Spy vs Spy

by Incentive Software Ltd: Tag, The Kid
Beyond Software
Crash Issue 19, August 1985   (1985-07-25)   page(s) 24,25

At long last the Speccy version of this much loved CBM game has mysteriously materialised on my desk. Spy vs Spy is a game basec~ around the antics of that crazy duo from the esteemed pages of MAD magazine. The two spies, one black and one white, constantly battle for supremacy in the cut-throat world of espionage and general skulduggery. The game introduces two new concepts: Simulplay , which is a facility that allows two players to play the game together, each of them controlling one of the two spies; and Simulvision which is a little more novel. If the two spies are in separate rooms then the two rooms are shown on the screen, one above the other. However, if the spies are both in the same room, then only one room is displayed. Without this facility you would never know what the opposition was up to, and that could be very unhealthy!

The basic theme of the game is very simple. If you play against the computer, you play the white spy. You and the guy in the black mac are located in a building near an airfield, and the object of the game is to get out of the building and reach the plane waiting on the runway. You won't be able to leave the building until you find the correct door and you can't go through the door unless you are carrying four objects - if you try the security guards will get very nasty. Since you can only carry one object at a time you need to find a briefcase, which is also hidden.

Searching a room simply involves looking behind each of the fixtures and fittings; if an object is behind something then it will be added to your inventory when you lookthere. Finding the articles is one thing, keeping them is something very different. Your enemy also wants to escape and is equally desperate to acquire the means to do so, and the hunt is complicated by the fact that the spies can set traps for one another.

If the two spies are in the same room then you are unable to search or use traps, in which case you can either indulge in hand to hand combat with your opponent or leave. The advantage of the former course of action is that if you win you will be able to recover the other guy's inventory, but of course you might lose.... This is where the game has a fairly strong strategic element. If, for example, you had failed to find any of the objects you could wait while the other chap does all of the graft and then ambush him - it could pay off.

To master the game you will have to learn how best to deal with your enemy. A little device called the 'Trapulator' is displayed on the side of each screen, which bears six little pictures, the first five of which are booby traps. Via the trapulator, you can use a bomb, a large spring, a bucket of water, a gun and string or a plain old time bomb with a 15 second fuse. The sixth 'icon' is a map which helps you find the objects you are searching for and must find in order to escape. The traps must be set according to their type. The gun and string, for example, can only be tied to a door, while the spring or bomb can be left under any piece of furniture. All of the traps, except the time bomb, have remedies. A fire bucket will douse the fuse of a bomb while a pair of scissors will get you past the gun and string. The remedies are located about the building but they can also be moved around by picking them up and and dropping them in a different location. A good trap layer will make sure the appropriate remedy is not to hand when a trap is set. One important point to remember as you dash about setting traps: remember where you put them!

If you are playing against the computer, you can reset its 'intelligence' at the start of each game. A rating of five for the computer means the black spy is going to be pretty smart and probably set a lot of traps - on IQ one you are dealing with a dumb thug. And the environment in which the game is played can also be changed at the start of each game. The size of the building can be pre-set, with the smallest having only six rooms while the largest has thirty six rooms and a lot of hidden passageways to boot. Points are scored for giving the other spy a hard time, e.g. killing him. How many points rather depends on how you did it. Points are deducted for using the map as well as for being a victim. If you do get killed, though, you are going to lose a great deal more than a few points. First, unless the other spy is a real gorilla, you will lose the articles you have gathered and secondly you will lose time - that's very precious because the plane only waits for so long. You can still lose the game, even as you make for the exit, if the plane leaves without you.

Control keys: player 1 - definable; player 2 - N/M left/right, Q/S up/down, 1 to fire
Joystick: not Kempston
Keyboard play: responsive, a little complicated with two players
Use of colour: colour would have meant less detail in the main displays
Graphics: very good, very close to the original
Sound: aiding bleeps and bashing noise for hand to hand combat
Skill levels: 5 IQ levels, times eight buildings gives forty levels of play
Screens: depends on level

'I can't remember when I've had so much fun playing a game. I think the immediate appeal of Spy vs Spy is that it is pretty easy to understand. Once you have leamt how to move, search and lay traps and you are off. There are so many degrees of difficulty that the novice is in with a very good chance of winning, but without a hope unless he is well practised. The scope for weird and nasty tactics is immense. Let there be no doubt that bloke in the dark mac brings out the worst in me... it's as much as I can manage to keep life in perspective when playing against another person. I love it.'

'To be honest Spy vs Spy was one of my favourite games on the CBM (well, no one's perfect) and I wondered what the conversion would be like knowing the Speccy's attribute problems. But then again it was being converted by Tag and the Kid. The main display has been produced in black and white, thus avoiding any problems but this does not detract from the overall feel of the game. The unique split screen system means that the game is instantly playable and addictive because there is terrific scope for games either against the computer or a friend. Spy vs Spy is an excellent game which offers a pleasant change from all of those arcade adventures and shoot 'em ups.'

