Love or hate, bemoan or exalt, Taito's Chase H.Q. exists for nearly every console. For the most part, developers have chosen to re-create the arcade experience, bringing through the original speed-thirsty gameplay in exchange for diminished audio and visuals. Taking a different tactic, Metro3D combines frantic racing with real-time strategy elements and delivers its own rendition of the franchise, Chase H.Q.: Secret Police. This time, though, the action is on the Game Boy Color.
In Chase H.Q., you command a team of five officers: Michael, George, Dominic, Leon, and Jane. Each is known for his or her own unique special trait, such as Jane's increased ammo capacity or Dominic's tank-like car. When a crime is committed, a strategy map appears that allows you to place three team members near any police station. You then move them about on the map until you corner a perpetrator, after which the game shifts into classic Chase H.Q.-style racing. The game has only ten levels, so the aforementioned strategy elements are the key to its lasting appeal.
As a handheld racing game, Chase H.Q.: Secret Police delivers a smooth and inviting experience. A accelerates, the D-pad steers, and the select button gives a much-needed turbo boost. Your goal is to race through traffic, avoid obstacles, and smash yourself into the criminals' cars until they're captured. Stirring things up, some levels force you to track and trap multiple suspects, requiring quick decisions as to the need for resupply trips. Should a suspect flee, you'll have to do the mission over. Succeed and you're given a password for your trouble. There's also a two-player versus mode, but it lacks the drama of the single-player missions and doesn't really amount to much.
Leaving the NES graphics in the garbage, Metro3D's Chase H.Q. is no slouch on visuals either. Thanks to the GBC's capabilities, Chase H.Q.'s levels zoom along at a feverish pace. Vehicle sprites are colorful and large enough to be clearly visible on the Game Boy's small screen. While the animation level isn't high, it's not choppy either. You won't see wheels spin, smoke billow, or glass shatter, but you will notice some effort toward particle effects. Admittedly, the strategy map visuals aren't great, but the focus on clarity over glamour is an acceptable trade-off.
With all the effort Metro3D and Taito poured into gameplay and visuals, one aspect has not changed: The music and sound effects are still as bland as ever. There are five distinct music selections, and while this number is adequate, none of them stand out. Furthermore, while there are a number of car and bullet effects, the quality level is nowhere near the level of the NES or Genesis releases.
One can't bury a game because the sound is average, and considering all of the other improvements, it's not necessary anyway. Chase H.Q.: Secret Police is fun to play, the strategy elements are engrossing, and the level design gives the game a sense of replay rarely seen in GBC racing titles. The game isn't perfect, but it holds up against modern releases such as Top Gear 2 and V-Rally 2000.