"Attention Judge Dredd!"

Dredd's first assignment for the day is to subdue the Angel Gang, who have somehow managed to take over the Willis Power Tower Mall. Since they don't have 2 braincells between all four of them to pull such a brilliant plan off, they must've paid someone else off to do the 'taking over' bit for them. Regardless, they must be dealt with!

Oh, and here's our first snippet of behind-the-scenes info, from Eric Kinkead- 'I want to throw in my 15 seconds of fame. Judge Dredd had the first in game sprites of any Midway game to use 3D graphics. I used the AMIGA in the back room to make the animations for the Willis Power Tower'.

After the controls flash up on screen, Dredd makes the iconic warcry of, "In Mega-City One, I am the Law!" before he proceeds to deliver justice. Stage 1 is what you'd call the 'classic' stage, if you will- just lots of people to beat up, nothing too fancy. Unfortunately, they're all exactly the same long-haired bad-guy, and I mean that in the most literal way possible- every single one of them is clad in the same ugly orange trousers, at least in this section, so it's a good thing this bit is short, as it gets pretty repetitive. In fairness, there's actually a clever explanation later on in the level...

In any case, these guys all brandish clubs, which they attack you with (and sometimes throw) and some walk on with dustbins to chuck at you. What's interesting, though, is that some citizens minding their own business often walk along the sidewalk in the background (complete with Goro pets- Eric Kinkead amusingly notes that, 'I can't even imagine mixing [characters] like putting Goro in Judge Dredd these days.') and, when not trying to kill you, the Angels take their aggression out on them! If you manage to stop them, you're given a "CITIZEN SAVED BONUS" which seems to be a rather paltry 500 points. Tight gits. There isn't much to do here, except for taking out the city's trash. Eventually...

Hey, whaddya know, it's Fink!

"Dredd... Aaaaggggh!"
"Fink, you're a rat. Onward and downward!"

"Mutant rats!!!"

In following Fink Angel to the sewers, Dredd's assaulted by gigantic rats which try to take a bite out of him. They're not very strong, but they have that age-old "Get caught by the enemy and wriggle your way free with the joystick" attack as they gnaw at you and draw a surprising amount of blood... Or, rather, not-so-surprising, as this game is on Mortal Kombat hardware, after all, which probably* has a seperate processor solely for displaying blood on-screen. Even better, when you kill the rats, Dredd rips their heads off! Well, not really. They just explode and bits fly everywhere. Yummy.
* Possibly a lie.

Now, here's an interesting tidbit- where did the rat come from? Did they seriously bluescreen a rat just for this one enemy? Oh, you'd better believe they did. Eric Kinkead has the story- 'You just couldn't grab some public domain digital image of a rat off the internet in 1992. All images worth scanning are in print, so we couldn't flat scan anything due to fear of copyright infringement laws. So we got a Rat. They got the rat from a pet store, he was to be snake food. RATTO. John and Tim filmed it. Then we had a rat. In the office. I ended up adopting it and keeping it in a cage at my apartment.'

Now that, sir, is dedication to one's craft.

"Dredd... Judge Dredd... What brings you down to the sewers?!"
"Execution of justice!"

Execution of justice indeed, Dredd. Fink Angel is the first boss, and he brings with him the first example our special boss health meters! See, the boss health bars aren't your standard health bars as seen in most other beat-em-ups, oh no! Each one has three or four different parts, each given a rib-tickling name. For Fink Angel, as you can see, the joke is... Well, pretty lame. Especially since, once you get his health into the 'Gone!' segment, he, uh, isn't quite gone yet. Regardless of the lame jokes, Fink isn't much of a threat. His attacks mostly seem to entail him throwing his 'pizen' spikes at you, attacking you with what appears to be a severed human hand, and, inexplicably, rolling up into a ball and dashing around to knock you off your feet, Sonic-style. To add even more surreality to the fight, he'll randomly scream, "I like the pain, Judge!" which strikes me as... Disturbing.

"Vermin come in all forms!"

