Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Arcade - Q*Bert


Sometimes, the simple ideas work best. If a game can be summed up in a fairly succinct sentence, it's a simple game, and in the 80s that was a recipe for success. For example: Run round a maze, eat all the dots, avoid the ememies, repeat ad infinitum. Shoot alien spacecraft before they shoot you. Make horizontal lines out of blocks to prevent them reaching the top of the screen. Or how about turn all the blocks the right colour by bouncing on them, avoiding the enemies?

Well, if that wasn't a giveaway, I don't know what is, because that is basically all you do in Q*Bert. Simples!

Simple doesn't mean easy, though. In fact, it's devilishly hard. First off, the games in a 3D perspective, and the game's physics plays real tricks on you as you progress.

Let's start from the beginning then... You start atop a pyramid made of cubes, and must commence jumping on all the cubes to change them to the correct colour. However, other creatures will soon start to show up, like bouncy balls that will go from top to bottom, trying to intercept you on the way. You'll notice first of all, however, that the purple ball will stop at the bottom, and turn into a relentlessly chasing snake, able to travel in exactly the same way as you... but slower.

There's a way to deal with it, but it's only temporary. The little discs at the side of the maze (you may have noticed them) are acutally lifts that take you back to the top of the pyramid. If you jump on one of these with the snake in pursuit, he will jump off after you, to his death... only to be replaced by another one seconds later. Still, there's bonus points in it for you.

From level 2, it starts to get harder very quickly indeed. Blocks will need 2 or 3 bounces to cycle through colours until you get the right one up, and enemies will start coming from all sides, almost as if gravity to them is sideways rather than downwards. The 3D view does you no favours here as they skip along the sides of cubes, and you try to work out what bloody way they're going, and which way you should go to avoid them.

But that's the game, that's where the real challenge lies, and that's where you'll keep coming back for more, no matter how frustrating you find it; A sign of a great game indeed! Somehow you never tire of seeing the nonsense-swear-word-speech-bubble pop up again and again and again...

Your chances of finding an original working cabinet (complete with solenoid to cause a "bump" inside the cabinet when you or an enemy plummet to your death) are slim, but worth a little effort to find. If you get nowhere, though, there's always MAME.

Finally, is it just me who thinks our hero in this game looks like a bodyless Cyril Sneer from The Raccoons?

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Arcade - Rampage


Ah, the old monster movies... Godzilla, King Kong... erm... quick, think of one involving a big wolf. Alright, I can't, but there probably is one. How great would it be if all three monsters got together in one movie?

Well, the wheels have been in motion since the mid-80s, when Bally Midway released the arcade game Rampage. 3 players can play at once, each assuming the role of one of the aforementioned monsters, or rather a non-copyright-infringing equivalent. The storyline is that you are actually a mutated human, the mutation being caused by some super vitamin or a radioactive lake or something.

And your aim? Well, pretty much cause as much destruction and devastation to the single screen play area as you can. Destroy all the buildings, and move onto the next screen. Sounds pretty simple, right? Well it would be, but unfortunately there's a lot of people none too happy about that. In particular, the armed forces are out to get you, with soldiers, helicopters and tanks all coming to try and take little bits off your health.

Luckily, your energy bar is pretty enormous, and it'll take a fair few hits before you finally succumb, at which point you revert to your naked human form, hastily sidestepping away whilst covering your vanity. Nice touch!

So, how do you bring the buildings down? Pretty simple, climb them and punch the living hell out of them. Using the joystick, you can aim your punch in different directions, so you can, for instance, punch directly upwards to take out a helicopter, or even behind you. But whilst you're on the side of a building you need to be punching either the outside walls or the windows. Once a building takes enough damage, it will start to crack, and then collapse. Unfortunately, you're probably still attached to the building, so you'd better jump off before you come down with it and receive a fair bit of damage.

Luckily, there are ways to give your health a boost, people and objects appear in windows, and you can eat some of these; beware, however, that some items will actually cause you damage. A good example of this is the toaster. Try to grab it and it electrocutes you... unless the toast has popped up, in which case you will eat the toast. Clever, huh?

The problem is... that's all there is to it. That's it. There's no official end to the game, you get a bonus every 128 levels, and after level 768 you go back to level 1... but this isn't a game to play score attack on. It's a game for a sharp burst of fun, a good laugh, even better with 2 friends. The high-res graphics remind me of Atari's games, but with typical Bally Midway cartooniness.

