SPY Mouse, the latest line-drawing challenge from Firemint and EA, is now available from the app store. Mixing sound puzzling mechanics with a dose of stealth gameplay in a very pretty package, SPY Mouse took us by surprise with its engaging reward system and clever design.
SPY Mouse Pros:
- Polished graphics, great level design, and stealth-based gameplay
- Intuitive line-drawing controls for leading Squeak to the goal
- Upbeat soundtrack is fitting for the game
- Clever reward system encourages replay and different approaches to same level
- Origin integration allows for social aspects and an achievement system
SPY Mouse Cons:
- No GameCenter integration
- Difficulty takes a while to ramp up
- Annoying pop-up for in-app purchase
SPY Mouse offers over 70 levels spread evenly across 6 different environments. The goal of most levels is to lead Agent Squeak from his starting point to the blocks and bits of cheese spread throughout his location and past the sentry-like felines to reach his mouse hole safely. If undisturbed, the cats follow a set path and pattern, which may lead them in endless circles, pacing back and forth, or even stopping often for a catnap. Using knowledge of their behaviors indicated by dotted lines, you can direct Squeak through safe zones, even following fairly closely behind the oblivious kitties without raising alerts. Get spotted, however, and you’ll need to pull off some quick moves to avoid capture. We were delighted to find that being exposed didn’t lead to immediate death, which faithfully mirrors the real-world cat-vs.-mouse dynamic that typically plays out. Sometimes the cat wins, but often he doesn’t. It adds a fun racing element to the game where dexterity and wits can bring about triumph.
Agent Squeak moves about by drawing a path from his body to wherever you want him to go. You can keep your finger on-screen and simply have him follow closely, or you can draw ahead and watch him follow the path that you laid out. There are often color-coded mouse holes to dive into, acting as teleports to matching holes in another part of the level. Small cheese bits can be collected for additional points, often leading to cracked walls that give access to plenty more bits which drive up your score and allow you to teleport to another location. There are helpful elements, like chili peppers that speed up Squeak or decoy mice that can be used to trigger dangers like mousetraps. As you progress, more and more elements are added, giving latter levels a great deal of complexity compared to the early ones. The end of each world takes you on an automatic side-scrolling challenge where you must follow a cat without alerting it while snagging cheeses and interacting with various items along the way. This level leads to a boss battle, which is a fun challenge in itself. It’s a nice way to break up the gameplay and keep things fresh.
Graphically, SPY Mouse has a very polished look and some great level designs. Each level is vivid and colorful, and the animations are smooth and realistic. The whole presentation has a Tom & Jerry feel to it that serves as a great nostalgia blast for those of us who remember the show. The soundtrack acts as a terrific complement to the stealthy gameplay, offering a light-hearted tune that still manages to create a bit of tension, too. The controls are easy to use, as outlined earlier, but there are times that our fingers would get in the way or we’d cut a wall too close and stop our path dead. It wasn’t a major issue by any means, but a minor annoyance that crept up from time to time.
Replay value is pretty good, especially given the way that the reward system works. Instead of simply awarding stars for each piece of cheese retrieved or something like that, you earn ribbons for completing tasks that differ from level to level. Typical tasks include avoiding detection, using only x number of paths, and completing the level in less than x number of seconds. Occasionally, a ribbon is awarded for causing a cat to run into a wall or earning a certain number of points. The tasks don’t need to be completed on the same run, so replay is encouraged to capture all three. The objectives can be viewed from the pause menu, which was sort of an annoyance to have to go to at the beginning of each level if we wanted to find out what we had to do for our first attempt. SPY Mouse comes with Origin integration, and there are a number of achievements to earn, in addition to stats maintained for each level. At $0.99, SPY Mouse is a cool addition to the line-drawing genre that earns a healthy 4.5-Dimple score.
SPY Mouse Review,