The object of the game is to meet (or exceed) the daily quota of citing or arresting various types of law-breakers within a time limit for the day. The player is given an overhead view of Officer Bob's patrol car, number 54. The player controls the car with a gas pedal and a steering wheel. The player receives "demerits" for accidental collisions, running over pedestrians, and failing to make quota. The player gains bonuses for a "perfect day" and each arrest over the quota. Picking up donuts extends the time limit for a day. Driving through filling stations refuels the patrol car. Driving through the garage(once a day) upgrades the patrol car with brakes, guns, armor, radar, etc.
The game begins by having the player ticket common misdemeanor infractors (such as those littering) by pulling up behind them, pushing the siren button and having them pull over. Eventually, the game gives the player the task of arresting fugitive felons. Every other day, starting on the third day, the player can go after an A.P.B. ("All Points Bulletin"). When a fugitive is caught and returned to the station, the player must "persuade" (i.e., rattle) a confession out of them before the Chief enters the room. This is done by filling the "Confess-O-Meter" by tapping alternatively on the "fire" and "siren" buttons.
The game ends when the player reaches his demerit maximum. When the demerit limit is reached, the game shows the player being pulled over and cuffed by other officers with the message "TOO MANY DEMERITS. YOU ARE FIRED."
The game cabinet is generally a standard upright. The main controls consist of a steering wheel, a siren button, a "fire" button (gun) and an accelerator pedal. The cabinet has two lights on top, red and blue, which flash when the player presses the siren button. The cabinet has a detachable seat which can be used to convert the cabinet into a sit-down game.
Litterbugs. First seen on Day 2, these are the easiest violators to arrest, 1 touch with the targeter(which flashes PULL OVER when the siren is depressed) will make them pull over(i.e., disappear). They are displayed as pink convertibles with passengers tossing cans out on the road.
Honkers. First seen on Day 4(Which is also when Bob can upgrade his car with a gun), these are slow-moving yellow taxis that disrupt the flow of traffic. 2 siren taps will pull them over.
Dopers. First seen on Day 6, these require 3 taps(by siren, gun or nudging with your car) to pull over. All dopers are drifting green vans with a figure on the roof, and spewing gray smoke. The response to the first tap is always the driver asking, "Who, me?"
Drunks. First seen on Day 8, these require 4 taps to pull over, and always initially respond with "No Way!". All are shown as brown pickups with bottles falling out of the back.
Hitchers. These have been around since the training day, but on day 10, Officer Bob is required to pick up 10 of them. They are usually found by overpasses or donut huts. Having no cars, they are shown as people standing with their thumbs out, and holding a suitcase. 1 touch will pick them up.
Speeders. First seen on Day 12, these are the only violators who do not all have the same appearance. Some are purple sports cars, some yellow sedans, and a few are brown jalopies. Radar is required to detect them, which will project the current speed onto the target car. 5 hits will pull them over, and while all are fast-moving, there are enough on the road to temper this level's difficulty.
Assaulters. First seen on Day 14, these are plentiful, but not easy to hit because of their small size. They are displayed as punks on motorcycles instead of cars, and often hit back with their fists when nudged from the side. 5 hits again are needed to pull them over, and always initially respond saying "MAKE ME!"
Murderers. First seen on Day 16, These would better be described as "Rioters", since they fight back by tossing sticks of dynamite out their windows(your patrol car will explode if hit with one, earning you a demerit). Displayed as gold armored sedans, they are the hardest violators to arrest(only 6 are needed on Day 16), as they cannot be pulled over with the siren. Like the A.P.B. fugitives, they must be rammed completely off the road.
After Day 16, no other petty violators are introduced. The daily quota will be a combination of those above, with a few "Helps"(stranded motorists) thrown in.
Freddy Freak (Day 3, $1000) An aging hippie wanted for Drug Dealing, he is the easiest to arrest, but not the slowest. His car is a pink van decorated with Peace signs and other decals.
