For more than fifteen years Chase HQ has been showing up on tons of consoles and handhelds, including the Game Gear and Game Boy. This new version for the TurboGrafx-16 is apparently its first go-round on one of the Big Boys, and it makes superb use of the Turbo's capabilities.
Chase HQ refers to a special division of the New York City Police Department devoted to high-speed chases. (Are such chases even possible in New York? The game sidesteps that question by having the chases take place in the 'burbs and further away - outside of the jurisdiction, one would guess, of NYPD. Contrary to what the game may lead people to believe, there are no deserts or palm trees within hundreds - perhaps thousands - of miles of New York City.)
The object of each of the five "chases," then, is to drive like a maniac until you catur up with whichever suspect is hightailing it out of town, then ram his car until it catches fire and stops. Then, in an automated sequence, you place the suspect under arrest and proceed to your next assignment.
The chases themselves are rough and rowdy. There are usually three lanes of roadway, occasionally littered with garbage; there's a hefty amount of traffic and all sorts of trees and structure lining the road. There are alternate routes, tunnels and other hazards to contend with. Hills and valleys abound, but other than affecting your view of the upcoming roadway, they don't alter the game play - as opposed, for example, to EA's Road Rash, where you can actually use hills to your advantage. The controls of your Chase car are very sensitive, which is good, but you only have a choice between maintain a constant speed. You have two gears and limited "turbo" boosts for temporary bursts of extra speed, but straightaways are few and far between.
The races are timed, and time seems to go very quickly when you're dodging traffic. Once you actually spot the suspect, you're in hot pursuit; the timer's extended to give you a better shot at battering the suspect's car into garbage.
Chase HQ rank with the best race games graphically: Everything scales smoothly, the road snakes realistically, sparks fly when you scrape along the tunnel walls and the "innocent bystander" cars are clearly driven by authentic New Yorkers (that is, they totally ignore the fact that your siren's on!). Scenery changes dramatically from race to race, and even within each race. The only feature missing is a satisfying explosion when you've finally pounded the suspect's car into a flaming hulk, but I guess that would be taking the aggression thing just a bit too far. The sound is raucous and, at times, annoying, given the siren, the screeching tires and the Peter Gunn-style music with the heavy bass track. A couple of repetitive digitized voices punctuate the scenes between the races.
While the game is undeniably fun, it's questionable whether or not it has lasting value. Die hard racing fans may be disappointed with only five chases, while casual players may quickly be frustrated with the high difficulty level.