Chase H.Q.


by John O'Brien, Bill Harbison, Jonathan Dunn
Ocean Software Ltd
1989
Crash Issue 71, December 1989   (1989-11-16)   page(s) 56,57

Cue sound of several packets of crisps being scrunched at the same time. 'This is Nancy at Chase HQ, we've got a problem here, guys.' Yep, it's Ocean's Christmas racing game, the conversion of the brilliant Taito coin-op. Ray Broady, Tony Gibson, the face (and 128K version the voice) of the lovely Nancy and the bodywork of the beautiful black Porsche 928 Turbo are all here. Five levels filled with tortuous bends, maniac drIvers and five dangerous vIllains (one per level) stand between our heroes and swell earned rest in Florida (or whereover tough American cops go for a holiday).

Your controller, Nancy, starts the game by informing you which villain has an APB out on him and what car he's driving, and then with a 'lets go, Mr Driver', your Porsche rockets off in hot pursuit. The status panel at the top of the screen informs you of your score, the time left, your speed (the faster the better), which gear you're in and the distance you are from the villain you're chasing. Put the pedal to the metal by all means (kick in the turbo booster when the felon is in sight, but it can only be used three times), Watch out for innocent bystanders, hitting them loses you valuable time. Drive too fast, and you might not negotiate junctions or miss correct turns as indicated by Nancy's scrolling messages. When you finally get close to the villain, whose car is identified by a large arrow it's time to make the arrest. Smash into the villain's car to stop it - a damage meter appears at the side of the screen, when this is full the car stops and he's nicked. The arcade version was one of my faves and the Speccy version does not disappoint. Graphically, Chase HQ is great with the mean looking black Porsche ripping along the monochrome freeways in five quite distinctly different levels.

Colour is added in the status area. Neat little touches abound, including cameos of the heroes and villains in the status area's mini screen and the letters CHASE HQ bouncing around the screen on the title page. Chase HQ should give the rest of the racing games around this Chrimble a good run for their money.

MARK ... 95%


'This takes me right back to the days when Starsky and Hutch was on telly - Starsk used to put the flashing red light on top of the car and off they'd go, chasing the crook at high speed and skidding round corners. You can understand why all those cops put so much effort into their job - the satisfaction you feel when a villain is captured is tremendous. The actual roadside features of this conversion could've been more detailed and do jerk somewhat as they're approached, but the road itself is plotted in perfect perspective and moves smoothly and quickly. This is an accurate conversion that is as playable as the real thing - and that sure is a big recommendation!'
NICK ... 94%

Presentation: 89%
Graphics: 89%
Sound: 87%
Playability: 91%
Addictivity: 93%
Overall: 95%

Summary: From start to final arrest Chase HQ is rip-roaring turbo-charged action all the way.

Award: Crash Smash

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 50, February 1990   page(s) 14,15

Chase HQ - it's crap! Absolutely the worst so-called driving game I've ever seen!! Ho ho ho. Like my little joke, eh, readers? Not said with much conviction, was it? That's probably because it wasn't really very true.

Nope, Chase HO isn't crap. In fact, it's one of the best driving games I've ever seen and it'd be a perfectly sound thing to spend your money on. Ho hum. It's getting really boring writing good reviews of every Ocean game that comes out, but, well, the truth's the truth I suppose. And, it has to be said, Chase HQ is an absolute corker of a game.

How shall we play this? I know, you can be Algernon (the passenger) and I'll be, um, 'Mr Driver' (as in the famous Chase HQ phrase, "Let's go, Mr Driver!"). Okay? In other words, I get to do all the good bits (like driving at three squillion miles an hour through the middle of a city at rush hour, taking 'short cuts' up unfinished roads and ramming into the back of other cars) and you can do all the crap bits (like sitting in the passenger seat, sticking the light on top of the car an, um, that's it). Seems fair? Great! Then buckle up and let's vrooooom!