Candy Goodbody (Day 5, $2000) A full-lipped woman wanted for Hooking, she is the only female in the first 10 most wanted. Her car is a purple sports car which closely resembles the Speeders from Day 12.
Bernie Gasman (Day 7, $3000) A tiny man completely covered in ash, wanted(as his name implies) for Arson. He can be caught in the act in a forest along Hwy 20. His car is a pickup truck with an all-over flame job.
Phillip Fuse (Day 9, $4000) An old madman in a WWII miner's helmet wanted for Bombings. He also can be caught in the act on the Hwy 30 overpass. His car resembles an armored vehicle used by Ordnance Disposal crews, and is not easy to run down.
Cool Hand Duke (Day 11. $5000) A black or deeply tanned man in huge sunglasses wanted for Pimping. His car is a yellow sports coupe, and isn't easy to keep up with.
Buzz Geiger (Day 13, $6000) An older and somewhat deformed man wanted for Nuclear Fuel Theft. His car is a stolen red HAZMAT truck, whose sheer size makes it very hard to ram off the road.
Joe Korncob (Day 15, $7000) A bald man in a lab coat wanted for Water Utility Fraud, he can be found by the aqueduct along the highway. He drives a purple truck er with a yellow tank.
Luigi De Muccio (Day 17, $8000) A dark-skinned man in suspenders and shades similar to Cool Hand Duke's, wanted for multiple Car Thefts. He drives a fast yellow sedan which looks like the Day 12 Speeders.
Dick Slob (Day 19, $9000) A dark-haired, constantly drooling man wanted for Toxic Dumping. Like Joe Korncob, he can also be found by the aqueduct and drives a similar truck, but he drives much slower than most and can easily be overshot.
Iggi Ding Dong (Day 21, $10000) A baby-faced man with a mohawk and missing teeth wanted for Reckless Driving. He drives a well-smashed brown jalopy with white and blue details, and is extremely erratic, making him difficult(but not the hardest) to run down.
Juan Fingers (Day 23, $11000) A stubbly-faced Hispanic man smoking a cigarette wanted for Armed Robbery. He drives a white van with black graffiti on the roof, but is very difficult to find.
Hans Oop (Day 25, $12000) A wild-haired man in sunglasses wanted for Bank Jobs. He drives a white van similar to Juan Fingers's, and is also not easy to locate.
Fake Frank (Day 27, $13000) A possibly masked man with a large tongue wanted for Fraud. The chase begins soon as you leave the station, because Frank is driving a stolen(and extremely fast) police car!
Sid Sniper (Day 29, $14000) A wild-haired madman hippee in a bandanna wanted for Unregistered Firearms(given his name, that's probably the least of it!) He can be caught in the act on the Hwy 30 overpass, and drives an armored vehicle similar to the one Phillip Fuse drives.
Billy Bob Jack (Day 31, $15000) A fat sloppy man dressed in brown wanted for Armed Robbery. His vechile is similar to Juan Fingers and Hans Oop, and is not easy to find either.
The game enjoyed moderate success in the marketplace, as most Atari games did. Its high-resolution graphics and novel cabinet design, with the flashing lights atop, added to its initial appeal.
A.P.B.'s system hardware used the Atari System 2, including:
- CPU: T-11 (10 MHz)
- Sound: 6502 (2.2 MHz), YM2151 (3.579545 MHz), 2 x POKEY (1.789772 MHz), TMS5220 (625.00 kHz)
A.P.B. was ported to several home computer systems including Atari ST and Commodore Amiga. These ports were mostly developed by Tengen and published by Domark. It was also made available on Atari Lynx, GameCube, PlayStation 2 and Xbox as part of Midway Arcade Treasures 2 and PC as part of Midway Arcade Treasures Deluxe Edition.
- A.P.B., developed by Real Time Worlds for Windows PCs, released and shut down in 2010.
- A.P.B. at Museum of the Game
- 'A.P.B.' at MobyGames
- A.P.B. at World of Spectrum
- Contemporary reviews at Solvalou.com
- A collectors restoration page for A.P.B.
fr:APB: All Points Bulletin