Retro Coin Op Synopsis

“I confess! I confess!”

For every kid who wanted all the power of a police officer without all that pesky academy training, Atari’s APB was the answer. Lawbreakers cluttered the city streets on Officer Bob’s beat, and it was up to you to help Bob take out the trash.

APB divided its gameplay into “days,” each with a set of tasks and limited amounts of time and fuel. Officer Bob’s daily duty was to pass out tickets to lawbreaking citizens everywhere, trying to meet a given quota. As you drove Bob around the overhead map with your gas pedal and steering wheel, the lawman was bound to come across scores of Litterbugs, Honkers, Drunks, Dopers, Speeders, Hitchers and more, as well as the occasional broken-down driver in need of help.

A “Siren” button activated a target sight set in front of your speeding vehicle, but if you kept it on all the time, no one would ever break the law. The trick was to follow potential lawbreakers (they all drove easily identifiable cars) until they committed their crimes, then tap that siren button when the target was on top of their vehicle.

Demerits were the bane of Officer Bob’s existence and the quickest way to a “Game Over.” The unsightly check marks were handed out every time Bob crashed, collided with another car with his siren off (even a criminal’s car) or failed to meet his quota by the end of the day. Get too many, and the Chief would strangle Bob by his necktie, shouting an angry, “Lousy Cop!”

Time and fuel were limited, but both could be boosted by the occasional drive-through pit stop—doughnut shops for time, a fuel pump for more gas. A Speed Shop also allowed you to customize Bob’s cruiser, outfitting it with better top speed, acceleration, brakes, armor or extra items like a gun or radar.

Ticketing for misdemeanor offenses was all part of a day’s work, but Officer Bob really came alive on the special APB stages. At the beginning of those days, the Chief gave an early morning briefing, detailing the perp’s mug shot, vehicle, crime, last whereabouts and reward for capture. Bob still had to fill his daily quota of tickets, but once that crook’s custom car was spotted, all other concerns took a back seat to the ensuing high speed chase. The APB vehicles wouldn’t pull over nicely for the siren (they were crooks, after all), so Officer Bob had to either ram them off the road or fire at them with his gun (if he had one).

Even after the bad guys were captured and taken back to the station, Bob’s work was not yet done. An animated sequence detailed what happened next: As the Chief walked slowly down the stairs (he was kind of obese), Bob choked the criminal, trying to wring a confession out of him or her. You helped the process along by tapping the Siren and Fire buttons in quick succession, trying to move the “Confess-O-Meter” from “No” to “Yes.” If you made it before the Chief opened the door, that was one more mug shot added to Officer Bob’s arrest hall of fame. If not, the perp went free and Bob got saddled with another demerit.

Bob’s beat must have been a hotbed of criminal activity, as APB’s like Freddy Freak, Candy Goodbody, Hans Oop, Juan Fingers and Sid Sniper kept the game alive and exciting through numerous stages. APB’s unique gameplay and silly animation made sure that the players behind the wheel stayed entertained as well. Bob went off to retirement after his first and only arcade outing, but APB remains a favorite of many.

Arcade Machine Release History

1987 - APB

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