Actually, hang on, I'd better give you a quick outline of the plot first! In fact, it's more than likely you already know it, but, for the few latecomers, it involves rushing around a big American city Miami Vice-style in a turbo-charged Porsche 928, bagging as may perps as you can along the way. You do this by ramming your car into the back of theirs until they're forced to stop, catching up and hitting them by nifty driving, and the judicious use of a limited number of turbo boosts to out-accelerate them whenever it counts. Unfortunately, this town seems to breed an affluent sort of criminal (they all drive mega-speedy exoticars and every second commuter has a Countach if the car sprites are to believed!) so they take a fair amount of catching!

Yes indeed, a pretty simple but perfectly serviceable plot, very playable in the first place but made close to perfect by faultless execution. I suppose the first question you always ask or a racing game is "Does it give a good impression of speed?", and the answer here is an emphatic 'Yes. it does". The rolling road is very fast and smooth, the cars are all nicely drawn and animated, and there are clever programming tricks all over the place. Take the smooth way the road splits in two, allowing you to take either path, then compare it with the bodge job in OutRun in which they split the road by placing a row of potted plants down the centre lane(!), and you'll see what I mean.

This isn't the only neat touch though, oh dear me no. There's a very nice tunnel sequence, which doesn't slow the action down one jot, some lovely neat dips and rises which bounce your car up off the road, and little additional touches, like the flashing light appearing on the roof of the car as you approach your perp, which really add finesse to the game.

In fact, as far as presentation goes this has to be not only one of the best driving sims but one of the best coin-op conversions I've seen. Just about everything of any importance from the arcade machine has been kept in, from the animated logo to the neat little pictures of Nancy from Chase HQ and your good selves appearing along the top panel. Couple this with the constant stream of messages displayed at the top of the screen (saying where the next car will be or simply telling you to buck your ideas up) and you'll find there's a lot going on that can only really be appreciated if you're watching someone else play the game. Of course, as driver you'll be far too busy trying to stay on the road (so amazingly enough Algernon doesn't really get such a crap job after all).

Programming skills and care of presentation aside, one other thing gives it the edge over most other arcade driving games - there's simply much more to do. Instead of just racing against the clock you've got an actual purpose in mind (catching the criminals) which adds tremendously to the proceedings.

And finally, there's the sound. I hardly ever remember to mention sound (on most Speccy games it's hardly worth it) but in Chase HQ you can hardly miss it. It's great! There's some very good digitised speech (like "Geddee up!" and "Let's go, Mr Driver!"), nice police siren noises, and lovely touches like the note changing when you go into the tunnel sequences on 128K. And even on 48K there's a good tune!

I could carp I suppose. You don't seem to get the nice spin you do in the arcade game, the controls are a bit hard to use with pinpoint accuracy (in fact, it's harder than the coin-op, but then so is driving a real car) and it takes an age to load, but none of those are really faults.

All in all, the game's an out-'n-out winner. As playable as Operation Thunderbolt is, as fun as Power Drift can be and as impressive as Hard Drivin' turned out to be, we're looking at Number One here. No question. It's a bloomin' miracle!


Life Expectancy: 86%
Instant Appeal: 94%
Graphics: 88%
Addictiveness: 91%
Overall: 94%

Summary: A brilliant conversion of a very playable coin-op, and in 128k it's absolutely magnificent. A must buy!

Award: Your Sinclair Megagame

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 73, January 1992   page(s) 84

YS Megagame. Crash Smash, Sinclair User Classic. C+ VG Hit, Games Machine Star Player. What Toaster? Best Buy. Goat Breeders' Gazette Recommended Purchase... need I go on? Chase HO was a confirmed classic when it first packed its bags and made its lonesome journey from coin-up to computer conversion back in 1989. Luckily, it was at least one and three quarters times as good on the Spectrum than on anything else. The super-fast and smooth graphics (minus colour), the sound (yes, sound, including digitised speech), the playability, the addictiveness. All this, and practically everything else in the coin-up seemed to have been miraculously squeezed into rubber keyed chum, just going to show the Spectrum is by no means on its last legs. (Which is quite ironic because the legs fell off my Speccy years ago.) I'm beating rather annoyingly around the bush again, but I hardly know where to start - even though I've almost finished the review.

