After the third shooting gallery, the game abruptly ends and you're greeted by this screen, which promises that "DEATH IS COMING....". Obviously, the next stage would've involved Judge Death somehow, but how? Once again, we went straight to the source- 'The last level was basically Judge Death in Resyk - he was reanimating corpses that were rolling out on a conveyor belt at the back of the screen and you were shooting them and him - you'd have your gun but it could be knocked out of your hand and you'd be manno e-manno until another one dropped into the level.'. Sadly, it would appear the the Death stage has been lost forever, as it was included, in an incomplete form, in the version actually used for location teseting- 'The Judge Death stuff was about 60-70% done. We had Judge Death leaping around and attacking you, that much I do remember. I don't remember if he was reanimating corpses though, even though I knew that was the plan.'

Also, in case you're wondering why Death looks so crazy-awesome here, it's because he was a mannequin, much like Leglock and Goro from Mortal Kombat. Eric Kinkead was particularly impressed with it- Oh man, that Judge Death model was so awesome. At least, if not as cool as Goro. I would go into either Tim or John's office and look at that thing constantly. Although that close up picture of him... Doesn't do the model justice.'



The credits are pretty interesting. Dredd himself is played by Sal Divita, who was also Cyrax/Sektor/Smoke in Mortal Kombat 3, and the other characters are all played by Midway programmers rather than, for want of a less patronising expression, 'professional' actors. As well as Jake Simpson (Software and Design) and Eric Kinkead (Art and Design) whose comments you've seen throughout this article, you'll also spot Tim Coman (Playing Pa Angel and in Art and Design), which is where the name of one of the Block War blocks come from. There's also Curt Chiaerlli, who did the stop-motion work- as well as Goro and presumably Judge Death, he also did the prosethic make-up for Sal Divita to help him become Dredd. Finally, Ed Boon gets into the 'Special Thanxx' section, who's a bit more famous for his work on a funny old game called Mortal Kombat- he was used as a sounding board during development.

You might notice that there's not a lot of people in these credits- Eric Kinkead explains... 'Something to note about people's involvement. You have to realize how small everything was. When Revolution X was nearing completion, there was talk about the game not being able to be completed because the team was so HUGE and unwieldy. There was a whopping total of around 12-14 people on it, many from different games. Our games only had handfuls of people working on hands on assets back then... the whole operation of the entire video game department had to be under 35 people. EVERYONE played all the games, tested all the games and gave valuable input into the games... All of us contributed to each others projects.'



As a nice touch, you get to shoot the letters for your name, Dredd-style. So let's give it up for HIGH SCORE TABLE TIME!!!



(Well, actually, the high score table comes before the credits, but I never go against tradition on this website.)





And now, for my final thoughts. Bearing in mind the game's in a fairly stable but clearly unfinished state, it actually shows a lot of promise. It's certainly not perfect, as the Block Wars level is almost impossible to complete the first time around, the controls are a little screwy at first, and the towards the screen/away from the screen nonsense can be a little irritating, but at least it's doing a few things differently, and some of them it does really well- the training levels to break up the action after every stage (arguably an extension of the 'break the car/windows' segments from Final Fight), the fact that every level plays differently, and the fidelity to the license at hand, just to name a few things. Sure, it's more than a little cheesy, especially the hilarious voice samples, but that's a big part of the Dredd charm in the comic books- it is a little cheesy, but it delivers the Thrill-Power, as they say in the business, and the video game follows suit in this regard. Give it a whirl in MAME, because although it's short and unfinished, it's definitely worth your time as one of the better licensed games out there...

Really, though, the main feeling that I get from playing the game is that it's a labour of love- chatting with some of the people who worked on it has confirmed that for me. Maybe it's the fact that it stays very close to the source material, or that they were trying something different rather than rush something out (hear that, Batman?) but you can tell that they were really putting their best into this, to make this the best Judge Dredd game that it could possibly be. Sure, it probably wouldn't have been a great success had it been released- a quick look at the location test report might attest to that- but it really is a bloody shame that all this hard work never materialised into anything other than an unfinished, unrleeased game for the development team... But then again, that's what makes projects like MAME so important, saving games like Judge Dredd from being forgotten forever...

