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Ocean Software Ltd
Arcade: Vehicle Combat
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

Other Links

Eugene Lacey
Chris Bourne

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

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

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


Banner Text


Spectrum Chase HQ is really fast - thanks to the programming talents of John 'Jobbie' O'Brien (see page 84 for further info). All the neat touches of the coin-op are included, such as the helicopter showing you the way and your car engine's sound changing when you enter a tunnel. One of the best Spectrum racers around.


Superb use of sound FX - great throaty growls as you pass the other cars on the road, screeches of breaks, and roar of engine as the gears shift and the Porsche accelerates. Graphics are fairly basic - the other cars on the road being particularly disappointing. No complaints about the speed or animation though. It fairly motors along and has a noticeable poke forward when you press space to engage the turbo power.

Graphics: 7/10

Audio: 8/10

IQ Factor: 6/10

Fun Factor: 8/10

Ace Rating: 840/1000

Predicted Interest Curve

1 min: 95/100

1 hour: 100/100

1 day: 60/100

1 week: 55/100

1 month: 40/100

1 year: 35/100


Ocean have yet to confirm if they will be converting Chase HO II - Special Criminal Investigation. If its arcade performance is anything to judge by it seems likely as the game is doing particularly well right now. It is easy to see why.

Special Criminal investigation takes the same basic idea of Chase HQ - catch up with criminal cars and apprehend them. But this time it is not necessary to ram the baddies' cars to make them crash, instead you can pop up out your sun roof and take pot shots at them with your pistol instead.

The gameplay has been further embellished with the addition of several power-ups dropped out of the sky by the police chopper. Extra weapons, fuel; and communications equipment greatly enhance the game play. Much more to do and therefore double the fun.

Upright and sit down versions of Special Criminal investigation are in your local arcade now at about 50p a go. Start the countdown for a conversion...

Screenshot Text

'Jobbie' O'Brien, programmer of Spectrum Chase HQ.

Bumper to bumper in Amiga Chase HQ...

Using the helicopter to show you the way.

Burning some serious rubber.