Joke and Dagger
Originally a strip in the Mad comic series, Spy Vs Spy has undergone several genre changes in its lifetime. It’s had its own comic book, a TV series (including associated merchandise), and of course a bevy of games on all sorts of platforms. I used to play the original ground-breaking four colour Apple ][e version by First Star Software, which was the first to split the screen in half (they called it Simulvision(tm)) so that you could play simultaneously with a friend, and was the cause of many a shouting match, as well as the obligatory taunting and evil laughter emanating from the computer room at school.
The latest incarnation comes to us from Global Star Software as a budget title for the PS2 and XBox. It retains many of the features which made the original so fun, and adds a more modern story element, as well as several different multi-player modes, including a split-screen (up to 4 players) single console version. Low resolution sprites have been replaced with up to date 3D graphics and control system, and the spies now supply their own evil laughter, which supplements your own pretty well.
I spent most of my playing time in the classic mode, where your objective is to find the objects and secrets hidden in various places in an office building, before escaping in a helicopter, all the while planting booby-traps for your opponent to unwittingly trip (hence the maniacal laughter) - before the other player manages to do the same to you.
Unlike the originals, you can now customise your spy, and there are two new colours on top of the black and white to choose from. The story mode adds a platform element to the game, and the modern mode encourages you to beat up your opponents with various blunt weapons, which may be attractive to a younger audience. The movies which lead you into the game are pretty funny, even if the characters are new to you.
Multi-player is where this series has always been its strongest, and this hasn’t changed. While the new version doesn’t break any boundaries, it’s a fun and challenging way to destroy friendships and make new enemies all around the world.