The famous Bally Midway arcade game was converted to the ZX Spectrum by Denton Designs and released by US Gold back in 1985.
The arcade game had been really popular and we were treated to a decent version on the good old Speccy.
In the game you play the part of a world class spy, driving for your life in a snazzy bondesque turbo-charged and armed sports car. The road is crawling with enemy agents bent on your destruction.
You had to manoeuvre your car along the road ways and water ways (where it would convert into a speedboat) watching out for the Road Lord, the Switch Blade, the Enforcer and many other enemies.
The arcade action began with the Weapons Van rolling up from the bottom of the screen and stopping at the shoulder of the road. Your car would then roll out of the back, prepped with fully loaded machine guns.
Your car could be moved left and right as well as forwards (accelerate) and backwards (which could be used to come to a standstill).
The game was a vertically scrolling romp, with the road weaving and forking as you blasted and rammed your way through the enemies.
What was cool about the game was the varying weapons at your disposal. Not only could you blast the bad guys with machine guns, you could also power up with rocket launchers, oil slicks and smoke screens. Muhahahaaa!
If all else failed you could try and ram or nudge the bad guys into the road edge, disposing of them nicely.
The terrain changed too as you traversed the course. As the game moved on you were eventually given the chance to drive into a waterway. Here your car entered a boathouse and automatically became amphibious, skimming along the surface of the water with ease.
Now it was time for waterborne arcade action as you battled away against enemy speedboats et al.
Every now and again the weapons van would appear on the roadway, ready to supply you with weapons power ups. To gain the power up you had to drive into the van by moving behind it and driving up the rear ramp to get on board. Once you had been powered up you would then roll out the back and the game would continue.
There were plenty of different enemies to dispose of (in classic arcade fashion), each one with different strengths and weaknesses:
The 'Road Lord' was bulletproof and had to be rammed off the road
The 'Switch Blade' had nasty extended buzz-saw hubcaps to slice you up nicely
The 'Barrel Dumper' dumped barrels in water ahead of you, sneaky b*stard
The 'Enforcer' fired a powerful shotgun
The 'Mad Bomber' aimed bombs at you
The 'Doctor Torpedo' unsurprisingly tried to torpedo your ass into oblivion...
All of this aside running off the road or water caused you to crash and lose a life...
Well the arcade game was a huge hit so the converion was eagerly awaited. We were glad to get a nice conversion of the game (Crash Magazine awared it Smash status) and not a quick cash in. I suppose it could have been better with some improved sound effects and smoother scrolling, but overall it was playable, fun and addictive. It did well on the Spectrum and was a big hit.
The test of time:
This classic game is still quite fun in a quirky way. Picking up the different weapons does not have the wow factor it did back then, but you know what, it plays quite well and brings back the nostalgia nicely. Not bad at all.
We recommend getting hold of the real Sinclair hardware but if not then download this one for a ZX Spectrum emulator. Alternatively you could try and play it online.
Please see our other ZX Spectrum retro game reviews and programmer interviews - all links are listed in alphabetical order. Cheers guys.
GENRE: Arcade Game
RELEASE DATE: 1985
RELEASED BY: US Gold
DEVELOPER(S): Denton Designs and F David Thorpe
Classic arcade action...
Classic Games, Arcade Games and ZX Spectrum Games
Spy Hunter! I loved this game in the arcades, I seem to remember playing the ST version but not the Speccy's.
There was no official conversion of Spy Hunter to the ST. Microdeal made a rip-off version called 'Major Motion' which was essentially the same game with an altered theme tune and slightly different graphics.
The speccy version was pretty playable, but the sound let it down IMHO. The rendition of the 'Peter Gunn' theme in the background on the arcade game really lent to the enjoyment, and the C64 managed a good version of this as well.
I think 128k enhancement would have really helped, but the game was released slightly before the 128 came out.
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