Johnny Turbo’s Arcade: Sly Spy
Developed By: Flying Tiger Entertainment, Inc
Published By: FTE Games
Category: Action, Arcade, Platformer
Release Date: 5.03.18
Freemium games are relatively new, but some of the concepts behind them aren’t. Giving games away for free may be new to the equation, but making games just fun enough that people keep pumping money into them is an idea that has been around since the heyday of the mall arcade. Johnny Turbo’s Arcade: Sly Spy for Nintendo Switch is a port of an old arcade cabinet that exemplifies that strategy perfectly.
The Council for World Domination (CWD) has snuck thousands of terrorists that look exactly like a young Fidel Castro into Washington DC. It’s up to the Sly Spy to stop them from launching a nuclear missile. We don’t know what the target of the nuke is, we don’t know if they brought the nuke or stole it, and we don’t know how a literal army could sneak into the country undetected with vehicles and ordinance, but we do know that Sly Spy and his rad car are the only ones who can stop it. And he’s going to.
Sly Spy brings as much of the arcade experience as it can to the Nintendo Switch. It even simulates having to feed it quarters continually to keep playing after you die, which is… great. You don’t actually have to feed it money, they’re imaginary quarters, but you have to hit the insert credit button (either R button) and then the player start button (either L button) to start and/or keep playing. It made me weirdly nostalgic for begging my mom for quarters. When I finished I felt like maybe I had to clean my room.
Once the game starts, you’re skydiving into Washington DC, shooting terrorists that are… also skydiving? The game’s not long on sense, but it’s big on shooting terrorists, so I guess it evens out. Everything is done from a sidescrolling perspective, and shooting enemies is the main action linking all the levels together. You technically have a limit to your ammo, but enemies drop bullets frequently enough that I only ran out during one boss fight. Once you’re out of bullets, you just switch to judo chops, so that’s great.
Movement methods change depending on the level; most levels are typical sidescrollers with some minor platforming where you walk and jump, but there are a couple underwater levels and one super rad motorcycle level as well. In the walking and motorcycle levels you can duck and jump to get out of the way of enemy attacks, but in the underwater levels you can swim around to any level. However, you move a lot slower underwater so dodging was kind of iffy. I didn’t know there were that many great white sharks off the coast of DC, but apparently there are a lot. They hate spies and love terrorists, I guess.
The combat is a little fun, but you can definitely tell it was meant to chew up quarters. Enemies pop out from behind with little warning, already mid-attack, and there’s very little you can do to dodge. Enemies fill the screen constantly, making dodging almost impossible as well. You can make it a while between losing lives, but you’d have to be something special to make it through on one credit. The game is just fun enough to be enjoyable despite the cheap shots. The controls are smooth and responsive, but it only takes maybe a half hour to get through it, so replayability is low.
The graphics are straight out of the 90s, and so are the music and sound effects. I mean, the game is from the 90s so that makes sense. The pixel art is smooth and attractive (well, as smooth as pixels can be I guess), and the animations are smooth. Is it still called chiptune music if it’s just old arcade music? Either way, the soundtrack is rad as heck and throws me back to the arcade days. I love it. The graphics look good, and as an added bonus, the game’s options allow you to simulate different types of CRT displays and A/V connection types. You can play the games with all the video settings from the 90s! Nostalgia! It’s so good.
Sly Spy has no touch or motion controls, so you can play it docked or undocked based on your preference. The graphics look sharper when it’s undocked, but it feels more like playing at the arcade when it’s on the TV. I preferred it on the TV for that reason, but your mileage may vary.
TL;DR: It’ll make you nostalgic for the glory days of the mall arcade, but it’s good for a few playthroughs even if you don’t care about that.
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