We often talk of music in terms of its ability to take us back in time to
certain places and emotions. Video games too have this power of sentimental time travel.
The original arcade version of Spyhunter is synonymous with those emotionally charged
junior high school days. It was a time in my life where Phil Collins' Sussudio
blared from my record player; it was the time of my first crush, and it was a time in my
life where I was acutely aware that I didnt really fit in. At the center of it all
was Spyhunter. It was everything that a great arcade game should be: cool cars, cool
gadgets and the coolest steering wheel on the market. I have to admit that I wasnt
very good at it, but that didnt deter me from popping quarter after quarter into it.
The greatest miracle of Midways latest Spyhunter game isnt the graphics,
but rather its ability to evoke the spirit of the original. I felt like I felt when I was
twelve at the mall arcade. They only things that were missing were the gas pedal and the
funky steering wheel.
All of the familiar baddies are back in 3-D splendor this time,
plus a few new ones to add a little variety. Your mission is to save the world again. I
have to admit that I am getting a little bored with saving the world. Ive done it so
many times that there just isnt any excitement in it. And whos to say that the
worlds a better place for preventing Nostra from carrying out its schemes of world
domination. Maybe they could add a degree of order to the chaos that surrounds us, but I
digress. The goal of the game is to save the world, so save it I must.
As with most Midway games, Spyhunter has a very arcadey feel to it. The controls are
quite simple and straightforward which makes for a pretty easy learning curve. You should
have no problem working your way through the training sequence at the beginning of the
game. At your disposal is the G-1655 Interceptor armed with machine guns, missiles, smoke
screen, and oil slicks. Its pretty easy to cycle through the weapons and be well on
your way to taking control of the situation. The only complaint I have is the difficulty
in using the defensive capabilities of the Interceptor. Since you really never have a
really good idea of whos behind you, you really dont take too much advantage
of the oil slick or smoke screen.
The levels are well designed with a variety of goals to make
things interesting. They tend to be over very quickly, and theyre not as difficult
as they could be. The game starts to feel repetitive pretty early on, but it gets
interesting when you have to chase down another Interceptor and keep in from falling into
the wrong hands. Each level is sprinkled with healthy doses of water and road combat. The
car to boat transformation is cooler than the second generation KITTs-- which you
have to admit was pretty cool.
The game's graphics are more than serviceable. The game clips along at a very solid
framerate. I didnt notice any slowdown whatsoever. I only wish that this game had
come out a little before GT3. I couldnt help thinking how amazing this game would
have been with that level of graphics, but I shouldnt complain too much.
There are a ton of secrets to unlock in the game. All of the added
content makes this game feel more like a DVD than a PS2 game. The question is, how hard
are you willing to work to watch the Saliva video on the disc? I have to admit that it
made little difference whether I saw it or not, so I probably didnt play to my full
I honestly have no idea how much those who have never played the original will enjoy
this incarnation. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but so much of that enjoyment was rooted in
nostalgia that Im having a really hard time evaluating the game on its own merits.
Sure, it was a little repetitive, but I didnt mind. Sure, the levels tended to be a
little short and simple, but I didnt mind that either. Those who didnt live
for the original might want to hold off from buying this game and just rent it to see. For
those of us firmly rooted in the experience of mid-eighties gaming, its a no