But now we come full circle... the game ripping off 3 major film franchises / monsters, is set to be made into a movie itself! It's almost unbelievable.

Whether it'll be any good or not, of course, is an entirely different story.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Arcade - Track & Field vs. Hyper Sports

Track & Field vs. Hyper Sports

OK, time for some controversy. Konami released a couple of athetlics games in quick succession back in the early 80s, specifically Track & Field (a.k.a. Hyper Olympic) and Hyper Sports (a.k.a. Hyper Sports). Popular opinion seems to be that 1983's Track & Field was the better title... but I've never been popular, and I'm going to take a contrary viewpoint.

You see, event for event, I think Hyper Sports wins hands down... But first, the plot: You're an athlete. Press the buttons to win. Repeat. Erm... no, I'm actually serious, that is it. Alright, there's more timing and accuracy involved than the usual bashing in these types of games, but I'll discuss that when it comes to the relevant events.

In each of these sections, it's Track & Field vs Hypersports, ok? So the first event is from Track & Field, and the second is from Hypersports. Make sense? Really? Good, then I'll continue.

Event 1: 100m Sprint vs Swimming

OK, this is fairly straightforward. Bash the buttons for speed. For the 100 metres, that's it... for the swimming, you need to breathe every few seconds or you'll slow down. Breathe too early and you'll swallow water and stop completely. It's a no-brainer choice for me, Hyper Sports' Swimming event every time. Just that extra skill alone would even beat hurdles hands down any day.

Event 2: Long Jump vs Skeet Shooting

For the Long Jump, bash the buttons to build up speed. Close to the line hit the action button to set the angle, and see how far you go. Skeet Shooting is a little less strenuous, you have two square aiming reticles on screen which will vertically follow clay pigeons shot from the side. Simply press the corresponding run button to shoot the appropriate side, left or right. Timing is everything. Look, I'm not great at explaining things like that, you should learn by doing instead, go and play the game!

So which is better? Well, Skeet Shooting made it into the BBC quiz show First Class, and that's good enough for me. In fairness, it's actually pretty fantastic, and the sudden appearance of the duck if you shoot perfectly almost catches you by surprise...

Event 3: Javelin vs The Vault

For the Javelin, bash the buttons to build up speed. Close to the line hit the action button to set the angle, and see how far you go. Hold on, I've got a bit of deja vu here. That's the same as Long Jump, just different graphics! The Vault, meanwhile, was another staple of First Class. The run-up is automatic, but you must time the springboard launch and then the subsequent vault from the horse with the action button, and then perform somersaults with the run buttons, landing on your feet for maximum points.

Once again, the inclusion on First Class helps, but also the ability to land on your head and bounce along ensures that for comedy value alone, Hyper Sports takes the third round... this could be a clean sweep!

Event 4: 110m Hurdles vs Archery

NOW we have a battle. Hyper Sports' Archery is a challenge to say the least. First, hit a button to randomly select the wind speed and direction, then each target travels along on a belt or pulley of some kind. Using the action button, you must hold down to select the optimum angle of 5 degrees, timed correctly to land as close to the bullseye as possible. The 110m Hurdles over on Track & Field is another button bashing game, where you must hit the action button to jump over the hurdles.

You would expect me to say Archery wins this, right? Almost unbelievably, no, and it's all down to the Hurdling Physics. See, in a lot of athletics games, your hurdle jump should be taken as close to the hurdle as possible to maintain maximum speed. But here you have quite a long jump, which is slightly unrealistic, but infinitely more fun. Round 4 goes to Track 'n' Field.

Event 5: Hammer Throw vs Weight Lifting

Finally, a Track & Field event where you don't have to bash buttons! Speed increases constantly, it's all about the timing as you hit the action button to release the hammer and set the angle... just depends on your nerve getting the throw at the last possible moment to ensure maximum speed! Meanwhile, Weight Lifting is a button bashing MARATHON. Select a weight, then you have a limited time to bash enough power to lift it. You'll need to press the action button a couple of times at the right moment to change stance, then keep bashing to keep the arms locked vertical until all 3 judges are satisfied. Trust me, on heavier weights you'll wish you'd played something else. For that alone, Track & Field takes this one.

Event 6: High Jump vs Pole Vault

And now the challenge... both these play very similarly. Don't worry about power, that's automatic, it's all about the timing. Time the jump or dropping the pole, and the flop or the snap of the pole, and the landing, all with the action button. As a result, and seeing they both deliver the events very well... we have a tie.

