Monday, 12 May 2014

Spy Hunter (C64)


Thankfully it's not like Tron. Though Tron's LightCycle game was good.


There was always something amazing about cars when I was growing up. Before I knew of the wonders that were traffic jams and being pulled over having been driving at 90+ MPH (not 100, never take that risk... sometimes), but the fact you could get into a vehicle as a kid meant that you HAD to have high speed car chases. Films with car crashes and chases ruled supreme until you were old enough to watch people getting limbs blown off in high detailed blood splat gore. So here I'm going to review Spy Hunter on the C64, simply because it's got a car that has guns built into it.

Fuck this, I can't handle the pressure of such questions.

It's the ultimate spy car. Inspired by the Bond age (heh, bondage) of cars where you get smoke screens, oil slicks, machinegun placements behind the lights and rockets for the most painful enemy you'll encounter. However the game translates into a top-down display of you chasing your car as if from orbit while you navigate in and around roads, avoiding pedestrian vehicles and taking down other spy cars.

You can only shoot the one that has cotton ear buds for wheels. You'll want to though.

In the arcade, you had a sit down cabinet, high and low speed gear shift, buttons on the steering wheel for you to navigate through multiple weapons and then use them to fullest effect against your opponents and a good rendition of the Peter Gunn theme tune. Not quite so in the C64 version, though you do have a nice rendition of chip tune Peter Gunn theme tune and there's a few extra sound effects that don't sound too terrible on the C64. Instead of a steering wheel, you'll get yourself two joysticks (need the extra fire button) or the keyboard.

All the spy gear in the world and we still use a TUG BOAT

You get to start off with your car being rolled out the back of a van and then you're free to drive along and shoot everything. Though that's a bad idea as you're left with few points if you shoot non-enemy characters. While shooting the spiked wheel cars and ramming off the bullet-proof cars will give you bonus points, while also using oil slicks and smoke-screens will help in this regard. There's the challenge of getting around the spiked cars, slamming into bullet-proof cars while simultaneously avoiding other cars and falling off the track. Once again, this is a one-hit kill game, you get spiked, you're dead. Bombed, dead. Go off the road, dead.

The chopper (mad bomber) will quickly become the bane of your play time

During your driving you'll occasionally hit routes where the track narrows, splits up, goes over bridges and have to take a quick exit into a house where upon you become a boat so you can travel down the river instead of crashing your car off a bridge. Once in the water, you'll be boating your way idly down the river with a rod in one hand and getting shot at by torpedoes and mines. Ok so not so relaxed and the idea of having your rod in your hand makes me wonder who here is thinking that was a wanking joke.

I'm all of a second away from having my tyres blown out.

You can start at either Novice (wuss) or Expert (less of a wuss) where you either get one car on the road at a time, or four. Initially at least, as once you get to the next area, it gets harder anyway for both sides. What is interesting, is that you've a 999 timer, while this is on, it's impossible to lose a life. You can die, but it's not game over. But once the counter hits 0, your lives come into effect and the lovely gun car rolls out to take one straight off if you're not ready for him. He'll turn up every time the 999 rolls around but you won't see the numbers from here on. Once you get to the 2nd area, the helicopter comes in to drop bombs on you.

Being a boat stops things like....

The difficulty ramps up steadily in the game, though it's easy to get caught between cars in Expert mode and blown up or smashed apart. Power ups come in the form of trucks/lorries that have the icons on the roof indicating if it's rockets, oil or smoke screens. To gain them, just let the lorry overtake and drive up into the back of it. While of course not being killed from the various enemies around you. Ammo is limited on oil and smoke to an unspecified volume while you get 3 rockets at a time and you CAN miss the chopper with them.

....this from happening. Unless you cheat like I am here.

For those who are looking to an end to the game, you're in for a bad time as there's no actual end to the game. It loops between the 2nd and 3rd areas in that it's either yellow background or ice level (yes, even in this game there's a fucking ice level!) with the usual situation for bridges being out, boats needing to be jumped into and sudden colour changes implemented at all times. It does however have that appeal of being a game you could quickly play again and see if you can get just a little bit farther into it. Or run up the side of the screen and cheat your way to bonus lives, assuming the chopper doesn't get you while you're doing that. It's still fun but feels a little unfinished.