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Orpheus Ltd
Arcade: Action
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Jonathan Nash
Chris Bourne

MAD. Now there's a magazine. Home of Alfred E Neuman and completely incapable of telling a joke without highlighting it and sticking three exclamation marks at the end. Anyway, MAD also houses (or may not by now - I haven't seen a copy since 1986) Spy vs Spy, the terribly funny adventures of two, erm, spies. Advertised as 'friendly rivalry' but usually involving blowing each other up, the series never fails to impress with its ingeunity. (Or may not by now... etc.)

The game of the strip, Spy vs Spy, was fabulous. Set in an embassy, you had to dash around, steal plans and (this is the best bit) set all manner of traps to foil your opponent, who could be human or an extremely sneaky Speccy. These traps were patently ridiculous - electrified buckets of water on top of doors, spring-loaded boxing gloves in drawers - but horribly effective. The game was followed by a sequel called The Island Caper, which nobody ever saw and which, unlike the sensibly monochrome original, was plagued by colour clash. Now comes the third instalment, set on an ice-floe somewhere in the Arctic ocean.

Now you may be wondering why I've spent two hundred words telling you about the first game, rather than number three. (Sort of. Ed) Well, it's because number three isn't terribly good. The main thrust of the game is that it's a twoplayer affair, but the action slows down markedly when you're both moving at once. Further probs arise because of the setting. It's awfully tricky to tell where the entrances and exits on a screen are and, consequently, you spend a lot of time running at walls. When the two spies meet, they fight - but with snowballs, so you can zap each other from a distance. (In the original, you used clubs and so had to get really close, in a dangerous sort of way.) On the other hand (my left one actually) once you've got past the speed, the confusing graphics and the unfriendly trapulator (far trickier to use than before) the game is a lot of fun. You find yourself enjoying it in spite of itself, if you see what I mean. The original's still the best though.


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