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Beat Cop

App review by
Neilie Johnson, Common Sense Media
Beat Cop App Poster Image
Fun retro cop game marred by crude, offensive dialog.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Ease of Play

Simple tap controls make interactivity easy, but success depends on effective time-management.

Violence

Pixel violence waters down the graphic nature of gameplay, but bloody violence is frequent, and one case involves a man lighting himself on fire. 

Sex

Though pixel art keeps it from being visually graphic, there are frequent graphic sexual references (words like "snatch," "p--sy," "whore," as well as mention of AIDS and STDs, interactivity with prostitutes, and a porn shop (the latter features graphic audio sound effects).

Language

Extreme, graphic profanity. Near-constant use of words like "s--t," "f--k," "motherf--ker," and "c--k-s--ker" as well as racial, ethnic, misogynist, and homophobic slurs. 

Consumerism

Full game is unlocked by one-time purchase. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Frequent references to drinking, alcoholism, domestic violence related to alcoholism, drug use and drug sales. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Beat Cop is a single-player retro cop adventure based on 1980s TV police dramas for iOS and Android devices. The app features near-constant profanity, with words like “f--k,” “s--t,” (and other variants on same). There's also a flood of otherwise offensive dialogue including racial and ethnic slurs, homophobic put-downs, and misogynistic commentary. Its storyline is dominated by things like murder, drug use, domestic violence, mob activity, suicide, and prostitution. Though pixel art prevents violence from being too graphic, dead bloody bodies are shown and people are seen being shot and set on fire. Read the developer's privacy policy for details on how your (or your kids') information is collected, used, and shared and any choices you may have in the matter, and note that privacy policies and terms of service frequently change.

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What's it about?

BEAT COP is a retro app that pays homage to 80s cop shows and casts players as Jack Kelly, a rock star detective framed for the theft of a Senator's diamonds. Demoted to the rank of New York City beat cop, Kelly's new job involves anything from writing parking tickets and helping homeless people to catching thieves and answering domestic violence calls. Straightforward on the surface, the job involves walking an ethical tightrope. Drug-dealing gangs and territorial mobsters fight for control of the streets, and players have to keep the peace and protect local residents without making dangerous enemies. One way to not make enemies -- and to supplement your income -- is to take bribes (so long as they don't get caught by Internal Affairs.) Gameplay takes place over normal nine hour work days, during which players respond to urgent calls and fulfill directives from central command. At the end of the day, players are paid according to how well they've performed their duties. Meanwhile, a larger story arc plays out as Kelly investigates the forces behind the frame-up that derailed his career.

Is it any good?

While nostalgic enthusiasm captures the fun pixel art of the 80s, the app is ruined by over-the-top profanity and slurs that are even more offensive now than they were thirty years ago. A disclaimer at the start of Beat Cop tells us the game was made as an homage to American TV cop shows from the 1980s and (perhaps anticipating the coming barrage of insensitive, objectionable content) asks us “not to take life too seriously.” The game then starts with morning banter at the police station where cops call each other things like “c--ks--ker” and talk about how much “p--sy” they got the night before. Dialogue is peppered to the point of absurdity with curse words, which begs the question: what 80s cop shows were the developers watching? Those of us who remember the 80s know profanity wasn't allowed on network television, especially not to this degree. Because of this, Beat Cop feels more like an homage to Quentin Tarantino than Miami Vice. The Tarantino analogy extends even further when you notice the high frequency of racist epithets (“the N-word and the like) and the degrading crudity (“whore,” etc.) used for referencing women. This is clearly not a game for kids, or honestly, for anyone not up for constant verbal assault. It's too bad, because apart from the dialog, the gameplay's really pretty good.

Keeping the street factions happy while keeping crime under control and fulfilling your parking ticket quota within nine hours is dynamic and fun. Random events add much-needed humor, and 80s references abound: where else can you ticket the Dukes of Hazzard's General Lee for parking in a no-parking zone or see The Golden Child on a movie house marquee? There's a lot of good gameplay here, but it's sadly overshadowed by an extreme level of pointless crudity. The bottom line is, despite the good stuff, and despite the app's 80s Stranger Things aesthetic, this is one retro adventure your kids just shouldn't play.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about about the appearance of outdated, offensive dialog in the media. How do you explain to kids the all-too-common use of sexist or racist terms in films, games, or tv shows from decades past?

  • What makes the 80s aesthetic attractive to kids and adults alike? Is it nostalgia, an appeal to retro content, or something else?

  • What are the biggest differences you've seen between cop shows of the 80s and today? Do you think the content is just as mature now as it was then, or is it worse? Is it tamer?

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