Johnny Turbo’s Arcade: Sly Spy Review

Stallone would have made a great American Bond, come to think of it…

In the wake of no news regarding a Virtual Console service for Switch (yes, I know NES games are going with the paid online capabilities, but those don’t count towards the point I’m making), it’s great to see some other companies pick up the retro ball and running with it.

Some enemies throw explosives at you. Don’t let them hit you, because that would be stupid.

We’ve loved Hamster’s offerings with both the ACA Neogeo range, which is by far the Switch’s largest selection of its kind, while the same team have been responsible for the Arcade Archives series, which we’ve enjoyed just as much. The newest set to start appearing is Johnny Turbo’s Arcade, which reinjects life into the Data East Classics. It started with Bad Dudes on Switch a short while ago, though we have been promised over twenty titles are to come to the range.

Here’s an underwater level. Watch out for that shark – he’ll turn around and eat you if you’re not careful.

It’s quite clear that Sly Spy is designed to be America’s answer to James Bond. It’s not just the look – a suave secret agent who quite clearly has a license to thrill – but in the missions he gets up to, from skydiving while taking on legions of nefarious villains, donning a wetsuit to swim through water sections a la Thunderball, or the vehicle chases. After the President is seemingly killed in the game’s opening sequence, it’s up to Sly Spy to save the day by taking down the group responsible. But late in the game, with as few spoilers as possible, Sly receives a message indicating that there was something he missed along the way of his mission. In reality, this was the developers back in the day just encouraging longevity in the game by making players play through again to see what it was they missed. If only that sort of thing would happen in games today. I love retro gaming.

Surrounded by adoring women at the White House. It’s a feeling we all know so well.

The game does start off feeling quite varied. Falling from the sky obviously sees you having to contend with the enemies’ gravitational pull, and you’ll need to line up Sly Spy in order to shoot them accurately. Swimming throws a bit of added danger into the mix, with sharks and sea creatures just as out to get you as the villains, while the traditional on-land levels will throw truckloads of enemies at you at once. You have an evasive jump at your disposal, but every single one of the enemies poses a threat, and can dodge your attacks if you’re not shooting from the perfect position. But the levels do tend to be repeated – there’s only four or five different types, so it’s fortunate the game doesn’t go on too long.

But, you’ll never become irritated by how tough the game is, because of an arcade-style credit system which allows you to use some “coins” to pick up where you left off. And it’s almost quite literally where you left off. The levels aren’t long ones, by any means, and you can be back blasting away at the enemies, only this time with full health, in a jiffy. Managing to complete the game without losing any lives is damn near impossible, though, so good luck with that one.

Boss fights at the end of each level add to the James Bond feel – there’s one who looks like Jaws, for example. It’s an enjoyable romp playing through it once, but there’s not much to go back for the second time through.

Johnny Turbo's Arcade: Sly Spy


A fun retro romp, Johnny Turbo’s Arcade: Sly Spy captures the arcade feel of the original, and features some of the gloriously retro writing we all love. Some more variations in the levels would have been nice, but getting through it while holding onto your health is a steep climb.

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