Friday, May 11, 2012

Game of the Day - S.C.I. - Special Criminal Investigation

S.C.I. is a driving/shoot the bad guy's car game in the great vein of Spy Hunter or this game's predecessor, Chase HQ.

In Chase HQ, you drive until you reach the perp and then you ram his car until it is destroyed.  In SCI, the difference now is that you also have a gun to shoot to damage his car.

So, it starts out as a driving game.  You have to reach the perp's car within a certain amount of time or the game ends.  You have the usual obstacles on the road of other cars, rocks, and other stuff to slow you down.  There is a little map on the right to show your distance from the perp.  If you reach the perp before the clock reaches zero, you are given more time and it becomes a battle to damage his car (to make him stop).  You do this in one of two ways, with your gun or by ramming him with your car (funner).

You have to damage his car 100% before the timer runs out to win the stage, if so, you see a little arrest scene and then it's on to the next stage.

To help you know how close you are, there is a gauge on the left indicating what percentage the perp's car is damaged.  It helps add to the drama as you watch the gauge go up and your timer go down.  I have won stages on the very last second.

If you don't damage his car 100% before the timer runs out, the game is over.  If you choose to continue, you pick up from the spot where you caught the guy's car and start the battle over immediately - with no damage done to his car.

On occasion, you can be helped by a helicopter that flies overhead and drops a bazooka for you to scoop up.  This gun upgrade increases the damage you do with each shot that lands.

Another "boost" you get is a turbo button.  You get three to start the round and you activate it by pushing the button.  (Obviously) You then speed up for a while (especially useful when ramming the perp's car).  And because there aren't enough buttons and controls already, there is also a gear shift (low or high).  So you have steering, accelerator, turbo, gun fire and gear shift.

The graphics are fun - typical for the time (1989).  The steering is great and can be controlled well with a joystick if you don't have a steering wheel or spinner with your set-up.

It's a simple, fun game made more exciting by the various controls to use and the well-balanced timer scheme.  You are always watching the clock and sweating it out.

1 comment:

  1. Just played this last night. You're right, it's very much playable with the joystick. I never realized the joystick could be decent for games like this. I'm going to have to go back and try some of my other old favorites, like Road Blasters, Chase HQ, and Spy Hunter. Thanks for opening my eyes to how good MAME's analog control emulation is!

    This was a pretty fun game by its own right. I was surprised to see that you only get one chance at the ending, and the game ends badly if you mess it up. To anyone else trying to finish the game: concentrate, don't go too fast in the hard turns, and use your boost either at the VERY beginning to get to top speed or at the end where there's a bit of a straight.

    Thanks, Zach!