Sega Master System / Mark III / Game Gear
COPS 'N' ROBBER BROUGHT BANG UP TO DATE!
OK schmuck, give me your car keys and I’ll let you go
Powering through the unfinished road section, past the yellow barricades.
Here you are just about to enter the first tunnel section.
Who says crime doesn't play? All the criminals you'll meet here (well, if you can get close enough) are all driving around in Lotuses, Lamborghinis, and Ferraris. Makes you sick, dunnit? Your mission in life is to go round, catch all these drug-dealing, kidnapping murderers and slap ’em in irons. But to stay on their tails you're going to need some heavy-duty kit to keep up. That's where your company car comes in handy: a nice, Police-issue Porsche Turbo should do the job (and any job where the company car is a Porsche Turbo can't be that bad!).
If you haven't worked it all out for yourself by now you're thicker than Duckhams Ultra-thick, but here goes anyway... There you were, having a sneaky kip in the Police Squad car park, when a message comes over the Taito Monitaling System (Japanese translators - don'tcha just luv 'em?). Nancy at Chase headquarters has an emergency on her hands - Ralph, the Idaho Slasher is fleeing toward the suburbs. Time to hit the freeway, and put pedal to metal to stop him from slashing any more Idahos!
Fully compatible with the Handle Controller, Chase HQ is all the better for playing with it. The locations of the fire buttons mean that you can accelerate and operate the turbo boost quite comfortably - better than the Sega Control Stick, anyway.
It's best to use the controller on 'Normal' steering rather than 'Quick' otherwise it becomes a mite over-sensitive. You change gear easily by pushing forward into 'High', and since you tend to push forward anyway, there's no problem with slipping into the wrong gear at a critical moment!
Your Porsche comes with the normal 'blinking nippy' engine, plus three turbo boosts that can be activated at the touch of a button (fire button to be exact). These only last for a few seconds, but accelerate your motor to 'so fast the G-forces will tear your face off speeds. Use it to ram the other guy’s motor, or simply to get off to a quick start when you've collided with roadside obstacles and spun off.
As you tear across the countryside, whizzing along twisting three-lane highways and weaving through the lame Sunday drivers (how come they're all in Lotuses, Lamborghinis, and Ferraris as well?), you come across a fork in the road - oh no! Which way has the slasher gone? Luckily, there's a large white arrow pointing out which is the shortest route to take. Steer right or left (tricky decision, huh?) and get after that creep!
You get 60 seconds to catch up with the crook's motor, and a distance meter shows how far away you are. When you finally catch up with Mister Slasher, you get another 60 seconds to waste his car. Slap on the Starsky And Hutch magnetic flashing light, and kick in the sirens - the chase is on! A smaller red relative of the large white arrow points out which is the hoodlum's car, and now it's up to you: colliding with his flashmobile sees bits fly off, and a red bar creeps along the enemy's damage meter. As you keep bashing his vehicle, it starts to flame and when the meter reds out, his 'mobile grinds to a halt, allowing you to make the arrest!
However, if you're untalented enough to blow it before the big zero appears, you have to use one of your five continue options to carry on the chase. After that, it's... er... another chase. And another, and so on until you've captured all five nasties, including the final Eastern Bloc spy in the mystery car. Once they’re all behind bars, you continue with your old mate Slasher (who’s been released on bail) and work your way through them all again, with different scenery and tougher missions. It’s a hard life being a cop!
When you reach the fork in the road, as well as an 'orrible flickery junction, you also get a very large arrow hinting at which direction to take...
Here's the first baddie, the one with the big red arrow stuck in his roof!
Taito's coin-op conversion couldn’t hope to keep up with the visuals of the original, but they still aren't quite as good as you'd expect. The scenery scrolls by smoothly enough, but it's all brightly coloured and very simple. There are a few roadside objects such as telegraph poles, trees and danger signs, and at least the opposing cars are recognisable - you can even tell the Lotuses from the Lambos!
Road forks are achieved in the same way as in Out Run, where the two routes rapidly switch between one another, giving a horrible flickery junction. Ugly, but effective. The tunnel sequences are well executed - very tunnelly - and the driving-across-the-abandoned-worksite-and-knocking-down-the-yellow-hurdles bit is in there too, but while adding some visual variety, neither part really adds much to the gameplay.
However good or bad the visuals are though, you will no doubt be dumbfounded at how poo the sound is: it's diabolical. The theme tune is weedy and the incessant siren will have you grasping for the volume control. And what happened to all that juicy sampled speech? Phut - that's what!
Race 'n' chase fans are well spoiled now that they have both Battle Out Run AND Chase HQ to choose from. However, if it had to be a toss-up between this and Battle Out Run, Chase HQ calls 'heads' when it's tails. Taito's offering might have the big name coin-op behind it, but without the realistic arcade graphics and a final set objective, it does tend to grow boring more quickly than it's Sega counterpart. It's dead easy to cruise through the first five stages, and then things just start again from the first stage, but trickier and with different colour schemes.
There’s also that indefinable quality about BOR that sets it apart. CHQ seems to be a tad less thrilling - not quite so fast 'n' adrenalin-pumping. Still, if you were one of those people who pumped all their spare change into the arcade machine, you won't be so that disappointed!
At the start of the game and in between arrests you get to modify your Porsche with the money earned from the previous mission. To start off with, you can select to play with automatic or manual transmission (whether you want to change gear, or let the Sega do it for you); and choose the type of steering from 'Normal' or 'Quick'.
Once you've lined your pockets with cash from the bust, you can supe-up your already moderately suped-up vehicle, by adding oil (it always helps), an extra turbo boost (to add to the three you get), a super charger (very useful, but brain-meltingly expensive), a tyre (four would be better, but what the heck), and a new bumper (all the better for battering the cons with!).
These wonderfully speed-and-damage-inducing gadgets come in handy for the next chase, but all fall off once the crook's in the bag: after that, you have to buy them all over again!
▲ Great approaching tunnel (and tunnel exit, come to that
▲ Opposing cars are recognisably well drawn and nicely animated
▲ Good update on roadside objects, and on-road hazards
▼ Basic 'kiddyland' scenery borders on the amateur
▼ Road moves smoothly enough, but isn't as realistic as it could be
▲ Nice power whine when you kick in the turbos!
▼ Tinkly soundtrack is feeble and ill-suited to the high-speed gameplay
▼ Anyone looking forward to the sampled speech and screams of the original will be sadly disappointed...
▼ The repetitive and puny siren effect is destined to get right on your nerves!
▼ Plenty of courses, but they're all fairly similar
▼ Strategic purchase of equipment is about all the brain exercise you'll get here!
▲ High speed chase is good fun - and totalling the convicts' car even better!
▲ Each stage is pretty much the same as the last
▲ Continue option helps keep the wheels spinning
▼ With no definite objective to aim for, it soon grows repetitive
Slightly disappointing conversion, lacking the 'umph' of the original. Still very good - but not ultimate.