Spy Hunter

by Denton Designs, F. David Thorpe
US Gold Ltd
Crash Issue 16, May 1985   (1985-04-25)   page(s) 130,132

This is US Gold's officially licenced Spectrum version of the American Bally Midway hit with you playing the Spy Hunter. Spy Hunter is a kind of road racer-cum-river raider, an all action shoot em up of the old school. There are numerous sections to the game, but basically Spy Hunter takes two forms. It starts on a road as your Weapons Van pulls up at the side of the road to allow your Spy Car to roll down the ramp and onto the road. You're then on your own, guiding the car along the torturous roads, pursued by various enemies, each with their own characteristics. These can be destroyed by ramming them into the side of the road or shooting them.

The second form occurs if you take the correct side road down to the boat house - driving into it automatically converts the Spy Car to an amphibious vehicle, and the chase continues on the water.

While you are on the road there is a chance to 'dock' with the Weapons Van, whereupon the Spy Car's weapons are exchanged or added to. The weapons carried are displayed at the bottom of the playing area, and an element of strategy is involved in ensuring the right weapon is on board for the particular task in hand.

The enemies include the Road Lord (bullet proof - must be rammed off the road); Switch Blade (buzz saw hubcaps - nasty); Barrel Dumper (drops barrels in your path in the water); The Enforcer (fires a shotgun); The Copter (drops bombs on your car/boat); and Doctor Torpedo (fires torps at the Spy Boat).

Guiding your vehicle is tricky, since the roads/waterways twist and turn, branching off into what may well be dead ends. Occasionally a message on the road may warn you that a road is closed and you should take a detour. Control of the Spy Car allows left/right movement as well as accelerating or braking.

Control keys: user definable, four directions and fire required
Joystick: Kempston, Sinclair 2, Cursor type
Use of colour: very varied, bright and sharp
Graphics: attractive, good size and reasonably smooth vertical scrolling
Sound: spot effects, average
Skill levels: 2, novice and expert
Lives: 5
Screens: continuous scrolling

'It's nice to see that US Gold are continuing with their arcade reproductions of Sega's top hits from the States. I must admit to not seeing Spy Hunter in the arcades - yet. Whatever the arcade version is like, this Spectrum version seems to be an extremely playable game. The scrolling graphics are some of the best I've seen on the Spectrum and work well - they are colourful and very detailed. Progressing through the game I found that the enemy grew increasingly mean, and it required more skill, but this was a gradual progression as you are teased more and more into the game. This is a good feature of Spy Hunter. This game has enormous playability and I was totally captured in a different land of action. It's the sort of game I'd come back to months later.

'An interesting point to all these US Gold releases of older American hits, is that they seem, single handedly, to be creating a rebirth of simpler arcade shoot em ups. Spy Hunter is definitely a very simple idea, but the speed, variety and ferocity of the action makes it huge fun to play. The large, well designed graphics move very well, and I particularly liked the way some of the nasties spin off the road. Spy Hunter combines all the elements of a good mad racer game (although there is no 3D perspective, everything being seen from above) and a fast shoot em up. I think it's moderately addictive because the increasing difficulty is well built in to the game and the screens are variable enough to add interest, but most of all, it's a good zapping game.'

'Spy Hunter is a fairly good arcade to Spectrum conversion. The graphics are fairly good though the sound is used poorly for such a great game. Of all the Zap em up games I've ever played Spy Hunter is a firm favourite amongst them. Playability is high because there is such a lot going all the time. I don't think that this game will keep anyone's interest for weeks and weeks because it's a fairly simple game to get into and to play (this is also a point in its favour because it can be played by virtually anyone). I particularly liked the river scenes, they seemed more varied than the ones on the CBM 64 (I know I'm not meant to mention that calculator but I couldn't resist it considering I prefer the Spectrum version of Spy Hunter). If you want a good shoot em up Spy Hunter is well worth the money. Overall a good game that should keep you all amused for a while.'

Use of Computer: 90%
Graphics: 82%
Playability: 89%
Getting Started: 88%
Addictive Qualities: 80%
Value For Money: 81%
Overall: 89%

Summary: General Rating: It may not have massive lasting appeal (although it is a good hi-score game), and it certainly isn't a thinking game, but loads of fun to play.