The game is a straight race-'em-up where you have to catch up with a baddy and then ram him off the road, all within a time limit. This makes a great change from boringly racing against the clock; and there are loads of great touches, such as jumps in the road, tunnels to drive through, splits in the road and a great intro .... sequence. Oooh. Wibble. Sorry - but I just couldn't the control my excitement any longer. I'm just going to have to make Chase HQ a Mega-game again.


Overall: 93%

Award: Your Sinclair Megagame

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair - Article Re-review Issue 59, November 1990   page(s) 80

Crikey, this ones good. On the face of it it's just another looking-at it-from-behind game, and a blatant attempt to knock OutRun off its rather wobbly perch. In actual fact though, it's a conversion of a fab coin-op and rates as one of the best driving games on the Speccy. Actually, it probably is the best. What you've got to do, you see, is pursue various criminals around in your car. Having caught up with them you get a neat animated sequence where your co-driver leans out of the window and sticks on the flashing light, and then it's time to run the other guy off the road by bashing into him.

So why's it so good? Well, the main thing is that it's been properly programmed - speed and playability haven't been sacrificed for the sake of the graphics (which are really rather good). And, um, that's about it. It's just very, very good. Do get yourself a copy.


Drive: 93%
Visibility: 89%
Road Holding: 92%
FOATLF: 90%
Overall: 93%

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair - Article Re-review Issue 78, June 1992   page(s) 54

A staggeringly flashy racer, with graphics and a thumping 128K soundtrack. It was amazingly popular, mostly due to your being able to ram the bad guys off the road. To be honest, it's more a well-programmed idea than a game, but one that's worth a look all the same.


Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 94, January 1990   page(s) 104,105

"Let's go, Mr Driver!" It has to be said, that it ever there was a moaning, spazzy character in any game, your Chase H.Q. co-driver wins the prize. He's full of useless exclamations like "Bear down!" and "Harder harder!" What with him spoiling his trousers every time you hit the turbo button and Nancy a headquarters moaning and suggesting that you've picked the wrong job, no wonder they say a policeman's lot is not a happy one.

It's good news, then, to discover that you've got one of the best driving games full of action, drama and astounding speed to keep your mind off the downside of the job.

Chase H.Q. was an arcade favourite last year, and its transition to the Spectrum was predicted by some as utterly impossible. However, bearing in mind the capabilities of the machines concerned, I reckon that the Speccy version if by far the best, beating Atari ST and Amiga hands down on both graphics and gameplay.

The aim of the game is to track down deadly criminals who are racing from one side of America to the other in an attempt to flee the scenes of their odious crimes. Behind the Wheel of a Porsche 928, you hurtle down the highway in hot pursuit of the bad guys up ahead. Once you manage to find them (often with a little help from a following helicopter) you have to barge into them repeatedly and run them off the road. Its always good to have a big chopper helping you from behind. Ooer.

Once off the road, you can then proceed to nick the driver. Nancy at headquarters will then tell you who's next for the rubber hose treatment in the back room, and what sort of car they're driving for easy identification.

As you belt around the countryside, infuriatingly dithery innocents drift around the track, sorry, road, getting in the way. Bloody civilians. Thankfully, there's absolutely no penalty for crashing into these drivers, except it slows you down a bit. Just like the real thing.

While the chase is in progress, it's easy to pay scant attention to the fantastic surroundings. It's really only when someone else is playing, or you're watching the demo that you notice the astounding undulating hills, the ultra-smooth scrolling and the excellent speech (128K only).

When you look at Chase moving as quickly as it does, choc-a-black full of gameplay tuned to the finest degree, all the graphics with their excellent animations, other action driving games seem to look pretty silly.

