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.
Joystick: Sinclair, Cursor
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
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