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

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