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Spy Hunter was an arcade driving game 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.
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 try to kill you by throwing floating charges in your path. The big boat 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.
Spy Hunter has examples of:
- Car Fu
- Chain-Reaction Destruction: That's how bosses in Super Spy Hunter go down.
- Cool Car
- 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.
- Franchise Killer: Nowhere To Run.
- In Name Only: Super Spy Hunter.
- Oil Slick
- 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.
- Spiked Wheels
- 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 Play Station 2 games.
- Urban Legend of Zelda: There were false rumors of an on-foot graveyard level. Although, at one point, there are gravestones along the roadside.
- Video Game Cruelty Potential: You can shoot the truck that drops you off or the civillian cars. You lose points for doing this though.
- What Could Have Been: The prototype for Spy Hunter originally played with the James Bond theme, which was the theme originally sought after for use in the game. The Peter Gunn theme was used when Midway could not obtain the rights to use the James Bond theme in the game.
- A helicopter sequence was originally planned, but was deleted due to lack of time and memory. Although later Super Spy Hunter game featured a flying car level and a jet plane sequence.
- There was also going be a live action film with Dwayne Johnson in the starring role, but it appears to be trapped in Development Hell so far. However, a sample of it can be seen in the last game in the franchise, Nowhere to Run.