Spectrum 2.0

Review of 'Chase H.Q.'

Rating:5 User: jeff_b

It wasn't often that an owner of the humble rubber beast could smirk over their 16-bit owning chums, but the release of Chase HQ heralded such an occasion. The blistering pace, crisp graphics and entirely-intact immediate playability of the coin-op was intact, and to rub salt further into the festering wound, every other conversion on every other platform was uniformly awful. Sprites like wobbling blancmange, hideous blocky roadside objects, flickery horizons, obnoxious brass band synth music, horrible controls.. you name it. It's become a masochistic passion of mine to play terrible ports and Chase HQ for the Amiga, C64, Amstrad, ST, NES, PC Engine are all uniformly abysmal.

Meanwhile we have the Speccy version, which is fortunately ace. You play as the guys from "Miami Vice" who are not actually the guys from "Miami Vice" for tax reasons, but actually friendly talking avian pursuit drivers. Or maybe just pursuit drivers. Anyway they predictably pursue a bevehicled baddy, who your Auntie Nancy conveniently shows you a nice snapshot of before you start. You must navigate the treacherous byways of Yorkshire (probably) until you catch up with the enemy vehicle, at which point you must pound him into submission! Just like the real police! Your reward for inflicting this insurance-inflating misery is to then pursue another car, to which you do the same thing! Hurrah!

At it's heart Chase HQ is just distilled fun - it's ludicrously short and the chief challenge comes from doing enough damage during that bastard of a time limit. The car-rending destruction is suitably graphically agreeable, with sharp sprites, classy little spot effects like the hand putting the police light on your car's roof when the enemy is sighted, shards of car flying all over the place, wodges of roadside objects. The impression of pure speed when using the turbo is seriously impressive. I don't think there's a game yet that feels that quick to me. Maybe Wipeout or something, but it's still a close-run thing. Soundwise it's also not bad, with a funky percussion led number to open and parpy noises when your car corners.

There's not a lot else to say - the closest the Speccy came to arcade perfection, and a high-water mark in its fortunes.