Digital Spy

Search Digital Spy
3

Gaming Blog

'Spy Hunter' retrospective: A James Bond-inspired arcade smash

By
'Spy Hunter' screenshot

Screenshot from retro classic 'Spy Hunter'


First Released: 1983 (arcade)
Now Available On: N/A

If the enduring popularity of the James Bond franchise has proven one thing, it's that nothing captures the imagination of the public like the world of espionage. Bally Midway's 1983 arcade hit Spy Hunter capitalised on the success of Ian Fleming's creation, offering gamers the chance to take the wheel of a 007-esque sports car.

The original arcade cabinet came in both upright and sit-down versions, with a futuristic steering wheel, two-position stick shift and pedal used to control the on-screen vehicle.

Spy Hunter was an action-driving game viewed from the top-down perspective in which the player assumed control of a government operative behind the wheel of the fictitious G-6155 Interceptor, an armed sports car with the ability to transform into a cigarette boat and take to water.

'Spy Hunter' screenshot

Screenshot from retro classic 'Spy Hunter'



The object of the game was to travel the winding roads on an ongoing highway, taking out enemy cars and protecting civilian vehicles. Rival spies would attempt to force the player off the road or obliterate them with weaponry. There was even an enemy helicopter that rained down bombs from above, just in case being tailed by deadly assassins wasn't enough.

That G-6155 Interceptor was hardly defenceless, though. The car came equipped with a mounted machine gun and a handy munitions truck that passed by at intervals gave players access to special weapons - oil slicks, smoke screens and surface-to-air missiles.

Spy Hunter struck a chord among the high-score fanatics, with each arcade-goer determined to record a better run than the last. As far as we know the game was endless, but the scenery and weather conditions changed periodically, not that the player had much time to stop and take in their surroundings.

'Spy Hunter' screenshot

Screenshot from retro classic 'Spy Hunter'



As we previously mentioned, there were water-based segments in which the player's vehicle transformed into a boat and if the developers had their way, there would have been air sequences in the final product. Stages where the player took to the skies in a helicopter were planned, but ultimately dropped due to memory limitations.

Monty Norman's famous James Bond theme was used in early versions of the game but rights issues forced Midway to backtrack and replace it with an electronic arrangement of Henry Mancini's theme to Peter Gunn.

Spy Hunter was ported to virtually every home platform that was around back in the early 1980s, and some conversions were better than others. The NES edition had horrific collision detection, with players able to pass straight through the scenery at times. A similar glitch in the Commodore 64 and Atari 8-bit versions allowed players to drive along the black border at the side of the screen.

'Spy Hunter' screenshot

Screenshot from retro classic 'Spy Hunter'



The game's enduring legacy convinced Midway to resurrect it in 2001 with 3D graphics for PlayStation 2, Xbox, Nintendo GameCube and more to generally favourable reviews. This was followed by a sequel in 2003 and a further reboot by TT Fusion on Nintendo 3DS and PS Vita last year.

Spy Hunter may have been originally inspired by movies but the game itself has since inspired a proposed film. Universal Pictures has held the screen rights to the property since 2003 and recently appointed Zombieland helmer Ruben Fleischer to direct said project.

This just goes to show how influential Midway's action-driving game was when it arrived in arcades in 1983. True classics like this never fade from memory. Instead they inspire countless reboots and Hollywood movies, or so it would seem.

You May Like

Comments

Loading...