I’m still pretty bummed that Mad Magazine will be ending soon, once all the subscriptions are filled the magazine will cease to be. It has been a staple in my life since I was about ten years old and seeing it go is pretty heartbreaking. I was rustling through my stacks of original Xbox games and Spy Vs Spy happened to catch my eye. This was one of the comic strips that I would rush to read in Mad and I decided to pop it into my old reliable Xbox. The Vicious Cycle Software developed title was released for the PlayStation 2 and original Xbox April 6 2005.
This is a very tongue in cheek type of game, which makes it perfect for the source material. The first cut scene alone breaks the fourth wall almost immediately and the way they have the spies interact is pure perfection. The story to this game is somewhat bland, you pick whether you want to be White Spy or Black Spy; I chose Black Spy seeing as I wear mostly black clothing due to its slimming abilities. The spy you choose doesn’t affect gameplay at all it just changes which spy you’re always trying to thwart. The game is broken up into missions that tie together, you’re always trying to get something from The General but as the game progresses you always realize you missed something. During the game you will get messages from the Spy Embassy that give you smaller objectives that help you succeed in the giant objective.
The graphics are pretty good for the time, the environments aren’t the best, but they do the job. You won’t get lost because of a bland environment which is always good. The enemies all do look alike though in each level which can get somewhat irritating, but it’s not too bad. At least you know who you need to kill right off the bat. Each level is unique in its own way and stands alone. The levels are confined, there is no “open world” in this title. You just go from one closed off level to the next, making sure that you do what the Spy Embassy tells you to and wrecking havoc on the White Spy. I wish there were more to the levels and design of the game, but it is pretty cookie cutter, thankfully the controls and interesting situations you plan and execute make up for the some what bland world.
As you run around the levels you can encounter and create some fun hijinks. Since you’re a spy you have lots of assets available to you in your hideout. When you kill people you collect coins which are tender in your hideout. You can buy bombs, slingshots, traps and so on. I first suggest buying a slingshot so you have a ranged weapon, it will make taking down enemies with guns way easier than if you just have a billy club. The controls are quite simple for this game, and even if you get farther in it you’re given hints on what to do. A is jump and Right Trigger is fire or melee weapon depending on what you have. X is interact, you’ll have to open safes and put traps in them or disarm booby traps. If you need to change your weapon simple press B and you will scroll through them. With all the spy stuff you can buy it’s really cool when you place a trap and then watch the other Spy fall for it and face an agonizing doom. You get to do that a couple times per level and that’s what really sold the game for me. I could create what the comic strips I read use to portray.
If you’re a fan of Mad Magazine and everything that use to be between the two covers then I suggest picking this title up. It’s a fun romp through some of the most iconic comic strip creations of all time. However, if you’re not a huge fan of the magazine or don’t know who these two characters are I don’t think you’ll have all that much fun with this game. At times it is very repetitive, go to point A, place item at point A, watch opposing Spy get hurt, repeat. I enjoyed it due to the fact that my entire childhood I read Mad Magazine and Cracked Magazine, so I have a sense of humor. I also loved the music in the game, it’s a beach rock riff throughout most of the game and it reminded me of the 60’s which makes sense seeing as that’s when the Spy Vs Spy comic strip was created. Personally I’m glad that I own this title, but I wouldn’t suggest it unless you grew up reading Mad, if you didn’t a lot of the jokes and the nostalgia won’t hit their mark.
Did you ever play Spy Vs. Spy when it first came out? After reading this do you think you’d want to try it out? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below. In the meantime check out more of my retro themed articles.
Spy Vs Spy
- Breaks 4th wall, video games rarely do that now.
- Great beach type music
- Full mechanics to mess with the other Spy
- Bland enemies
- Closed off level environments
- Very repetitive