Spy Vs Spy Review (iOS)
If you can remember a time when your graphics card was called VIC and not known by its manufacturer and number; and your soundcard was not named by a marketing committee, and was simply known as SID; and you were less concerned about 64 bit processors and more interested in 64k memory, then you probably remember playing Spy Vs Spy the first time round. And if you liked it then, you will be pleased to know that it is just as enjoyable now.
Spy Vs Spy was originally a comic strip from Mad Magazine, featuring the 2 identical spies except for their colour (one is white and one is black) who would spend their time outwitting and out-exploding one another.
This game features our two spies as they sneak around searching for four hidden items within an embassy. You need to reveal the hidden exit and escape before your time runs out. At the same time you are trying to avoid your opposite number, whilst setting traps for him, disarming his traps or simply setting them off for your own comic death.
The first time you start the game it jumps straight into the tutorial which guides you through the core controls and concepts, and then leaves you with a dummy spy whilst you quickly gather the items and escape.
Movement is controlled by touching the screen and then moving your spy in the direction that you want. When you are near doors or ladders they will flash, at which point tapping the screen will open the door or lower the ladders. The same controls are used for searching the furniture for the objects that you need to escape.
You can hamper your opponent spy by setting traps which remove him for a period of time and runs his time limit down. These can be set by accessing your “Trapulator”, which allows you to set 5 possible traps. These traps are more Mr Bean than Mr Bond, but that just adds to the mad-cap nature of the game.
First up is the bomb, hide it in some furniture and wait for your spy friend to come along and blow themselves up. Secondly we have the giant spring. As before this can be hidden in the furniture, and when set off will send your opponent flying backwards into a wall. If you’re really lucky, in the layout of the embassy you can set this up so that the enemy spy will be launched backwards through room after room until finally hitting a solid object.
The next two traps are used on doors. There is the classic bucket of water balanced on the door with a shocking surprise, and the old gun with tied to the door handle trick. Open the door and get riddled with bullets, everyone laughs.
The final trap is a time bomb, which is set in a room and will explode killing anyone unfortunate enough to be the room at the time.
If you think that you are about to set off a trap, the traps do have countermeasure. Objects can be collected throughout the embassy which will disable or disarm a trap e.g. a bucket of sand for the bomb, an umbrella for the bucket of water.
To help navigate you have access to a map of the embassy which highlights the rooms that have the objects that you need in them, and you can see “breadcrumb” footprints which indicate where you have been, all to help you keep track of where you have searched already.
There are three gameplay modes. First is campaign, where you face off against increasingly clever enemy in larger and larger embassies. Second is custom mode, where you can set the parameters of the game that you want to play. Finally there is online multiplayer. A local game can be setup using Bluetooth, which seemed odd as I had never had to turn on Bluetooth on my iPad before. Still it worked with no problems. You can also play online with Game Centre integration.
The multiplayer component is where the game really shines, and despite the original game being released nearly 30 years ago, it is a style of multiplayer gaming that is a rare treat. You were rewarded for smart thinking rather than twitchy FPS skills. In fact, the better you are the less likely you would see or be seen by your opponent. At all times you can keep track of what your enemy spy is up to, but that just adds to the challenge; remembering where you have found and moved your objectives and which traps have been laid where.
The graphics are well drawn and match the style of the original comics. You can recreate the original retro graphics feel as well for those of you that want a real nostalgic hit. Continuing that, the music (as far as I can remember) is exactly the same as the original, which fits in perfectly.
The controls can be a little fiddly, as it can be tricky setting a door trap because you can end up opening and closing the door rather than setting the trap. An update is planned to address some of the control issues that people have been having.
Overall, playing the game brings me back to the fun times I had playing the original, and it all still seems as fresh now as it was nearly 30 years ago. Even if you have never played the original, you will find the game will be engaging and challenging in a way that modern multiplayer games miss out on.
8 Secret Decoder Rings out of 10