Spy vs Spy
Slip into the shadows with an old-school favorite.
The last time I played Spy vs Spy would have been around 30 years ago on an Acorn Electron, and to say that the sight of those uniquely angular black and white spies induced a touch of nostalgia-shock is something of an understatement.
The game remains the same, except for a slicker visual look which can be turned retro in the options setting. Across a series of embassies, you need to gather up vital objects such as cash and keys before heading to the exit. The 'vs' part of the game comes from the enemy agent in the bottom half of the screen who's trying to achieve exactly the same aim. Each embassy has a map which shows you where the treasured objects are, as well as the location of your opponent.
Entering a room that contains the enemy spy will cause you to drop all of the items you've gathered, and when you get close enough to him, you enter a little combat scenario that, frankly, is rather weak and consists of nothing more than jabbing at buttons faster than your opponent can. Deplete his entire health though and he'll be taken out of the game for a little while.
As the game is a race against a ticking clock, shutting the enemy agent out for a few precious seconds can make the difference between success or failure. As well as taking him out in an arcade punch-up, you can also make use of a delicious variety of traps within the embassy. Of course, he can also do the same.
To avoid the fiendish traps left by your opposite number, you can grab 'remedies' off the wall before exploring an object. If that container has a bomb in it, the bucket of water will diffuse it. If you load a filing cabinet up with a spring, the next person to peek inside will be sent flying off to the far end of the screen, but if they take the wire-cutters with them, the trap will be automatically diffused.
Unfortunately the control method is a little unforgiving, and you'll occasionally be frustrated as you try to inch your way towards an object you need to interact with, only to realise you're not quite close enough to it. In a frantic game of cat and mouse, this can quickly kill the enjoyment, particularly in the local and online multiplayer modes that are available.
Nostalgia fiends are going to get an awful lot more out of Spy vs Spy than those who have never played the game previously: this is every bit the game that was played and loved all those years ago, and the option to play with retro graphics is a very nice addition. For everyone else, there's certainly an enjoyable game to be had here, but the controls will likely take some of the shine off the experience.
What's Hot: Classic gameplay that's perfectly ported and has a refreshing new look.
What's Not: Iffy controls that sit awkwardly with the fast-paced, precision action. Weak combat.