Dirty Harry - The Video Game
"Dirty Harry" Callahan first appeared in a video game in 1990 on the NES. Developed by Grey Matter Inc and published by Mindscape the game titled “Dirty Harry” was a simple side scroller, featuring arbitrary platforms, shooting and fist fight mechanics. Apart from its basic vigilante cop narrative and some digitised soundbites from the films, there was very little to link it to the source material. Overall this was hardly a fitting debut for the character that has defined Clint Eastwood’s career and spawned five motion pictures. Beyond a brief appearance on a themed pin ball machine in 1995, Harry Callahan has remained conspicuously absent from the video games genre.
Due to the success of the Grand Theft Auto franchise a decade and a half later, several game studios looked to classic crime cinema for inspiration developing a competing product. As a result movies such as The Godfather, The Warriors and Scarface were adapted as video games with mixed success. All boasted voice acting by original cast members and where based upon the visual aesthetic of the source material. It was about this time that Warner Interactive announced that it too would be producing a comparable game, based upon the iconic Dirty Harry franchise.
"Dirty Harry helped define a genre and introduced the world to a character who has since become a cultural icon, so bringing Clint Eastwood's authentic Dirty Harry character to this next generation of consoles provides exciting promise for game playing audiences everywhere". Jason Hall, Senior Vice President of Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.
Simply titled Dirty Harry the game was to be developed by The Collective Inc in association with Clint Eastwood’s Malpaso production company. The premise of the game was to continue the story of loose-cannon police detective “Dirty Harry” Callahan as he sought to clean up the streets of San Francisco. The story was set immediately after the “Scorpio” case, as featured in the original movie and prior to events featured in the sequel Magnum Force. Clint Eastwood was to reprise his role as Harry Callahan, lending his voice and likeness as well as providing consultancy services and creative input. The game was scheduled to be released in 2007 on multiple platforms.
Sadly despite the project being nearly 70% completed, the game never saw the light of day. Allegedly senior management at Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment were not happy with the work that had been completed and were worried about potential harm to the “brand”. It has been claimed, although never officially confirmed, that the project was then transferred to two further studios for redevelopment; namely TimeGate studios and Monolith Productions. However the cost of replacing the game engine and adding additional content such a co-op multiplay was prohibitive. The game’s launch was further delayed and eventually vanished from the publishers marketing and press releases. It has been implied by those involved with the project that the main reason for Dirty Harry’s demise was that it simply wasn’t that good.
Apart from some screen captures taken from preliminary builds and a promotional trailer, not much remains in the public domain of Dirty Harry. It should be noted that the trailer that is still available on You Tube does not actually show any footage from the game itself. It was animated by a production house, using the concept artwork to simulate the completed product. It’s a shame in many respects because the game seemed to have an authentic seventies feel to it. Certainly Dirty Harry boasted an impressive voice cast with the likes of Lawrence Fishburne, Lucy Liu and Gene Hackman, joining Clint Eastwood. Sadly Dirty Harry is now just another title on an ever growing list of games that “could have been”. Perhaps that is for the best because a franchise such as this deserves a truly great game and not a one that “knows its limitations” to quote Harry Callahan.