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by Midway

SpyHunter_SSHT1_LG-01.jpg (5286 bytes)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 didn’t 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 wasn’t very good at it, but that didn’t deter me from popping quarter after quarter into it.

The greatest miracle of Midway’s latest Spyhunter game isn’t 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.

SpyHunter_SSHT3_LG-01.jpg (7407 bytes)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. I’ve done it so many times that there just isn’t any excitement in it. And who’s to say that the world’s 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. It’s 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 who’s behind you, you really don’t take too much advantage of the oil slick or smoke screen.

SpyHunter_SSHT2_LG-01.jpg (7515 bytes)The levels are well designed with a variety of goals to make things interesting. They tend to be over very quickly, and they’re 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 KITT’s-- 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 didn’t notice any slowdown whatsoever. I only wish that this game had come out a little before GT3. I couldn’t help thinking how amazing this game would have been with that level of graphics, but I shouldn’t complain too much.

SpyHunter_SSHT4_LG-01.jpg (8339 bytes)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 didn’t play to my full potential.

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 I’m having a really hard time evaluating the game on its own merits. Sure, it was a little repetitive, but I didn’t mind. Sure, the levels tended to be a little short and simple, but I didn’t mind that either. Those who didn’t 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, it’s a no brainer.

Jason Frank   (12/06/2001)


Ups: Big-time nostalgia value; nice new take on classic Spyhunter elements; badass spy car.

Downs: Levels a bit short; gets kind of repetitive.

Platform: PlayStation 2