THE SUPER SPY / SNK / Arcade
 
 
SNK did a couple of games where the concept was basically "let's do Punch-Out, but with scrolling levels and lots of enemies" - Crossed Swords, and this one. This one is basically Die Hard except John McClane just strolls in the front door of the tower and proceeds to punch, stab or shoot every single terrorist in the building on his way to the top.
 
 


The Super Spy actually seems like it was designed more with the home Neo-Geo market in mind than the arcades, as it's looooooong. The game is roughly divided into two segments - a short opening level where you raid the "terrorist factory" that lasts about an hour, then you charge Nakatomi Plaza which is the meat of the game and takes, at minimum, somewhere over two hours. I'm not sure as I didn't get more than about 1.5 hours in ... and that only got me to the first boss (out of six).
 
 


Most of that time is eaten up by lots and lots and lots of repetitive combat. You generally only face two or three terrorists at a time, but while you're fighting them the screen locks to a small area and won't let you move on until they're all dead. What really pads the playtime out is that every three seconds or so, a new wave of terrorists randomly spawns in and locks your progress again. So if you dawdle at all about going through a door or down a hallway, you're locked into another fight first.
 
 


The game's two saving graces are a fairly decent combat engine and a somewhat non-linear exploration aspect. Well, that, and the giant colorful sprites and a general unintentionally goofy tone full of the standard SNK Engrish. Roy can switch weapons on the fly, and his most efficient attacks are shooting a pistol and stabbing with his knife. But the pistol only carries 12 bullets (per life), and I've never seen a way to refill them other than getting a machine gun temporarily at certain points. The knife only lasts for about two opponents before it gets soaked in terrorist blood and the attack power reduces to no more than that of a punch or kick. Which is weird, because the knife is still superior to punching or kicking even when it's whittled down since it swings faster and enemies seem to be stun-locked by it a little bit longer ... yet the most time of the combat engine was by far put into punching. Roy can throw a hook punch by reverse-Hadokening the joystick before punching, slip from side to side to avoid attacks, charge punch, block attacks, duck, and throw a meaty uppercut from the ducking position. Yet none of this is ever really more useful than just getting stabby with the knife constantly.
 
 


You'll have to explore rooms to find boss battles and keycards as well. Sometimes these contain a knife refresh, health restore or guy who gives you a machine gun (ho ho ho). More often they contain some shazzled scientist spouting useless gibberish. Once in a while they contain an enemy ambush, which is just another fight to waste some more of your time and health. One room on each floor also has a map that shows you where the elevators to the next floor are, though the levels rarely get large or complicated enough that it's necessary.
 
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It's a bizarre game, and highly repetitive, but kind of charming and worth a look. If you take the time to get adjusted to the punching engine rather than just taking the easy way out with weapons, it ends up being more rewarding ... there's still way too much combat against clones though, it's a real slog to actually finish.
 
                 "If you want my body / and you think I'm sexy ..."
 
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