Spy vs Spy

Spy vs Spy

Spy vs Spy

One of the best things about tablets in general and the iPad in particular is the massive amount of apps - and games - that you can get for them via the marketplace. Of course that massive selection of apps and games also happens to be the worse part about the popularity of tablets, and in particular Apple's iPad!

You see the massive number of apps and games makes finding the good stuff all that more difficult, which is why most gamers rely either on word-of-mouth or simple luck to find the good stuff. Well, until AppGamer arrived we mean - because the whole point behind our site is to show you the good stuff!

That means reviewing everything - new, old, and in-between - and where it is helpful, it means including a basic walkthrough-guide as well!

Allow us to introduce to you one of the good ones - and even though Spy vs Spy actually arrived on iOS a year ago, if you have yet to play it, well then you don't know what you are missing! But now you do because we have made this review!

Hey, that rhymes!

The mobile video game Spy vs Spy is based upon the comic strip of the same name created by Cuban-born American cartoonist and artist Antonio Prohías.

Spy vs Spy debuted in the January 1961 issue of Mad Magazine, and quickly catapulted into the top position among Mad's regular features.

Created as a “wordless” comic strip (100% of the communication and humor was visual) that choice meant that the strip required no translation and thus was a universally loved comic that never lost a thing in translation. It also makes its conversion to the video game format equally universal.

We must digress for a moment and talk about Mad Magazine...

An American humor magazine originally founded and also edited by Harvey Kurtzman (best known for the Little Annie Fanny comic strip in Playboy) and published by William Gaines (best known for Tales from the Crypt, The Vault of Horror, Weird Science) as a comic book in 1952.

It quickly became apparent that the comic format was not sufficiently flexible enough to properly support the full potential of Mad, which at its peak popularity under editor Al Feldstein had a paid monthly circulation of more than 2 million issues, with roughly 30% of that number being subscriptions.

As a political platform Mad quickly generated a handful of controversial “firsts” throughout the 1950s and into 60s. It has been said that no magazine needed the First Amendment more than Mad.

By the time artist Antonio Prohías arrived at Mad the magazine had firmly established its reputation as a controversial but honest satire publication. Among its more interesting “firsts” is its record for having more issues banned by the US Department of Defense than any other publication (including Playboy Magazine).

A Spy vs Spy Video Game

Within moments of booting up the mobile action adventure spy game for iOS created by studio Robots and Pencils, its nature is crystal clear - the colorful start screen being underscored by the sort of techno-beat familiar to any fan of spy films like the Bond series, Le Carré’s ‘Karla’ trilogy, or Hitchock's Notorious.

The options from the get go include Campaign (story) mode, Multi-Player, and Custom Match mode, with a Tutorial mode also on offer (and highly recommended to new players).

There is a button in the form of a Mad Magazine cover that takes you to a download page for the FREE Mad App. Well, it is free if you are a subscriber to Mad - we are not so we didn't clock the button, just saying...

A child of the times, creator Robots & Pencils made sure that Twitter and Facebook buttons were in-your-face on the start screen, and in case here is any doubt in your mind, while it is not a free title (Spy vs Spy costs $1.99 on the Apple Marketplace) the game is supported by in-app purchasing that ranges from expansion content (the Premium Currency it uses are called Mad Bucks).

Current paid expansion content include a packet with 24 new levels for 96 Mad Bucks, a Single Player Cheat Pack also 96 Mad Bucks, and an Alternate Traps packet that includes 3 new traps: a Poison Gas Trap, a Dynamite Trigger, and an Anvil (think Wyle E. Coyote) that also costs 96 Mad Bucks!

Mad Bucks can be obtained as special rewards, bonus rewards, and of course obtained as in-ap purchase - at the present time there are three packages available: 99 Mad Bucks for .99 cents / 249 Mad Bucks for $1.99 / and 555 Mad Bucks for $3.99.

A special gift box button on the main menu allows you to easily “gift” a copy of the game to a mate so that you don't have to play alone. That may sound like a cheesy trick to get you to buy additional copies of the game as gifts, but in reality it is probably one of the nicest things that a game developer ever did for an iOS game!

Seriously as much fun as Spy vs Spy is to play by yourself (and it is fun) the attraction of the game is increased ten-fold when you are playing it with a mate!

Playing with mates means you get to devise and set your own traps and then enjoy the effects when your mates set them off and die! Seriously!

Back to that start screen again - below that is the Settings Menu Button with all the usual features like sound level, sound FX level, and game speed as well as vibration on/off.

You can also select the music that is playing as your soundtrack, choosing from the default techno beat, A “Club” version, “Spark” version, “Cave” version, and finally “Retro” version (we particularly liked the “Retro” version ourselves).

A nice if brief manual is on offer via the settings menu, and if you so desire you can view a scrolling display of the game credits pretty much whenever you like!

Spy vs Spy for iOS is Game Center Aware - and the red button on the bottom-left-hand-corner will take you to the Game Center options, which are limited to an online Multiplayer Leaderboard and the official Game Center Achievements Page.

In addition to teaching you how to move, how to access objects and manipulate items, the Tutorial also demonstrates to you the many ways to end up dead in the game - humorous deaths to be sure, but deaths nonetheless!

The primary goal for you as player is to locate your Briefcase, and then fill it with the Money, Passport, Key, and Map before you run out of time or get killed. There is also the matter of the traps you need to either avoid or disarm -- which means finding the kit to disarm them -- and mastering the basic to advanced layouts, which you should be able to manage thanks to the map.

Spy vs Spy offers mobile game play in bite-sized chunks, making it the perfect casual game for your iOS. Now in theory you can play it on iPhone, but to be honest the larger screen of the iPad really makes a big difference in both easier game play and more enjoyment thanks to the larger real estate. YMMV.

For what you get level and entertainment-wise, $2.99 is a very fair price for this title - and the fact that you can actually earn Mad Bucks through play (instead of being forced to pay for them) makes it even more reasonable since the upgrades are within free grasp for players who get serious about playing.

And speaking of “serious about playing” while the base game is certainly addictive and fun, once you get a group of your mates playing, it is that much better!
3.6 / 5.0
review by CMBF | Jun 21st 2014

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