Category Archives: spy hunter
A few months back The Bride and I attended a birthday party for two friends, at a place in the Philadelphia/Fishtown area called Barcade. Barcade is exactly what it sounds like, a bar/arcade. It has a couple dozen old school arcade games, and an assortment of local and obtuse brews, all for a quarter – the games, not the beers, that is.
I was stunned to how close to an arcade of the good old days this place was, what with the variety of games and their placement around the bar area. They even had high scores posted. They had a bar menu, but no fries. But it’s all good, they carded me, the first time that’s happened in years, so I was very happy.
When I looked around at the selection of games, at first I had little interest, then as I walked around, and got a closer look my memory kicked in… I realized I had done time, serious time, with all of them at one point or another in my younger years. Among the games at Barcade: OutRun, Gauntlet, Ms. Pac-Man, Mr. Do!, Golden Axe, Track & Field, Frogger, BurgerTime, Centipede, Double Dragon, Punch-Out!!, Tetris, and Robotron 2084, just to name a few. A full list can be found here.
Spy Hunter, Rampage, Tempest, Dig Dug, Paper Boy, Space Invaders, Galaxian, Joust. I knew them all intimately. And yet I was no longer capable of playing them. The muscles and reflexes honed to each particular set of skills for each game had deteriorated over the years of disuse. Man, playing videogames sure wasn’t like riding a bike, you can’t just get back on. In other words, I was old.
Lead photo by John Donges.
When I was a kid, way back in the Dark Ages known as the 1970s, these cars called SSP Racers were all the rage. These wonderful toys with the one big wheel and the T-stick to rev them up and race across the concrete or the floor filled many days and nights of my childhood. There were dozens of models to collect and then they came out with the next evolution – the SSP Smash-Up Derby. Not only could you race them, now you could run these cars at each other and parts would fly off, just like in the demolition derby.
When I first started college, in that null zone between the Atari 2600 and the first Nintendo system, I had a first date with a girl who invited me babysitting. The home where she was babysitting had an Atari system, so I borrowed some games to play while we, ahem, babysat. Before we moved on to other activities, we played several racing games on the Atari like Night Driver, Pole Position, Enduro and Spy Hunter (I think, it might have been too early for that last one), but because we had other things on our minds, we played them badly, and crashed into stuff constantly. In hindsight it was kind of fun. The crashing part, I meant.
Now among the demo downloads from the PlayStation Store I have found a game that kinda puts together those two memories into a fun beach atmosphere. It’s called Smash Cars, and I like it a lot, and even my feeble gamer novice mind can grasp how it works.
You’re controlling a little remote control sand buggy and racing around a preset course on the beach. Oh sure, it’s a race, and you’re supposed to win and get the best time, but I had the best time by crashing into stuff. You can drive through boxes, drive off the pier, and the most fun, crash into the people in the beach. I absolutely love hitting the jump button as I approach this one guy, and nailing him right in the beanbag if you know what I mean.