Chase H.Q. 1 logo

Ocean £24.99 * Joystick

Believe it or not, one of the most dangerous places to apprehend a suspect in America is around their car. American policemen refer to it as the Kill Zone, because suspects tend to get very itchy trigger finger just as the police move in to make the arrest.

Fortunately, in Chase HQ, the conversion of the Taito coin-op, no chances are taken. You're head of the Los Angeles Special Criminal Investigation department and that means the perps you pursue have to be approached with brute force.

A normal day's work involves driving around in your two-gear turbo charged Porsche 928 waiting for the inevitable call from Nancy at Chase HQ outlining the next mission. Then it's a case of foot to the floor and tear along the freeway until the suspect is sighted. Once visual contact is made, the only way to treat these crims is to bash into their car often enough to force them to pull over, then make the arrest.

There are five stage to the game, each one chasing a different criminal, and for each stage you have to sight the crim before the time limit runs out (you'll be in no doubt when you've spotted them because a large arrow with the legend 'Criminals Here' appears).

Manage it and your time is increased to allow you to get enough bumps on the car to force it to stop. Once the first hit has been made on the car, a damage meter appears on the left of the screen indicating how many more hits it needs to stop it.

There's more to it than that, though. For a start there are the other road users to avoid as well as roadside obstacles. Colliding with anything causes a loss of speed and consequently a loss of time, so try not to do it eh? Then there are the route choices: a large arrow will appear at a fork in the road and tell you which way to go (often they're shortcuts that will take you across scrubland). Miss the junction and you'll have to use up the three turbo boosts available for each stage if you're to stand any chance of catching up with the felon. Are you ready Mr Driver?

GRAPHICS AND SOUND

There's a good impression of speed (though not as good as Stunt Car Racer) and the backgrounds and roadside buildings and so on are all well drawn. There are some nice graphic touches, like the scrubland and tunnel scenes, and though the animation is a little jerky it suffices. The sound effects are great: screeching tyres, the occasional burst of speech and the siren, and the in-game music is all right too (though you can turn it off if it's all too coin-op for you).

LASTING INTEREST

With only two 'Continue' options things are not easy. Getting to that fifth stage will take some time doing, so it'll keep you going for a while. There's a high addiction level, so you're bound to keep trying.

JUDGEMENT

A nice twist on the average driving game, and fun to play. It's very much like its coin-op parent and so suffers a little for not having enough variation, but it's well converted and if you fancy a new driving game or are a fan of the coin-op, you won't be disappointed.


Chase H.Q. 1 logo

Ocean £24.99

Yet another conversion of yet another top arcade game. Not that there's anything wrong with that, really. If the licence isn't too ambitious and the right programming team are used, chances are you can produce a good game. Which is exactly what failed to happen with Chase H.Q.. I can like a game and I can dislike a game but hardly ever I left a computer feeling so depressed.

The Chase H.Q. arcade machine made its impact, not as a driving game, but through the ideas and presentation. It's your job to drive along interstates arresting an assortment of perpetrators by ramming them off the road with your turbo-charged Porsche. Up until you reached the criminal's vehicle it's a pretty run of the mill time-limited driving game, with a couple of samples thrown in. The action starts in earnest when you reach the bad guys' car (usually a very expensive sports number).

The accelerator is literally floored and the useful turbo button thumbed home. Now it's just a question of being able to run the car off road before the timer runs out. All the way the machine is turning out samples such as "Oh man" and "Ooh yeah".

After seeing some of the recent driving games/sims on the Amiga I did hold some high hopes as to the quality of this conversion. Sadly it looks as though it's been rushed to meet the Christmas deadline.

The most important feature of any car game is the road and how it generates a feeling of speed. In this case the road works well, it's just the scenery that fails. Temporal distortion is the only excuse I can think of to explain why the roadside objects move more slowly in relation to the road, giving a rather quirky movement representation.

