One of the hardest tasks in games development has to be when you take a vintage game from the past and convert it to the modern day gaming environment. So many classic titles have ended up looking rubbish when they have been brought onto modern day machines. The unfortunate conversions leave you wandering what you ever saw in the original game. When I heard that Spyhunter, a game which I played an awful lot of on my Sinclair Spectrum 48k back in the 1980s, was coming to the PS2, XBOX and GameCube I was sceptical to say the least that the conversion would be a successful one. Thankfully I needn't have worried because the developers have done a superb job and believe it or not it still feels like the original Spyhunter.
You play as Alec Sects and drive the G-6155 Interceptor. The Interceptor is a superb vehicle that as well as being a blistering fast sports car it also has amphibious qualities and can even convert into a lighter and quicker motorcycle type vehicle if it becomes too damaged. You are part of Team Spyhunter and it is your job to put an end to the machinations of the evil Nostra International who are determined to bring great suffering upon the world, primarily by removing all electricity supplies.
Spyhunter is a vehicular combat/car chase game, spread over 14 levels in numerous locations, that is both engrossing and easy to enjoy. Unlike other games in this genre, the enemies come thick and fast and from all directions. Not only do you have to deal with other road vehicles attacking you, there are also helicopters and jets trying to blow you off the road. Imagine an action scene from a James Bond movie and multiply it by about 20 and you'll have something similar to Spyhunter. Just like the original games you'll also have assistance from the Transport van which helps you to repair damage. You will also be able to use such items as the oil slick, smoke screen and flame-thrower from time to time to assist you. You can also use GPS trackers that will enable you to locate vehicles that you want to follow.
One of the key elements of Spyhunter was how quickly and seamlessly the action switched from the road to the water. This version is no exception and as you leave the road, the Interceptor morphs into a speed boat or turbo jet watercraft, to enable you to keep moving. If you've played the original Spyhunter games then you will be pleased that the spirit of these games have been loving recreated.
The only disappointments with the game are to do with the frame rate and lack of subtitles. The game looks good, although it is probably not pushing the GameCube as hard as it could. The control of the car is just right and a delight to manoeuvre. The frame rate often dips just enough to take the edge off the fluidity though. It doesn't spoil the game but it is a shame that the frame rate is not as constant as it should be. The lack of subtitles are more of a disappointment for the deaf gamer. Don't get me wrong it won't impair your enjoyment of the title but it would have been nice if the cutscenes had been subtitled. The Interceptor comes equipped with an onboard computer 'Leonie' that informs you verbally of possible targets and enemy analysis. None of this information is subtitled. This lack of this information does slightly put you at a disadvantage but the game is still very much playable without the information as all of the mission objectives are given in text before each mission.
Spyhunter is a must for fans of the original arcade/Sinclair Spectrum version. The missions all feel true to the original game and for this the developers must be commended. They have even thrown in a few multiplayer games which are decent affairs and will keep you and a friend entertained for a while. Spyhunter does have a few niggles for the deaf game but nothing that spoils the experience of the game, if vehicular combat/car chase games are your thing then Spyhunter is your only real choice on GameCube.
Overall Game Rating: 7.8/10 Unbelievably it still feels and plays like the original game.
Deaf Gamers comment: No subtitles in cutscenes and no subtitles for the information that the onboard computer is giving out are a disappointment but the game is still enjoyable and will please fans of the series.