I'm going to let Jake Simpsoin have the last word here:
'I think part of the reason we did abandon it was because it *was* such a labor of love, and it just wasn't living up to our expectations, either in what the game was or how it was doing on test.'



And now, it's that time, folks!
EXTENDED PLAY!



... So let's hear about the truth behind its concellation. I originally surmised two key reasons behind it- a) the license was unfamiliar to the test audience, and that b) the game was too hard/too complicated. For a scrolling brawler from 1992/1993 to have four buttons and eight-way attacks is pretty ambitious, considering the competition is stuff like Burning Fight and TMNT, and you pretty much die constantly if you're not really playing well. It seems that I wasn't too far wrong, as Jake attests to the game's difficulty- 'Yes, some of the levels were too hard. They were absolutely designed to be quarter suckers. The trouble with games like this - story games - is that most of the time people will only play through once. This isn't a sports or combat game where you play to test your skills against another player, so you replay. This is a once through kind of game, so we needed to take as many quarters as we could without pissing off the player, so things were definitely harder than they should be for playing for free on Mame'. There's also the location test report which lists both of these as problems with the game. The report makes for fascinating reading, especially for me as almost everything on here is something I noticed too, but some of the more interesting ones are as follows...

* Total approach not right for time of release. kids all want to fight/compete against each other, not work with each other. Sideways punch kick/path games not popular at this current time.
* The eight angle attacking is sometimes confusing, almost as if
too much control is given to the player.
* It is not explained who
[sic] a half naked scrawny runt [Fink Angel] is beating the crap out of a trained law enforcement officer. (OK, I just put this one here 'cause it's funny.)

The report goes on to list several more problems, highlights a few of the positive elements (the robot stage was pretty popular) and has a big ol' list of changes to improve the game. Here's Jake Simpson's take on the location test- 'We never finished it because we put it out on test and it just didn't do great numbers... I remember having a bug that crashed the game in the block wars and that totally destroyed our on test numbers. I remember at the time NBA JAM was out, MK was out, and our numbers were no where near theirs, so we all got very demoralized and just gave up. In retrospect we _should_ have finished this - Midway paid for the license and we should have completed it. We probably could have in a month. I remember the meeting where we all sat there and looked at each other and just shrugged and said "What were we thinking?". We were young and stupid. Enough said'. So there you have it, no need for any supposition or theorising from me, that's why the game was cancelled- the location test was a bust, with a list of problems a mile long. A shame, really.



So what happened afterwards? To start with, let's get some info from Jake Simpson about how many copies of the game were actually made- 'Only 4 machines were made. I had one, that went to my sisters pub in the UK and was destroyed when that burnt down. One went to Tim Coman, one went to Mark Penacho and I've no idea where the last one ended up. I also have no idea how the roms got out into the world - I will say that they weren't the final ones we put out in the world though. I remember the 3:10 time thing not being right and fixing that, and also fixing the problems with the missiles coming at you on the shooting gallery.'

Jake also kindly gave us some documents he wrote after the location test that outlined some plans to save the game. The first, DREDAGIN, is a proposal written about four months after the team had given up on the game (although Jake says he can't even remember writing this out) that outlines a plan to finish the game- 'It will never sell ten thousand, but even if it only sells three or four thousand, it has re-couped all expenses and made a profit for all concerned. '. Most of its suggestions are reasonable- fixing up Fink's attacks, adding more enemies to the first stage- but then there's also redoing Dredd's animation from scratch, using a costume based more on the movie, to add in considerably more moves. The plan was to finish it in five months, in-between an unnamed football game project, but obviously this never happened.

The second, DREDDM, is absolutely fascinating- a proposal to try again and make the game a lightgun shooter, in the same vein of Revolution X and Terminator 2: The Arcade Game. Proposed around 1994, this time it would've been based more on the movie (with the developers getting access to the movie's sets and props) and the game would've included 'journeys threading through Mega city one's city blocks in the sky using all three dimensions... Motor cycle chases on high city highways... along with a trip into the Cursed Earth, the nuclear wasteland full of mutants that surrounds Mega City one.' It even name-drops Steel Gunners, of all games! Again, this too was discarded.

