'Spy vs. Spy' Single-Player Review (iOS)

When we were invited to try out Robots & Pencils' revamped version of Spy vs. Spy, making it's way to iOS devices later this summer, we simply couldn't turn it down. This is one game that is still fun today and for anyone who's ever played it before, it's sure to bring back some memories. Head past the break for our thoughts on the single-player campaign!

Spy vs. Spy on iOS not only introduces updated visuals and 16 new embassies, it also brings back the classic style of the original in "Retro" mode, along with the 8 original embassies. Retro mode looks just as we remember, in all of its pixelated glory, and Robots & Pencils even went so far as to include the original audio. The new "Modern" mode, on the other hand, introduces fresh visuals in a fun, cartoon-y style, along with updated audio. Like most mobile games these days, there is also a 3-star system to judge your performance. However, rather than earning stars by running around and finishing a level as fast as you can, or by reaching a certain score, stars must be found as you make your way through each embassy, just like the other items.

So, how was it? It was pretty good. The retro mode and the modern mode play out in pretty much the exact same way, the only huge difference between the two being audio and visuals – the new version looks and sounds great, by the way. The touch controls are very simple and though many games suffer from them, Robots & Pencils have done a nice job making them easy to use. Especially helpful is the fact that you can place your finger anywhere on the screen to control the movement of your spy. A small virtual d-pad shows up on screen to let you know which way your moving – up, left, down or right. Doors and other items can be opened in much the same way. Simply move your Spy toward them, wait for the sound and animation that says you're in the right spot, then tap anywhere on the the screen to complete the action. I'll admit it takes a minute to get used to, but it definitely works once you get the hang of it. That said, like all touch screen controls it's not perfect.

Combat (if you want to call it that) in the new mode has seen some changes due to the new control scheme, but is essentially the same as it was before. When beating on the evil spy you'll have three choices for attack – the bat, which can be used to wallop the head or hit the stomach, or a swift kick to the shin. Each choice pops up on-screen when you're near your nemesis. Sometimes I felt like kicking the guy, sometimes I whooped him with a bat. It's an entertaining feature, but the choice didn't seem to make much difference – I stomped him every time he asked for it.

As it were in the original, laying traps is what really makes the game fun. Just waiting to watch that idiot get electrocuted or blown to bits and float up to spy heaven was a blast. Each trap is set up in a different way and each one can be deactivated using a particular item found in the embassy (The tutorial does a great job of teaching you all of this stuff). If you know the bad spy was in that room before you, pull out the item you need and approach with caution. If you get there first, set a trap of your own and let the fun begin.

Single-player Verdict

Robots & Pencils have done a great job bringing a classic game over to iOS and fans of the original will be able to jump right back in the action with fresh visuals that only add to the original experience. For those players, it's a game that really lends itself to the pick-up and play style, and quick levels make it perfect for gaming on the go. The tutorial also makes it easy for someone who's never played Spy vs Spy to get started, laying out the details without taking too long. Overall, the game looks and plays great and anyone ready for a new iOS game to sink their teeth into should definitely check it out later this summer.


Now, most of you are probably wondering how the online multiplayer and Game Center integration worked out. Unfortunately, given that we only had access to a preview build of the game, we weren't able to give it a try quite yet. I know, I know. You hate waiting, but expect to read all about it when we post our Spy vs. Spy Multiplayer Review later this summer.

We reviewed this game using an Apple iPad 2.

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