#597 – Spy Vs. Spy


                                                                                                                 Oh, the promise…



                                                                 Punching each other is one of the game’s strengths.


PLAYERS: 1-2 simultaneous



GENRE: Action

RELEASE DATE: October 1988


Based on the iconic Mad Magazine comic strip, Spy Vs. Spy pits two spies in white and black ensembles against each other. Each of the eight levels requires you to find five items: a suitcase (needed to hold the other four items), a key, a passport, a sack of money, and a plane ticket. These items are found by searching through every piece of furniture in a series of connected rooms. Watch out, though, as some of this furniture will be booby-trapped by the opposing spy (the white spy is controlled by the first player, while the black spy is controlled by the computer or a second player). The screen is divided into two sections, one for the white spy and one for the black spy; thus, you’re always able to see what the other is doing. You can set up your own booby traps to stop the other player, or try and avoid the other player and search for the items.


Watching the spies get blown up or electrocuted is amusing at first, but after you’ve seen all the death animations, you’re left with the search and find gameplay – which is lackluster, at best. Find any two items at the same time? If you don’t have the suitcase, it doesn’t matter as you can only hold one item at a time without it. The early levels are small and it’s easy to find items, but any level past the third has large, confusing layouts that can get one lost, despite the presence of a map. Items can also be moved by the opposing spy. This makes for some rich, hearty swears if you’re back-tracking to pick up items you’ve seen but couldn’t carry, thanks to lack of suitcase. “Spy Vs. Spy” might be a classic comic, but the game fails to replicate the series’ unique subversive appeal. Random hilarious deaths only take you so far.




The following two tabs change content below.

Latest posts by Dylan Cornelius (see all)

  • I got this as a kid. There’s not a lot to it, but I had fun with it.

  • So… this and another game you’ll get to, Xenophobe, are ones I recall way too fondly. I’ve gone back and played them both briefly, and yeah… they were pretty bad. But when I first played them? I was REALLY sick as a kid – missed like a week and change of school, so my dad rented me this and Xenophobe so I’d have something new to play in bed. Brought the TV up to my room and everything. Made a lousy week a bit nicer.

  • @Chalgyr: That’s a great story. Thanks for sharing! I too have fond memories of games giving me comfort during crappy times.

  • This was a game I really enjoyed during the NES heyday. It’s really not worth it to play against the computer; a second player enhances the game greatly. I always found it satisfying to lure the other Spy into some trap after he picked up the last item that I needed to escape. Additionally, I enjoyed the more complicated levels and actually found myself wishing there were a few more advanced levels to choose from.

  • Anonymous

    Having a little brother around to play this with certainly increased the replay value substantially. Granted this game is still kind of a one trick pony. Loads of fun for a while though. I would like to see a remake of this on a newer console. (PC would be sweet) It will never happen though. Nes was so innovative and really tried to be a little different in all their titles. (sport games excluded) It is a shame the market has become so generic and cookie cutter.


  • Anonymous

    Hey sleepyweasel, didn’t a remake come out on xbox. I thought i had read that they were making it awhile back, but didn’t really follow the story because i don’t like xbox. I thought it could be good though, because i do like the nes game.

    –dave kaminskas

    • Anonymous

      Hmm Not sure. I am more of a CPU or PS3 player, so I am not up on Xbox. I’ll ask my brother though. He is all about Xbox. Thanks for the heads up!