Hold on to your whiskers, because Electronic Arts is about to show you exactly how touch-based mobile gaming should be in the stellar stealth title Spy Mouse. Kindle Fire, Android, Nook Tablet, or iOS, this furry little fugitive is ready to go wherever you do and do whatever it takes to bring home the gold. Or in this case, the cheese. Slink around homes, warehouses, secret bases and more as you avoid all types of ferocious felines who will patrol and give chase if they spot you. We're not just talking your garden variety Garfield here either... everything from ghosts to mechanical monstrosities to super villains have been feline-ized and have their own unique abilities to contend with. Look on the bright side... at least you don't have any ill-tempered sea bass in your way.
Your mission? Get all the cheese in each level and get out! Once you've nabbed the cheese, the escape hole will open up (or the safe house to store your cheese if a level has more than you can carry), and you'll have to make a break for it. Just drag a path on the screen and your mouse will follow it, but beware; each cat has a route that they patrol as well, and if they spot you, they'll chase you down. If you've been spotted, you can duck inside nearby mouse holes, colour-coordinated to link to others, or stand your ground and try to dodge out of the way at the last moment. Done correctly and quickly, your pursuer can be tricked into crashing into the wall and will be momentarily stunned just long enough for you to scurry away.
Fortunately, you're not entirely helpless either. You can make use of your environment to get around safely, whether by hopping in and out of holes, flipping on the television to bewitch easily amused kitties, or even downing a super-hot pepper to put some pep in your step. Typically, your time only impacts your score, so you can go as slow as you like to plan your move. Watch the way each cat moves, wait for them to stop and snooze in a cozy warm space, or just high-tail it if you're feeling daring. If you get caught, you'll have to start the level all over again, but a true secret agent just straightens his bow tie and tries again.
Analysis: Spy Mouse is one of those rare games that makes you feel like the developer really "gets" it, that touch-screen gaming doesn't have to be all about gimmicks to be good. Because Spy Mouse isn't just good, it's great. With its sharp visuals, high production values, and strong sense of character and charm, the game practically oozes professional design from every facet. The artwork and animation alone would make it worth the price of admission, but the game's strength also comes from its exceptionally easy to grasp gameplay that makes it something anyone of any age can enjoy. (Note that the game is rated Y for non-explicit cartoon violence, just to be safe. The more you know.) The different cat types you'll encounter make for some welcome strategy, and the "boss" stages are a great addition.
Is it simple? Well, yes. In fact, some players might find it too simple. Unless you're aiming for perfect scores and every award on every level, Spy Mouse just isn't that difficult and most players will probably breeze right through it in an afternoon. You'll enjoy all the time you spend with it, especially if you're looking for something vibrant and casual to entertain you, but it's unlikely you'll find much challenge in the experience and be left wanting more as a result. Still, Spy Mouse is one of those beautiful little gems that you can point to and go, "This. More like this, please." You'll wish the 70+ levels were doubled, but while it lasts Spy Mouse is simply a stupendous casual gaming experience, paws down.
NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on an iPad (1st gen). Game was available in the North American market at the time of publication, but may not be available in other territories. Please see individual app market pages for purchasing info.