Spy Hunter


Review by Joe Santulli



Graphics: 8

Sound: 10

Gameplay: 9

Overall: 9

I've got a rocket with your name on itThis morning I was driving my regular route to work when out of nowhere one of those midget buses that presumably take the “late kids” to school appeared in front of me. I was moving along pretty good and there was no room to pass, so I was forced to slow down. The ultimate insult came when I discovered that this particular midget bus had the worst exhaust system on the planet, causing me to drop back another 100 yards or die in its smoky wake. This would have been the perfect time for front mounted machine guns, I thought. Alas, our “real life” cars have no such frills. Nor do they have rear-mounted oil drops to prevent tailgaters from ever getting too close, smoke screens for those high-speed chases that you need to win, or anti-air rockets to take out those pesky helicopters. Alas, “real life” is not like Spy Hunter, but I can dream.

Aimed squarely at the little boy in all of us who wonders what it would be like to chase down bad guys in our cars, Spy Hunter is a classic action game that relies heavily on reflexes but also rewards for good strategy. When it was popular in the arcades, it was one of those games I couldn’t get enough of. I anxiously awaited the ColecoVision port-over and was not disappointed when it finally arrived. Everything from the arcade game is included here, including compatibility with the ColecoVision’s driving module, making Spy Hunter one of the most accurate translations in “classic” gaming history.

The weapons that we all wish were on our “real cars” are all here, getting the job done. You can destroy the stock bad guys with one burst of machine gun fire, but if you shoot up a civilian vehicle (those interfering bastards!), your point scoring is temporarily suspended. Armored cars and bosses (the bosses are Limosines that perform drive-by shootings) have to be taken out with either oil slicks or smoke screens dropped from the back of your car. The oil lasts a long time - you can get off about 20 short trails, and it only takes a little to send a car behind you reeling into the side of the road! The smoke screens only have three rounds, but they can take out multiple baddies in your wake. You can also take matters into your own hands by ramming these guys off of the road, but I found this harder to do on the ColecoVision version than in the arcade. Furthermore, the stock bad guys are equipped with spiked wheels later in the game, and the bosses have a gun... better stick with the weapons, I say! Blow ‘em up real good.

There are other enemies here - helicopters fly up from behind you, try to line you up and then drop a bomb on the road in front of you. It will take clever steering - or an anti-aircraft rocket - to get out of this jam. Helicopters are big points, so never be afraid to use the rockets when you have them. At certain intervals in the game you are given the opportunity to turn off of the road, where your car speeds down a narrow lane and emerges into a wide waterway as a spy-hunting speedboat! You are sometimes warned that the bridge ahead is out and if you DON’T turn off you crash. Just like the arcade!

The graphics are great, there’s no doubt about what game you’re playing. The music is faithfully reproduced (it’s the “Theme to Peter Gunn”), and really adds to the atmosphere. Other sound effects, such as the machine guns, the skidding cars, and the helicopter are likewise very high quality. The game works fine with a standard controller, but you are given the option to use the Super Action Controller which makes the multiple-weapon pickups easier to select from; and as I mentioned earlier, the driving module that really brings the arcade feel home.

You won’t find midget buses cutting you off in Spy Hunter, but there’s plenty to keep your trigger finger busy anyway.


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Last updated: Wednesday, December 10, 2003 02:32 PM