Spy Hunter (NES)

Spy Hunter Box Art

Spy Hunter

System: NES

Release Date: September 1987

Developer: Sunsoft

Publisher: Sunsoft

Genre: Shoot ‘em Up

Spy Hunter on NES is a poor man’s Action Fighter on Sega Master System. I went into this one with what I thought were memories of a decent game. Maybe I was thinking of Super Spy Hunter? Anyway, Spy Hunter plays very similar to Action Fighter, except that instead of a flying section, there is a boat section. I was only able to get to the boat once, though, so I couldn’t say if there’s anything beyond it.

At a fork in the road.

You start off in your car equipped with machine guns. You can shoot those as much as you want, but only in front of you. And if you do shoot something, be prepared to swerve to avoid the enemy’s carcass. You drive forward, up on the screen and have to avoid enemy vehicles (colored dark blue), pedestrian vehicles (colored red), helicopters that drop bombs from above, road hazards (like water puddles), and the widening, narrowing, forking, etc. of the road.

Me going ‘splodey.

Does all of this sound familiar? It should. There is a timer in the bottom right corner of the screen that counts down from 999. While it’s counting down, feel free to die however often you’d like, but once it hits zero, you have two lives with which to complete the game. You can collect three weapon powerups, an oil slick, a smoke spray, and a surface to air missile. The oil slick and smoke spray deploy behind your vehicle and run others off the road. The surface to air missile is the helicopter killer.

The boat section, it didn’t last long.

The road is never ending. There are no bosses. The terrain changes color to simulate different biomes, but this game is just race and shoot until you die. I didn’t care for this one, because to be able to live long, you have to go slow. What’s the point of a car shooting game if you can’t go fast? At certain points, you may be forced into a boat section. This controls way worse than the car portion, with the boat continuing to move after you stop pressing left or right.

Graphics: 1.0

The graphics are on the low end of what we’ve been expecting up until now.

Sound: 1.0

You get an 8-bit rendition of the Spy Hunter theme and various sound effects.

Gameplay: 1.0

With as few vehicles on the road at once, I shouldn’t have blown up so much.

Difficulty: 0.5

I swear, I was blowing up constantly until I went slow. I bet you can go a lot farther if you keep the speed down.

Fun Factor: 0.5

Keeping the speed low to go farther isn’t fun, though.

Overall Grade: 0.8

Spy Hunter earns a D. This is an example of an arcade game that should have stayed in the arcade. I suppose it’s fine for a couple quick tries, but it’s worse than Action Fighter, for sure.

Spy Hunter Video Review on YouTube