1 player, horizontal game
Atari Corp., for the Atari Lynx
Meet Officer Bob. He just graduated the other day from the Police Academy, and is now ready to serve and protect. It's not an easy assignment; his sergeant is a real hothead, and the slightest mistakes will get Bob into trouble. Still, if Bob works hard and plays it straight, he may someday make chief. But that's in the future; Bob has to go to work now -- after he gets a donut. Preferably chocolate.
A.P.B. for the Atari Lynx is an adaptation of the cartoony arcade game of the same name. You play Officer Bob, who patrols the big city in his squad car. Every day, you must catch criminals big and small, while avoiding demerits for actions unbecoming an officer. If you get too many demerits, you are fired (rather painfully, too), though you can erase demerits by hard work. Along your career, you will have chances to earn extra rewards, upgrade your patrol gear, and maybe someday make the big catch.
Fans of the arcade A.P.B. will be pleased with the Lynx adaptation, as all of the whimsy and almost all of the original features are translated intact. At the start of each day, you are given a quota of traffic violators, from litterbugs to speeders, to arrest. On certain days, an A.P.B. (all-point bulletin) of an especially dangerous criminal is issued; capturing this suspect is worth more points. Failure to either arrest the A.P.B. or meet your quota will bring the sergeant's wrath, and earn more demerits.
The actual patrol takes place on a vast overhead city map that scrolls in 360 degrees. Violators submit easily and can be ticketed by pointing your crosshairs and sounding the siren, but the criminals will put up a fight, and require a chase to take down. Between arrests, you must keep your car filled with gas, grab donuts for more time, and look for various bonuses. Hints and tips will periodically scroll across the screen, giving warnings, game advice, or what mistake you just performed. In all, there is a total of about 30+ levels to play, which keeps this game fresh for a long time.
There are a few flaws with the game, however. First, button "B" is used as the accelerator; this means there is no fine speed control, and makes using the siren (button "A") while driving tricky. Second, the arcade bonus sequence, where you take a captured A.P.B. criminal and try to extract a confession, has been removed. Finally, the Lynx version is more sensitive to collisions than the arcade. If you are moving and touch another car when the siren is off, that counts as a demerit against you, regardless of which driver is at fault. While these problems are mostly minor, they do detract from the game somewhat.
The sights and sound of A.P.B. are very well done and entertaining. The graphics, while not always identical to the arcade versions, are distinctive, detailed, and appropriately silly. The 360-degree scrolling is very smooth, and even the cartoon sequences remain intact. Sounds are equally impressive; the music is identical to the arcade, while car honks and other sounds are realistically rendered. Then there are all the digitized voices, slightly scratchy, but very well done: cries for help, complaints from arrested violators, and the sergeant's incomprehensible mumbling when he congratulates you on a day well done.
A.P.B. on the Lynx is a decent adaptation of the original game, and offers a refreshing variety to video gaming. The gameplay is fair, and is enhanced by some very appropriate and entertaining sound and graphics. For people hooked on the arcade title, and players interested in a slightly silly change of pace, Officer Bob is waiting with a box of donuts.
GAMEPLAY: 8 GRAPHICS: 9 SOUND: 9 OVERALL: 8.5