All the allowances you've been making for the other car games, things like "Well, there are a lot of objects, so it's bound to be a bit slow", or "It doesn't really matter what it looks like so long at the gameplay is there" seem a little bit daft.

When you see and play Chase, you realise that there simply aren't any excuses. It is possible to do everything without compromise.

Finally, a driving game without any flaws. Nail-biting, tyre squealing action right to the very end. If you're not bowled over by Chase, you're off your rocker.

Label: Ocean
Author: In house
Price: £8.95
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Jack Daniel


Graphics: 93%
Sound: 80%
Playability: 98%
Lastability: 97%
Overall: 96%

Summary: Absolutely incredible. The best driving game ever. Superb.

Award: Sinclair User Classic

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 117, November 1991   page(s) 49

Vroom, vroom! Following in the footsteps of Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy, Danny Glover and Mel Gibs - the Chase HQ boys, Mr. Driver and Mr. Pain in the Butt are the inheritors of that finest of cop traditions, the "buddy" scenario.

Two of the computer world's finest boys in blue battle it out against fast ridin' Ferrari drivin' baddies in what was a major coin-op hit a few years ago. Successfully making the transition in 1989 to Spectrum and astounding the machine's critics with unbeatable graphics, sound and scrolling.

Accurately recreating the fast and furious action seen in the coin-op, you play the part of a very lucky cop who just happens to have a Porche 928 as a chase car. Unfortunately his partner seems to have a bad dose of piles as he constantly whines about your driving. Receive orders from Nancy at Chase HQ then intercept the criminals and ram them off the road. Gameplay is in theory quite simple but a lot of driving skills have to be employed. If you're into driving and you still haven't got a copy of this, go get it. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Label: Hit Squad
Memory: 48K/128K
Price: £3.99 Tape
Reviewer: Steve Keen


GARTH: Well, it's a bit iffy this one, but what can I say? When I first reviewed it, I wasn't so keen on the perspective but in retrospect, it's one of the best racing games around and an excellent budget purchase and well worth having in your collection of Speccy greats.

Graphics: 93%
Sound: 80%
Playability: 89%
Lastability: 90%
Overall: 90%

Summary: It's a while since I last played Chase HQ but took to it like a Fisch to cider (Ouch, get away you sad, hairy Scotsman). Amazing graphics, gameplay and superb scrolling make Chase HQ a 'Best Budget.'

Award: Sinclair User Best Budget

Transcript by Chris Bourne

ACE Issue 29, February 1990   page(s) 42,43

Ocean outrun the field in a hard drivin' Christmas race.

Chase HQ is dead simple. Put your foot down, catch up with the criminals, and keep ramming their car until it bursts into flames and you can apprehend them. That's all there is to it.

But if Chase HQ is simple to learn - how to play it is not nearly as simple to master. Most people will catch the first criminal after a few attempts but this is only the beginning. The next four are much better drivers, have faster vehicles, and the clock ticks away constantly - giving you just one short minute to catch them and inflict sufficient damage to stop them.

The simplicity of Chase HQ comes as something of a surprise. After all the hype and the buzz that proceeded it as being "the" arcade conversion of 1989 you kind of expected it to have more features. All you have to do is catch up with the baddies, bump into them a few times, and apprehend them on behalf of the forces of law and order. No power-ups (apart from a booster), no finicky tactical decisions: just plain playability all the way.

The basic simplicity of Chase is compensated for by the briefing screens and the graphical displays at the end of each mission.

The briefings are particularly neat. A screen display shows a message print out from Nancy at HQ who tells you about the next criminal to be apprehended and shows you a photo of his car.

The end level screens are pretty impressive as well - showing your patrol car stopped in front of the criminals' vehicle with the villain lying on the road in handcuffs.

Getting to those end-level screens is largely a matter of perfecting your control techniques. Although you only have two gears - high and low - mastering them is the key to success in Chase. By switching down you can right the car's position when it is about to spin out on a particularly difficult bend. This loses you speed, but of course not as much as if you span right off the track.

