EDITOR, WRITER, TIPSTER, SPY
Would-be master-spies draw the blinds, turn up the radio and pay attention. Espionage has arrived on the Spectrum and it's ideal training for sending Bond. Smiley and Co on special missions. The objective is to get some vital microfilm back to base. One to four people can take part, with the computer filling any suspiciously empty seats.
The game board is a grid, with black, impassable squares. In the board's centre are four microfilm canisters, which can be obtained by Couriers (each player has six) and Secret Agents (four each). Each player also has two Surveillance Agents. Couriers move diagonally, Surveillance Agents move parallel to the board lines, while Secret Agents are able to move in either of these two modes. During a turn a player can move their selected agent any number of spaces in a forward direction, but obviously can't make turns or anything like that. Killing an enemy agent is done by moving your agent over him by one space - if the agents back is against a wall then he can't be killed.
At the start of the game there's a special period called 'detente' where players take turns to distribute their agents around the board. Agents can be put anywhere, and cannot be taken. Once this stage finishes it's a race to get the most microfilms home, fastest, while bumping off as many enemies as possible. Money is awarded for microfilms and assassinations and the game finishes when all the microfilms are at a home base. If a courier is taken while carrying the microfilm the 'asssassin' gets the film, whatever type of agent he is. To avoid this you should Exchange your microfilm-carrying agent with someone at home base. Any two of your agents can be exchanged at any time.
The computer game presents only a section of the board, but ft's over half of the board and can be easily scrolled to show other parts. There are eight options; Zoom (dose-up view of board), Pause, Hint (computer suggests move), Quit, Help (text reminding you of game objectives), Computer Makes Your Move, Last Move (shows what this was) and Sound On/Off.
First impressions of the rulebook are daunting, but it all becomes obvious enough while in play. Definitely the best way to play is with a couple of friends - preferably as inexperienced at the game as you - but it you want, the computer can offer some tough opposition. Espionage is a good strategy game that is fun to play for everyone.
MARK ... 81%
Joysticks: Cursor, Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: tiny pieces move around a scrolling board, while the zoom option magnifies a certain area
Sound: a catchy, Bond-sounding title tune, but merely informative beeps during play
Options: any combination of four computer/human players can compete. Play to time or finish. Change time limit for each move
'Having played the board game I found the computer version something of an improvement, with the overhead plan view easier to make sense of. Also the computer opponent is both fairly fast and intelligent. Gameplay is good, but the crucial detente stage is a bit dull while the Exchange option can make things a little easy. While certainly nothing to compare with the classic simplicity/complexity of chess this is a novel and involving game.'
STUART ... 81%
'This is great fun, especially with lots of human opposition. The whole game revolves around simple chess- and draughts-like moves and is therefore very easy to learn. However, the 'sting in the tail' Is the way that any two places may be exchanged, altering the whole strategic picture In a single turn. Espionage is a very competent strategy game which is easy to get into and hard to stop playing - now how can I get that microfilm back to base?'
PHIL ... 82%General Rating:
A very good conversion of the intriguing board game, especially interesting with more human players.
USING YOUR INTELLIGENCE
During detente put at least one of your couriers near the centre, ready to take the microfilm.Try to position most pieces near walls, to make them harder to take.Take one piece back to base, so that when you get the microfilm, you can simply exchange the two pieces for an immediate safe return to base.Don't play against clever-clogs Stuarts.
Spy-fi chess for wannabe Peter Wrights everywhere.