The Snake Becomes The Key

Retro Gaming Humour

Chase HQ: It’s not about catching buildings

Words:Stuart Hunt

Buckle your seatbelts, flick on that nitro and lets smash up some perps.

It’s very rare to see a pristine Chase HQ arcade cabinet nowadays. Its steering wheel will be worn and loose, its decorative stickers scratched and yellowed from acidic coins and cigarette smoke. Perhaps more fatally, the little red nitro button is permanently stuck down or requires almost unbearable thumb pressure to get it to kick in; hell, the one in my local kebab shop is sun bleached beyond recognition and the Porsche fights to steer itself left onto the grass. As frustrating as it is to slot a 50 pence into a broken arcade machine, it’s the battle scars that prove a games quality and authority. Machines, like Chase HQ, have been well feed over the years and it’s for good reason.

In 1988, Taito released a game to recreate the excitement of being in your very own high speed pursuit. A winning formula that proved so powerful, its playability literally poured out from its arcade speakers. The idea was simple, you were to flush out, chase and run down a criminal escaping in a sportscar, with no guns and no weapons; just a tough front bumper and some nifty driving skills. Sure, Chase HQ was a flawed concept – I’m sure ramming into car at 100mph would at least cause yourself severe whiplash, if not engine failure. But if video games were governed by realism, then shelves would only home Championship Manager and tennis sims surely?

Chase HQ quickly collected fans and coins in equal measure, so creating a home version was inescapable. Thankfully, in 1989, it was Ocean who stepped up to do the job and to their credit, not only created one of the most accurate and faithful arcade ports ever made, they amazingly managed to squeeze every ounce of attitude and flair from Chase’s cabinet counterpart and cram it all into one solemn looking cassette tape.

It had everything I hoped it would; Nancy’s flirtatious banter and bullocking , the ‘push, push harder’ motivational squawk I used to smirk at immaturely. The tunnels, the shortcuts, the tumbleweeds and more importantly the rush. There is no better sense of excitement than dodging traffic to ram ten shades of green bubbles from the back of a speeding car, with the intention of altering its next destination to the scrap yard. You feel like Steve McQueen playing it so close to the wire, having achieved this with no nitro’s to call on and only 4 seconds left on the clock

I have always felt Chase HQ showcased some of the finest graphics ever seen on my beloved 464 and swear that her high pitched loading wails seemed to almost fade subtly into excitable squeals. Some of our best times together were spent chasing Ralph the Idaho Slasher in that bloody blue British sports car. And, perhaps as stupid as this probably sounds, my 464 felt it too.


February 1, 2007 - Posted by | Stuart Hunt, Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. Hello

    Great book. I just want to say what a fantastic thing you are doing! Good luck!


    Comment by tovorinok | July 5, 2007 | Reply

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