Super Spy Hunter
- Publisher: Sunsoft
- Developer: Tokai Engineering
- Release: NES, February 1992
- Genre: 2D Action (Shoot-em-up)
- Players: 1
- Save: N/A
- Rarity/Cost: Moderate, US$20-30
Let me state for the record that I'm not of the mindset that a sequel should slavishly follow whatever concepts were established by its predecessor. I believe my Zelda II review made that perfectly clear. But try telling that to general public. For some reason, sequels that stray from what is commonly perceived as the original formula are forgotten at best, and shunned at worst. For example: what comes to mind when you think of Spy Hunter? You drive a car that can shoot machine guns to disable other cars, and you pick up special weapons like oil slicks, smoke screens, and missiles from weapons vans. Actually, our new game's still got all that. But Super Spy Hunter throws so many little changes into the mix that it develops an identity of its own.
When you press and hold the B button, your car shoots bullets from three directions: one from the front, and two from a turret on the roof, which you can change the angle of by holding A. I suppose this offers a degree of versatility, even strategy, to gameplay, but I for one just found it an unnecessary encumbrance. I had an easier time finding one of the power-ups that automatically sets the angle to lock-on to enemies, but I guess your mileage may vary. Just don't pick up another one of those items, or you'll lose the ability again. Which brings me to my next point...
The weapons vans make their return appearance, in concept anyway. Instead of driving into them, you shoot them up to release whichever item they're holding. The red ones offer upgrades to your weapon power, fire rate, maximum health, etc., and the blue ones hold special weapons and other miscellany. Curiously, special weapons are triggered with the same button as the one that rotates your turret, so if you haven't found a lock-on item yet, enjoy spending a precious extra second resetting your angle. Unlike in Spy Hunter -- and indeed many shoot-em-ups of the time, I'm not singling out its "predecessor" or anything -- you don't go down with one hit. Instead, you have a lifebar, which can be refilled or even extended by picking up certain power-ups.
|I found bosses considerably harder than their preceding stages.|
Super Spy Hunter ups its game in more areas than just gameplay, though. As a game made for a console which found itself in the shadow of a successor product just a year earlier, it had to stand out in some flashy way in order to have any hope of decent sales. To that effect, Super Spy Hunter employs some innovative graphical moments for its time. On certain levels, the road will curve to the left or right, and the screen scrolls along with it. True, this effect chugs the frame rate something awful, but for the NES in 1992, I appreciate the effort. Other memorable moments include sections of level 2, where you dodge quicksand pits in the desert, and level 4, where you go off ramps to take monster jumps, and attempt to land on the road again as it zooms in from the background. And as further homage to the original Spy Hunter, later levels have your car transform into a boat and even a plane.
|Super Spy Hunter employs impressive, if technologically taxing,|
special effects by the NES's standards.
Control: 4 out of 5
Design: 4 out of 5
Graphics: 4 out of 5
Audio: 5 out of 5
The Call: 85% (B+)