Next on the gripe list are the cars. Reliant Robins aren't common in a chase scene (apart from a Jasper Carrot production), so why are the cars so small? Has the criminal department suffered a budget cut? On the bright side there's a nice tune and sound effects sampled from the arcade machine.

Most of the excitement that was contained in the original must have got lost under a desk or accidentally been swept up, this plays nothing like the arcade machine. A huge disappointment for me, and it will probably be the same for other HQ fans. That said, Ocean will be on to a winner simply with the name.


Chase H.Q. 1 logo

Duncan MacDonald and Paul Lakin are rather 'fast' characters. Duncan sports turbo boosters on his C5 and Paul once met a man who owned an MG Metro. So imagine how thrilled they were when given a chance to drive a Porsche and ram wrong-doers up the Khyber...

In the old days (when you could buy three loaves of broad for tuppence, and everything was made out of wood) police sirens made a rather satisfying 'eee-aaw, eee-aaw, eee-aaw' noise. Then, all of a sudden, American cop programmes became the vague, and we were subjected to the rather more ear piercing 'whoop-whoop- whoop' sounds of the USA. This filtered through into the British police force when the more powerful cop cars had their 'eee-aaws' changed for 'whoop--whoops'. Suddenly, crooks fleeing from bank-jobs could tell in an instant the calibre of the pursuing rozzers by the siren type. If it was a 'whoop--whoop', they were in trouble as it was probably a souped-up Granada or Sierra full of armed members of the Sweeney. If, on the other hand, it was an 'eee-aaw' then they were laughing: a mini metro driven by PCs Blenkingsop and Hodges.

In Chase HQ, in which you play a cop-car driver, you'll be pleased to discover that your car is of the 'whoop-whoop' variety.

A massive arcade smash last Summer, Chase HQ followed much the same format as Outrun - big steering wheel, accelerator and brake pedal, two speed gear shift and large, beautifully animated graphics.

The object of the game was slightly different to that of Outrun though. After being given a brief description of a villain's getaway car (and his crime) you were plunged into an undulating roadscape to give chase. When you finally caught up with the crim's car, the real fun started because guess what you had to do? Flash your lights in his rear window mirror and indicate with your thumb that you wanted him to pull over? Not on your nelly - don't forget, you're driving a 'whoop--whoop ' in this game. Instead, you had to ram his getaway car up the boot repeatedly until it burst into flames. They you 'nicked' the bounder and it was on to level two - and a new villain. This time, his car was faster and the road was less forgiving. And on and on it went, until you ran out of 50p pieces. All in all, the coin-op was a real hoot - and very addictive.

Amiga reviewPaul: Chase HQ was inspired by an attempt made by myself on 17th August 1989 to follow Dunc through London in the rush hour. Of course the game is much tamer than the real thing but it still has plenty to offer.

Apparently the same can be said of Nancy from HQ - but then I wouldn't know ' cos I'm not officer material. She also identifies villains, a wee bit unnecessary when there's a bloomin' great arrow pointing at their motor. You don't really need to be a Sherlock Holmes to deduce that these are the guys to ram.

The game is not the business visually - some of the cars on the track seem to be only half drawn. The sensation of speed is transmitted by means of the tried and tested coloured bars routine, which not only looks odd but doesn't always work. At times you appear to be crawling along while the speedo insists you're doing 180 kmh.

Still, looks aren't everything and the game certainly sounds good. The wheel spin was realistic enough to tempt me into loads of completely unnecessary gear changes. Even better was the squeal as I slid along the tunnel wall (So what were you doing on the tunnel wall? Ed.) but the criminal is no mean driver himself, which is why the 'wheeeee' noise of the Turbo Boost is welcome as the crims weave through the traffic. Unfortunately, since it's assigned to the space bar, you tend to take your eye off the road for a pico second. When you look back, your car is doing a lawn mower impression.

Despite losing some of the look and feel of the arcade version, Chase HQ has kept enough of its addictiveness to set accelerator feet tapping across the land.

