When you need something retrieved, who better to send in than the Master Spy? This precision platformer does its best impression of embodying everything it takes to be a spy and beautifully displays it in a fashion that will take you back to the past. Do you have what it takes to infiltrate a large cooperation without getting caught? Do you have what it takes to be a Master Spy?
What Is It?
Master Spy, at its core, is very reminiscent of platformers of the past in just about every way. The 16-bit graphics is done very well throughout every aspect of the game and RAC does a great job creating a fitting soundtrack. The precision part should be emphasized, as that is exactly what you will need to navigate the various levels. One slight mistime will surely send you back to your previous checkpoint.
Games like this are not a common site nowadays, and it is very refreshing. If you’ve been gaming for the past 20+ years, then it will take you back to the days of gaming where life was much simpler and games relied heavily on level design and intricate mechanics. If you are a gamer of the new generation, this is a nice peek in to the games of old, from the looks to the difficulty.
Why Should I Care?
Just watching the trailer is enough to make anyone want to see what this game is about. It has spies, fire, sharks, tigers, lasers, cloaking, and buzzsaws. It takes the idea of stealth spy and infuses it with classic spy weaponry and enemies.
What really makes the game uniquely stealth is that you are not given any weapons in which to fight your enemies. All of those lasers, fire, sharks, tigers, and buzzsaws mentioned earlier? All are meant to deter you from making progress. Each level has the same goal, reach the exit door. How that’s done is up to the player, and it helps to be creative most times. As the Master Spy, you’re only given the ability to switch between cloaked and not. When cloaked, cameras and guards are unable to detect you but your speed is sacrificed. It takes time getting used to just going in and out of cloak and really being able to maneuver the maps. Before Mission 1 even ends, the goal is no longer just reaching the door. You will need to collect keys scattered throughout the level, which allows creativity to really flourish.
As you enter new rooms, new enemies and surveillance continue to make the game more difficult. The difficulty of this game is truly that of old and if this was in the arcade, it would take all your quarters. Initially, the enemies are your basic guards, lasers, and cameras. They all have patterns and make it a game that isn’t too bad. Once everything is upgraded, the levels become difficult and frustrating. Quite possibly the most frustrating thing is the introduction of new obstacles with no way to know how it works. This wouldn’t be an issue if the game wasn’t keeping track of how many times the player is caught and keeping track of the time. At times, there would be a new obstacle and it would take almost 20 minutes just to figure it out. While this adds to the overall difficulty of the levels, perhaps including a small introduction in the lower difficulty would be beneficial.
Aside from trying to learn what each new obstacle does and being penalized for it, the game is a wonderful platformer that does what it claims to do well. True stealth games like this are rare and it seems like the developers were trying to reach a niche group of gamers rather than make
something that any one could just pick up and play. The amount of frustration is only exceeded by the amount of time needed to pass each level.
What Makes It Worth My Time And Money?
The value in this game is going to come from whether or not you have the patience or skill to pass each mission. A controller of sorts would definitely allow the player to have more precision over Master Spy. The story can be changed by the player by discovering hidden levels, but the story was the least compelling aspect. The 16-bit graphics and music make the game more enjoyable, but when something is difficult, it doesn’t matter how it looks or sounds. The game comes packed with 50 levels and 3 modes (one is unlockable) but the replay-ability doesn’t seem there. Once passing a level, the incentive needs to be great to endure the level again in order to make anyone want to even try it again.
Master Spy is something that players would want to prove to themselves that they can beat it. I would find myself trying to play a hour or two a day to try to continue my progress but prevented myself from getting too upset at how difficult it is. While the difficulty may turn some away, it is something that will keep others coming back. Master Spy makes players embark on a role that is not meant for everyone and perhaps the master portion of the title is just too much to live up to.