Award: Crash Smash

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Crash Issue 64, May 1989   (1989-04-27)   page(s) 31

Ahhh, it's nice to see this classic game back again on a budget label. Reviewed back in the mists of time (issue 16 to be precise) this CRASH Smashed game was raved over by the resident looneys of the time. Set in a James Bond-style cloak and dagger scenario, you take control of a sophisticated mean machine in which you have to burn rubber along a road filled with terrorists, or transform to a boat (at a suitable point) and cause even more mayhem on the open waters. To destroy the enemy vehicles you can either bump them off of the road, or destroy them with a range of devastating weapons. You start with a machine gun, but at regular intervals supply lorries appear and after a swift bump up the ramp an extra weapon is added.

Although Spy Hunter is looking a little dated in the graphical department, the pulse-racing playability has remained. Many happy hours will be spent blowing up or ramming the myriad of enemy cars and speed boats, but watch out for the civilians out for a Sunday drive. Decimate any of these and you will lose points as quickly as you make them, now excuse me while I practise my Timothy Dalton voice... My name is Bond, James Bond.

Then: 89% Now: 84%

Overall: 84%

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 42, June 1989   page(s) 42,43

Another oldster dug up by US Gold's cheapie offshoot Kixx, Spy Hunter actually features the coyright date 1983 on its cassette inlay - a brave move in today's novelty-obsessed market. But even though Spy Hunter is older than Bob Monkhouse and has been on even more compilations than Wizard's Lair, it's still thoroughly playable in a gnarled sort of way. It's interesting, too, to see that road racing games with guns didn't start with Road Wars.

Spy Hunter, if rather more modest in intention than the later blasters, doubles as a mildly diverting shoot 'em up as well as a racer. Seen from helicopter level, the game charts your attempts to shoot - or at least overtake - everything in sight, while remaining resolutely alive yourself. If this sounds a bit like an episode of Highwayman without the hairstyles, that's not too far away. Occasionally you switch from Spy Car to Spy Boat, and it's off for a merry fizz on the river - if you can avoid the barrels, torpedoes and so forth. It's good unpretentious fun, with one unforgiveable gub, once the game is over, you have to load up from scratch. Tut, tut, Kixx - get your act together.

Overall: 6/10

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Spectrum Issue 15, June 1985   page(s) 51

Roger: As the wrapper sez, this is hardly a game, and with the throwaway line like that, US Gold aren't telling any lies. It's actually another driving number crossed with a liberal dose of shootiebangs. The action occurs on a scrolling map illustrating the road or waterways available for pursuit and destruction of a nasty collection including Road Lords, Switch Blades, Barrel Dumpers, Enforcers, Copters and yer actual Doctor Torpedo. (Any relation to Dr. Findlay? Ed.)

Apart from steering the 'vehicle' either on land or the blue-representing-wet stuff without crashing, the player is required to insert it back into a 'weapons van' at periodic intervals, for replenishment of ammunition, bacon sarnies or whatever. The unpleasantries which share the passing scenery have to be dealt with in various terminal manners, or avoided altogether. Really, controlling this optimistically called 'turbo-charged race car/hydro speed boat* could be a satsifying business if one was only born yesterday. For those of us who've been around it stands out as an exercise not a little long in the tooth. As the man said, been there, done that before... 2/5 MISS

Ross: The name's Bond, James Bond - and all I've got to say about this car classic is no, Doctor No! 1/5 MISS

Dave: This one's fast and it's tricky and if you're not careful it'll drive you up the wall. If only it actually got somewhere. 2/5 HIT

Dave: 2/5
Ross: 1/5
Roger: 2/5

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 39, June 1985   page(s) 30

ONE OF THE more successful arcade games of last year looks set to have potential double agents roaring up to their local shops in hot pursuit for a copy of the game.

Sega has recently licensed Spy Hunter to US Gold and continues the trend of arcade games crossing the Atlantic as computer software.

Shades of the movie The Italian Job creep into the game which places you in the key role of a spy trying to escape the country with a posse of double agents on your tail.

Luckily your turbo-charged car could have been built for James Bond and will become amphibious, taking to the water like a drought-stricken duck.

The chase is fast and furious, skidding down stretches of icy road and hair-pin bends. You can shoot at the agents, try to bump them off the road, but blasting innocent civilian drivers will be to the detriment of your score.

