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"Starsky & Hutch" is a video game released for the Gameboy Advance console in 2003 by Empire Interactive. It is a driving game based on the recent film of the same name. In the United States, the game received a rating of "E" by the ESRB panel which deemed it suitable for all ages.
The gameplay of this title closely resembles such mission based driving ventures as "Driver". In it, players control the police duo of Starsky and Hutch. Together they roam the streets of fictional Bay City in search of crimes to solve. The game features a story mode which spans over 12 missions to complete. Each mission progressively increases in difficulty. In the early stages the player will simply follow a suspected criminal as the car disposes paper evidence. The player must collect these items and does so by simply driving over it. The game, I find, becomes most difficult in its shooting stages. Here the player will have to take aim at a band of villains as they try to flee Starsky and Hutch's vehicle. The criminals will make numerous turns to avoid the police and their sudden actions make taking aim a challenge.
The graphics are presented from a trailing view of the player's vehicle. It is unfortunate to state that the visuals are the main pitfall of this title. I found all vehicles, including my own, to be "blocky" and highly distorted. While I was able to see that cars were indeed cars, it was very difficult to note finer details such as wheels or lights. The maps are comparably distorted and it is all too easy to meander into buildings or signposts simply because it is very hard to understand where turns lie in the road. The soundtrack is comparably simple with one musical score, the main theme song, following the player throughout.
Overall, Starsky & Hutch is not a game I would recommend to prospective buyers. The title may be accurate to the film and indeed the television series in terms of playing objective, but the horrendous audio and video effort renders the gaming experience very poor.
Released in 2003 Starsky and Hutch is a Gameboy Advance cartridge that is based on the hit seventies cop show.
For those of you who are too young to remember the original series Starsky and Hutch were two American cops that drove around in a sexy red car and busted crime! They were led by an aggressive boss and often given assistance by the street wise dude Huggy Bear; and that's the whole concept in a nutshell!
So, three decades later a re-make film is made with the wonderful Owen Wilson and a game to tie in with its release was inevitable. As a rule of thumb movie derived games have generally been rubbish, so how does this game measure up? Well not too bad surprisingly.
The game is entirely based on driving your white striped red sports car around a series of imaginary streets in Bay City, completing objectives and saving the day.
Not all of the streets and areas of the City are instantly available so the best way to play the game is in Story Mode.
In Story Mode you are led through a series of chapters that represent individual challenges. Each chapter has a nice retro cartoon style cut scene and then the mission objective is revealed. The game starts off quite gently and has you tailing a green car and collecting (by driving over) the pieces of paper (evidence) that the car is quickly disposing via the drivers window. That completed the levels then get progressively harder as you undertake tasks such as disposing bombs, shooting villains and racing criminals.
Driving the car is really easy and is a matter of holding a single button to accelerate and using the D-Pad to steer the car. Steering is a bit hit or miss as the D-Pad has no graduation so you are either turning or not turning, there is no in-between. Because of this I find that the easiest way to turn is to come off the accelerator at corners and skid around them.
Unfortunately as the challenges become harder so does the driving. Not only the clock is against you; the condition of your car is tantamount to completing the game. Like in real life, each time you scuff a kerb or drive into a lamppost your car's roadworthiness is depleted. This is true in the game and if you repeatedly crash head on into other cars, lampposts and walls it's not long until your car is wrecked and game is over. Fortunately you can retry from where you left off. Once you have completed the story mode then you will have unlocked the city and can peruse it at your leisure. The cartridge also allows for four individual save files so you can share the cartridge with friends or family.
On the subject of collision, the graphics on the game are a little blocky though despite offering a 3d view does move at a rapid rate with no noticeable slowdown or blur. In fact, it's the speed of the game that in my opinion is one of its key factors.
The sound is relatively limited due to the format, but there are nice Seventies drum tracks and theme music snippets throughout to make it acceptable. The car sound, crash noises and other effects aren't too bad either and lend a further air of realism to the game.
There are of course better GBA driving games out there and longevity of playing this title is limited as Gameplay can become repetitive. However if you're a fan of the show or just games of this genre then it's definitely worth a go.
© M Jones (Otalgia) 2008