At first glance Spy Hunter appears to be a driving game, but it soon becomes apparent that it’s actually more of a top-down shooter like Galaxian or Galaga. The player controls a sports car which is initially equipped with machine guns, and later acquires oil slick, smoke screen and missile capabilities by driving into the back of a weapons van while driving down the road at full speed. The player must evade and destroy enemy vehicles while avoiding any damage to civilian vehicles. The player’s car also transforms into a boat at times when the road meets a waterway, then transforms back into a car when necessary.
The game’s has a unique set of controls, consisting of a control yoke, a gear shift and an accelerator pedal. The control yoke has two triggers, two thumb buttons and a button to call the weapons van.
Spy Hunter is one of the few games I played in an arcade as a kid. A friend had his birthday party at Peter Piper Pizza, and each kid got a few tokens to play whatever they wanted in the arcade. I spent all my tokens on Spy Hunter, and it was worth it.
Spy Hunter was created by George Gomez, and features the Peter Gunn theme by Henry Mancini as it’s background music. The game was produced by Bally/Midway in 1983.