Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Wait A Minute Is This A Sequ....Nah, Can't Be: Game 0002

Chase H.Q. for me was the pinnacle of arcade racing in the 80s. Others will bang on about taking Outrun's bright red Ferrero Testosterone (That's enough of a likeness not to get sued? Right Sega?) for a spin in Outrun whilst taking a magical sound shower (whatever that was), but for me Taito's screech 'em up always had the grittier edge, placing you in an 80s cops show chase to the limits of your jurisdiction. Probably in Hawaiian shirts.

Taito's semi sequel Special Criminal Investigations never really drew me in the arcades. The ability to shoot at the purps, took a lot away from the bumper bashing action of the original. And so the franchise lay dorment, except for some truly awful console sequel attempts, until the arcade only release of Chase H.Q. II in 2007. Or so Taito would want us to believe. In 1997 Taito developed and released Ray Tracers a sequel to the 1988 race and chase original in all but name and its one of the Playstation's best kept secrets.

The game is pure Chase H.Q., radio banter crackling over the C.B. from H.Q., roads scattered with debris to blast through and of course nitro boosts. Its an ultra fast arcade racer that combines elements of pure time challenge racing with boss battles worthy of Sega's trademark on rails arcade shooters. Seriously its that good. The high speed pursuits take you through street lit city subways, over open country roads, down storm drains and round tight valley passes. Waiting for you at the end of these rollercoaster rides are some of the toughest mothers you'll ever experience on the road, step aside John Bunnell. Expect to take down monster trucks, laser firing tanks, armoured vehicles, electric scorpion tailed JCB's and a Harrier Jump Jet. Yeah. A fucking Harrier Jump Jet.

Controls are tight although only mapped to the D-pad, with no anologue support. The visuals are for the most part uncluttered, fast moving and vibrant. integrating anime styled characters with the 3D course design to deliver a slick arcade experience. The music and effects do enough to get the blood pumping, and it all adds up to one of the best arcade experiences available on Sony's aging Granddaddy to the Playstation lineage.

Favourite moment: Tearing down wide country lanes to only find the road blocked. before you know it you've veered right, crashed through the safety barrier and are plummeting into a storm drain. All the while seeming to be in (almost) complete control.

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