'At first I found myself utterly confused by what appeared to be two separate events taking place on the one screen. It's very important to keep an eye on the other spy but it's also very difficult. The idea of setting an IQ level for the enemy is great since this allows you to play against a pretty thick opponent and work your way up to something a bit smarter than your average KGB goon. At first I thought the best tactic was simply to dash around the building setting traps and then picking up the pieces but as the building gets larger I tended to run into my own traps so I had to rethink my policy a little. A very absorbing and highly addictive game.'

Use of Computer: 96%
Graphics: 92%
Playability: 93%
Getting Started: 89%
Addictive Qualities: 93%
Value For Money: 87%
Overall: 93%

Summary: General Rating: An exciting and demanding game, should last for yonks

Award: Crash Smash

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Spectrum Issue 18, September 1985   page(s) 64


The world of espionage is a grey area. Shady men in shady streets. Except for two spies that is - the famous black 'n' white ones from Beyond's latest game, Spy vs Spy. Phil South has vays of making zem talk!

Overall: Not Rated

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 41, August 1985   page(s) 16

A PERPETUAL MADcap struggle has left the pages of America's top cartoon magazine to continue its conflict on the computer screen.

The comic capers of the two secret agents from MAD magazine reappear in Beyond's Spy vs Spy. A unique split-screen approach allows two to play simultaneously.

Ransacking a foreign embassy, the idiotic duo - one white, one black - blunder into each other's traps as they both search for secret documents and a diplomatic bag.

Hidden in the embassy are five objects which must be found before escape can be made in a super-slow and cranky bi-plane. The rooms all look alike so it is not surprising that you are constantly running into your own traps.

Buckets of water placed over doors, springs which send you hurtling across the room, are all part of the fun in trying to outwit your opponent. Those can be accessed through an icon-driven Trapulator and are easy to set once you've got the knack.

The two sleuths constantly cross each other's tracks and battle commences. Clubs magically appear as the two take wild swipes at each other. If you are lucky enough to score seven blows, your opponent ascends to heaven on angel's wings. After a short breathing space - in which the seconds still tick by - he is back for more.

Each time a confrontation occurs, any objects held are lost - either hidden in that room or throughout the building. It is the winner's privilege to search the room and either claim or reclaim articles.

You can play in a six room embassy in which the game is quickly over - ideal for practising on - or up to a 36 room layout where the going is slower and an element of cunning strategy is required. A two player game is more fun than playing against the computer - mainly because the computer nearly always wins.

Surprisingly, the game is not compatible with a Kempston single-port interface and will only take joystick interfaces which emulate the keyboard. A dual port interface is needed for two players and though the keyboard can be used, space is cramped.

The instruction book is lengthy, though well presented, and it takes a while to get the hang of the game. Instant play is not possible, but it's worth persevering.

Spy vs Spy will probably be as successful as Shadowfire. Playing against the computer, however, is unexciting and frustrating. A two player game is another matter - it's challenging and there is more fun to be had outwitting a friend than a mere circuit board.

Clare Edgley

Publisher: Beyond
Price: £9.95
Memory: 48K
Joystick: Sinclair, Cursor


Overall: 5/5

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 98, April 1990   page(s) 26

First released a few years ago as the official game of the MAD comic strip, Spy vs Spy returns on a new budget label Hi TEC who have simultaneously released the sequel, The Island Caper.

The game features the Black Spy and White Spy who insist on giving each other a sound duffing every time they meet. The fun begins when both agents are assigned to get some secret papers out of a foreign embassy. Along the way you must also get a passport, some travellers cheques and a briefcase in which to lug them all to the aeroplace stations outside.

The action takes place in 3D on a split screen arrangement, you on top (oo-er) as White, with the Black spy (a friend or the computer) below. At the right is the trapulator, a handy gadget which lets you set one of a range of traps with which to nobble your adversary. From a bucket of water on the door to a fully blown bomb yet all can be neutralised with umbrellas or buckets of water etc.

The graphics are decidedly wonky. They seem to have been made of 4 pixel blocks and the control can be unresponsive and it is frustrating to eventually set a trap correctly only to see Black come through the other bloomin' door. There is also a complete absence of sound, although it says that key U toggles sound on/off! But with a little perseverance, there's a fairly good game lurking beneath the shoddy graphics.

Label: Hi TEC
Author: Mike Riedel
Price: £2.99
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: Sinclair/Cursor
Reviewer: ?

Graphics: 45%
Playability: 69%
Overall: 67%

Summary: A fun-for-a-while little game, slightly marred by the aged graphics.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Computer & Videogames Issue 47, September 1985   page(s) 24

MACHINE: Spectrum/CBM 64
PRICE: £9.95

MADness rules in this battle of wits between two highly trained special agents who attempt to outwit each other as they bid to steal some top secret plans!