Which means, without any doubt, we have a winner. The better of the two games is undeniably, unquestionably, Hyper Sports. Because I said so.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Arcade - Indiana Jones and the Temple Of Doom

Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom
In the mid 80s, Indiana Jones was hot property. The first 3 films were a major Hollywood success, so much so that nearly 2 decades later, there was a market for a new film. And, let's face it, the whole basis and plots for Indiana Jones films provides absolutely perfect fare for a wide variety of games and genres.

Here's the weird thing, if you ask someone to name an Indiana Jones film, chances are they'll say Temple of Doom, yet, bizarrely, it was the least successful of the three 80s films! However, it converted brilliantly into an arcade game...

80s Atari games were quite distinctive, they often had much higher resolution graphics than most other games, not to mention larger cabinets. Indiana Jones was no exception, the cabinet was just a shade bigger then a normal arcade game, and the graphics were exceptionally well detailed, especially the excellent title screen image of Indiana himself.

Into the game then... When you insert your coins, you'll find Atari did their own "Value for Money" package for the punter, for 1 credit you can have 3 lives, or for 2 credits you can have 7. The only other game I can think of that ran a similar deal was another Atari game, Road Runner.

The actual action of the game can only be described as "Typical Ocean". Look at Batman: The Movie, The Untouchables or Robocop on the home computers, for example... the approach Ocean employed for their movie tie-ins was simple: Take a few key scenes from the film, turn them into a sub-game and join them all together. So Atari did, the only difference is they were first. They also give you the option to choose your starting difficulty level too!

So, the game concentrates mainly on the latter part of the film, starting off with fighting in the caves, rescuing captive children along the way. Indy is armed with his signature whip, which you can use to kill Snakes, collapse piles of skulls, cross small gaps (swinging on a small strut), stun Thuggee guards and free children from caves. Wow, it really is the whip that can do everything. There's plenty that can kill you though, contact with a snake or guard is an immediate loss of a life, as is falling too far, and if you dawdle about too much, Mola Ram himself appears and launches a fireball (or possibly a flaming heart) in your direction, which you can whip if you react quickly enough. On harder difficulty levels you've got mad bats to worry about as well. Rescuing the children isn't essential to your progress, but if you're playing for a high score, you'll need to find 'em all.

Once you find the mine shaft you can escape in the cart, which opens the next stage, the cart chase. Here you need to tilt your cart to follow the correct route down to the end, avoiding the carts chasing you and dead ends. There's guards and barrells you can whip to gain points and also provide another way to block the chasing carts. Whilst in the beginning this section is a simple task, it suddenly gets ridiculously hard to get any distance down the track in 1 life, and WILL result in swearing and hatred.

At the end of this section you will then enter the Sankara Stone chamber, where you must steal the Sankara stone and escape. You can either walk across the ricketty plank onto the opening and closing floor, which is quick but VERY risky, or attack from the side, which may take long enough for Mola Ram and his fiery projectiles to put in an appearance. Nick the stone, and leave via a door. Simples.

Now you have to repeat those stage twice more, until you have all 3 Sankara Stones, then, just like the film, you must escape across the rope bridge, give it a whip and send all the enemy into the crocodile-infested waters below. Apparently after this is a bonus stage where you must collect idols until you die, but I've never seen it, never got that far, so I'll have to get some research done and find out what it's like.

Truth is, though, simply because of the steep difficulty curve as you progress, I should imagine VERY few people ever get that far. Never mind, the levels you CAN reach are challenging and entertaining, and of course there's the wonderful rendition of John Williams' famous soundtrack. It's worth surviving as long as you can just to hear that over and over again, along with the Gauntlet-style sampled speech.

Whilst your chances of finding one in the wild are slimming rapidly, this is absolutely a game you should play if you haven't already. Preferably at the same time as the Indiana Jones Fruit Machine by JPM! But that's another review...

Monday, 7 November 2011

Arcade - Operation Wolf 3

Operation Wolf 3
So, I recently covered Operation Wolf. The thing about Operation Wolf is that to anyone who knows anything about retro gaming, it's one of the "Heavyweight" names, one of the games that could be found in almost every single arcade in the day, a red-hot licence that publishers for the home market were eager to sign up. Operation Thunderbolt followed, adding multiplayer and 3D scaling, but unfortunately at the expense of the sheer quality Operation Wolf oozed. However, it remained a decent game.
When I first saw Operation Wolf 3 in Mr B's, Blackpool, I was intrigued. After my first play, I was disappointed. After subsequent plays I was devastated at the way the licence had descended to absolute crap. Which is a shame.
So what went wrong? Erm... everything, really. First off, the game went down the route of digitised graphics, which as we all know is subject to an unbelievable amount of hit and miss when it comes to the end result. The Mortal Kombat games were hits, Pit Fighter and Guardians of the Hood were epic misses (in comparison, at least, I know I've confessed a degree of love for Pit Fighter and its faults previously)... switch genre, and it's a case of Lethal Enforcers is a hit, Operation Wolf 3 is a miss.
Is that all that's to blame? No.

