Friday, 21 July 2017

Police Quest 1 (VGA Remake): Make the Bust and Make It Stick!

Written by Alex

Make the bust and make it stick! That’s the goal, right? I mean, it even says that on the box to this game:

At least, on the box of the original game.

So did Sonny bust someone? Did he make it stick? Ah, for that, you will have to read on. Because first, Sonny was off to The Blue Room for a shindig in honor of his buddy Jack Cobb.

(The suspense is killing you, I know. That’s all part of the trick.)

The Blue Room turns out to be a nice eating and drinking establishment founded by former Lytton PD officer Bobby Gomez. I stand outside to admire the environs, clicking around and enjoying the detail that makers of these old games put into nearly every object and description.

Except for this. No one wants to remember this.

Jack is sitting inside. Sonny notes that Officer Cobb has seemed depressed and distracted lately. It could be just the burdens of the job, or it could be something more.

The chat a bit, as friends are wont to do, with Sonny slowly coaxing info out of Jack until Jack drops the bombshell: his daughter is on drugs!

The narrative takes a serious turn here, and I actually start to feel for this digital man. It’s bad enough to realize your child is an addict—imagine being tasked with putting drug-runners away, only to find that the poison you fight has infected your own home.

I wonder if this, too, is a real-life experience that Jim Walls or the other officers he culled stories from in order to craft Police Quest had faced. What do you say Jim. Jim?

Oh right. He left.

This is important, though, because it shows that being a cop isn’t all glamour and donuts, something the game tries to impress upon the player. Miami Vice this is not. It’s a tough life. And whatever issues are surrounding American police departments these days, it’s important to remember that most of them are good people trying to do their best to keep the rest of us safe and sometimes they need help, too. They are human, after all.

Sonny, realizing that he, too, is bad at expressing himself, tries to work up the right words to say before their colleague Keith—yes, this time it is Keith and not a mistake—brings in some cake and a dancing girl named Kayleigh.

Really, Keith? We were just having a heart to heart and—
And . . . uh . . .

Are . . . did she just flash her digital panties at us?

“Now, hold on just a second here! Is this THE DEVIL working through VIDEO GAMES?!”

No! Get out of here, Reverend Jim Bakker! I’ve had enough of people named Jim interrupting my reviews. Begone! Get thee behind me!


Anyway, so Keith is a bit of a party animal, and insensitive to Jack’s plight. But how would Keith know? Keith isn’t out of surprises either, dropping a bombshell on Sonny: Seems like Sonny traded shifts with Keith last week, so now Sonny is due at the station in 10 minutes.

But not totally empty handed.

You know what that means . . . another shower!

And you have to input the locker combination every . . . single . . . time.

At the briefing, Dooley drops some knowledge on Sonny and the rest of the force regarding the stolen vehicle that may have been repainted and used in the murder of Lonny West earlier in the day. A missing persons report had been filed by the wife of a man named Jose Martinez. Martinez, who has priors for selling narcotics, had been seen getting into this car two days ago and has not been heard from since. And the owner of said car, Malcom Washington, is hot on Dooley to get his vehicle back.

Can you say “foreshadowing”? I’ll bet you can! And apparently, so can the game. So time to hit the streets!

But first, Sonny indulges in a little daydreaming:

Someday . . . someday I’ll be the one giving these briefings . . .

Okay, now it’s time to hit the streets, and this time I do remember to give my vehicle an inspection. Jim Walls would be proud . . . wherever he is.

Uh-oh! Dispatch has something for me! It’s—

—not the stolen Mercedes.

I do not recall a domestic disturbance in the original game. Is this something new added for the remake! Excited, I boogie my way to Lily and 1st, but before I get there . . .

. . . I get word about the stolen Mercedes.

So I’m curious. I know the Mercedes takes precedence, but what if there’s something I missed regarding the previous call?

I restore, but am unable to get there before the second call comes in. And even if I go to where the domestic disturbance is located, nothing happens.

I’m of two minds about this. On the one hand, it’s a red herring added just to give a little more flavor to the narrative and the world of being a cop. Obviously, someone will get there to resolve the domestic issue. Also, it’s just a game and no one is really being harmed.

