back to article Spy Hunter

Take my money! Spy Hunter at the arcade was definitely school of hard knocks, just trying to stay alive meant keeping my foot on the brake as the Peter Gunn soundtrack, with it’s chugging beeps, ricocheted around my head. Spyhunter 1983 by Bally Midway Arcade moneyspinner turned console favourite Ported to my NES, the …


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  1. FartingHippo


    Halcyon days, and a great way to fill the time 'till Outrun hit the arcades.

    Selecting 'Magical Sound Shower'...

    1. Anonymous Coward


      Outrun was, in my opinion, the best driving game.

      At least until I realized that I could drive to Dave & Buster's, get smashed, and play one of the 4,6 or 8 seat games and still beat the pants off of all of the sober people.

      1. Dave Gomm
        Thumb Up


        Daytona was my fav

        1. Katie Saucey

          Re: BIG HAPPY SMILE

          "GENTLEMEN START YOUR ENGINES" Now I gotta go find the ROM+ emulator....

      2. Patrick Evans


        Outrun was good, but not quite the best. Why? Lack of turbo boost and guns. I give you: Chase HQ.

        1. Ben Rosenthal

          Re: BIG HAPPY SMILE

          Let's go Mr Driver!

          great memories of all these classics, now where did I put my MAME disk?!?

          1. Graham Bartlett

            Re: BIG HAPPY SMILE

            "MORE! PUSH IT MORE!"

            I loved Chase HQ. :)

        2. Gareth 16

          Re: BIG HAPPY SMILE

          That would be Special Criminal Investigation (SCI), Chase HQ sequel. :)

    2. bondyboy


      I had it on the Spectrum, many hours of my youth wasted on this

      1. Trygve Henriksen
        Thumb Up


        I liked Chequered Flag on the Speccy...

        The sounds when you took the corners a bit too hard... :-)

    3. Graham Marsden


      Ah, Outrun! I remember one Saturday afternoon at the Students Union, just for the hell of it, I completed the game by *EVERY* possible route :-)

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge


        Outrun. I am still haunted by the various theme tunes. Didnt the spectrum version have the music as audio on side 2?

  2. Jay 2
    Thumb Up

    Excellent bit of music

    I loved Spy Hunter, esp it playing Peter Gunn. Pity I was pretty useless at it!

    1. Andrew Baines Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Pity I was pretty useless at it! +1

      Plus one

    2. Neil Porter

      Re: Excellent bit of music

      How can you be useless at Spy Hunter? It was easy. Playing on the Speccy version my mate and I could do the whole thing on 1 life.

      Oh, those happy summers days. It beat going out in the fresh air and talking to people...

  3. Stacy

    But no mention of the...

    Ability of your car to transform into a boat, and then blow up as you miss the ramp to get out of the water and back onto the road :)

    How much time did I waste on my C64 in the 80's :)

    1. SpaMster

      Re: But no mention of the...

      Wasted?!? i beg to differ

    2. twilkins

      Re: But no mention of the...

      A moment enjoyed is not a moment wasted.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Happy days...

    Best game on the pier at St Annes in 1983. It consumed a fair chunk of my holiday money.

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge

      Re: Happy days...

      I remember that pier. It also had other holiday money swallowers, gauntlet, operation wold and 3 count bout in later years.

      1. A knight who until recently said "Ni!"

        Re: Happy days...

        Ahh yes, Operation Wold

        Many a fond memory of hunting sheep poachers in the Southwest

  5. Herer


    back when games were ROCK HARD, and it was an amazing achievement to get through the first level!

    this was a particularly difficult game, but oh so worthy of those 10 pences I had so few of

  6. andy gibson

    which was the first?

    There were quite a few games of this genre. Atari's River Raid was very similar, and C64's Blue Max.

    1. Jedit

      Re: which was the first?

      River Raid predated Spy Hunter, and both were preceded by Exidy's Death Race - though that wasn't strictly the same game.

      The best Spy Hunter clone I encountered was a C64 game called Burnin' Rubber (not to be confused with the 1990 OutRun clone of the same name). It basically took the same style of game but swapped the theme for Death Race 2000.

  7. Tom 13

    I dropped many a quarter in Spy Hunter

    and got good enough to drive on the ice. Yes it was more slick and you pretty much couldn't take even one bump from the armor plated car. But by that time I was usually well stocked with weapons and the slick ice affected them just as much as it affected me. Oil was always my fave, although I liked to have a few missiles for the pesky chopper. The boats were your escape hatch. If you ran low on oil you ran to the boats: no more switchblade to deal with, and now the oil was flames, which were guaranteed to wipe out the other boats. I never really cared for the smoke, although I would use if I got jammed up badly on the road.

    1. Graham Marsden

      Re: I dropped many a quarter in Spy Hunter

      Once upon a time I knew the route to get the Oil Slick virtually every time from the Weapons Truck.

      Ah, many a wasted, err, enjoyed 10p...!

      And, of course, unlike games today, it *was* a) 1 game for 10p and b) there was no "keep shovelling in the money until you complete it" option. You *had* to be good!

  8. Keith 17
    Black Helicopters

    Many an hour at the students union...

    .... was spent between three of us trying to get the high score on the Spy Hunter machine, where you got to enter your three letters if you got into the top 20 I think it was. Me (KAS), my mate PNC and the mysterious RAJ (who neither I nor PNC ever met) were the sole occupants of the leader board, and spent the best part of two years trading the number 1 spot.

    The fact that we never once saw RAJ - who clearly spent as much time on it as we did - kinda added to the otherwise tenuous "spy" aspect.

    A top-20 game lasted well over an hour, and you were absolutely knackered by the end of it. Other guys would come up and ask "how many fking games of that are you playing?" to be met with the reply "just the one mate, hopefully be a while yet though".

    As for the snow and ice, yes it was difficult. It was always a relief to get through the other end of that part.

    Good times, and I definitely got my money's worth out of that machine.

    (and to PNC and RAJ, if by some fluke you happen to read El Reg, cheers! The constant battle for number 1, the frustration when you just fell short, the satisfaction from getting the top score, the picture I had in my mind of RAJ in particular seeing a new high score on the screen - that's what made it such fun)

    Black Helicopter because, well, it just seems appropriate for Spy Hunter.

  9. url

    the excel

    version was quite playable too

  10. Blacklight

    But but but....

    What about Chase HQ?

    The joy of having a little pixelated arm slap a (monochrome, if you were on a speccy like me) flashing light on the roof, and off you went!

    Or Turbo Esprit? That even had on dash indicators with clicky noise! :)

  11. Yobgod Ababua

    If an arcade had Spy Hunter, it invariably would eat all my quarters. Every time.

    Loved this game so much.





    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge


      I was just wondering how to put the soundtrack into words :)

      I also used to be crap at this game, nothing worse than running out of ammo, then the truck arrives and you bounce the fucker off by mistake...DOH!

  12. tsdadam

    Master System

    I remember the closest thing on the Master System - Action Fighter. Pretty good fun, and for some reason the cheat code of DOKIPEN has stuck with me 'til this day, in the same way WE5TONE for Wonderboy: The Dragon's Trap has too :)

  13. Haku

    Robot Chicken

    I can't believe nobody has posted about this yet, watch this:


  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Old arcade games

    for anyone interested in games like Spy Hunter that are in the UK, these games do still exist, but are rare and a good collector site is

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