You have a bird's eye view of the road which scrolls vertically downwards - the zig-zags are hair raising and do not leave much room for overtaking.

One innovative touch to the game is the weapons van. just as in The Italian Job, the van drives past with ramps lowered. Should you be quick enough to drive in, the car will be re-armed with oil slicks, smoke screens and rockets - handy when shooting at the bomb-dropping helicopter. However, all weapons but the machine gun are lost if you crash.

The game is obviously not as fast as the arcade version, but in all other cases it is an almost exact replica - except that there is no gear stick or accelerator. Those features are, however, notoriously difficult to fit onto the Spectrum.

Clare Edgeley

Publisher: US Gold
Price: £7.95
Memory: 48K
Joystick: Kempston, Sinclair, Protek


Overall: 4/5

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 86, May 1989   page(s) 56

Hard to remember that the coin-op original of this game came out in 1983. Some of us weren't even born then... er, quite. Anyway, this one's long overdue for a budget re-release, because although it's appeared on some compilations, it's still streets ahead of many flashier coin-op convs on sheer playability.

The format is dead simple; steer your heavily-armed spy car up the scrolling screen, barging and blasting the equally be-weaponed opposition and avoiding steering straight into the roadside or into the water. Exciting enough, but halfway through you get a boat instead, and all the excitement becomes waterborne.

Dead simple, looks and sounds pretty grotty, but in fact as good a blast-up as you could wish for.

Label: Kixx
Author: US Gold
Price: £2.99
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins

Overall: 89%

Summary: Classic car-racing shoot-'em-up which still plays well despite primitive look.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Computer & Videogames Issue 45, July 1985   page(s) 25

MACHINE: CBM 64/Spectrum/Atari
PRICE: £CBM 64 (disc) £12.95 (cass.) £9.95, Spectrum £7.95

A classic arcade game becomes a classic computer game with this all-action scrolling shoot-out from US Gold.

Drive your spy-car along a treacherous roadway packed with enemies attempting to wipe you out. Take a dip in the river as your car converts to a superhydro boat and blast the villains who set out to sink you.

How far can you go? How high will your score be? Will it get into the C&VG Hall of Fame like this great game has? The graphics on all versions are good and the game is totally addictive. Get it.

Graphics: 9/10
Sound: 9/10
Value: 9/10
Playability: 10/10

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair Programs Issue 32, June 1985   page(s) 21

PRICE: £7.95

Spy Hunter sets you, as a world class spy, on the road in your ultra-equipped, turbo-charged spy mobile. The road is crawling with enemy agents bent on your destruction and the law of the road is kill or be killed.

What the grandiose game description and flashy cassette cover refer to is a straightforward variation on a theme which you have seen many times before. You drive your car up the screen, along a winding road, shoot some obstacles, avoid others and try to push others off the road.

There are several nice touches. To pick up weapons you must allow the weapons van to overtake you and then drive on board while it is still moving. The road takes you on several diversions, round unsatisfactory bridges and through water.

When all the variations are taken into account, this is still not a game which could be described as being state-of-the-art or even the best of its kind. It is fast moving, it does give scope for great improvements in performance but if you like arcade games you could do much, much better.

Spy Hunter is produced of the 48K Spectrum by US Gold Ltd, Unit 10, Parkway Ind. Centre, Birmingham B7.

Rating: 36%

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Computer Issue June 1985   page(s) 35

Spectrum 48K
US Gold

If you've seen this one in the arcades, you'll need no encouragement from me. A fast and furious race game, with the narrow road ahead teeming with enemy agents bent on your destruction. Only your agility, driving and good shooting will save you, your country and probably civilisation.

On the roads there are three types of enemy car which must be dealt with in different ways: shooting up innocent bystanders is frowned upon, but good fun. On the water, there are no day-trippers, but the rocks, torpedoes and barrels will keep you busy. There is even a helicopter to contend with. Tricky if you haven't got your missile loaded up yet. You start off with just a machine gun, but missiles, smoke cannisters and oil pods can be acquired by entering the weapons truck.

The controls are easy to use, with steering, accelerator and brake. Weapons are fired by a combination of stick and fire button to control which weapon is fired.

Overall: 4/5

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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