Spy vs. Spy is clearly a game of strategy. You must outsmart and outmaneuver your opponent in order to be the first spy to reach the airport with all of the items in the briefcase. In order to do that, you have a number of options at your disposal. Among them, you can:
- Avoid the enemy spy as much as possible and seek the locations of the items as quickly as possible.
- Fight against the enemy spy as remove him from play as much as possible so that you don't have to worry about him.
- Set many traps for the enemy spy to fall victim to and collect the items he leaves behind.
- Let your opponent do all the dirty work, and foil him just before he is about to win the game.
Typically, your game will consist of a combination of any one of these strategies, so it's best to know how to use them all effectively, especially against a good opponent.
While knowing the location of the items is good, nothing is more valuable than having the briefcase on hand. If you do not have the briefcase, you will be forced to put down one object in order to pick up another. You carry individual items around in little white bags. Until you find the briefcase, locating the other items is fairly meaningless. If you notice that your opponent has found the briefcase before you, you will typically need to fight him for it in order to claim it for yourself (as well as any items your opponent may have already stashed inside!) To collect items, all you need to do is press a button while standing in front of an object, in order to search it. If the object contained an item, it will appear in your hands. If you press the button while standing in front of an object, you will put the item in that object. If you press the button while not standing in front of anything, any item in your hand will return so some object in the room.
One of your biggest tools to narrowing down your search for items is the embassy floor plan, which you can view as the sixth option of your Trapulator. Calling it up allows you to see the rough layout of the embassy, but only for the floor you currently occupy. This means that in a building with more than one floor, you can only see part of the building at one time. The floor plan does not show you how to the doors are arranged, so you can not always assume that one room is accessible from the direction of every neighboring room, especially on the harder levels. Also note that making use of your map costs you time, and provides your opponent with a free peek at the map. Using the map will reduce the remaining time your timer by 15 second, so don't do it frequently. Get a good enough look at the map for as long as you need it, and no longer (because your opponent might be looking too), and commit as much to memory as you can.
When you activate the the map, it will replace your view of the room. The room that is blinking is your current location. Rooms filled in with a color indicate that your Spy has been in that room at least once. Any required inventory items are represented by a dot. The map does not tell which items they are or how many are in a particular room, just that something you are looking for is there. The Trapulator displays items that you have sucessfully collected as you ready your escape. It also indicates if an item has been taken from you as that item will appear in the enemy's Trapulator.
When both spies occupy the same room, the view changes. The view of the spy who occupied the room first remains the same, and the view of the second spy to enter the room shuts off. Both spies are now depicted in a single player's view. In addition, any item that either spy is holding (including the briefcase) is sent to some item in the room. At this time, the button no longer functions for the usual purposes of examining objects or setting traps. However, it can be used to open and close doors, and to cover or remove rugs from ladder holes. The primary use of the button is to engage in combat.
To fight against your opponent, you must hold the button down, which reveals your spy's baton. There are two methods to attack. With the button held down, you can push the joystick back and forward to make a jabbing attack. This hits your opponent in the gut. Or you can push the joystick up and down, which swings the baton down on your opponent's head. When both spies are fighting one another, it is the spy who initiates the attack quickest that gets credit for the attack. There is no difference between the effects of either attack beyond their appearance.
In order for one spy to knock out another, one must land several consecutive blows in a short period of time. If anything more than a few seconds passes between hits, a spy typically recovers most of his health. If you can hit between six and eight blows in roughly five seconds, you will knock the opponent out. Knocking the opponent out costs him 45 seconds off of his timer, as well as roughly seven seconds of inactivity before he respawns in some room. During this time, the remaining spy can run freely throughout the building without having to worry about encountering the other spy. If items were lost when both spies occupied the same room, don't forget to examine the objects in it in order to reclaim those items.
Setting traps throughout the embassy, if done right, can be a sneaky way to gain the upper hand over your opponent. Any spy who triggers one of the set traps dies instantly, and is temporarily out of the game. They will also drop all of the items they were holding, and they will end up inside some object in the room. Traps do not care who set them; you can become the victim of a trap that you set if you're not careful. In addition, each spy may only set a certain number of traps before the game prevents them from setting any more. This number generally increases per level, with only 12 traps per player available in the first level, and 72 available to each player in the eighth level.
You are never forced to be the victim of a trap, however. Every trap besides the time bomb has an item that can be used to foil the trap and allow you to examine an object or open a door unharmed. If you are aware that something is trapped or, even better, you know which specific trap has been applied, you can carry a measure of self defense to protect yourself. Below is a list of all the available traps, how to set them, and how to protect yourself from them.
Note that not every embassy will have every disarm method available. Coat racks and first-aid kits are harder to come by in the earlier levels of the game.
Once you've gather the briefcase, and have collected every item that you need, you're ready to find the airport. The door to the airport typically remains hidden (by default) until one player has collected every item in the briefcase. Then the location of the airport door becomes visible to both players. The airport door can only exist in a room that does not already contain a north-facing door. If you attempt to pass through the airport door prematurely (i.e. before you have every item collected), the airport security guard will push you back against a wall, which has the effect of killing you, so don't even try it.
The airport door comes in to play with respect to the final strategy listed above. In order to effect the final strategy, you must learn the position of the airport door before your opponent does and set up a trap. Or you can simply wait there and duke it out with them for that winner-take-all opportunity. While most human opponents will be too smart to fall for that tactic, the computer will never be. The computer controlled opponent will dutifully find every item in the embassy and head straight for the door, allowing you to execute this final strategy with relative ease, provided you find the door first and are patient enough to wait for the computer. However, this strategy tends to be the least fun and earns you the least amount of points.
Single or two players
The strategy that you employ for this game will differ drastically if you are playing against another person, compared to playing against the computer. The computer is a pretty predictable opponent. As mentioned above, it will run around the mansion with little concern for what you do, and primarily save dealing with you for when it has no choice. If left uninterrupted, it will gather all of the items and head straight for the airport. Combat with the computer can be difficult at first, but practice can eliminate the challenge. The higher the computer IQ, the more the computer will try to preserve its life and run away if it is getting beat too badly.
Playing against another player, on the other hand, presents its own unique set of challenges. For one thing, you can see everything that the other player is doing. Any time you look at the map, or set a trap, the other player could potentially be watching. Since combat will generally come down to who is better with the baton, the weaker fighter will have to outsmart the opponent instead of relying on brawn. Invariably, the spy left empty handed near the end of the game will attempt to ambush the winning spy before he can make it to the airport door. Since the airport door is usually hidden until the end, be sure that you have a devised a good search strategy that will help you find the airport door quicker than your opponent, whether you are the potential winner or not. The entire game can turn with a single battle.