Spy vs Spy II: The Island Caper

by Orpheus Ltd
Crash Issue 41, Jun 1987   page(s) 22

Producer: Databyte
Retail Price: £8.95
Author: Mike Reidel/First Star

Three missing parts of a secret missile are hidden on the tropical Spy Island-and you control an agent sent to recover them, in this sequel to Spy Vs Spy a CRASH Smash in August 1985.

There are seven game levels, in which you struggle with an enemy spy to complete your mission: collecting the missile parts and wading out to a waiting submarine with them. The two spies, Black and White, are shown on stacked, horizontally- scrolling screens.

As in the original Spy Vs Spy, you can foil the enemy with the equipment in your Trapulator. Rope snares can be set in foreground trees with their nooses positioned invisibly below; spy-pits can be dug using a shovel, with stakes positioned at their centres and the holes covered with dirt; you can make bombs from coconuts and gasoline, drawing fuel from the crashed plane on the island. But always remember that your opponent has similar equipment...

Traps can be set anywhere on the island - they're sometimes beneath the mounds of sand where you look for the missile sections. And once a trap is activated either spy can trigger it, losing all the missile sections he's collected as well as strength. When a spy's strength falls to zero, he dies and the game is over; but it can be replenished by avoiding traps and by combat with the other agent.

If you find a gun, you can use it on your opponent to weaken him and spin him temporarily out of control. But the gun's magazine isn't always full, and some bullets are duds.

When the two agents are within range, they can fight hand-to-hand, swinging and jabbing swords - some 33 blows kill a fully fit opponent. Combat ends when one spy dies, runs away, or falls victim to a trap.

And you've also got to brave the natural hazards of Spy Island: strength-sapping quicksands, shark-infested seas and a volcano about to erupt.

To help him complete his mission, your spy can call up a map from the Trapulator (unless he's in the same screen as his opponent). A flashing quadrant indicates your spy's present position, a dotted line shows the last few quadrants walked through, and some sectors contain white squares showing where the missile sections are.


Control keys: Q or P/A or L up/down, Z or N/X or M left/right, C or B to fire
Joystick: Kempston, Interface 2
Use of colour: too much causes bad clashes
Graphics: large and nicely defined, but poor scrolling
Sound: what there is is dull
Skill levels: computer's IQ goes from 1-7, and 7 player levels
Screens: twin-stacked scrolling island

The first Spy Vs Spy game didn't have enough colour, and now Spy Vs Spy - The Island Caper suffers from too much of the darned stuff! The screen layout seems to have shrank a bit since the first game, but the traps have got more devious and much more harmful - and easier to set, thank goodness. (Even so, the Trapulator can get a bit uncontrollable in the heat of the moment.) The scrolling screens slow the game down tremendously; the flick-screen technique would have removed the need for character-block scrolling to avoid messy colour. The game suffers from a few bugs, like mounds of sand not disappearing once the hidden object has been found (which can be very annoying H you think there's more buried). Still, all the attractive elements of the first Spy Vs Spy are there, making it appealing to devious people - if they can stand the look of it.

The original Spy Vs Spy was one of the best games ever to appear on the Spectrum, and this could have been as good - but the implementation of the idea leaves a lot to be desired. It runs too slowly, and it's too messy to be addictive or fun. The graphics are marred by badly-defined characters and scenery - this and the two-character-scrolling combined with the use of colour produces a playing area that's really hard on the eyes. I'd stay away from this; it's substandard.

Nearly everyone liked the first Spy Vs Spy, but I think this follow-up will be a disappointment to the faithful. The graphics are poor: colour is overused, the scrolling is bad, and while the black spy is appealing his counterpart is very poorly defined. And setting traps is only fun for a while - though fans of the original, who've waited long enough for this, might find it worth a go.

Presentation: 71%
Graphics: 51%
Playability: 46%
Addictive Qualities: 56%
Value for Money: 49%
Overall: 53%

Summary: General Rating: Spoiled by too many elements, the otherwise entertaining game only manages to be average, and a disappointing sequel.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 19, Jul 1987   page(s) 69


A missile is hidden on a remote tropical island and your job is to retrieve it (funny that, eh?) It's in three pieces, though, and the pieces are scattered about the island. And to cap it all someone else is trying to get the same parts as you. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that after a certain length of time, the island's volcano explodes, so once you've found your missile, you'd better find your sub and get out - fast.

