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Chase H.Q. II (Genesis) artwork

Chase H.Q. II (Genesis) review

"Part Too"

Originally called Super H.Q. in its Japanese release, the console-exclusive Chase H.Q. II continues the tradition of cops chasing criminals across a very, very long road that never seems to end. The game also carries on the concept of each stage having two portions: the first portion is a traditional OutRun-esque checkpoint racer and the second turns into an actual chase where you must ram another vehicle several times, both of which must be accomplished before time runs out. From there, the overall tone serves as an amalgamation of aspects from its predecessors and the introduction of new elements; it often feels like a remixed version of the second game, Special Criminal Investigation, rather than its own thing.

If you've played the prior ports of Chase H.Q. and SCI on the Sega Master System, then you'll realize that something here is different from the start... a vehicle selection screen! For the first time in the series, you're allowed to pick one of three vehicles per stage: a red sports car, a bulky Hummer-like SUV, and a semi-trailer truck. Each leans into a certain play style, with the sports car obviously offering the best speed and the truck providing the best ramming power. Interestingly, Chase H.Q. II has decided not to include SCI's feature of shooting projectiles, thus having ram tactics being your only method for victory.

That exclusion was for the best, because the inclusion of projectile attacks turned SCI's SMS port into a laughably easy endeavor. However, Chase H.Q. II saw fit to borrow other aspects from the same game, albeit in bits and pieces. The most notable example has to be stage two taking after SCI's river stage, where you drive on several bridges, all while water is constantly splashing the sides of these structures. It's not unreasonable to assume that, like SCI, the subsequent area would take place on a road beside a steep cliff, but instead you're greeted to a snowy terrain with mounds of snow that slow you down.

Suffice it to say, because ramming attacks have returned to the forefront, this sequel plays more in line with the first game in the series. That's a good and bad thing. Good in that the game actually shows a semblance of challenge when compared to SCI, since you again have to get next to the vehicle to cause damage. This in turn means there's an emphasis on keeping a consistent speed when keeping up; crashing or even colliding into civilian cars can be devastating in later stages. And if you do fail to out run the timer, you have a limited set of three continues to resume on the spot. Though, that's conveniently enough to complete the whole game, even if you're not the greatest driver.

That's part of the bad aspect of the gameplay, as you realize there's not a lot going on with the game's main gimmick beyond the first stage. You drive really fast to reach the vehicle, you then bump into the vehicle a bunch of times, and you repeat with each following stage. The devs try various tactics, like having the traffic obnoxiously gravitate towards your car, which gets more aggressive in the latter half of the game, not to mention helicopters occasionally dropping grenades. But even then, the whole thing still feels too constricted, too planned out. Granted, video games are just a succession of scripts and tricks to engage the player, but it really shouldn't get to the point where it feels like you're part of the simulation instead of breaking free of it.

The most disappointing thing about Chase H.Q. II is how the devs don't even take advantage of its console-exclusive status. Instead it's still acting like a port of a non-existent arcade game, following the same five stage flow with no impactful differences between stages. If the core template of these games were good enough to sustain a home product, this wouldn't even be an issue to begin with. The Super Hang-On port for instance, released three years prior, not only included the arcade version, but also an "Original" mode. The latter is essentially a career mode, starting you out with a junk of a bike that you have to improve on while attempting to outperform an opponent's best record; an in-depth time attack, you might say.

Chase H.Q. II doesn't even have to go that hard, they simply could have copied OutRun's method of branching stages, inviting ample opportunity for variety. Weirdly, out of the three Sega console games, the original Chase H.Q. on the Sega Master System still comes out on top in terms of genuine effort; while not an amazing product, it still went out of its way to include a shop menu for improving your vehicle, not to mention you had to survive three loops on limited continues to beat the whole game. As is, the Sega Genesis Chase H.Q. II experience is a huge missed opportunity.

dementedhut's avatar
Community review by dementedhut (January 26, 2024)

When I was a small kid, I had no idea what Time Soldiers was about. Every time a SMS game came with a poster/game catalog, the image shown for Time Soldiers was Gylend against a black background.

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honestgamer posted February 01, 2024:

This is an excellent review. I know there is a tendency to look down on console releases of the era, because they weren't as advanced (in a technical sense) as arcade games. But sometimes, the home port had more depth and lasting value. That could make one worth playing, and then playing again. Something like this sounds like it offers the worst of both worlds: the limited depth of an arcade coin muncher, combined with the limited presentation of a console port. I guess there was an art to good console takes on arcade gems, and not everyone was an artist...
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dementedhut posted February 01, 2024:

Thanks for reading, Venter! Of the three Chase H.Q. games I've played and reviewed, this was the one I was looking forward to the most. You'd think being on a more advanced console compared to the Sega Master System should provide it more opportunities, but this follow-up turned out shockingly minimalist in the worst way possible. You're definitely right in saying there's an art to making simple arcadey games genuinely fun on home consoles.

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