Cosmic Cop
  • Genre:
    • Shoot 'Em Up
  • Platform:
    • Arcade
  • Developer:
    • Irem
  • Publisher:
    • Irem
  • Released:
    • JP September 1991
    • US 1991
Score: 70%

This review was published on 03/08/2018.

Cosmic Cop, known in Japan as Armed Police Unit Gallop, is a side-scrolling shoot 'em up developed and published by Irem for the arcades in 1991. Irem is most prominently known for creating R-Type, one of the most popular and influential shoot 'em ups out there, second only to Gradius. Some consider Cosmic Cop to be a spinoff from the R-Type series, because it takes place within the same timeline. However, it differs vastly from all other R-Type games, and its title makes no reference to R-Type. If it weren't for the Internet, most people wouldn't even know this game existed. One reason for this is the fact that the game was never released outside of the arcades. Why's that? Well, it may have something to do with how it's not exactly outstanding. R-Type games tend to range from fantastic to super fantastic, but Cosmic Cop is more on the average side.

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According to future materials, the story of Cosmic Cop takes place alongside R-Type Delta, a newer game that was originally released on the PlayStation in the late 1990s. In this sci-fi universe, flying cars exist and are in common use by commoners. As the title implies, you're a cosmic cop in service of the Armed Police Unit, Gallop. The organization's mission is to hunt down "Mad Cars," which are autonomous vehicles that have been driven mad by the Bydo. Get it? They're cars, and I said that they've been "driven" mad. I'm such a good writer. Anyway, the Bydo are the alien antagonists of the R-Type series, and their sole mission is to eradicate the entire human race. As a cosmic cop of human origin, that doesn't sit well with you. You know what that means: it's time to mete out some harsh punishment. The plot is irrelevant in a shooter like this, but Cosmic Cop certainly has a unique premise.

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You take control of the R-11B Peace Maker, an armed police vehicle that makes peace through the use of excessive force. Similar to the spaceships from R-Type, this vehicle can smoothly fly in eight different directions and shoot energy bullets straight ahead. Unlike most R-Type games, colliding with the environment doesn't result in your immediate demise, but touching enemies or their attacks still does. You do lose some of your power-ups if you smash into surfaces, though. Like the R-Type games, there's a massive meter at the bottom of the screen, but it's labeled as "LASER" instead of "BEAM." This meter is for your secondary weapon, which is a laser that homes in on nearby enemies. Using the laser drains the meter, but it'll slowly regenerate over time when the laser isn't in use. Due to this limitation, you have to be careful not to go overboard with the laser. While the laser is certainly useful, it's not too distinct of a mechanic.

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The most innovative aspect of the game is that you can control how quickly the screen scrolls forward. Your position on the screen determines how quickly it scrolls; hanging back slows it down, but sticking to the front causes it to accelerate. You can't ever completely stop it from scrolling, though. Other than that, this unique feature allows you to progress through the action at your own pace, or close to it. Because of this, the game times you to see how quickly you're able to complete the stages. In addition to blowing stuff up, getting faster times further increases your score. That doesn't impact the game in any significant way, but it's an arcade tradition to proudly display top scores.

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Power-ups appear in the form of glowing orbs with letters in them, and they generally enhance your weapons. The most basic of power-ups will increase the amount of energy bullets you shoot at a time, and there are also power-ups that do the same for your homing laser. Additionally, there are power-ups that enable you to shoot missiles alongside your main weapon. Three types of missiles are available; missiles that fly straight ahead, missiles that travel along the ground, and missiles that drop down. You can't have all three missile types at once, so you'll switch types if you get more than one missile power-up. Honestly, the power-ups are all rather generic. They're definitely beneficial to you, but there's nothing particularly exciting about them.

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Stages are called "zones," and there are five of them. That might seem like a small number, but the game isn't exactly thrilling enough to remain entertaining for any longer than that. Whereas the R-Type series is highly praised for its excellent level design, Cosmic Cop's level design is lacking. Most of the stages are nothing more than long, horizontal corridors with a couple of enemies thrown in. Just about every stage has multiple sections in it that play like that one stage in Gradius where you must quickly navigate tight corridors that contain branching paths. This is fine the first time around, but gets repetitive soon after that. The only things that break up the monotony are destructible walls that block your path, and occasional hazards that can be disabled by shooting switches. The bosses aren't much better, as they're all mechanical amalgamations with no discernible features, giving them a distinct lack of identity. On the bright side, the graphics do look pretty decent, featuring detailed sprites and bombastic explosions. However, the environments are quite bland, and the palette lacks punch.

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It's not great, but it's not bad, either. Cosmic Cop will be a disappointment for anyone expecting the same level of quality from the R-Type series. However, if you go into it with tempered expectations, you may have a good enough time. It's got solid graphics and good play control, plus it's nowhere near as difficult as the average R-Type game. The difficulty is still quite high, though. Basically, this is the shooter for those of you who have played every single good shoot 'em up out there and still thirst for more. Otherwise, you're better off passing on this one and playing something more substantial, like an actual R-Type game.

Word Count: 1,029

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