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When a company's first releases are two games that I saw on the Atari about three and a haft years ago, it doesn't bode too well, especially when I remember them as being pretty crummy then. They're both very simple games and have awful graphics, sound and game content. The price is a joke -- 9.95 for them both! There's a Mastertronic twin pack at 1.99 that contains better games than these.

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These two crusty 'classics' look like a couple of US Gold rejects, and after
Doughboy that's really saying something. Neither game is appealing in any shape or form, although I did get a brief spell of enjoyment from Spy's Demise. If following releases are of such abysmal quality as this then I don't think that the other Electric Dreams will have much in the way of competition.

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Welcome to Game of the Week! Each week there will be a new featured game on this page. The game may be good, average or diabolically bad, it really doesn't matter! Just look at the pics, read the text and enjoy the nostalgia! :-) Game of the Week! is open to contributions so if you would like to contribute a game article for this page you're more than welcome to! Every article we receive will be considered!

Spy's Demise
1983 Penguin Software
Programmed by Wayne Barbarek

The Spy Strikes Back!
1983 Penguin Software
Programmed by Robert Hardy & Mark Pelczarski

 
Most text of the present article comes from the review published in the eighth issue of the British C64 magazine ZZAP!64 (December 1985).
 

SPY'S DEMISE / THE
SPY STRIKES BACK

Electric Dreams, 9.95 cass, joystick or keys


First release on the controversial Electric Dreams label (this is the Ocean/US Gold one, not the Rod Cousens / Activision one) is a double game pack featuring two games that made the rounds on the American market about a year ago. Spy's Demise and its follow up, The Spy Strikes Back, were originally written by Penguin Software, the famous publisher's computer games arm.

First of the two, Spy's Demise, has you playing a world weary secret agent. While sipping upon a cocktail in the Bangkok Hilton you overhear two enemy agents talking about a highly vital encoded message, parts of which are hidden on separate floors of the diplomatic mission in Pyongyang. The decoded message is a key to limitless wealth but till now the Ukraine's best cryptologists have been unable to make any sense of it. World weary as you are, tired of the day to day existence as a spy for hire, you see that if you manage to infiltrate the building and find the answer to the mystery you will never have to work another day for the rest of your life.

Upon reaching the Pyongyang mission you find that to find each part of the clue you need to get to the top of each respective floor. Every floor is subdivided into many different levels and to travel between these you have to cross to the opposite side from where you start off. Barring your way are a number of lifts patrolling up and down the floor. The lifts move vertically and are best avoided since they contain Embassy guards. The difficulty becomes apparent as soon as you try to move, because once started, there's no way of stopping.

When you've completed a screen by reaching the top, a part of the code is displayed and you are transported to the next floor. This is exactly the same as the first, except you start a level higher.

After your hectic exploits in Spy's Demise, you have been confined to a desk job at the office for recuperation purposes. Things are getting dull until late one night you receive a call from the chief. You stumble out of bed and make it to the offices where chief explains that the notorious terrorist, Dr Xavier Tortion, has been tracked down to a castle in the East German town of Aichenbach. Dr X's latest diabolical plan is to destroy a famous city with a nuclear device if his demands aren't met by a frighteningly imminent deadline. The chief explains how your desk job is over and you are being sent to try and recover Xavier's secret plans. Several operatives have been sent in but to date none have managed to return alive. It's time The Spy Strikes Back.


[This screenshot was not in the original review]

The aim is to collect nine clues scattered about the Doctor's well-guarded castle. Once collected, these clues enable the Secret Service to defeat Dr X. The plan is for you to get in and out as quickly as possible, hopefully your presence will go undetected but if Dr X's minions do catch sight of you the security becomes more intense.

The Doctor's castle is made up from five floors, each containing twenty four vaulted sections. You can move between each vaulted section, and within you find sixteen small rooms. Patrolling the sections are security droids on the lookout for any prowlers or intruders. Normally wandering about aimlessly, they set their sirens howling and give chase if one is in line of sight with you. The droid can easily be avoided by ducking into one of the sixteen sub-rooms. Once it has lost sight of you, the droid resumes its patrol.

On entering a section there are no visible exits and to find a gateway to the next room you have to collect a flashing ring that is placed in the corridors somewhere. Occasionally a small spy replica will appear instead, collect this and you are in possession of one of the nine clues needed to defeat Dr X.

You control a small spy sprite around the top three quarters of the display containing an aerial view of one of the vaulted sections. At the bottom of the screen there is a status box containing a plan view of the floor you're on, highlighting the room you're in, plus a side showing which of the five floors you're currently on.

Lifts connect the floors, the liftshafts are within one of the sixteen roomlets. Also within the mini rooms you come across various articles that boost your score.

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These two games are not exactly what I'd launch a software label on. Looking at the small print on the cassette label I noticed the two games were respectively copyrighted in the 1982 and 1983. I would hazard a guess that they weren't even exceptional then. Of the two, my favourite was
Spy's Demise and although being mind bogglingly simple, it was quite addictive. That was until I managed to get to the second

screen. This was

     

exactly the same as the first, only you start one line up. The Spy Strikes Back was very dull indeed. The graphics were of a very simple and extremely repetitive nature. The different tunes were rather basic too. The overall aim would provide a bit of a challenge, though the extreme similarity of the different screens would soon drag you down to the 'why am I bothering?' stage. Spy's Demise may have been received quite well if it had been priced around the 1.99 mark, though I feel even then that may be asking a bit too much for The Spy Strikes Back. At around five pounds each, Electric Dreams' first releases would be well worth avoiding.
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Presentation 51%
Sufficient instructions but lacking in options.

Graphics 15%
Small, badly animated sprites and little variation.

Sound 40%
Many tunes of below
average quality
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Hookability 31%
Makes you wonder whose side the Americans are on.

Lastability 12%
A few games are enough to inspire you to defect.

Value For Money 9%
To think you get so little for so much.

Overall 10%
This blast from the past should have stayed there.
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Downloads
Spy's Demise.zip (22k)
Spy Strikes Back.zip (11k)

Htmlized by Dimitris Kiminas (14 Dec 2003)



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