Atari ST reviewDunc: Chase HQ was brilliant in the arcades, but how does it measure up on the ST? Let's take a peek through the monitor-shaped window. Well, for a start the graphics aren't awe-inspiring. The other traffic isn't large and detailed like in the arcade. The roadside graphics aren't that fantastic either and update a tad jerkily. What the ST version has retained, however, is the speed of the proceedings - and therefore the gameplay. And at the end of the day that's what's important. Here's a sample game for your, from level one...

Nancy from Chase Headquarters tells you (in a sampled and rather naff Brookly accent) that there's an emergency and you've got to catch crook number one. She then shows you what this car looks like and you're off. Up to 100, into second, a quick glance at the "How far in front is the villain's car-o-meter" (a mile to go), a peek at the timer (40 seconds to do it in), and it's foot to the floor. In the distance, there's a fork coming up. Which way? Easy, there's an arrow there to tell you. Oh dear me, it seems to be a bit of a 'short cut'- no tarmac and loads of bushes to crash into. Manage to negotiate it successfully and you'll finally catch up with the crim.

The speed and urgency of the chase is retained in this conversion. There's one quibble though (as always) and that's the staging of difficulty. Level one is an absolute doddle, level two is almost as easy - but level three? Actually, don't talk me about level three. I hate being beaten by a game - especially when I'm driving a car that goes 'whoop- whoop- whoop'...


Chase H.Q. 1 logo

Ocean, C64 £9.99 cassette, £14.99 disk; Amiga £24.99

Ray Broady and Tony Gibson are members of New York's Chase HQ; law enforcement officers roaming the freeways in search of hardened criminals. You know, the type of criminals who don't think twice about kidnapping, murder, armed robbery, reading CU, and other anti-social activities.

As Ray and Tony start their beat, Nancy's voice comes over the airwaves. There's a criminal escaping down the freeway who must be caught at all costs. With a 'Let's go Mr Driver' the cops' Porsche accelerates down the city streets in hot pursuit.

The car has 60 seconds to get within sight of the criminal's vehicle whereupon the timer resets to give another 60 seconds for the cops to catch and arrest the villain. Taking the wrong turn at forks in the road only wastes vital seconds and if time runs out, it's off the force for these two slow-coaches.

To help avoid failure the Porsche is fitted with 3 Nitro boosters to accelerate the car to ever faster speeds. Useful for catching up with the villain when time is running low but sadly the effect is only temporary.
The actual arrest procedure is a little 'unorthodox' to say the least: the Chase cops' idea of bringing a perp to a halt is to turn his car into a wreck by ramming it repeatedly! (A damage indicator shows how much more car crunching is left to go).


Phil King The C64 version features the Spectrum's monochromatic roads, but lacks the speed, helicopter and many of the roadblocks in that version. Sound effects are poor (the skidding sound resembles an anti-theft device going off!) and there's no speech or samples. The original, bash-em-up gameplay remains very playable, but it's too easy, and too poorly presented, to be satisfying.
The Amiga version is marginally more impressive with some good sampled speech and detailed, although blandly coloured graphics. However, as on the 64 the pace is too slow to recreate the coin-op's awesome 'thrill factor'. Lacking this the gameplay comes to seem a little repetitive, and while initially quite enjoyable, over the long term it's unlikely to justify its £25 price tag.
Robin Hogg With the likes of Turbo Out Run and Power Drift setting the standards for racing games, Ocean's 'strongest' title of the year has ironically turned out to be their weakest. On the 64, use of high-res, monochrome roadside objects may have provided for better graphic definition, but speed and colour has been sacrificed. More importantly, the game is much too easy to beat. It remains moderately playable, but there are other far more worthy racing games around at the moment.
The Amiga version is more enjoyable to play. However, I wasn't totally convinced by the game's illusion of speed and was disappointed by the lack of colour. Compared with the Batmobile section of Batman: The Movie Amiga Chase just doesn't come close.