But on the other, it would have been cool for some more stuff to have been added to this remake.

Anyway, Sonny flips on his flashers and pulls over the stolen car. Excitement mounts! Tension builds! Proper police procedures must be followed!

Nice neighborhood.

This smells like a felony, which doesn’t smell good. According to the manual, here’s what Sonny has to do:

Felony Traffic Stop Procedures
  1. You must have good reason to believe a felony has been committed.
  2. Call radio dispatch for back-up unit.
  3. Maintain radio contact with back-up unit.
  4. Bring the suspect’s vehicle to a complete stop. Maintain cover until the suspect is under control.
  5. Command suspect to “halt” or “stop.” Proceed to command suspect to lie face down on the ground.
  6. Handcuff and search suspect.
  7. Read suspect his rights.

I already got the suspect’s vehicle to a complete stop (step 4), so I’m already doing things out of order, but I think that’s a minor concern at this point. The important thing is that I clearly have good reason to believe that a felony has been committed. I also click “Eye” on the car prior to calling dispatch.

It’s the vehicle alright. More importantly, backup is on its way. Getting out before they arrive results in a pretty grim game over.

But what did you think would happen?

When backup arrives in the form of good ol’ Jack Cobb, I have Sonny get out, draw his gun, and command the driver to get out, stop, and lie down, all courtesy of the “Talk” command.

I emphasized drawing Sonny’s gun, because the first time I did not click the “gun” icon on the perp, and this happened:

With the gun drawn, things took a different turn.

Damn it, Sonny! Not like that!


Cuffed and searched, Sonny finds that .45 Smith & Wesson “automatic.” The game calls it an “automatic,” but I think it meant “semi-automatic.” For starters, an “automatic” usually refers to a “fully automatic” weapon, which is illegal in the United States outside of police and military use. Second, I don’t think Smith & Wesson even makes fully automatic weapons.

Anyway, I get this goon into Sonny’s car and remember to click “Talk” on him as he sits in the back to read him his Miranda rights. The perp is verbally abusive and generally uncooperative, but I don’t want him to walk on a technicality.

“Righteous.” Man, I loved the 90s.

So there’s this stolen car sitting there. Unlike at the Lonny West crash/murder scene, I am able to search this vehicle. Clicking “Eye” on the interior of the car brings up a view of the frame.

As most of us know, this is where VIN—Vehicle Identification Numbers—are located. If this wasn’t important, the game wouldn’t have given us this view. Clicking “eye” reveals that the VIN has been covered with black paint. The “hand” icon lets Sonny scratch the paint away, prompting me to worry about how long he’s been letting his nails get. More importantly, the hidden VIN matches that of the stolen vehicle described at the first briefing at the beginning of the game.

I want to open the trunk, but it’s locked. Oh well. There’s still more stuff to search in the car, and the game is letting me, so why not take a seat and look in the glove box? A friendly click of the “hand” icon on the Mercedes’ seat brings us this screen:

Searching—which the lawyer in me has to point out that Sonny has more than probable cause to do so without a warrant—turns up the following:
  • A black notebook that Sonny plans to look at in greater detail after it’s been booked into evidence
  • An Illinois driver’s license for Marvin Hoffman, male, black hair, blue eyes, 6 ft. 00 in., 194 lbs., date of birth 6/2/1961, no restrictions
  • A California driver’s license for Leroy Pierson, male, black hair, blue eyes, 6 ft. 00 in., 196 lbs., date of birth 4/28/1960, no restrictions
  • A hidden button that opens the trunk

Hmm . . . I seem to remember “Sweet Cheeks” Marie telling Sonny about a “customer” of hers named Hoffman who claimed to be the Death Angel. Could this be him?

Maybe, maybe not . . . but the drugs in his trunk sure bespeak of a less-than-savory career.

Cocaine and marijuana. All that’s missing is nicotine, valium, Vicodin, ecstasy, and alcohol.

That’s all there is to do here, so Sonny cart’s Hoffman or Pierson’s ass to the lock-up and books him for everything he can . . . in this case, I get him for “Possession of a controlled substance,” “stolen vehicle,” and “evading arrest,” and “possession of a concealed weapon.” Oddly, the code for “possession of cocaine” doesn’t work.

