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Video Game: Spy Hunter

Spy Hunter was an arcade driving game designed by George Gomez and Tom Leon, and released by Bally/Midway. It is unique in that it was one of the first to combine driving and shooting at the same time. You are in control of a car driving on a vertically scrolling road, fighting against a variety of vehicular and airborne enemies:

  • Tire slashers called "Switchblade" or "Never To Be Trusted"
  • Armored vans called "The Road Lord" or "Bulletproof Bully"
  • Sniper limousines called "The Enforcer" or "Double Barrel Action"
  • Bomb-dropping helicopters called "The Mad Bomber" or "Master Of The Sky"

Along with enemies, there are civilian vehicles on the road as well. Injuring a civilian causes you to temporarily stop scoring points. However, if you survive long enough, civilians stop appearing.

In addition to your default machine guns, you can find and drive into a weapons truck and get outfitted with additional weapons: oil slick, smoke screen, and ground-to-air missiles, each of which is useful against different enemies. Further in the game, you can take a side road to a boathouse and turn the car into a boat, taking the battle onto the water. Enemy boats called "Barrel Dumper" try to kill you by throwing floating charges in your path. A big boat called "Doctor Torpedo" fires torpedoes at you from behind or in front. The chopper also harasses you in the water. You can be forced into the water when a bridge is out.

This game was followed with Spy Hunter II, perhaps the worst sequel in the history of video gaming. A Famicom game called Battle Formula was renamed Super Spy Hunter and released on the NES in 1992.

In 2001, Midway released a 3D "enhanced remake" of the original game, developed by Paradigm Entertainment, for the PlayStation 2, Nintendo GameCube, and Xbox. It took a mission-based approach, with the player sabotaging bad guy operations around the globe with an even bigger supply of weapons than before. It was followed up with Spy Hunter 2 and Spy Hunter: Nowhere to Run.

In 2012 Warner Brothers Interactive released a second reboot game for the Playstation Vita and the Nintendo 3DS.


Spy Hunter has examples of:

  • Call Back/Mythology Gag: The original arcade game is explicitly stated to be canon in the 2001 game.
  • Car Fu
  • Chain Reaction Destruction: That's how bosses in Super Spy Hunter go down.
  • Continuing Is Painful: One of the reasons why Spy Hunter II is so extremely hard is that your car will power-down every time you die. This means that you can become so weak from constantly failing at a boss battle that the game becomes nearly unwinnable.
  • Continuity Reboot: The 2001 remake for the arcade game, and the 2012 remake for the 2001 remakes.
  • Cool Car: And it just got cooler with each installment.
  • Dolled-Up Installment: Super Spy Hunter.
  • Driving Into A Truck: How you get your power-ups.
  • Flash of Pain: Anything with health in Super Spy Hunter.
  • Kill Sat: The Excuse Plot of the 2001 game. NOSTRA plans to use them to take over the world's electricity supplies.
  • Mirror Boss: The fourth mission of the 2001 game. He hijacked one of your power-up trucks, and he's using your own spy car against you.
  • In Name Only: Super Spy Hunter.
  • Nintendo Hard: Spy Hunter II is extremely unforgiving to players that aren't good at avoiding damage.
  • Oil Slick: In the 3D games, they can even cause enemies behind you to explode for seemingly no reason!
  • Real Song Theme Tune: The first remake featured a remake of the Peter Gunn theme (itself an example in the original game) by Saliva, and the sequel had "Dark Carnival" by Vanessa Carlton.
  • Scenery Porn: Super Spy Hunter.
  • Smoke Screen
  • Spiked Wheels: "Switchblade" enemies. The 2001 game gives them an aquatic cousin as well.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change/Unexpected Shmup Level: The boat level in the original, and the flying car, boat and airplane levels in Super Spy Hunter. And the third person shooter levels in the second and third PS2 games.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: You can shoot the truck that drops you off or the civilian cars. You lose points for doing this, though.
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alternative title(s): Spy Hunter
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