Most gamers probably won’t remember the 1950s detective show Peter Gunn. But start whistling the theme song, and many people in their thirties are likely to shout out, “SpyHunter!” For a generation of coin-op fans, that theme is forever associated with driving a white sports car, blasting enemy cars with machine guns, and spraying oil in your wake to keep armed bad guys off your tail. Now SpyHunter is back for the Mac, this time from Aspyr Media.
Any good secret-agent story requires an evil, covert organization, and SpyHunter’s is NOSTRA. The group plans to deplete the world of electricity, using a networked array of satellites. Your job, of course, is to put an end to NOSTRA’s scheming.
In SpyHunter, you drive a G-6155 Interceptor. Like James Bond, XXX, and other secret agents, you have a vehicle stuffed to the gills with weapons: machine guns, missiles, tracking devices, oil slicks, and more. What’s more, your Interceptor can transform from a high-performance race car into a speedboat. And if it’s seriously hit, it can even shed damaged parts and become a motorcycle or jet ski, depending on the terrain. Although the smaller vehicles are more manoeuvrable, they’re less protected and have fewer weapons. If you manage to make it to the Weapons Van, you can rebuild and restock your Interceptor.
To complete each mission, you must finish a primary objective – a task such as tagging boats with tracking devices or blowing up structures. There are also secondary objectives – destroy all of a certain class of enemy vehicle, for example – for which you receive bonuses. Complete all missions, and get an upgraded vehicle.
Driving through each level is a linear affair; there’s a start point and an end point, and you have a finite number of minutes to complete each objective and rendezvous with your contact. However, you can often ferret out shortcuts or secondary routes.
While the game has some amenities that you won’t find in the console versions, such as support for multiple resolutions, its origins remain all too obvious – particularly when it comes to graphics. It’s a bit jarring to stare at high-resolution images of your car and enemies and low-resolution, blocky background images and dithered explosions.
It’s worth noting that SpyHunter is Aspyr’s first attempt to create a title for both Mac and PC in hopes of narrowing the gap between when the PC version ships and when the Mac version ships
SpyHunter is a fun arcade-style driving romp – a genre we don’t have enough of on the Mac. Its age and some stability issues work against it, but fans of the original and curious newcomers will find plenty to enjoy.