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Christopher Whittum @whitshade


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

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.

By Christopher Whittum on September 7, 2012

Spy vs Spy (Commodore 64)

MAD Magazine's SPY VS SPY comes to life!

The Good
I loved the strategy aspects of the game. I really loved the cartoon-like violence! I used to call the SPY vs SPY games a exercise in casual sadism.

The Bad
Having the Black Spy escape the Embassy through the Airport door with the passport, secret plans, money and Airport door key all in the Secret Briefcase and flying his airplane off the screen to victory. (i.e. Losing the game).

The Bottom Line
This game could be played against the computer or a human opponent. When playing against the computer, you were the White Spy. The game screen was divided in half horizontally. Each half had a viewing monitor for one spy(the White Spy had the top half). To the right of the viewing monitor was the Trapulator. This apparatus housed tools/weapons to aid the corresponding spy in his mission. The mission is to search the Embassy to find the passport, secret plans, money and key to the Airport door. Each spy could only carry one item, unless he had the Secret Briefcase, in which case all items could be carried. To make matters worse, each Spy had a personal timer and when it went off, that Spy would blow up. When the Spies were in a room together, all items were dropped and they were instantly armed with clubs. Anytime a Spy was killed in combat or by a trap, he would float off of the screen as an angel and be gone for half a minute while his clock ticked down. The time allotted increased with Embassy size and some of the Embassy sizes were maze-like. The screens scrolled horizontally and vertically. Each room in the Embassy had furniture such as filing cabinets, desks, televisions and paintings. These could be armed with a trap by double-clicking the joystick button and selecting a trap, then walking to the item and pressing the joystick button again. The items in the Trapulator included a bomb, a spring, a bucket full of electrifying water, a pistol with string tied to it and a time bomb. The first two could be used on furniture, the second two on doors and the last in any room. All but the time bob had remedies to disarm them. The last Trapulator item was a map of the Embassy to tell you where items were hidden. The Airport door was blocked by a guard and you couldn't pass without all the items. When you escaped from the Embassy, your Trapulator's monitor would show the Spy walking on the airfield. He would stop to snicker, climb into his plane and fly off of the screen revealing your score and rating (What A Guy Spy, Grabd Master Spy, etc.)

By Christopher Whittum on August 1, 2007