Spy Hunter

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North American box art.

Spy Hunter is an action driving game created by Bally Midway in 1982 and later released to a whole slew of platforms. The game was designed on the theme of a spy trying to escape in a sports car from the goons of a villain. You use common spy weapons like under the hood machine guns oil slicks and smoke screens while the goons try to drive you off the road, slash your tires, shoot you, and even drop bombs on you!

I first saw Spy Hunter in an arcade and watched the attract demo. Occasionally, I would see someone play the game, but I never saw anyone who was any good at the game. My first memory of the NES port was either from a friend of my brother's or my step-brother showing how you could purposely crash on the far right of the screen and continue driving off road for quite awhile. I played the game enough to get good at it, but never really loved it.


I own the game on the NES. At my peak, I was good enough to play essentially indefinitely. I remember once playing for a very long time, I was well passed the point where all four enemy cars can be on the screen at once (happens around 150,000 points) and I still had three lives in reserve before eventually getting bored and quitting. I doubt I elapsed the score, because that takes several hours.


  • Overall: 4/10
  • Best Version: NES


  • The game uses all the common spy tropes, oil slicks, smoke screens, tire slashers, etc.
  • Using the Peter Gunn Theme was a good way to add to the spy atmosphere. Too bad they didn't get the rights to the James Bond theme.
  • The arcade cabinet uses a cool steering wheel, gas pedal, and shifter to be more car-like.
  • The designers of the arcade game used an interesting trick of halving the background resolution to speed up animation. This wasn't used in home ports which were stuck using low resolution for the whole game.
  • By varying which forks you use, you can see several different regions including grasslands, desert, snow, a beach, a forest, a river, and a couple others.
  • The game cleverly increases its difficulty by slowing adding more enemy vehicles onto the screen at once.


  • There isn't much to do in the game. Including the water area, there are only a total of six possible enemies.
  • There is only a single tune which plays for the whole game.
  • There is no ending to the game, you just drive until you can't drive anymore in hopes of amassing a high score.
  • There is no pause in the game.
  • The river area is much harder than the road area. In the arcade game, this eventually becomes mandatory, but in the NES port, you can skip it forever. Since the game doesn't have an ending, there is no incentive to enter it in the NES.
  • The smoke screen is a difficult weapon to use in the NES port because, when it hits civilian drivers, it prevents you from gaining points (unlike in the arcade version).


  • Nothing.

Box Art