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Developer: Robots and Pencils Inc.
Price: $1.99
Version: 1.1
App Reviewed on: iPhone 4

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Controls Rating: ★★★½☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★½
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Spy vs Spy is an engaging game of espionage and sabotage. The main mission is to break into an embassy, steal secret plans and escape with money, a passport and a key. But there’s just one problem: There’s another spy trying to do it, first!

Each of the 24 embassies is a randomly generated maze with the items needed hidden throughout. Players must check in desks, safes, behind paintings and other pieces of furniture to find them. However, they need to be careful, because if the rival spy has been there first, they may have left a nasty surprise! Of course, there’s a way to disable each type of trap, but players will have to remember how and where to find the item to do it.

Meanwhile, at the bottom of the screen is the other spy’s view. Each player can keep an eye on what the other is up to, including what items they’ve found, booby traps they’ve set and just where they are in the embassy. The only catch is, trying to keep tabs on another player isn’t easy, especially when traps don’t care who set them. A bomb will happily blow up in the face of the person who set it.

Fortunately, the updated version adds a few tricks to help newcomers to the game. For one, the spies leave footprints only they can see. This gives players a hint of where they’ve been. The spies also “remember” where items were left. The game doesn’t come right out and say it, it just gives the player a hint. There are buttons to make combat a little deeper while high definition visuals help players clearly identify items and traps. But, just in case the modernized version is too fancy-pants for fans of the original, the retro mode is sure to please nostalgia-seekers, complete with the original music and sound effects!

Should the AI fail to provide enough of a challenge, players can easily find a worthy match online, either against friends or allowing GameCenter to assign one at random. They can choose retro or modern mode, just as in single player. Or, they go head to head with friends locally via Bluetooth.

Robots and Pencils Inc. have done a wonderful thing. For fans of the original Spy vs Spy, the chance to play this game in a modern setting with updated graphics is awesome. In fact, I find myself preferring the modern version. As a kid, the original was pretty tough to figure out — especially without a tutorial to run you through how everything works. Now, with clear visuals to make sense of what’s going on, it’s much easier to grasp. The gameplay is just as complex and rich as it always was, but much less intimidating. That makes it much more fun for everyone!


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