Gamers who grew up in the 1980's will probably remember the 8-bit rendition of 'Peter Gunn Theme' that played at the beginning of the coin-op/NES classic video game Spy Hunter. Thanks to publisher Warner Bros. Interactive and developer TT Fusion, 'Peter Gunn Theme' can once again be heard on the Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita thanks to a reboot of the classic spy car driving game.
Taking on the role of the ambiguous "Agent", players drive the high-tech G-6155 Interceptor supercar, which is armed extensively with advanced weaponry, and take on a global terrorist organization set upon world domination. Okay, so maybe the plot premise is a bit on the canned side, but that doesn't stop Spy Hunter from being a fun game that makes good use of the 3DS' 3D capabilities.
Whereas some game reboots aim to completely change what makes any game the game it is (ie: EA's Syndicate), this 2012 Spy Hunter game simply modernizes the classic 1983 Spy Hunter gameplay that has become so iconic over the past (nearly) three decades. The basic concept of get the Interceptor from point-"A" to point-"B" still exists (this time over a variety of terrains), as do the assortment of enemy cars looking to destroy the supercar by nearly any means possible. What has changed, though, were things that probably needed alteration, lest the new Spy Hunter game seem old-fashioned in the highly-competitive modern video game market.
Outside of updating the graphics to a modern 3D look (literally 3D on the 3DS), 2012's Spy Hunter is mission-based with clear objectives outlined every step of the way. The original game's only objective was to drive for as long as possible before succumbing to enemy advances. The inclusion of missions make the game much more appealing to a goal-oriented player, and moves things along much better than just driving until one cannot drive any more.
Another change with the new version is the expansion of the Interceptor's arsenal. The supercar comes initially equipped with a front-mounted machine gun, roof-mounted electro-pulse (which causes enemy vehicles to steer wildly), rear-mounted flamethrower, and side-impact thrusters. All of these can be upgraded with credits earned from mission to mission, but it doesn't end there. Other armaments can be unlocked and build-outs can be swapped between missions to whatever combination meets the player's fancy. Firepower doesn't end there, however, as there are missions where players can control the turret mounted upon the supercar's weapons truck (as in the big red semi from the original game); as well as an aerial support drone that causes things to more-or-less go "boom" from a distance.
While the ability to blow things up with the Interceptor et al is quite appealing (both gameplay-wise and visually), the 2012 Spy Hunter game isn't without its flaws -- mainly in its steering (something major in a game based upon driving a car really, really fast). While the Interceptor is fairly easy to control, steering is jerky at best. The analog stick is what controls left-to-right movement, but it also controls when the player looks behind the supercar. Unfortunately, that will happen by accident more often that it will on purpose when the player tries to steer side-to-sideon the X-axis and lets his thumb push the analog stick just a hair too low on the Y. Honestly, it's not that it's bad and it doesn't really break the game, but it's something that could have been better addressed during development.
In terms of graphics, 2012's Spy Hunter looks acceptably good as far as 3DS games go. The visuals aren't as crisp as the could be on other more powerful platforms, but the game wasn't made for those more powerful platforms. It was made for the 3DS and the Vita (with the latter boasting more visual capability than the former). Gamers who go into this game with that understanding shouldn't feel underwhelmed by its graphics at all. Had Nintendo's 3DS been able to provide for modern HD visuals, one would reasonably expect that TT Fusion would have developed Spy Hunter as such. Being that it cannot, no biggie -- sometimes you have to work within the constraints of somebody else's equipment.
Overall, WBIE's 2012 version of the classic Spy Hunter video game provides a good evolutionary step for the title. It still comes off as fun now as the original did 29 years ago, but with a more focused goal, modern concepts and controls, and bigger explosions. Going 3D on the 3DS is just an added bonus.
Final Game Guys grade: B
(WBIE supplied a copy of this game for review.)