Starsky and Hutch is but one of the growing number
of 70's TV shows that's seeing a revival, thanks to
cable and satellite re-runs. Just like Charlie's Angels,
Starsky and Hutch will also appear on the big screen
sometime in 2004 with Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson filling
the title roles. Before then, however, let's check out
the GBA version of this Starsky and Hutch game.
Although there are a handful of ways to actually
enjoy Starsky and Hutch, there's only one route initially,
as everything else has to be unlocked via the Story
Mode. This takes you though six episodes split up into
chapters whose variety is impressive and occasionally
very inventive. They include the usual stuff like racing
from point 'A' to 'B' and avoiding henchmen but others
present a slightly different and sometimes very difficult
One involves you attempting to deliver evidence to
the court house whilst being pursued by two hostile
vehicles. If one of them manages to actually hit you,
you lose a piece of evidence and have to backtrack to
pick it up again. It also doesn't help that this is
against a timer and every collision appears to drain
your health. Better still, is a section where you must
switch on all the stadium lights in order to attract
the police helicopter while being pursued by enemy cars.
Completing the game means you can access all the
other options and whilst the 'Cruise Mode' simply involves
driving around the three city maps available, there
are also some six mini games to sample. These are essentially
sections from the main story but the results can be
entered into a high score chart and this makes them
much more enjoyable and highly re-playable.
The best is the 'Downtown Dash', where you race three
other vehicles across the city in the fastest time.
The only downside is that you can't share data with
your friends and there's no two-player mode available.
Thankfully, the developers did have the foresight to
include a battery back-up.
Taking to the wheel of one of the many vehicles available
is surprisingly easy and once you've mastered the all-important
'power slide' you'll be racing around the city streets
with great ease. That's it really and everything else
is very responsive, with the shoulder buttons allowing
you to shoot at the criminals and produce a 'rear view'.
The latter is especially useful when you're being chased
and rammed by the various henchmen who do everything
in their power to stop you reaching your destination.
Finally, the various menu systems are simple and intuitive,
allowing you to enter one of the many mini games or
continue a saved session with great ease.
I have to say that the first screens that were released
earlier in the year did not put Starsky and Hutch straight
onto my 'must have' list. It has to be remembered though,
that those were beta screens and the final game is considerably
improved in the visual department.
Like other GBA racing titles, the environment is
mostly constructed of a 'Mode-7' map layout but it's
the various props that make up the city that sets this
title apart. Some areas makes you feel as though you're
actually driving around a large built up metropolis
with absolutely no compromise in frame rate. Most impressive
though are the various cut screens, which take their
inspiration from the home console versions. These have
a kind of cel-shaded comic book effect and do a wonderful
job of capturing the feel of the original series.
Sound & Music
Things kick off with a wonderful sample of the original
theme but unfortunately, it's on a very short loop as
is most of the incidental music in the game. The sound
effects are well above average with crashes and the
noise of tyres skidding across the road captured to
perfection. A little on the disappointing side though
are the various vehicle engine noise which all sound
remarkably similar and much like a vacuum cleaner on
full power than an eight cylinder engine.
If you've been disappointed by the recent batch of
mission based driving titles like Crazy Taxi and Simpson's
Road Rage, then Starsky and Hutch will probably satisfy
your 'high speed' needs. The game is longer, better
looking and considerably more immersive than its predecessors
and while it takes its inspiration from the more advanced
Game Cube version, it's still a very entertaining romp
in its own right.
The lack of a multiplayer mode is a shame though,
as playing either cops or robbers in a head to head
bout could have been highly entertaining. Still, as
a single player game, Starsky and Hutch is one of the
best around at the moment and although occasionally
tough, it's never impossible and always great fun.