As a child I grew up in a house with no cable, just the basic channels that the aerial picked up. I consider myself lucky as I got to watch, enjoy and appreciate the older shows such as; Taxi, CHiPs, Sanford and Son, Good Times, All in the Family and the list could go on and on! But most notably I grew an attachment to Starsky and Hutch, a show about 2 fictional police officers who drove around "Bay City" California in a red 1976 Ford Gran Torino and fought crime in an unconventional manner.
So in 2004 when they announced there would be a Starsky and Hutch film, I wasn't too excited to see Ben Stiller would be playing David Starsky. It was only after I bought the DVD for $1 at Disc Replay did I realize I liked the movie. In 2003 a video game of the same title was released, I assume to drum up hype for the movie to be released the following year.
It wasn't until I was given my first Gamecube back in about 2006 that I even knew about the game, I still hadn't watched the movie! I picked up the video game at Shamestop for pretty cheap and took it home to see what it was all about. When I popped it in, the game I was playing wasn't exactly what I had expected, yet it wasn't bad.
The game offers Story Mode, which is the main mode and offers 18 missions cut up into 3 "Seasons" of 6 "Episodes" each. Free Roam, which isn't truly free as you have to keep finding ways to give yourself more time on the clock, where your main objective is to collect 15 hidden police badges spread throughout one of the 4 selectable parts of the map. And finally there are 3 TV specials which are additional missions unlocked through achieving secondary objective along the Story mode.
Story mode seems to be a bit overbearing, you need to achieve the main story goal while keeping an eye on raising and maintain your viewer rating, which gives you a Bronze, Silver or Gold badge depending on how well you do, while collecting power-ups to help you finish the main objective AND keeping an eye out for hidden keys to unlocking items! While you're trying to do all this and finish the mission, you may get side-tracked just enough to make yourself lose the mission. Now you may think that all the unlockable items are now safe and secure so the next time around you can focus purely on the mission, WRONG! You absolutely have to finish the story mode mission to be credited any hidden items you may have attained along the way.
As I said there are power-ups strewn about the city which hang above the road ways, to obtain them you must align the car in such a way that it will highlight the icon and then you have to make Hutch shoot that icon. Although you can pick and choose which power-ups you need; Speed boost, siren, handling boost, etc. I find it much easier to just shoot what I can and keep going so that I don't run out of time and lose the mission completely.
Throughout the story mode, each mission will start and follow up with a comic book style piece of the overall story. The art is really well done and they are narrated by Antonio Fargas, aka Huggy Bear, himself! Each mission will start with an in-game graphical part of the story to get you set into the mission and get you started.
In the game you can unlock many things, such as new vehicles for Free roam, photographs from the TV series, an interview with Antonio Fargas and a few other things. By far the most rewarding are the vehicles you can use in free roam, although there really isn't any performance difference the only change is cosmetic. Sadly I wish there had been some more interesting unlockables, considering how difficult it can be to find the item needed to unlock it.
The gameplay feels much like The Simpsons games (Hit and Run/Road Rage), yet not as polished as those games were. Cars all have the same shiny, cartoony look and goofy handling as they do in The Simpsons games. The load times can be down right horrendous, although nowhere near as bad as The Italian Job for the PSOne, they're pretty painful in their own right.
Overall this game was worth what I spent on it when I originally bought it, and when my original Gamecube died the game gave me a little credit toward more games. Now that I've bought the game again, I can say that $2 was well spent just to be able to drive around in Zebra 3 once more. The game isn't going to draw me back as much as most other free roam, driving games do, but I bought the game twice just to be able to play it, and that says a lot.