Review: Spy Mouse – Agent Squeek overcomes obstacles with Flight Control training

Up until now, Firemint has only released three titles on iOS and Android devices: Flight Control, Real Racing, and Real Racing 2. Seeing as how both titles have been critically acclaimed, hearing of a completely new IP coming from Firemint got us really excited.

Spy Mouse has been in development for nearly 2 years and borrows much of its gameplay mechanics from Flight Control as you guide Agent Squeek through a number of levels to collect all of the cheese without getting caught by cats patrolling each level. The cats have a pre-determined route that can be seen as a line of dashes which make it easier to know when and where they’re going to be. As Agent Squeek progresses, the cats will pose more of a challenge as they’ll move faster and knock into walls less to capture him.

Guiding Agent Squeek is as easy as drawing a line, to which he’ll blindly follow, so you better not get him into any trouble. Firemint was brilliant in incorporating Flight Control mechanics to guide Agent Squeek as nearly everyone that has owned a smartphone device has played Flight Control, so understanding how to guide Agent Squeek easily becomes second nature. You can draw a line to guide Agent Squeek, but if he suddenly is spotted, you can quickly guide him again away from any dangerous situation. Once Agent Squeek has acquired all of the cheese in a level, he needs to make his way back to his mouse hole to complete the level. In later levels, Agent Squeek will gain the ability to hold on to more pieces of cheese at once, although the more cheese he has, the slower he’ll move. Safe houses will later be introduced as a way to drop off collected cheese in order to collect more cheese.

Some other tricks Agent Squeek will learn during his adventure is to use every day household items in order to manipulate cats by hypnotizing them by turning on a TV or using a teacup in order to sneak past a patrolling cat. There are also items that help Agent Squeek’s mobility such as the pepper, which will increase his speed for a short period of time, or the balloon which makes a cheese Agent Squeek is carrying lighter so he can move a little quicker. Colored mouse holes will also play an important role in later levels as Agent Squeek can enter a colored mouse hole and exit through a mouse hole of the same color on another part of the map. A spy is only as good as his gadgets and tricks, and Agent Squeek is certainly full of both.

Each level in Spy Mouse offers badges for completing the level under certain circumstances. Some can be as easy as not being spotted, while others require a bit more finesse. Badges aren’t necessary to complete each level, but it certainly offers a degree of difficulty that most people will attempt during their time with Spy Mouse. One Agent Squeek makes his way through all of the levels in a world, he’ll then take part in a boss battle. Boss battles are done in two parts: the first part has Agent Squeek following a white cat to a secret hideout which Agent Squeek can collect pieces of cheese while avoiding being spotted. The second part of the boss battle involves Agent Squeek battling the actual boss of the world. The bosses require Agent Squeek to learn the layout of the level and how best to use it to his advantage to take down the boss. Boss battles will require some strategy, so it’s best to be on your toes during them.

Spy Mouse’s overall presentation reminds me of a Saturday morning cartoon show. Characters and levels offer a lot of colors and character animations have a cartoony feel to them, such as Agent Squeek’s eyes bugging out when he’s spotted by a cat or a dust cloud filled with assaults popping up when a cat captures Agent Squeek. The sound plays an equally important role as low tones with an emphasis on string instruments are played when Agent Squeek is sneaking around that certainly increases the tension. When Agent Squeek completes his mission, the symphony rewards him with a tune that can only be described as the ideal spy anthem.


The Good
  • Incorporating Flight Control mechanics means a lot of people are going to know how to play Spy Mouse before they even play it.
  • Spy Mouse feels like a living Saturday morning cartoon. Character animations are superb and really bring life to this game.
  • Just when you think Spy Mouse couldn't have anything else in his bag of tricks, he pulls out something else to keep the game fresh.
The Bad
  • Spy Mouse is only available for the iPhone right now. The game would have been perfect for the iPad, so it's a shame users will have to pay twice for the inevitable "HD" version.
  • The game will be an instant hit with children, but its difficulty may frustrate some if they don't play games often.
  • EA decided to slip in its Origin service into Spy Mouse instead of using Apple's Game Center. This decision further segregates achievement earning and leaderboards.

Conclusion

Spy Mouse should be considered another hit for Firemint as it not only successfully combines Flight Control with a puzzle game, but the amount of charm and wit behind the game is simply amazing. Puzzles offer a high amount of challenge, especially when you incorporate the badges that can be earned during each level. It's a shame EA decided to incorporate its Origin service with Spy Mouse as those looking for Game Center compatibility won't find it here.

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