Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Top 30 Vertical Shooters for the Atari 2600 #9

Spy Hunter

Cue the Peter Gunn theme (because we couldn't get the license for James Bond!)  You really wouldn't think the VCS would be cable of executing a game with as much going on as Spy Hunter, but somehow, someway, here it is.  Crisp, solid graphics, lots of colors and absolute minimal flicker, all of the secondary weapons and enemy agent cars, street and water action, this game has it all.  And on top of all of that, it captures the essence and fun of the arcade original surprisingly well.

Spy Hunter is all-out action.  From the minute the trucks drops you off until you are cruising the river dodging scuttle, the game in right in your face.  As a matter of fact, the biggest problem I have playing the game is curbing my desire to run full blast through the game.  That is the best and fastest way to end your game.  But that has more to do with me than with the game.  As a matter of fact, if you can learn to pace yourself and take your time, you can really wrack up points and go far in the game.  My other big fault is that I get locked into using the secondary weapons in deference to everything else.  I love to see that smoke trail wiping out back guys.  You can shoot at any time in the game, but it is a rare occasion that you can take out foes indiscriminately with a mud slick!  But much like the former, this is often the source of my demise as well.

Speaking of secondary weapons, Spy Hunter is one of the few games that requires an extra button so you have to use both controllers.  Back in the day they packed-in a special doo-dad that allowed you to hook both controllers together and use the button on controller 2, but these days I just put controller 2 on the floor and tap the button with my foot.  It works just as well.  This feature does make the game a bit hard to play if you are unaccustomed to improvising.  If you can get it working, though, you are in for a treat.

Spy Hunter is a lot of fun.  The difficulty ramps extremely smartly and the game is surprisingly deep considering the number of special features it boasts.  There is plenty of challenge right out of the gate and by the time the helicopter shows up you'll find yourself well tested.  However, because the game has so many great features, it is easy to reset and go again without getting too frustrated.

Spy Hunter breaks the top ten on this list because it aims high in trying to bring the arcade experience of Spy Hunter to the home console and it manages to hit that target rather well.  The game is fun, challenging and surprisingly deep.  When I get into a Spy Hunter mode, I tend to play it for hours.  Spy Hunter provides an arcade close experience and looks great doing it!

My Top Spy Hunter Score: 50,000

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