I have just returned from another exploration of the old MSDOS games stored at the Internet Archive and I think I may have found one of the most addictive games ever programmed. Without further ado, let’s play Crime Fighter (1993, Peter Steffen)!
(There is an updated version of Crime Fighter that can be downloaded from here. This review is solely for the version that can be found on the Internet Archive.)
Crime Fighter is a game where you attempt to become the top boss of a small city’s criminal underworld. When I started the game, this is the first thing I saw:
Got it? This is an educational game!
You are one of the four gangsters mentioned above. The other gangsters are your friends and loved ones, assuming you can convince them to play the game with you. I could not.
Fear the Citizen Kanes!
After naming my gang, I was randomly assigned some stats. I am more brutal than smart and I’m also as weak as a little kitten. I’ll be running that city in no time.
Rules? Who needs rules? I never read the rules. I can figure this game out on my own. What I can’t figure out is which of the two options I’ve selected. Since I’m using the arrow keys to make my selection, it’s not easy to tell which option I’ve highlighted. Have I selected no? The only way to know for sure is to press enter.
‘I guess I must have selected yes because there’s the rules.
After all of that, it was finally time to get this game started. At the start of each turn, you see this:
I looked at my six choices. I was not ready to quit the game and, since I was playing a single-player game, there was no next player. Run through the town sounded like fun but I wasn’t here to have fun. I was here to become the top ganglord in the city! The best way to do that? Get rid of all the other gangs.
I selected gang war.
That didn’t work. Apparently, you can only have a gang war if you are actually playing with other people. That was good news for the Citizen Kanes, though. With no other gangs around, the city belonged to us. I guess that made me the winner, right?
Seeing as how I was the city’s new criminal overlord, I decided it was time to run through the city.
Where should I visit first? I knew I was only allowed 25 moves before the turn ended so my options were limited. I decided to pay a visit to the building with the H on the rooftop.
That explains the H. I decided to enter the hotel.
“Give me all your money!”
What happened next occurred so quickly that I did not get a chance to capture a screenshot. Four gangsters showed up with baseball bats and beat me down. It was not the greatest moment in the history of the Citizen Kanes.
Things only got worse.
Bribing the police was the right thing to do but now I was down 1500 DMs. I was not sure how much money I had left so, when I was transported back to the city map with 15 moves left in the turn, I decided to visit the bank.
Coming back at night seemed like a good and simple way to make some money!
Who needs instructions? How difficult can it be?
Again, I pushed the wrong button and I got the instructions anyway.
What the Hell am I supposed to do with that? Can I see those instructions again?
Too late. The alarm went off. It’s a good thing that I can always just bribe the police.
Did I push the wrong button again?
Yes, I did.
This is when I discovered is that, while you can keep backing up from them for as long as you want to, there is no way to escape the police. You have to fight them. That’s a problem when they have guns and you do not.
That did not work out. I guess I’m dead now.
No, I’m not dead. But I am in prison for 1 month, which amounts to four game turns. If I had been playing with another player, this would have given them time to steal all of my territory while I was in jail. Luckily, since I was playing a single player game, being in jail did not hurt me one way or the other.
After I was released, I found myself back here:
This time, I decided not to go to the bank or the hotel. Instead, I went down to the bottom of the map and visited the subway station.
I learned my lesson the last time! I bribed the cops and they let me go.
Where to now? It looks like there might be a gun shop above the subway station.
Eddie, I like the way you think. Show me your weapons.
Hand grenades might be helpful but let’s take a look at that pistol first.
Thanks for nothing, Eddie.
If I can’t afford a gun, maybe I can steal one. And who has more guns than police? As I started to make my way to the police station at the top of the map, this suddenly happened:
Here’s the police station! Let’s see if I can trick a flatfoot out of his piece.
Sorry, stealing a gun is not an option. If I wanted a weapon, I was going to have to find the money to pay for it. But how could I steal the money if I didn’t have a gun?
Is that a casino down at the bottom of the map? My prayers have been answered!
Blackjack has always been my game and I am not a bad poker player either. But I needed money quickly and that meant betting it all one turn of the roulette wheel.
To recap: After playing the game for fifteen minutes, I have spent a month in jail, I do not have a gun, and I am now broke. The Citizen Kanes have seen better days.
Maybe I should just go rob that big shopping mall.
Money transport in the evening? That sounds like an easy score!
How difficult can that be?
I just have to wait for that one guard to move before I move down. There he goes! This is so easy, I can’t believe I did not try it earlier…
This is probably not going to end well.
No, it did not end well. Not only was I captured but I did not have any money to offer the police. I ended up spending another 4 game turns in jail. When I was released, I looked back on what I had accomplished after playing the game for 30 minutes and it became clear that I really only had one option.
I may not have done so well on my first try but Crime Fighter is an addictive game and I look forward to playing it again in the future!