Spy vs. Spy


Review Date: February 1, 2021

Release Date: Sometime in 1984

Platform: Atari 800

Developer: First Star Software

Genre: Garbage

Anecdotes: Having played the NES version, we got some fun out of Spy vs. Spy. I’m not sure how, but we knew who they were from MAD Magazine, even though we never read it. For this review, though, I was looking for the original version. I didn’t have, nor ever played the Commodore version, so I went with the Atari 800 version. I hate myself for that choice, but I hate this version of this game A LOT more.

Description: White Spy and Black Spy battle in a lair. Player one controls the White; player 2 controls the Black. The Spies can fight each other, set traps, and find items. Each Spy has a clock that runs down. To win, the Spy must collect all four items and bring them to the airport.

I finally had something go right. I beat up the Black Spy and had all the items…but the airport door NEVER appeared. I hate this game.

Positives: It’s a great concept that worked well on the NES. There are times when the game can be downright hilarious.

Negatives: Where do I begin? How about the graphics? The entire game has this ugly brown background that never changes. The doors are that same ugly color. Meanwhile, the Spies get their own halves of the screen, designed to look like televisions. (I guess that would be black and white TVs, then.) Not only does this shrink down the usable space, but it also disables a view when the Spies are in the same room. There is a trap list on the right, but I never saw it do anything except list the required items in the bar at the bottom.

I get that things are hidden and it’s possible to set traps on them, but in practice, the traps don’t do much good. I couldn’t even figure out how to use them. Even if I did, I’d probably run into my own traps, anyway. Meanwhile, the AI Spy seemed to have no problem avoiding them. The AI Spy also had no problem beating me up, either. Head to head combat seemed to be a loss every time, until I just held down the fire button and shook the joystick.

Get used to this. Get used to losing.

Spy vs. Spy is a decent concept and can be fun, especially with a second player. This version, however, isn’t good. Play the NES version instead.

Grade: F

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