APB puts you behind the wheel of a police patrol car for a week of traffic duty, arresting everything from drug dealers to cones, keeping death off the pavement and firmly on the roads.
You view your car from above as you charge around, looking for law breakers. Spot one, and you switch neatly to Judge Dredd mode for the chase. In front of your car is a siren target cursor, which goes further in front the faster you drive. When you get a track on a perp, hit that siren and see if they come quietly. You'd prefer it if they don't, 'cos then it's fun time!
Normal arrests are easy: a blast on the siren and most offenders head for the police station. But a policeman's lot is not a happy one and this is reflected in Bob's other duties: rescuing breakdown victims, collecting doughnuts for extra time and answering APB calls. This means a targeted criminal will pass through your manor, and you got to nick 'em.
The hardened criminal elements are much tougher to catch and must be stopped with the aid of your Buick's fender. If you're good enough to apprehend them, take your victim back to the pen for interview. Now this ain't The Bill and the name of the game is beating a confession out of the "criminal". You have to be careful, though, because if the Captain returns unexpectedly and catches you in the middle of a GBH session, you're history.
Other surprises for the fledgling officer are left lying on the side of the road. Huge doughnuts and bags of money can be bonuses (extra time etc.) or traps set to catch lazy officers. Most difficult of all to deal with are other drivers. Due to the small playing screen, little of the road ahead is visible. So in the middle of a pedal-to-the-metal pursuit you can find some doddering old granny in an Austin Seven in front of you. And collisions result in a demerit.
Eight demerits, and you're finished: no pension checks from these boys, they'll beat you up and sling you in the paddy wagon. Taking too long on a day's work also has this effect, so eat those doughnuts and keep an eye on that there clock!
The playing screen is tiny and the sprites are small. Controls are in the Grand Prix Simulator style, so you become disorientated quickly and lose valuable time and demerits ramming the same wall three times in suocession. The biggest bugbear, though, is the multi-load. On disk the game plays well with short bursts of action and quick scene switching. On tape, this non-sequential game is ponderous and irksome. To make matters worse even the "pretties" - the beatings up - require a rewind and search before you can play on!
As with Xybots, the arcade origin severely limits the game, but on disk APB is both playable and amusing. On tape the novelty soon wears off. APB was the weakest of the Tengen licences won by Domark and, unfortunately, it shows.
Three continuous days on duty.
The trouble with arcade conversions is that they can only ever be as good as the original. This one might well have been better left alone.
No trouble at all, Officer!
P. Amusing cartoon graphics.
N. It's so small!
P. Great siren effects.
N. Weird music.
Grab Factor 72%
P. Quickly understood and easily played.
Staying Power 50%
N. On tape, a real bad multi-load nightmare.
P. Disks are fine!
P. Good conversion of a mediocre arcade.
N. Tape users beware!