What could've been, eh?



As the game's unfinished, it'd stand to reason that there's an unfinished level lurking within, yes?



The Test Menu (if you're following at home on MAME, press F2 at any point in the game) is a very handy thing for arcade operators, but most of the time it's a bit useless for players- often, it's all about the pricing of the game, and in American games especially, there's a bazillion different pricing options, designed to rake out as many quarters out of people as possible. Judge Dredd is no different, but you can also set the starting level (referred to as 'wave', like in a lot of Midway titles) and it goes all the way up to 27! Unfortunately, if you're expecting a load of missing levels from here, you'll be disappointed, there's only one. Since the numbers don't logically match up, here's where each one takes you.

0 - Starts the game as normal.
1 - Starts the game from Stage 1, no McGruder intro.
2 - Starts the game from the sewers, Stage 1.
3 - Starts the game from the Turbo Lift, Stage 1.
4 - Starts the game from the Stage Clear screen, moves on to Training I.
5 - Starts the game from Training I.
6 - Starts the game from Training I, no McGruder intro.
7 - Starts the game from the Training Clear screen, moves on to Stage 2.
8 - Starts the game from Stage 2.
9 - Starts the game from Stage 2, no McGruder intro.
10 - Starts the game from Leglock's Ring, Stage 2.
11 - Starts the game from the Stage Clear screen, moves on to Training II.
12 - Starts the game from Training II.
13 - Starts the game from Training II, no McGruder intro.
14 - Starts the game from the Training Clear screen, moves on to Stage 3.
15 - Starts the game from Stage 3.
16 - Starts the game from Stage 3, no McGruder intro. PROTIP! Picking this version of Stage 3 ends the level a few seconds after it begins!
17 - Starts the game from the Stage Clear screen, moves on to Training III.
18 - Starts the game from Training III.
19 - Starts the game from Training III, no McGruder intro.
20 - Starts the game from the Training Clear screen, moves on to DEATH IS COMING screen.
21 - Starts the game from the DEATH IS COMING screen.
22 - Starts the game from the DEATH IS COMING screen.
23 - Starts the game from the DEATH IS COMING screen.
24 - Starts the game from the DEATH IS COMING screen.
25 - Starts the game from the DEATH IS COMING screen.
26 - Starts the game from the End Credits.
27 - Starts the game from the Mystery Stage!

Mostly boring, am I right? It's a pretty robust level select, in that you can get to the exact screen you need to go to. The option on the Test Menu suggests that this feature is useful for demo purposes, but I'd say it's more useful for debugging each individual segment of the game. Anyway, enough rambling, what about that Mystery Stage?



Picking Wave 27 takes you to Cell Block A, and Fink emerges from the door to attack you! Could this be what I think it is?



That's right!

It's a Boss Rush!

In fairness, this is another one of those clever things that the game does, like with the Mr. Clone thing on Stage 1. There's at least a justification for having a Boss Rush, as it's implied that the criminals you've arrested have escaped from Cell Block A- because, if you remember, all the boss enemies are arrested rather than killed- so you have to subdue them again, hence the Boss Rush. While we're here, the second screenshot demonstrates a slight priority bug. Ever since playing through Batman, I keep spotting bugs like these in other games... Tsk tsk!



Finally, Precious Leglock (despite exploding on Stage 2) comes back for the final bout.



Once you beat Leglock again, you'll find yourself stuck, as the level isn't finished. The game won't advance any further, so you'll have to reset (and, preferably, go back to the Test Menu and pick a different starting wave) to get out of it. Oddly enough, Simpson himself doesn't even remember adding this level, but it would've been easy for anyone on the team to add this stage in becayse of the way that bosses were programmed- 'all the AI was actually in the animation scripts for each of the characters. It would run through a set of animations and at key points, call functions to determine what to do next- so with fink he'd frame to frame doing his idle script, then on the last frame, he'd run a function that would determine if he'd move towards you, move away from you or just keep doing his idle... This results in a bad guy you can drop in anywhere, in any level, with any other badguy and it all still works'.