Chase also features plenty of graphical frills in the game itself - like the flashing light on top of your Porsche that starts blinking when the criminal car comes into view.

Chase is challenging and good fun. It will also have you tearing your hair out in frustration at certain points - for example, running out of time just before you make the final ram on a criminal vehicle to make it pull up. You know how many hits you need to get by the pile of tyres that fill up in a grid that appears to the left of the screen. When the grid is completely full the criminal car will pull up and you can make your arrest.

Chase HQ was enormously popular in the arcades and will undoubtedly prove just as big a hit on home machines. The gameplay may be a bit limited for some tastes - tastes that prefer a Stunt Car or Vette type of a challenge for example - but for those of you who prefer your racing pure and simple, with a touch of motor way stock car jostling thrown in, it is perfect. Fans of the coin-op should have no hesitation.

Reviewer: Eugene Lacey

RELEASE BOX
Atari ST, £19.99dk, Imminent
Amiga, £24.99dk, Out Now
Spec 128, £9.99cs, Out Now
Amstrad, £9.99cs , Imminent
C64/128, £9.99cs , Imminent

Predicted Interest Curve

1 min: 95/100
1 hour: 100/100
1 day: 85/100
1 week: 60/100
1 month: 45/100
1 year: 40/100


Graphics: 8/10
Audio: 8/10
IQ Factor: 6/10
Fun Factor: 8/10
Ace Rating: 868/1000

Summary: Novel chase and crash racer - but lacking the long term challenge and appeal of Stunt Car.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Computer & Videogames Issue 98, January 1990   page(s) 18,19

Ocean
Spectrum £9.99, ST £19.99, Amiga £24.99

The Police radio crackles into life as you speed down the freeway in your black turbo Porsche. "This is Nancy from Police headquarters. Suspected multiple murderer heading west out of the city in a white British sports car. Intercept and arrest." Pausing only to stick a flashing red light on top of the car and switch on the police siren, you stick your foot to the floorboards and belt through heavy traffic to catch the criminal before he escapes...

And so begins Ocean's conversion of the brilliant Taito police chase arcade game, which gives the player chance the chance to join a side of the Police force which makes Miami Vice look rubbish - Chase HQ.

The specialised skills you need be a hero in this elite branch of the boys in blue is the ability to zoom through traffic at high speed, track down villains driving very fast cars and smash them off the road before they reach the state line and freedom - if you can't do that, it won't be long before you're slung out of the force.

At the start of each level you're given the description of the felon and the car he's driving. After that it's time to leap behind the wheel of your car and weave through the traffic in hot pursuit. The highway twists and turns, and you've got to avoid hitting other cars (which slows you down) if you're going to catch the speeding villain within the time limit. Sometimes there are forks in the road, and an arrow gives you a few seconds' notice as to which is the quickest route - miss the right one and valuable time is lost as you tear down the longer road. It's at times like this when you wonder whether to use one of your three turbos to give you an extra boost of speed, or whether to save them for when you find your quarry...

When the criminal's car is in sight, extra time is added and you've simply got to run it off the road by repeatedly smashing into it. Every time you hit the villain's car, one point is added to the damage meter at the left of the screen. When the meter is full, he slows right down, giving you the chance to pull up alongside and bust him.

After that it's back to headquarters to wait for the next mission - an even tougher villain driving an even faster car!

I love the arcade version of Chase HQ, and am pleased to see that Ocean have transferred the game to the ST, Amiga and Spectrum perfectly.

On 16 bit there's plenty of speech, great sound effects and music, and colourful and effective 3D graphics. More importantly, the gameplay is superb; tough enough to keep you glued to your screen as you race after the elusive next car, yet highly addictive as you always seem to get just a little bit further with every go.

The sounds and speech are lost on the Spectrum version, but the graphics, although monochrome, are fast, smooth and very impressive indeed, with great sprites, highly effective 3D and superlative gameplay making this the most astounding Spectrum game for years.