Sonny’s prisoner is heated, claiming that he’ll be out in “15 minutes” and vowing to come after Sonny when he is. Jack then arrives, telling Sonny the evidence has been booked and that he’s wanted in Dooley’s office on the double . . . but seems to be smiling about something.

Well, what do you know?! Sonny’s transfer went through! Dooley, reading the memo, is angry that Sonny is gone and the fact that some joker—The Gremlin, perhaps?—had put mace on the memo.


But the important thing is that Sonny is on temporary detail to the Narcotics division, to work with Lt. Morgan and his crew! On to bigger and better things!

I know what you’re wondering though: Did the bust stick? Did it? All I can tell you is: stay tuned!

Inventory: Loaded gun, handcuffs, nightstick, keys to Sonny’s Camaro, key to the patrol car, pen, ticket book
Score: I honestly can’t remember what it was out of 225
On a scale of Don Knots to Don Johnson, how much do I feel like a cop?: Lenny Briscoe

Play time: 1 hour
Total time: 3 hours, 5 minutes


  1. I spent a while reloading and approaching the location of the domestic disturbance to try and figure it out, it's disappointing really, because I felt like I was missing something or doing something wrong.

    On the other hand, I'm gonna need to replay that section again it seems since I forgot to look in the boot of the car and didn't read him his rights (which I'm pretty sure you don't actually need to do in real life, it just makes anything he says at that moment inadmissible, but since you have a stolen car and tons of drugs I think that would be more than enough to convict).

    1. Forgot to say, but it took me a few attempts to get every action in order, because almost any mistake and the guy will shoot you dead.

    2. I didn't get to open the trunk either (I even tried using my nightstick on it to no avail) because I didn't notice the button in the glove box

      This game makes me feel dirty about the way I gather evidence without gloves because I've seen too many CSI shows.

    3. Yeah I have no idea what was appropriate procedure for 1992. I guess Bonds gets to search the car because you end up working this case, but you'd think you would have to call in someone more senior (like you do with the crashed car fatality earlier on).

  2. I'm not a criminal lawyer, but from what I remember if there's probable cause to believe a felony has been committed, the scene as well as individuals can be searched without a warrant.

    Here, more so than with the crash/shooting earlier in the game, Sonny KNOWS that the car was stolen. He KNOWS it's involved with drugs. He just happened across it.

    The gun found on the perp raises more reasonable suspicion that something bad is going down. Technically he COULD have waited to get a warrant. But usually cops have a little more leeway on traffic stops if I remember correctly.

    Lastly, regarding Miranda rights, if I remember correctly a perp won't walk BECAUSE rights weren't read, but a prosecutor can't use what the perp says against them at trial. There are exceptions of course, but this may lead to an unsuccessful trial.

    Whew...enough of this. It's like I'm back in law school...

  3. As a non-lawyer, I'm wondering how you could have charged him with 'evading arrest'?

    The only times he evaded arrest was when we died and reloaded. In the final reload he got out of the car, left the gun in its holster and hit the ground with his hands behind his back when ordered.

    Judge: Well Alex, what kind of evidence do you have that he evaded arrest?
    Alex: Well, he shot me dead twice...
    Judge: ...
    Alex: ... I got better

    1. @TBD:

      Actually, the scenario you described has happened to me in court (don't ask...).

      I'm kidding, of course. But my sides still hurt from laughing at that one.

      Regarding the "Evading Arrest" charge, I also agree that it's silly. But I checked out a walkthrough and even with the drunk driver you can charge him with a lot of things that he didn't this some kind of meta-commentary on abuse of discretion and the powers and privileges that come with being a police officer? Is it Jim Walls subtly giving the player the chance to make ethical choices in the context of a mere video game? Or is it just a programming oversight?

      I don't know, but you can get points for each successful charge, so who the heck knows?

  4. From your first screenshot... "Excellent Bust. No, AWESOME bust."

    Was that the cop who booked the stripper for Jack's party?

    1. @TBD:

      Actually, that IS Jack. Keith doesn't get a screenshot.