However, both Jake and Eric remember a different level that was cut- a Spy Hunter-esque racing stage using Dredd's Lawmaster. 'There was another level we had which got cut - the motorcycle chase. It was a top down thing, where you were on his bike and you had to chase a car on a high ramp over the city. The ramp was damaged so you had to jump sections... We cut it because honestly, it was no challenge. A few jumps, some left and right and that was it. Looked gorgeous though, but all that really nice Mega City At Night imagery took up way too much image space, so we cut it entirely.'. Eric adds that, 'It's a real shame it was cut out. It was hands down the best looking thing I can remember.' Sadly, the Lawmaster chase stage was gutted from the location test version- 'the code for the Motorcycle was there, but none of the graphics were.'- to make space for the Death stage.



In the emails sent to me were a few technical details regarding the development of the game.

This isn't my area of expertise, so we've put those quotes here, for those who'd appreciate it.

'The operating system we sat on was the same as all the Midway games at that time used. It was pure asm (all the games up till Blitz were) on an Motorola 34010 chip (no floating point!) and I think we had about 16megs of image space? Something like that. The operating system was actually a re-write of the same operating system that Eugene Jarvis had written for Robotron, just for the new processor. All games used it so programmers could go from one game to another relatively easily and just be productive very quickly. The development environment (well, debugger really) was home grown and actually pretty powerful, once you figured out how to use it.'

'We ran out of video memory really early on - our animations were so much nicer originally but we ran out of space really fast. I remember sitting there for days, cutting up images so we were only storing actual images and not the space around them. We also ran into rendering limitations. Originally the city was way more populated than it ended up being - lots more clouds, little ships in the sky, pedestrians and so on. But we kept running into 'bog' situations, where we were trying to render more than could be pushed into 1/60th of a second. Back then we were almost never CPU bound, it was always blit bound.'

'Speaking of floating point. The first mass order of Autodesk Studio release 1.2 I ordered for a whopping $3,000 each required floating point processors on the computers. We only had a handful of 486 DX computers for the programmers and a ton of 386 computers with no math co-processor for the artists. This caused a mad rush to upgrade everyone with Math Coprocessor chips and was the first wave of what would be a Tsunami of upgrades into 3D.'



As I mentioned in the article, there's a very clear love for the Dredd comics in this game.

Just for a bit of fun, here's a few comparisons between the characters used in the arcade game, and their original comic book counterparts.


Judge Dredd
First Appeared in Prog 2: Judge Whitey

Well, I guess this one isn't strictly necessary, but any excuse to use Ezquerra's amazing art. Dredd looks pretty Dredd-like in the game, so that's one point to Midway, although the title screen mugshot shows a few more wrinkles than strictly necessary... While we're here, I have to say- they got Dredd's voice absolutely perfect. Wouldn't change a thing.


Junior Angel
First Appeared in Prog 160: The Judge Child Part 5 - Brother Death

A member of the Angel Gang, a notorious bunch of reprobates from Texas City, Junior is the youngest. No complaints here. Junior looks authentic, complete with his derby hat. There's really not much else to say about him (or the several dozen clones of him that you have to fight...)


Fink Angel
First Appeared in Prog 193: The Fink

The eldest Angel Gang member, he prefers to live underground, and so his body has become distorted and skeletal. They got Fink down pretty well too, again with the Derby hat, although his pet Ratty is conspicuously missing... His voice is rather fitting, though!


Pa Angel
First Appeared in Prog 160: The Judge Child Part 5 - Brother Death

The father of the Angel Gang, he's apparently the smart one... But Pa! What happened?! He looks absolutely nothing like his comic counterpart! Not even remotely close! Gah! Still, Pa's a relatively minor character, since unlike Mean Machine and Fink, he never comes back after the Judge Child saga... Well, not canonically, at least.


