Spy Hunter (NES) Review

Click here to view the Spy Hunter (NES) description page for screenshots and more information.

Review by Cowboy Yojimbo (February 2020)

Spy Hunter is a hybrid of shoot-em-ups and racing games that was released in 1987, four years after its arcade counterpart. It filled a gap for vehicular action, in a genre that was primarily filled with space shooters. Your mission is to drive the C.I.A Prototype Interceptor and seek & destroy enemy agents on the road. That’s it.

Players will face road hazards, pedestrian vehicles, and enemies equipped with everything from tire slashers to torpedoes, and bomb hurling helicopters. Your goal is to reach the end, while racking up the points, acquiring special weapons and taking out enemy vehicles.

Movement is constant, but the speed can be adjusted with UP and DOWN on the D-Pad. The points rack up faster the faster you drive, but maneuvering and spotting other vehicles and road hazards, such as puddles, ice and craters, becomes more challenging.

The B button fires your standard machine guns, while A is for special equipment. Friendly transport units are found along the way, where the player must maneuver up the back ramp and inside, to be equipped with additional weapons; a feature that is quite novel. Special weapons include a smoke screen to slow down enemies in pursuit, oil to eliminate pursuers, and heat-seeking missiles to take out enemy helicopters.

Gameplay can eventually lead to controlling a boat which is equipped with the same weapons as your car. Enemies, however, can drop exploding barrels and launch rear torpedoes.

Spy Hunter is fast, immediate and fun, making it fairly addictive. The NES version unfortunately lacks the finesse that the Arcade had. The largest and most frustrating issue is the game’s speed settings. Toggling between speeds with the D-Pad feels like picking between, normal, too slow and too fast. Too fast requires a large degree of luck when it comes to avoiding hazards, as you will often be dead before you even noticed the pedestrian car you just rammed into. Players will have to become adept at swapping between speeds constantly. Collision detection can also be a bit spotty.

Ultimately, Spy Hunter does a decent job of bringing the action to your home, but sadly leaves the arcade version as the preferable option between its speed issues and odd bugs. But for players who are first stepping in to Spy Hunter or have fond memories of it, you can’t do wrong picking this up for your collection.

This Spy Hunter review is property of RetroMaggedon.com, ©2020

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