Spy Hunter

Reviewed by Jim Short


Issue 21

May/Jun 86

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Sega/US Gold 

48k disk 14.95

48k cassette 9.95

1/2 players
1/2 joysticks




Most people would agree that, with few exceptions, the Americans still lead the field in top quality software with Lucasfilm, Synapse, First Star and, lately, Activision and Broderbund showing everyone else how it should be done. Some way below this elite group come the likes of Sega.


Sega are a company who baffle me. Despite years of Atari experience they have yet to produce a game which can be classed as even moderately exceptional. True, they make great arcade games but their Atari computer conversions are invariably sub-standard due to the fact, no doubt, that they persist in cramming them into 16K Rom cartridges - but then again Activision, Parker Bros and even Atari themselves have produced some brilliant Roms in their time, so where does that leave Sega?


Anyway, SPY HUNTER is yet another arcade conversion which initially found it's way onto the Atari via a 16K Rom and has subsequently been downloaded onto cassette so that it now masquerades as a 48K program. Surprisingly enough, it's actually quite good.


SPY HUNTER is a driving game with a 'James Bond' type spy theme. The life of a world class master spy is not a cushy one as any budding James Bond will tell you and, in this game, you must endeavour to drive your spymobile down a busy highway, chased by an endless string of psychopathic killers with equally  psychopathic names such as the Switch Blade, the Enforcer, Doctor Torpedo and the Mad Bomber.


Your spy-mobile is equipped with an arsenal of deadly weapons to help you dispose of your enemies and extra weapons are gained by driving your car, Knight Rider style, into the backs of various moving trucks which appear at strategic points along the highway. As far as I can gather, the sole aim of the game is to survive for as long as possible. This largely consists of destroying all your enemies by shooting them or driving them off the road, whilst trying to prevent them doing likewise to you!

The screen shows a plan view of the proceedings with the action taking place over a constantly scrolling landscape, featuring some fast vertical scrolling of ultra-smooth proportions, which should be more than enough to turn owners of the jerky BBC Micro green with envy (if you've ever seen C.V.J. -'Coarse Vertical jerking' - on the BBC then you'll know what I'm talking about). And if that's not a bit of Atari one-upmanship then I don't know what is!!

As if you didn't have enough trouble to contend with - what with raving lunatics dropping bombs on you from passing helicopters or trying to shred your tyres with their buzz-saw hubcaps - the terrain changes at regular intervals and throws up forks in the road and icy conditions just to keep you on your toes. Mind you, if you don't like it you can always abandon the road and take to the water. Simply drive through any boathouse and your car immediately becomes amphibious. I wouldn't recommend it though - the water is teeming with enemy agents.


Control is best via two joysticks. One can be used at a push but a couple of keyboard inputs are then necessary in order to use your full quota of weapons. This doesn't exactly make life simple but it does give you the chance to practise your one-handed driving technique!

SPY HUNTER isn't going to top the Atari software charts but it is an enjoyable game for all that. Well worth investigating.