Probably the most bizarre aspect of the game is the ammunition system. Gone are the magazines and limited bullets... and in its place a totally unrealistic "wear-down" system. Basically, you hold down the trigger and you fire continuously full-automatic until the ammunition bar is exhausted. If you release the trigger at any point, your ammo is IMMEDIATELY refilled. However, keep the trigger down and you will keep firing, just at a much reduced rate. Seems very silly to me, but hey. Probably the only improvement on the ammo side of things is the new weaponry you can collect, which looks as though it's directly inspired from Lethal Enforcers, even down to the graphics used for the ammunition bar.
In fact, while we're on positives, let's cover the rest of them very quickly. The graphics are nicely detailed, the gun's accuracy seems good, and I actually like the shotgun-style "bomb" launcher on the gun rather than just a button near the barrel that Wolf & Thunderbolt had.
Unfortunately, these points aren't enough to save the game from being banished to the pit of distinctly average games. Levels are too short, and later levels  get ridiculous as enemies pop up ridiculously quickly and with unbelievably fast reaction times, sometimes shooting you virtually immediately... which in a game with only 3 lives as opposed to the longer energy bars of Wolf and Thunderbolt, is just too much.
Maybe I'm being harsh, maybe I wouldn't dislike this game so much if it had an original name and completely disassociated itself from the distinguished name of Operation Wolf. But it really came across to me as if Taito had made a new light-gun game, realised it was pretty crap, and decided its best chance to sell a few units was to tack on the Operation Wolf name in the hope that would do the trick.

And it probably did. Dirty trick, Taito. Very very dirty.
In the interests of gaming history, however, I'd recommend you give this game a quick go, just one credit, if you stumble across it somewhere. You'll probably complete the first couple of levels, but by the time you get to the "Tower of Them" (Ah, Taito, at least some things never change... your Engrish is excellent) level, don't bother wasting money continuing, just call it a day, and move on to the next, better game.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

PC - Desktop Tower Defence

Desktop Tower Defence
Never played a Tower Defence game? Maybe you should.

You see, my problem was the name. It didn’t exactly… grab me. It sounded kind of boring.

And then, someone pipes up over on Fruit Forums, “Hey, have you guys played this game? Seriously, I’m hooked.”

So I gave it a try. Guess what? I was hooked.

The premise is simple. “Creeps” will begin to emerge from the top and left and make the quickest journey they can to the opposite exit. Every creep that makes it loses you a life, of which you begin with 20. The only way to stop them is to construct Towers of varying types which will automatically fire at enemies in range.

The best way I can describe this game is… think of Command & Conquer, but your troops cannot move.
Creeps come in many different flavours… standard creeps just amble towards the exit. There’s creeps that like to stick in a big group, so whilst they might get past towers that can only shoot one creep at once, explosions might wipe the whole troop out at once. There’s also fast creeps, flying creeps, spawn creeps and “dark” creeps, which you will just have to learn how to deal with.

Luckily, your towers also come in a variety, and all have their strengths and weaknesses. Some can fire single shots at a time, some fire explosive or “sticky” rounds, or there’s other effects you can induce. Bash Towers are devastating but only harm ground creeps real close by, whilst Swarm Towers will only attack airborne creeps.
Towers can be upgraded too, so that their damage, range and firing rate can be boosted to very high levels. And you’ll need to have some good towers to beat creeps on later levels as their health increases massively.

There’s a couple of accepted tactics usually employed… either concentrate on a particularly devastating section that the creeps must traverse, or create a long maze of low-level towers whose combined firepower should be enough to see off most enemies. Another tactic you can employ is “juggling”, although this is tantamount to cheating. But basically this involves getting the creeps into a long maze, then selling a tower that creates a very short route to the exit, which will actually tempt all the creeps to come back to the hole you just created… only for you to seal it up, causing them to go back through the maze of deadly towers you set up. And repeat ad infinitum.