Overall: 97%

Summary: Simply astonishing. All the features of the arcade game come together in the smoothest, fastest, most exciting Spectrum game seen in years. It gets my vote for Spectrum Conversion of the Year. If you miss it, you should be locked up!!

Award: C+VG Hit

Transcript by Chris Bourne

The Games Machine Issue 25, December 1989   page(s) 76,77

Spectrum 48/128 Cassette: £9.99, Diskette: £14.99

'LET'S GO MR DRIVER!'

The chase is on! There are a select handful of games that could make it to the very top this Christmas and Chase HQ is the one hotly tipped to win the race. It takes its game plan from the most cliched sections of Starsky and Hutch, Kojak, Miami Vice and countless other American cop TV shows (or movies) - the ubiquitous car chase.

Yes, there's always some mean dude ready to leap into his flashy sports car and speed off, tires screeching and engine roaring, our hapless heroes never far behind. And isn't there always a big pile of empty cardboard boxes halfway down one of the alleyways? And a big lorry that backs out onto the road just in time to separate the two cars? But I digress...

The HQ of the title is manned (womanned or personned) by Nancy who uses the high-tech control panel of your vehicle to tell you, the suave cop, who the next criminal is, what he's guilty of and what car he's driving. Then it's out onto the highway to begin tracking him down.

The status panel above the play area shows your score, time, speed, stage, gear and distance. This last figure tells you how far away your target is and obviously the greater your speed the quicker you'll catch him. To this end, you can kick in the turbo unit when the two gears are just not enough, sending you accelerating in a cloud of dust.

'More haste, less speed', the old adage goes, and this is true for Chase HQ. There are junctions to be navigated, the correct turning given by a scrolling message sent by Nancy, and it can be easy to go the wrong way at high speed. And at high speed it's obviously more difficult to avoid time-wasting collisions and crashes.

With the target in sight the siren begins wailing and the red beacon flashing, and the target's car is marked with a big friendly arrow. Your car has to repeatedly ram his in order to damage it/worry him enough to force him to pull over; indicated by a vertical bar. Succeed within the strict time limit and it's on to the next case. Fail and Nancy has some harsh words for you... and maybe even a letter of dismissal.

It's a pleasant surprise that a simple twist to the used and abused racing genre can make a game very, very playable. In the average racer you're pursuing the leader so as to overtake and head the field. Chasing a distinct car with a view to forcing it to stop and condemning its driver to incarceration gives a real purpose to skidding around miles of twisting, tortuous roads, dodging traffic.

Levels don't just differ in colour and simple roadside alterations. Cliffs, bridges, junctions and buildings all help to make each of the five levels distinct and each of the five chases compelling. Five levels may not seem like much, but sending the first villain to the stammer takes enough effort for you to realise this game is no pushover, and arrest times (and so score bonuses) are always rewarding to beat.

Chase HQ really shows what job satisfaction is. Being a cop and bringing a villain to justice brings real pleasure into an already playable game and helps make it an addictive pastime. Will brighten up your Christmas stocking.


Overall: 91%

Summary: There are a good spread of colours in the status area which compensates a little for the mono road and cars, and the cameos of the hero and villains that appear on its miniscreen are very nicely drawn. Vehicles are clear and neatly designed if not detailed, and the main sprite bobs and weaves nicety. Though roadside features don't update as smoothly as they could, they approach swiftly and are helped by the brilliant, smooth and realistic perspective of the landscape stripes and the road itself. The title screens have their own attractions, with a number of sequences involving the letters which form 'Chase HQ' - zooming in from infinity, bouncing full-stops, letters hitting stops into position and so on. Though spot effects are merely average, 128K owners are in for a real treat. Various pieces of music simulate six channels, realistic bass and snare drums combined with complex sounds reminiscent of the better Commodore 64 instruments. On its aural qualities alone Chase HQ is worth a look, but considering the game they accompany it's an essential purchase.

Award: The Games Machine Star Player

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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