Mean 'Mean Machine' Angel
First Appeared in Prog 160: The Judge Child Part 5 - Brother Death

Mean 'Mean Machine' Angel is actually the nicest of the Angel Gang... Or was, before he was turned into a cyborg at Pa's request, and made a little angrier. He gets a fair enough representation here. It's interesting to note that this version of Mean Machine is based on the one seen in The Judge Child saga, as he still has his non-mechanised arm. By the time he's revived in the Destiny's Angels saga, his arm's gone, it was ripped off when he got caught in an explosion at a petrol station. No, really.


Precious Leglock
First Appeared in Prog 271: Meka-City 1 Part 1

Precious Leglock is a robot wrestler who decided to wrestle with the law, and make his own city, challenging anyone who entered to a wrestling match. Another one that seems to be pretty close to the comics, although Leglock's face in-game is, well, pretty unflattering. You'll also note that Leglock's taunts of "Better watch out!" and "I'll bash ya! I'll smash ya! I'll crush ya like toys!" are taken directly from the comic.


Judge Death
First Appeared in Prog 149: Judge Death

DEATH ISSS FROM DEADWORLD, WHERE LIFE ISSS A CRIME... AND THE SSSSENTENCE ISSSS DEATH! HE OFTEN COMESSSS TO MEGA-CITY ONE TO CLEANSSSSE THE POPULACE! THOUGH DREDD MAY DEFEAT HIM, DEATH ALWAYSSSS RETURNSSS TO CONTINUE JUDGEMENT! DEATH THINKSSSS HISSSS IN-GAME COUNTERPART ISSSS ACCURATE!

There's also these two minor cameos from the comic books...


Otto Sump
First Appeared in Prog 131: Sob Story Part 2

See that billboard in the background? It's a cameo from everyone's favourite loser, Otto Sump! An ugly, piteous thing, he appeared on a TV show called Sob Story, in order to lure a gang of killers who were killing Sob Story contestants in order to get their money. In Prog 197 - Otto Sump's Ugly Clinic, he starts a chain of 'ugly' beauty parlours, and that's where this billboard comes from.


Chopper
First Appeared in Prog 206: Un-American Graffiti Part 1

OK, so he's not really in the game, but... Chopper is one of Dredd's 'nuisance' perps- he's harmless enough, just a pain in the hole. The graffiti in Stage 1 that reads "The Phantom Tops Chopper Again!" is taken directly from Prog 207, where Chopper and The Phantom (actually a bored robot) have a 'scrawling war' across Mega-City One.

I left Chief Judge McGruder out of this section, by the way, because you see so little of her, I figured it wasn't worth it.



Judge Dredd Sound Pack

As you've noticed, this article is sprinkled with the amazing voice samples from the game itself. Dredd is a pretty talkative chap, even if it's mostly to himself, and so there's lots of voice samples. As I've already said, whoever's voicing Dredd absolutely nails it, and gets the voice just as I imagine it- gruff, but not to absurd Solid Snake levels of gruffness. Some of the other voices are, well, not quite as good (I'm looking at Mean Machine, mostly) but they all help to give the game a goofy sort of charm, just like the comics themselves.

As such, I've whipped up this handy-dandy ZIP file of all the voice samples I could grab from the game, including not only all the ones used in this article, but a lot I didn't find a place to use. However, please don't take this to be a completely exhaustive collection of sounds- there's almost certainly some I missed. This is partly because Dredd says a few of them randomly, and I couldn't get them all, and partly because, while there is a sound test, it only covers a small selection of the voice samples- I got as many as I could from said sound test, but some are in game, so you'll hear a little background noise too.



And finally, presenting for your viewing pleasure, Anthrax's I Am The Law!





Well, that's the arcade Judge Dredd dealt with. Say, Dredd, what do you think about the guys at Midway who cancelled it?



... Ah, righto...

Before we end, we'd like to extend a massive THANK YOU to Jake Simpson and Eric Kinkead for their insightful emails about Judge Dredd Arcade.

Thank you for your co-operation, citizen. You'll find your Iso-Cube back at the index.