killed, the player either maintains his or her rank or gets demoted, although the ranks do not go below Patrolman.
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, 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" is renamed "Downtown Assault."
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.
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. Dan Hsu of Electronic Gaming Monthly, which gave the compilation a 4.875 out of 10, commented 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.
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.
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".
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