Budget Day 2015 - Agent X (ZX Spectrum)

by Paul Morrison


Spying is so glamorous, isn't it?  You get to travel all over the world, seeing some of its finest locations.  You get to meet and, umm, interact with beautiful people.  Not only that, if you're good, you get to save the world from unspeakable evil!  What could be better?

Well, all sorts of things, from my point of view.  It's a bit dangerous as well, and I'm not really into danger.  Just as well, then, that games programmers have mined the spy game vein for years now, putting me into those scenarios without me even having to shift my arse out of the chair.  How very decent of them.

Rush hour traffic is always annoying.

Rush hour traffic is always annoying.

Agent X is a very notable effort as it was pretty ambitious for a £1.99 game.  It was a multiload, for starters.  Each level was wildly different from any of the others, so you had some great gameplay variety.  That also meant you had great graphical variety, too.  And you had a stunning title screen tune from the maestro that is Tim Follin.

That all sounds great, but it wouldn't amount to much if the gameplay wasn't any good.  Fortunately, it is.  The first level is a sort of cross between Spy Hunter, Zaxxon and Up 'N' Down; the second level is reminiscent of Kung-Fu Master; the third level reminds me of something I can't remember, but sees you blasting geometric shapes hurled at you from compartments controlled by the bad guy in his control tower; and finally a daring Super Cobra-esque  helicopter mission to retrieve a bomb and blow up the base.

Don't go throwing triangles at me, you madman!

Don't go throwing triangles at me, you madman!

It's all done with a splendid dose of humour, too.  Rather than having lives, Agent X takes the Impossible Mission route of giving you a certain period of time, with that time being reduced with every hit you take.  Instead of showing that with something so mundane as a clock, a graphic of your agent appears at the bottom of the screen, with him walking towards his grave with every hit!

Agent X would offer a lot of game for a full-priced game, so it was commendable of Mastertronic to sell it for two quid.  That said, the levels are all pretty short, so once you get good at it you might spend as much time loading as playing.  Still, it's all good fun and I have no doubt that anyone who spent their pocket money on this one would have been more than satisfied.