Spy Vs Spy is based on the characters created by artist Antonio Prohias in MAD magazine. In the cartoon strip, the Black Spy and the White Spy are constantly at each other's throats - often literally! With bombs and complicated booby traps they attempt to do each other a mischief.

The game puts you right in the centre of their dangerous world.

You can play the computer or another opponent in this original and amusing arcade/strategy game.

The ultimate aim of the game is to escape from an embassy with the briefcase containing top secret plans. But there are other things you need to find before you can make good your escape.

The game features "Simul-vision" - which refers to the split screen display. The top half of the screen shows the White Spy and the bottom the Black Spy.

Should they move into the same room, both players are shown in one half of the screen. And a punch-up often occurs!

In the right the main display you'll see the Trapulators. Both spies have one of these interesting devices which enables them to leave booby traps around for the unsuspecting enemy - traps like time bombs, giant springs, trick guns and other equally deadly things.

Each spy has to search around the rooms of the Embassy - looking in cupboards, filing cabinets or behind pictures in their desperate search for the plans and the other necessary items.

The spies can leave traps where they think the other spy is bound to look. And - despite the split screen display - you have to be really quick to spot where your enemy has put a trap because you're concentrating on laying one for him and looking for the briefcase which contains the documents!

Once you've got everything you need, you must find the door to the airport and make your getaway.

Spy Vs Spy has been out for some time on the C64 - but it's just as much fun on the Spectrum. And the black and while spy graphics bring the game closer to the cartoon strip.

It's a fast moving game - everything has to be completed before the time runs out and quick thinking is required to defeat your opponent. Especially if you play the computer!

You can alter game options - such as the "intelligence" of the computer and difficulty levels - to make the game even more challenging.

Spy Vs Spy is a unique, entertaining game. If you like your arcade action with added brain work then Spy is for you. Recommended!

Graphics: 9/10
Sound: 8/10
Value: 9/10
Playability: 10/10

Award: C+VG Blitz Game

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Computer & Videogames Issue 101, April 1990   page(s) 62

Spectrum, C64, Amstrad £2.99

The first release on this new budget label sees MAD Magazine's Black and White spies battling it out against one another in the hunt for a set of secret documents in an abandoned office building. Each spy has a selection of booby trap devices such as bombs, ropes and springs with which to stop the opposing agent from collecting all of the required items (plans, passport, travellers' cheques and the ignition key for the waiting plane) before you do. All this against a strict time limit which decreases each time you're nabbed by the enemy.

What we have in Spy Vs Spy is a simple idea but a very addictive game. Split screen arcade adventures usually can't fail, and this it no exception - especially in two-player mode. Things get very hectic after a while and when the two spies are in the same room, the screens merge to become a slapstick beat 'em up with clubs - great fun.

Overall: 82%

Summary: A cracker of a game, especially when two players are taking part - Spy Vs Spy will go down a bomb!

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair Programs Issue 35, September 1985   page(s) 14

Cloak and dagger stuff from Beyond with their new release, Spy versus Spy.

The game is based on the spies in Mad magazine and follows their madcap adventures. The aim of the game is to track down the top secret briefcase and leave the country with it. To do this you will also need your passport, money, secret plans and key.

Spy versus Spy features Simulvision. In common parlance this means that two players can play simultaneously. You can play the computer or a friend. Both of you rush round the same playing area, with different sections of screen showing each of you what is going on.

With both of you searching for the same objects in the same rooms there is bound to be some rivalry. This dealt with by the means of clubs. Whenever you get close enough to the other player you can hit them (the character, not your friend) over the head with a large club.

Failure in a fight means that you float off upwards and are out of the running for a while. Meanwhile, your rival laughs hysterically, takes all the objects you have collected, and gets on with the game.

If beating your rival up is not to your taste, or you prove to be useless at it, there is always the possibility of boobytrapping him. You have a veritable arsenal of booby traps which you can scatter around the place. The important thing is to remember where you left the traps, for either spy can set them off, and it is humiliating to blow yourself up.

Graphically, the game is excellent, with rooms represented in three dimensions, and items of furniture shifting as you lift them up in search of the items you need. The game itself is good fun, with enough problems, action and speed to keep just about any games player happy.

Where the game falls down is in its instruction booklet. This was written for the Commodore version of the game and is not accurate in some areas concerning the Spectrum. Despite the note to this effect at the end of the booklet it is confusing and makes the game less easy to understand than it could be. Also, the booklet refers throughout to joystick controls, although it is not compatible with the Kempston joystick. Small points to be sure, but problems nevertheless.

Spy versus Spy is produced for the 48K Spectrum by Beyond Software, Durrant House, 8 Herbal Hill, London EC1.

Rating: 71%

Transcript by Chris Bourne

All information in this page is provided by ZXSR instead of ZXDB