After Fink's defeated and, seemingly, left to die, Dredd hops in the lift. I know you're expecting the classic brawler lift sequence (seen in every beat-em-up ever made, aside from Sailor Moon because it's not manly enough to have one) but you're going to be denied such clichés here.

Instead, you end up on the Power Tower itself, fighting more long-haired Angel groupies. At least this time, they've had the decency to change their trousers- they now come in red and blue varieties. But what's this?! A Mr. Clone machine, making more of them! Do they use those things in every scrolling beat-em-up, I wonder? It's a bit silly, but I actually thought this was quite clever- Simpson notes that, 'We spent a LOT of time trying to ensure that we were faithful to the comics and that the story made sense (al the cloning booths). Too much time really'. Anyway, this is also where you fight the next boss. At first, I couldn't figure out if that's supposed to be Junior Angel or Pa Angel operating the controls, since now all of the Angels wear derby hats (in the comics, only Fink and Junior do) but according to the end-credits, the clones are Junior, and the guy running the show is Pa.

In any case, you first need to destroy the Mr. Clone machine, and as far as I'm aware, you can't attack it with your fists- hope you've still got a grenade handy. The fight with Pa is, well, non-existent. He'll attack you every now and then, but he doesn't have his own health bar, and he'll very quickly run away after only a few hits. Funny that Dredd never actually arrests him...

We finally have this brief section with more Angel punks coming on-screen, before we get to the Turbo Lift and reach the top floor...

"I'm goin' to 4 on ya!"

The meanest of the mean, Mean 'Mean Machine' Angel is, well, he's Mean Machine. Here's a more recent file photo:

Joking aside, Mean Machine is a bit of a step up from Fink and Pa, and he's not shy about showing off. His main attack, as in the comic books, is head-butting you (accompanied in-game by the shrill cry of, "HEAD-BUTT!") but he'll also swipe at you, slam the ground, and throw you if you're close enough. His throw comes with absolutely no warning and takes about a quarter of Dredd's health away, so expect it to kill you quite a lot. Aside from that, this is just your everyday beat-em-up boss battle, with no reinforcements or gimmicks to speak of... Well, except one. As with Fink, Mean Machine's health bar is divided up into four seperately named segments- these correspond with the four dial settings on his noggin. When you get his health down...

"I'm goin' mean!"

"I'm goin' vicious!"

"I'm goin' BRUTAL!"

However, changing the dial doesn't really do anything terribly noticable... It's just for show, to be honest. He seems to use more head-butts the higher his dial is set, but that's pretty much it, and it may have just been me. In any case, this fight's pretty ordinary. Just keep wailing on him, and make sure you avoid that deadly throw!

"Mean Machine, you're goin' to jail! Objective accomplished. Tower secured."

Eventually, the last of the Angel gang is taken down. That's what happens when you fight the law in Mega-City One.

Just as an aside, I thought I'd bring the after-level score tally up for a few notes. Interestingly, your bonus is calculated based on how many perps you, ah, 'arrest', rather than any generic 'stage completed' bonus. Also, since there's no timer, no time bonus. Strangely, each mission has a 'Shield Bonus', but I haven't come across any items that actually add to it. I think it's fair to assume that they never added any Shield items into this particular version, and were going to add them later.

After every 'main' level, you get sent to the Hall of Justice for target practice.

"The streets are my courtroom!"

For whatever reason, before starting any of the three training levels, Dredd feels the compulsion to blurt out something insanely bad-ass, even though he must surely know that no-one's listening. Maybe he's practising for when he hits the streets? Anyway, these bonus stages are pretty simple. Various holograms show up, and you've got to shoot them with the Lawgiver. The Punch button fires, and you can hold it down for rapid fire. You're given 30 seconds to gun down as many perps as possible. Once you're done, Dredd does a kickin' rad victory pose, delivers another amazing voice clip, and the stage is over.

"Objective accomplished. Practice makes perfect."

You'll note that, yet again, the Shield Bonus pops up here, with absolutely no relevance whatsoever. Even worse, the 'Marksmanship Bonus', which you'd assume is a bonus based on how accurate you are, is always 8000 points, and it doesn't matter how many times you hit or miss, it's always the same.

On the next page; renegade robots and needless explosions!