• Graeme Mason

We Love Sly Spy

Updated: Mar 27

The free world is in terrible peril! A secret organisation known as the Council For World Domination has stolen a deadly nuclear missile and is planning to hold the United States of America to ransom. Fortunately, with a dash of panache and a dollop of unremitting cool, Sly Spy has arrived to save the day…



Antstream Arcade hosts a number of famous arcade classics, but here’s one that may have slipped you by. Known as Secret Agent in Japan, Sly Spy is a brilliant riff on the James Bond movies and Namco’s Rolling Thunder games, released by Data East into arcades in 1989. After a tumultuous intro set on the White House lawn, jet pack wearing terrorists are threatening Washington DC; it’s up to you to jump out of an aeroplane, parachute in to the capital and liberate the city from the evil Council For World Domination.

Sly descends slowly, and is soon accosted from all sides by terrorists. Luckily, he’s already drawn his pistol and is poised to return fire, before landing close to the Lincoln Monument, his parachute depicting a suitably patriotic stars and stripes.




Enemies then approach from all sides, from rotund guards that take two shots of Sly’s trusty pistol to despatch, to tigers, attack dogs and…sharks? Yes, in the time-honoured tradition of the aforementioned James Bond capers, Sly must venture into the watery depths, taking on enemy frogmen and the eternally-misunderstood toothy fish. Armed with a spear gun, Sly can upgrade this weapon, as he can his standard government-issue pistol, by collecting the ‘G’ icons scattered around each level. Assemble enough and the enhancement kicks in, turning the firearm into an even more lethal fire-laser type gadget.




So we’ve got a thrilling descent into the city; an on-foot chase across DC, and a calming little swim in choppy waters. Surely there’s not much else to expect in terms of variation in Sly Spy? Well, actually, there is, for Sly also owns a rather nifty motorbike, complete with front-firing machine gun, which comes in very handy when chasing down enemy soldiers. But if you prefer four wheels to two then don’t worry: Sly’s other vehicle is a bright red sports car, perfect for the sort of subtle undercover work that this particular secret agent specialises in. The super spy can also pick up misplaced machine guns and energy-providing cans of drink, as well as jump, climb ladders and even use a zip wire. Keep an eye out for a useful jet pack, handy for when you’d prefer to hover over a level, out of the reach of the numerous pesky agents of the Council For World Domination.




Loud, cheerful and energetic, Sly Spy is a fantastic arcade game that should be put into your favourite list without hesitation. Gleefully celebratory of the wafer-thin plots of the James Bond movies of old, Sly Spy’s plot jigs along at a fair lick, with each level’s boss helping the hero to work out his next move. There’s the Jaws-inspired giant, sporting not steel teeth but metal bullet-repelling arms; a short, stout Odd Job clone who hurls his steel-rimmed bowler hat at Sly; a giant shark, sadly lacking laser beams; and finally, the cigar-gnashing chief of the CWD himself, skulking behind a shield as he attempts to spear our hero with a stereotypically over-elaborate trap – why didn’t he just shoot him?! References to Bond films and villains continue to abound throughout Sly Spy, and there’s plenty of fun to be had for fans of the movies trying to spot the many nods to the famous fictional spy.




Sly Spy is a hectic and tough game. Enemies quickly swarm all over the suave hero if not eliminated in good time, and his pistol sadly lacks infinite ammunition. With none of its stages lasting longer than a few minutes, it’s also a quick game, albeit one that will take some practice if you are to rescue the president and prevent several major cities going up in radioactive smoke. It may all be exceedingly unsubtle, but that makes no difference to Antstream Arcade. In a world where gameplay and excitement is king, this Data East arcade game is up there with the best, and one of the reasons why we love Sly Spy. Great job!

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