The latest web version, which can be found here, is TDPro, featuring several scenario levels, a sandbox (with score multiplier based on how easy/hard you make things for yourself), sprint and multiplayer. There’s also a new version on Facebook called Desktop Defender, which I think is brilliant, and allows you to challenge your friends to beat your scores, as well as many other features and boosts you can use. Unfortunately it starts out very difficult as you have to buy extra towers with your in-game coins… But still worth persevering with.
In short, if you haven’t played it before, go and play it now. Although not at work… you might lose track of your dinner break.

Arcade & Spectrum - Operation Wolf

Arcade & Spectrum
Operation Wolf
Operation Wolf is one of the most well-known and iconic arcade games of all time. Basically, the game is pretty much a movie conversion of Arnold Schwarzenegger's Commando, only without the funny quips and one-liners.
The first thing anyone notices about Operation Wolf is the cabinet, and the rather prominent full-size Uzi sub-machine gun mounted on the front. If there's one thing above all else the game's going to be remembered for, it'll be that. Due to being relatively short in stature, I left it quite late to play the machine, as I wasn't tall enough to play the game comfortably. I'm not a dwarf by any stretch of the imagination, but a comfortable shooting stance just wasn't possible until I was in my teens, due to the fact that the gun wasn't "loose" and on a wire like most other gun games.

Fortunately by this time I'd played the game on the Spectrum many many times... thanks to getting the Light Gun version with the computer.
OK, so the premise then, is basically exactly what I said... Commando. One man versus an entire army, trying to rescue the hostage(s).

It's a side-scrolling shooting gallery, each soldier usually only takes one hit to die, although a couple will lie injured for a second and then leap up and attack again. Most are armed with guns, and will either run on screen or parachute down, or pop up from behind scenery. Some will hurl knives or grenades at you which can be shot away. Or, depending on the scenery, you may have to face tanks, or gunboats. By far the most deadly enemy are the helicopters, whose gunfire certainly has the most detrimental effect on your physical strength.

There's other things to be shot, too, windows are always good, but watch out for birds and pigs, they might even drop ammunition for you... for some reason. Alternatively you might just find useful pickups on the floor... such as drinks to replenish your strength, dynamite to act as a "Smart Bomb", or even the "Free ammo" machine gun, which is basically a few seconds of rapid fire without any need to reload.

In fact, this is one thing I've always liked about Operation Wolf over other games. Your ammo comes in magazines of around 30 bullets, a surprisingly accurate representation in days of "infinite clips" in both movies and games, but here you will actually have to stop firing whilst you change clip! So it’s worth keeping an eye on how many bullets are in your current clip, and if there’s only a couple, may as well fire those off just to enforce a quick reload.

There’s 6 scenes overall (5 in the Spectrum Lightgun version), and they do actually follow on and have their own plot… disrupt the enemy communications to stop them calling for help, get information from the enemy, rest up at the village, get yourself some fresh ammunition, raid the concentration camp and rescue the hostages, then bundle them onto a plane at the airport and escape. Easy, huh?

Taito were onto something here, and as usual it’s the little “touches” that make it such a great game. From the off, if you watch the game in “Insert Coin” mode, you see a short intro of Roy Jones (that’s you, by the way) preparing himself by strapping his rocket grenades to himself, sheathing his knife and tying his boots, but then there’s the equivalent of Sonic The Hedgehog’s “SEGAAAAA” moment when the cabinet tells you, “Operation Initiated!” And who can forget the Game Over sequence… the screen fades to white, and you are told in no uncertain terms that you’ve sustained a lethal injury. And then they apologise!

The other nice touch is the abundance of endings. Whilst you’re aiming to reach the “Splended! You are a real pro.” message (and yes, they do spell “Splendid” like that. My spell checker is going mad here… wait until I cover the “Eleminated” on Operation Thunderbolt!) and you will eventually see the “Lethal Injury” screen… try dying without any ammo left… or even completing the game with all hostages dead.

And then there’s the music. It’s superb, yet very understated. You’re likely to not even notice, especially on the real machine.

Luckily, the music made it over to the Spectrum Light Gun version very faithfully. Unfortunately the static graphics (like the Lethal Injury screen) didn’t. Neither did the Jungle Level.

But, apart from a little slowdown while firing, the Spectrum version is an excellent translation, and the lightgun worked pretty well too.

Whilst I’m sure there were other home conversions that were technically superior, I’m not aware of any other versions supporting a light gun. I could be wrong. But, as unlikely as it is that you’ll find a working arcade cabinet in the wild, don’t worry about settling for the Spectrum version… it’s pretty damn good and just as exciting.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Arcade - Chase H.Q.

