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Spy vs. Spy: The Island Caper (Commodore 64)

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Written by  :  Christopher Whittum (7)
Written on  :  Sep 07, 2012
Platform  :  Commodore 64
Rating  :  5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars

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Summary

Can you get the missile and escape before the volcano erupts?

The Good

The Black Spy and the White Spy are back. Flying their planes from Spy vs. Spy Vol. 1, they parachute down to Spy Island and begin competing against time and each other to unite the 3 missile pieces and escape via submarine before the island's volcano erupts.

As in the last game, the screen is divided into top and bottom halves. Each half has a monitor connected on the right to a Trapulator. When the two spies are in the same scene, the bottom monitor turns red. Rather than each spy having his own timer as in the first game, each spy has a horizontal thermometer at the bottom of his monitor. The thermometer (red-yellow-green) measures the spy's stamina. Red means that your spy needs to rest or he'll die.

Hand-to-hand combat is fought with swords (thrusting and hacking). The Trapulator has some items already in it at the game's start, but others must be found on the island. The six items are a shovel (for digging open pits (these can be made more deadly by adding a stick to them which turns them into hidden punji pits), a vine (used to create snares using a palm tree to hoist a spy heals over head), a pistol (the spy hit just spins around and looses stamina), a coconut (uses fuel carried by spy) to make a land-mine, napalm (works like coconut with same cool exploding effect, only with a whoosh instead of a boom) and a map of the island.

There are six levels of difficulty (some islands have smaller islands). The computer's IQ can be raised and lowered (1-5) for single-player games (note: human is always White Spy). Pitfalls on Spy Island include quicksand (don't struggle too much or else), drowning (water) and sharks (water). Permanent death effects include a gravestone that erupts from the ground and air bubbles (quicksand, water, sharks). The missile must be assembled by connecting the middle piece to either the nose or tail and then adding the final piece. In the Commodore 64 version, whichever spy wins wades out to his submarine, which emerges. He climbs into the submarine and a senorita climbs out to give him a kiss on the cheek. The two go into the submarine and sail off into the setting sun.

This game is a practice is casual cartoon-like sadism. I enjoyed the strategy aspects. The artwork made it fun as well (for example, wreckage of a black plane and a white plane seen on the island). The effects, especially when a spy is either blown up or napalmed, are pretty funny and fairly well done. It's worth getting the missile and throwing the game just to see the volcano erupt. Lava gradually covers the island as ash clouds build up in the air. Nicely done.

The Bad

I hated seeing the Black Spy make to his submarine with the missile, get a kiss from the senorita and then sail away into the sun wile the White Spy (me) was left to die on Spy Island.

The Bottom Line

If you love Antonio Prohias' Spy vs. Spy comic strips (or even those by Peter Kuper), you'll love this game. Trying to outwit your rival makes you actually feel like you're in one of those cartoons, without the usual unfortunate side effects. The graphics seem primitive for today's standards. I recently saw the IBM-compatible version of this game online and was appalled at how crude it looked. My advice would be to get the Commodore 64 version and play it using an emulator. Commodore was a decade ahead of the competition in gaming graphics and sound.