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Starsky & Hutch

(Empire Interactive, Gotham Games; US: Jul 2007)

The Ladies Love My Striped Tomato

America still seems to have a fascination with mining the 1970s. For some reason, we all can’t get enough of anything that was quickly thought of as silly and corny by the time the 1980s rolled around. However, this nation’s attempt at trying to revive ‘80s nostalgia (That ‘80s Show, anyone?) didn’t get much farther than Adam Sandler and The Wedding Singer, which is probably a good thing. Oh, and there were also a few video game compilations of old arcade and Atari 2600 classics that were sent out to eager buyers.


This should be a lesson. Classic video games can live on. We players who originally grew up in the original arcades and made our way from Pong to the Atari to the Commodore 64 to Nintendo and Sega through Sony and Microsoft still enjoy those simple old times when games were still a quarter and vector graphics meant the latest in cool technology. But what about when classic movies or shows are converted into a video game? This is where things get tricky.


For anyone who’s played video games long enough, you know there have been complete garbage dumps created out of bad movie games. Even back on the Atari 2600 there was Attack of The Killer Tomatoes, not to mention a game modeled after Porky’s. This trend continued. Everything from Wayne’s World to The Goonies, Die Hard and Friday The 13th have been made into games. And man, did those games reek. Most times, these titles are nothing more but quick cash-ins for a current hit flick, and therefore not much thought or effort is put into the titles. Although, to be fair The Rocky Horror Picture Show on the old Commodore 64 was kind of fun, and Disney has done fairly well with some of their movies turned into games.


So now it’s time to head back to the ‘70s once more and dig up an old artifact that any gamer born in the ‘80s or after probably won’t recall too well unless they are into re-runs on TBS. Yes, it’s Starsky & Hutch in full-blown cartoony color on your home consoles. Did Paul Michael Glaser and David Soul really need to be resurrected in this fashion? You bet your ass, they did! After all, this game is probably going to wind up being ten times better than the upcoming Starsky & Hutch big screen bonanza. Somehow, I just can’t see Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson, whom I have both enjoyed in other features, as the two leads. And really, I don’t see why a big screen version needed to be made in the first place. Although, I am happy to report that the old TV show is getting the regal DVD remastering treatment coming your way this March. The first season on five discs, baby.


Yeah, OK, so I really love Starsky & Hutch. I remember watching it in the ‘70s when it was originally on, and when there were re-runs of it on cable in the mid-‘90s I lapped it all up once again. Hey, this was the coolest cop show at the time. Much better than S.W.A.T. (oh yeah, there’s another oldie that got turned into a lame flick) or Baretta. Starsky’s “striped tomato,” the hot red Gran Torino with the white stripe down the side is still the greatest TV car to me, bettering both the General Lee and Batmobile. Plus there was the rapport between Starsky & Hutch. Hutch was the straight man, the thinker, the guy who kept his cool and the lovely ladies. Starsky, on the other hand, the wild gun, the guy who loved to eat, the dude who drooled on the lovely ladies. Together, they were the peanut butter and jelly of the police force.


And who could forget Huggy Bear? That’s right, Antonio Fargas as the duo’s pimp snitch. Times were different back then, apparently. But hey, everyone had a good time at Huggy’s. These things were what made Starsky & Hutch tick for a few seasons on TV. And these are the exact same things that make the show translation an absolute success as a video game. Hell, you even get Tom Scott’s memorable theme “Gotcha” playing during the opening screens.


So what do you do in the game? Drive and shoot, baby. Over 100 miles of city terrain to chase down the bad guys in different story lines. Some bad dudes you’ll just need to run down and destroy their cars. Other ones you’ll have to protect while still other bad guys try to stop you at every turn. All the while you’ll hear Starsky wise cracking and Hutch trying to maintain the sanity. Plus there’s oodles of cool ‘70s cop show music to kick ass to while you blow through the streets. But watch your Viewer Ratings number. If the viewers get bored, the number goes down and your show is cancelled.


This game’s a complete blast with two players. If you have a light gun, one player can drive and the other can shoot. You can also hook up a steering wheel controller for the complete feel. Plus there are tons of cars to unlock, as well as movies, and an interview with Antonio Fargas himself. By the way, Fargas is the only original cast member who actually speaks for his own character on the game. I suppose Soul and Glaser either maybe wanted too much or just weren’t available.


The heart of Starsky & Hutch is simplicity. Shooting. It’s what made old shooters like Galaga and Space Invaders the hits they were. For us old-timers, that’s more than fine. Throw Starsky & Hutch on top, however, and you really have something great.

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