Chase H.Q.
Must… resist… urge… to… start… review… with… sampled… speech… quotation… from… game...

Let’s Go, Mr Driver! Giddy Up, Boy! More, push it more!


Ok, Taito are definitely one of my favourite arcade machine manufacturers ever. The sheer number of high quality titles they produced, not to mention ending up being converted to home formats, speaks volumes about their ability to put a great game together.

If you read my Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins review, you may remember I mentioned an arcade with the broken machines and free credits. Well, not being total skinflints, us punters flocked to the machine in the corner, my brother in particular, despite the fact that the price per credit was twice that of the rest of the arcade.

Yes, Chase H.Q. it was, and although it was a stand-up cabinet, it was a fantastic machine. The bonus was that in this particular arcade the sound was turned RIGHT up, often drowning out the rest of the arcade, much to the annoyance of those on the silent Gladiator or Mat Mania machines.

Anyhow, if you’re not familiar with this great game, here’s the basic plot. You are the driver out of an elite “Chase” team, driving a black Porsche at high speeds along very fast scrolling roads. The “Chase” team’s job is a straightforward one… chase after an escaping criminal and catch up with them within 60 seconds, then batter their car until it breaks within another 60 seconds. Somehow your car will remain in one piece while the criminal’s car disintegrates steadily, so don’t worry about damaging your vehicle, it’s all about taking theirs out of commission. Do this 5 times against various vehicles and various naughty people, and you will be commended for your efforts.

So apart from a fast car, what else do you have to help you? Your car is capable of nitro boosts, which will increase your top speed by a hell of a lot for 5 seconds, but you only have a limited number of these (normally 3, but can be changed by DIP switches). Also, with the crims being a canny lot, they’ll try and throw you by turning off at an intersection. Luckily, your helicopter-bound colleagues at Special Investigations Airborne are there to point you in the right direction. Take a wrong turn and you’ll increase the distance you need to make up, so it pays to take notice of their advice.

You’re not completely on your own, you have a partner sat next to you who will give you encouraging words from time to time (as per the sampled speech thing I opened with), and you’ve got Nancy, a sexy-sounding girl sat back at “Chase Headquarters” who tells you who you’re supposed to apprehend, chastises you when you’re low on time, and tells you how crap you are if you run out of time.

And that… is pretty much it. The graphics are awesome, and the frame rate is astoundingly fast for the time. There’s a REAL feel of speed to this, and that’s helped by the excellent sound. Tyre screeches, revving engines and the sound as scenery whips past you as you skim on the outside of a corner are all present and correct, whilst tense music jangles along in the background. Add to that the sampled speech… great stuff. Whether it’s Nancy telling you what to do, where to go and what to crash into, your partner telling you to “Push the Pedaaaaaal” or the crim exactly why he’s being held at gunpoint and being arrested, or the helicopter bloke giving you directions, it’s all fantastically well done.

It wasn’t until I found the machine a few years later in the Derwent & Victoria Hotel’s Games Room (Torquay if you’re interested) that I finally beat the game for the first time, and within a day did it again on one credit. And then realised what a short game this actually was. If you’re looking ever to buy an arcade driving game to own, despite the fact I think Chase H.Q. is one of the finest driving experiences arcades ever saw, I would actually advise against it just for that reason, and say to you, “Get Roadblasters instead”.

Unless, of course, you were getting it to perfect a high score record attempt.

To finish off, a quick word about the confusion this game has caused me… the two characters residing in the Porsche are supposedly the same Tony Gibson and Raymond Broady from Crime City. Remember that lazy-arsed review I did where I basically just pointed you to someone elses website? Well, if you’d read page 3 of LordBBH’s review, you’d have seen the comparison of the characters, in fact here’s a section of the original Arcade flyer to absolutely confirm this:

However, I bought the Spectrum version, and I know the instructions to all the home computer conversions (done by Ocean, and considered by many to be one of the most successful coin-op conversions of all time), contain the following information in the Scenario:

"This is Nancy at Chase HQ" - we gotta few perps to catch, Algernon, Looks like you ain't gonna get much sleep tonight" 
"Gotcha, Nancy baby! We're on our way!"

What? ALGERNON? AL-GER-NON? Even Matt Bielby of Your Sinclair got misled by this duff bit of info:

Which is why I thought, for many years, that the actual names of the pair were Algernon and Mr Driver. Seems stupid now. D’oh.