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Spy Hunter

Reviewed by Dogg Whether we like it or not, these days coming up with brand new ideas for games becomes so difficult that many companies give up what they like so much. Midway is a company that almost so closely follows that example. They've been known for games that have given up so much hope (see Mortal Kombat), and this is sad because they were such a good company back in their glory days. One of the emerging 'big' name titles back then was the entertaining, but rather repetitious Spy Hunter. Here, you played a silver car that very closely resembled a Mercedes-Benz or a silvery-polished Ford as seen in many automobile shops today. With this car you gunned down enemies till you reached the end of the level. Then you repeated again in the next part of the next level. Sounds kind of confusing by today's standards, but it was most definitely groundbreaking by early game standards. Then in 2001 Midway reluctantly announced a remake for Spy Hunter. It was penned down for Sony's industry giant—the PlayStation 2. Soon ports were brought over to Nintendo and Microsoft's consoles. Now many had a chance to reminisce in the glory days of gaming, while also rocking down to classic and modern rock tunes. But now Spy Hunter is being brought over to the Game Boy Advance. It really is hard to put such games into such small systems, but with Spy Hunter the rendering and self-input seems to be very well done. It is very erroneous to compare this game to its console brethrens, but it is most definitely is not a mistake to compare this game to the other 'big' crop of games coming on the hand-held side (besides wasn't that old Midway collection for the Game Boy Color a success, more so 'cause it featured Spy Hunter?). This remade conversion of the classic Spy Hunter doesn't look much different in comparison; but in the true prospect of a gamer it is a brand new quest sought to teach you to hunt down enemy personnel. Once again you will be able to play as that classic silver Spy car (it is called an Interceptor in this game) which is still equipped with a missile launcher to launch off non-homing rockets at oncoming enemies, as well as a built in gun turret which also fires at an incredible speed and brings large amounts of enemies down within seconds. While these weapons are useful, most of the time you won't have to use them since the greatest skills you have are strafing to all sides, while avoiding enemy attacks and then hitting the main point in the area—whether it be missile launchers to a self-automated chopper—and then instantly bringing it down. Other then the weapons you can also boost up. Thanks to an extra cylinder of gas in the car you will be able to boost up your car in amazing speeds, which will help you track down many of the fast enemies in this game. Sounds easy, right? Wrong. Spy Hunter still retains its classic status to be a hard-as-hell game limiting to a faithful few who would actually ever get a chance to beat this game. The levels—over 8 in all—all range in difficulty. The practice course and the first level should be a piece of cake for veterans or to people interested in the genre. But soon you'll see the inner and deeper side to this game. By the time you reach the third level you'll already be crying in merciless pain; in this level you must hunt down a stolen Interceptor, the same brand your car is. By the time you will finish the third level (took me over a day, I'm serious) you will then go to the jewel eyes that is the next level where you hunt down missile placements and must hit down choppers, towers, and must even protect brazen civilians from the clutch of your evil enemies. The next levels follow more of the extreme difficulty that can be seen within these early levels. Like a big Contra 1, 2, and 3 fan would tell you, 'don't expect to beat this within a day!' The missions, as little to little explained, are mostly different within each passing stage. The only ones that you'll constantly and constantly see are these two: Activate SATCOMs, and Minimize Civilian Casualties. As a spy and big first-person shooter buff, the minimize civilian casualties is almost a breather to be in this game. However, the civilian automobiles roaming around the street can be annoying—more so in the third level because they're almost everywhere so getting a hit on the stolen Interceptor can be quite hard. Minor fret behind, the Activate SATCOMs objective is, however, also no easy thing. Here you must find several green specs in the area and then you must collect them. After you collect one you will have to get the others. Not easy, but it's not really needed for full progression in this game. Rather than being just a car, your Interceptor automobile allows your car to transform when in need of a different route of transportation, or when your automobile has taken too much damage. When it takes too much damage your car will transform to a motorcycle (basically the same as the car, save for its ability to be faster). And when your car (or motorcycle) goes through a path filled with water, your car will transform in order to be sustainable to the water, or to put it simply, the automobile practically transforms into an outreach boat. The boat-like transformation doesn't have any important differences from the original so there's no need to say anything more about the stature of your automobile's transformations. The different enemies roaming around the area are your average fairs of bland enemies who'll shoot you for a while, then leave an open spot for full attack. Enemy automobiles range from motorcycles, hoodlum black-like cars, to even armor trucks that most closely resemble tanks. All the enemies are pretty smart, even if it really doesn't look that way. For example: in the third level when tracking down the stolen Interceptor I came upon some enemies. I came face-to-face with them. I tried to get myself out of the impudent mess, but soon all the enemies went in front of me and then all of a sudden they fired mad fast at my car, already transforming that excellent heap of machine to a half-destroyed motorcycle. There were even worse times where such a monstrosity came into being—most times resulting in my motorcycle blowing up. Pretty smart, eh? The graphics are as bland and as generic as can be, sort of like most Game Boy Advance games these days. On one end of the spectrum you got well-designed car models and creative backgrounds, on the other end you have pixilated graphics that might displease some here and there. Doesn't matter, though, because while they are a bit washed out, they still are great. Water-effects are also great too, as are explosion and other SNES looking effects that simultaneously take place in this game. The short cut-scenes that take place are also great—sort of like the console versions. While the graphics are antiquated, the sound effects and background tunes are just great. Everything from your car exploding to the sound of your car transforming is all captivatingly, and amusingly well done. There were times when I thought to myself, 'hmm… where's the Saliva music?' But that little thing is just a thing that simply doesn't bother me at all (sides some of the Peter Gunn tunes are still here, so what more can you ask for?) if you were concerned. Overall, Spy Hunter is a superb and well-exploited try from the peeps over at Midway Studios. While it is not exactly perfect, Spy Hunter is indeed a gamer's game that puts you in the true feat of actually protecting the world; while reluctantly killing evil forces when in the clutches of near defeat. It is most definitely a linear game, but who cares? Remember good old Crash Bandicoot? Remember his games? They were all linear. Each and every one of them, yet each one was almost better then the last (if you count out the PS2 version and Crash Bash). Nevertheless, Spy Hunter is one of those games on the Game Boy Advance that triggers an experience. While it's not exactly perfect, but hell what game unerringly is perfect. If you like them old 80's style games with a 90's style twist, and have not given the console versions a try, then do your best to please play Spy Hunter. Chances are that you won't be displeased with this game.

Overall: 8 out of 10

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