Version Reviewed: 1.1.1
Device Reviewed On: iPad Air
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
Super Secret Service makes a great candidate. From its first speech to election night it says and does all the right things. But like most politicians, it can’t keep every fantastic promise it makes, and by the time the next voting day comes around it probably won't deserve a second term.
If all of those metaphors didn’t make it obvious enough, Super Secret Service is rather political. Specifically, the game is about protecting the President of the United States using an endless supply of expendable secret service agents, each with their own names and birthdays. Reactionary radicals and hoodlums in hockey masks are trying to throw things at the POTUS and ruin his big speech, so by tapping the screen, agents will leap in to take the bullet.
Players always have two agents ready, one on each side, and while the target is always the president in the middle, with projectiles coming from different directions sometimes it’s faster to deploy a certain agent. Those two agents also represent the two shots players have before they essentially need to recharge. Once an agent is taken out, it takes a moment before a new one takes their place. The game then tries to trick players into wasting agents through false flags like paper airplanes and boomerangs. In a way, that probably mirrors the experience of actual agents looking out for even the most minor possible threats. Different projectiles also have different speeds, like a shoe vs. a soccer ball vs. a gun, so players must properly time their interceptions. Earn a high enough score and bulletproof glass gives players one last line of defense.
Unfortunately, Super Secret Service isn’t nearly as complex as that description may suggest. It’s a reflex-driven tapfest that never significantly changes what players are doing, or even the environment where they are doing it. What makes this repetition so heartbreaking is how glorious the presentation surrounding it is. The game oozes 16-bit arcade style through everything from its art direction to its fonts to its wonderful soundtrack. It looks, sounds, and feels exactly like the kind of game that asks, “Are you a bad enough dude to rescue the president?” with the president of the era naturally being Ronald Reagan.
However, even with its boatloads of initial, impressive charm, Super Secret Service only works in small doses. It can’t keep the base fired up.