Da' Fuzz

Da' Fuzz
Company: Roklan
Model #:

Tim Weller
Year: 1983

Port of the unreleased Techstar arcade game


Back in the heyday of arcades, the largest gaming companies generally got the licenses for the most popular arcade ports.  The other game companies had to look beyond the major names and hope to find a diamond in the rough.  Sometimes this worked out quite well as when Mattel hooked up with Data East and ported popular arcade games like Burgertime and Lock n Chase to the Intellivision.  Perhaps hoping to work some similar magic, Roklan found the arcade company Techstar.  Techstar only released one game under their own label (Macho Mouse), but actually created several others including Rockball (also ported but unreleased by Roklan), Mr. TNT (which was ultimately released by HES for a few home computers), and, as you're about to read, Da' Fuzz.


Although the name may conjure up images of aliens in woollen sweaters, Da' Fuzz, is really a Pac-Man clone with cars.  Not just any cars mind you, old fashioned 1930's cars (similar to Twentieth Century Fox's Bank Heist on the 2600).  For those of you who aren't from the USA, Da' Fuzz is a slang way of saying "the police" (no, not the one with Sting).  Interestingly Techstar actually called the game De' Fuzz in their trademark filing.  It's not known why they changed it for the home port, but the original title may have sounded too much like defuzz, which isn't really a word either but is slang for removing lint from sweaters and other fuzzy materials.


Odd name aside, Da' Fuzz is a decent looking Pac-Man clone with a few twists to keep it interesting.  But before we get to what makes Da' Fuzz different from Pac-Man, lets look at what's the same.  Like Pac-Man, the goal of the game is to grab all the dots while avoiding the enemy (in this case cop cars).  The player can temporarily remove the cop cars if they've gone through the paint shop which acts as a power pellet (more on that later), but as in Pac-Man they'll eventually come back.  There are four openings on the sides of the screen which act like escape tunnels, except for in this game you randomly appear at one of the other openings instead of on the opposite side you entered (you also have to press the button to use them).  Also like Pac-Man, each screen features a prize that can be grabbed for points.  On the first screen it's a $ in the dead end and on the screen it's a orange dot on the drawbridge.  While the $ is always visible it can only be collected once per level (unless you die) and will instantly turn your car back to yellow if you grab it while green.  The dot on the second level randomly appears when the drawbridge is half open and can be collected over and over again.

Ok, so we've got the makings of a basic Pac-Man clone. What's different about it?  Well, the first thing you'll notice is the large stop light that adorns the screen.  This stop light will periodically turn from green to red as the game plays out (there will also be a yellow warning light when it's getting ready to change).  Once the light turns red, the player can no longer collect dots and must wait for it to turn green again.  During this time the player is forced to drive around the screen and dodge the enemy cop cars until they can collect dots again.  There's also a large stop sign, but this appears to do nothing.


Next you'll notice the large Paint Shop building in the top area of the screen.  The paint shop acts like a power pellet and if you drive through it it will turn your car green.  While your car is green you can run into the cop cars and they'll disappear for a short time (and you'll get 300 points).  Be careful though as you can only use the paint shop three times per level.  After a while your car will turn light and lighter shades of green before reverting back to yellow, at which point you're fair game for the cops again.

Finally we have the fact that the whole game takes place on an open grid.  Unlike Pac-Man which confined players to a maze, you're free to roam the entire screen in Da' Fuzz.  The only problem with this is that you can also crash into the scenery such as hedges and the paint shop walls.  Thankfully you can't crash into the outer walls, and the cop cars do follow a grid system so you can flee from them a bit easier.  Still, most of your deaths in this game will come from accidentally crashing into things rather than getting caught by the fuzz.  You can make things a little easier by not using the fire button (which increases your speed) when you're around obstacles, but this will make you slower than the enemy cars.


Da' Fuzz features two different screens but they're pretty similar.  The main differences are that on the first screen there's a dead end which is pretty dangerous and a section labelled 'One Way' which is a narrow and hard to drive through (oddly you can ignore the one way part).  The second screen features a drawbridge which periodically goes up and down.  When the bridge or closed or partially open you can drive over it, but when it's up you'll crash if you try.  The second screen is also a bit more open which makes it a little easier.  After this the two different screens will alternate at a higher difficulty.

Da' Fuzz also features a few other little touches that add some charm.  For example whenever you crash, a tow truck which comes and takes you away (and then attempt to find one of the side tunnels to escape from).  The game also features a decent rendition of The Entertainer which plays in the background, but this can get a little tiresome after a while.  There are also two different difficulty levels which can be selected with the Option key on the title screen.  If difficulty 1 is selected the dots you collected remain collected when you die, but on difficulty 2 the maze will reset when you die.  If you do well enough you'll be able to enter your name on the high score screen.

Da' Fuzz was completely finished and even a sample cartridge was even made before the plug was pulled.  Several other Roklan ports created around this time also suffered the same fate including another Techstar port called Rockball.  The exact reason behind this is unknown but Roklan was starting to suffer financial issues around this time due to the collapsing market and an ongoing lawsuit with Motorola.  They may have decided to pull out of the publishing market and only work on ports of other companies.

One of Da' Fuzz's biggest problems is the difficulty.  Since you have to race around the maze at top speed you'll find yourself constantly crashing into things.  Also, once you pass the first two screens the difficulty ramps up significantly so the cop cars start driving at ludicrous speed.  This takes some of the fun out of the game as it becomes more and more frustrating.  Unfortunately for all of Da' Fuzz's innovations it can't shake the feeling that it's just another Pac-Man clone.  Still, if you're looking for a decent Pac-Man style game, and you love hearing The Entertainer, then Da' Fuzz may be for you. 

Version Cart Text Description
Late WIP (16K)
9/12/83 Da Fuzz
Final version (8K)


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