Thursday, October 15, 2009

Retro Game of the Day! Spy Hunter

Retro Game of the Day! Spy Hunter

Spy Hunter by Midway, original arcade release in 1983, and ported to plenty of consoles.

Yes - one of the most bad-ass video games ever seen is today's feature. This was the machine that had it all - the cabinet looked cool. It had driving accoutrements (wheel, gas pedal, gearshift). It had an incredible name. It had great music. It involved not only driving, but shooting as well - I could go on! Any kid who saw this immediately started to feed it quarters. Sure, Dragon's Lair seemed much more impressive at first glance, but once you got over the fact that you couldn't really "play" that game in anything other than a binary fashion, you'd set up shop in front of Spy Hunter until all that was left in your acid-washed jeans pcoket was dryer lint..

Such an amazing game back in the day. The setup was this - you controlled a souped-up sports care with unlimited machine-gun ammunition built right into the front of the chassis. Your goal is to tear up te road, avoiding obstacles (and pedestrian vehicles) while engaging and destroying your enemies, of which there was a fairly colorful variety. Mostly other autos, but sometimes you'd need to battle helicopters and speedboats as well. While driving a very treacherous roadway at high speeds, occasionally the machine would alert you that a Knight Rider-style weapons van was going to pull on the screen. If you boarded, it would outfit you with some nice powerups the likes of which James Bond would utilize - oil slick, smokescreen, missiles to fire at helicopters. This game was nothing short of empowering!

To top it off, you could briefly trade in your wheels for a speedboat at some portions of the game and take your fight to the river. It was a refreshing change and "a litle extra something"which added ot the coolness factor of the game.

Spy Hunter was, obviously, quite popular in its day and enjoyed several home conversions, understandably. Being of the NES generation, a decent version appeared on that system - but for my money, the Atari 400/800 port was the real deal. This setup was crazy - joysticks for those machines were strictly 2600 style, meaning a directional stick with a single action button, which was just not enough input for this game! Rather than utilizing the (standard issue) keyboard, they shipped the game with a special joystick caddy which would hold 2 regular sticks and present them as a single-game contraption. It was a funky setup - but it was cool in it's weirdness, and felt pretty good.

Still a wonderful game to this day, I believe a decent port exists on the iPhone - check it out!

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