The screen display is very complicated with the game options displayed on the right of the screen, and the playing areas, two of them, taking up the rest, one above the other. It's on these screens that the action takes place. The main display is your Trapulator - a short of hi-tech scanning device with lots of bells and whistles, and on here you can monitor your actions. Your opponent also has one of these fiendish devices, as the game can be played in one or two player mode - if you choose one player, the computer is your opponent.

The rest of the display shows a 3D view of the land and you can move left, right, forward and back. If the two characters enter the same area then the action takes place on only one of the screens. A clock counts down the time before the volcano blows its top (the end of the game), so you're racing against time throughout. As well as fighting your opponent, you have to avoid shark attacks, quick sand, coconut bombs and all manner of other hazards as you race to get your bits together. Lots of fun can be had by not only completing the task yourself, but stopping your opponent in his tracks by booby trapping him or luring him to his demise.

It's all good fun, but a touch too complicated for my liking. However, I'm just a simple soul, you might get more out of it than me!

Graphics: 8/10
Playability: 7/10
Value For Money: 7/10
Addictiveness: 7/10
Overall: 7/10

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 90, Jun 1993   page(s) 10

Wicked Software
Reviewer: Simon Forrester

Spy vs Spy? That's MAD magazine, isn't it? Great. Fab. Load of ready-made jokes at MAD's expense, (Rubs hands.) (Er, I've already used 'em for the review of Spy vs Spy 3. Ed) Damn.

OK. Two blokes, one island. Two blokes (or spies) each want to build a missile, but with only one set of bits. So, the spies fight, hence the game being called Spy vs Spy, and the comic strip being so funny. It's a classic comedy scenario.

The spies have many ways of really hurting each other in a non-lethal comicky sort of way. They use coconut bombs, land mines, snares, and pitfalls against each other, all to no avail.

Y'see, it's a two player game. Now you may think that, what with the fast pace and all, you don't have time to watch the other player.

Er. no.

What with the spies pondering over each and every step, you have all the time in the worid to watch the other player, the Film On Four, and your neighbour cutting the grass, before you get a chance to go wrong.

When the two spies meet on the same screen, things do speed up a little as they then proceed to run around, using their swords to deal nasty, stinging cuts. But it's not really enough to make the game playable.

Oh. and then there's the presentation. Haven't mentioned that, have I? Imagine taking a beautiful painting of a desert island and, while it's still not quite dry, dropping white and black rocks on it. We're talking colour clash splasherama here. Ugly.

So, it's a potentially fun game that's slightly marred by very crap design. On top of that are the weedy sonics and those hideous graphics, so altogether I'd give it a lethal injection and argue it was a mercy killing.

Overall: 30%

Summary: Uppers: It's based very closely on Spy vs Spy which was great. Downers: The speed of a hobbled donkey, the graphics of a crap game and the playability of an episode of Praise Be. It's very crap.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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

Label: Hi TEC
Author: Mike Riedel
Price: £2.99
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Scott

Released with the original on the Hi TEC label, this game continues the adventures of the Black and White MAD agents.

As in SVS, The island Caper is a 3D split screen affair, over a six-screen island. The trapulator now caters for coconut bombs, pits and the like. Other hazards include quicksand, from which you can escape by spinning round (?) and sharks, which adore Spy Sushi.

If the graphics were dodgy in SVS, they're downright atrocious in the sequel. The spies are less blocky than before, but the scenery is a mess of colour clash. I thought that the tape had corrupted when I loaded it, and the situation isn't made any better by the dire scrolling, which somehow crawls and jerks simultaneously.

The game is impossible to play. The confusing graphics and slowness make for a pitiful piece of software.

Graphics: 30%
Playability: 37%
Overall: 30%

Summary: Probably the naffest sequel on the market. Avoid.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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