Developer: Robots and Pencils Inc.
Price: $0.99 Download on the App Store
Are you the shadowy assassin or the white knight? Choose your guy and test your ability to fulfill difficult missions with Spy vs. Spy, the iOS revival of the popular Commodore 64 title from oh so long ago.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to navigate various embassies and locate the hidden key, passport, money and secret plans along with a briefcase to carry them. If you can make it to the exit where your spy plane is waiting, before time runs out and before the opposing spy, you win. Sound simple? It’s not.
Spy vs. Spy is a clever game, but presents a varied set of challenges. Mastering the controls is the first obstacle, but a combination of D-pad representation of directional movement as well as touch screen use will eventually make enough sense for you to some-what expertly navigate the rooms and interact with objects. For those who don’t like to wing it, a lengthy tutorial level is included and there is a user manual for gameplay reference available at any time.
There are several elements of Spy vs. Spy that make it entertaining and challenging and it boasts a fairly high replay-value. Players can select retro or modern modes and play campaign mode or create a custom match with options to select any of 24 embassies previously unlocked in campaign mode, change the enemy’s IQ and choose the black spy or white spy. There is also a multiplayer mode with options to play locally or online.
One of the key elements of the game is the split screen view with simultaneous gameplay. Regardless of whether you’re playing solo or against a live opponent, you see what the other spy is doing. Sometimes this feature is an advantage, other times, not so much.
The embassy rooms are all interconnected by doors and sometimes ladders and holes hidden under rugs provide access to upper and lower floors. Players can hide the objects they find and set booby traps for the enemy, but watch out for enemy traps and club-to-club combat. If you enter a room with the enemy your items disappear and if you lose in combat you’ll be further delayed from reaching the exit. Provided you can remember where you hid everything and what you booby-trapped, you might be able to make it in time.
Spy vs. Spy is not a simple pick-up-and-play game, but between the tutorial and user manual is not impossible to figure out. It provides a combination of adventure and arcade action that is simultaneously frustrating and addictive. Of course the MAD undertones and Alfred E. Newman appearances don’t detract either. Multiplayer mode changes gameplay up a bit, and though local multiplayer is stable, online connections can be glitchy.
All in all, Spy vs. Spy is a well-designed rendition of a game many people may have forgotten and for the younger generations is like a whole new game. If you can get past the somewhat awkward controls and object interface, learn to use your map and all around get the hang of gameplay, Spy vs. Spy is a fun and unique game made slightly better by familiarity and beloved characters.