Although Spy Bot Chronicles sounds like the kind of website you wouldn’t want to get caught looking at while at work, it’s also a spin off to the popular Toy Bot Diaries trilogy of iPhone games.
The first thing you’ll notice about Spy Bot Chronicles is the superb presentation. The game makes use of visuals and animation worthy of a cartoon, and tells its story in a beautifully efficient and very watchable way.
It seems our fellowship of bots is on its way back to earth when the hero of the first three games, Toy Bot, heads into the bowels of the ship to check the cargo. It's at this point that the nefarious mechanical klepto Thief Bot cuts a hole through the hull and steals off with our robotic buddy.
Leaping to his rescue is the suave and sophisticated Spy Bot, who sets off on a quest across the globe following the clues to Toy Bot’s whereabouts.
You take control as he heads down to the planet to engage in a 2D-style platformer. Now, the iPhone hasn't proven all that successful when it comes to controlling such games using an on-screen D-pad. Thankfully, Spy Bot Chronicles simplifies the issue by only using left and right buttons, and a jump button on the opposite side of the touchscreen.
This helps immensely, as finding the two large buttons is very easy, even without looking for them, which allows you put your focus where it is supposed to be - on Spy Bot.
The level designs are very simple, with basic operational puzzles to solve in order to collect up the cogs and goodies scattered about the place, allowing you to progress to the next stage. In many respects, the gameplay in Spy Bot Chronicles could reasonably be compared to Sonic The Hedgehog, only at a much slower pace. A little too slow, perhaps.
You do come across more intensive puzzles as the game progresses, and Spy Bot begins to learn new tricks such as shooting his laser and hacking objects. This latter skill is a simple matter of tapping on certain objects to activate them, but a lot of the time it's put to clever use and adds much-needed variety.
It also makes superb use of a subtle but important physics mechanic. Pushing objects around, making them swing, shooting supports out from under them and balancing on precarious platforms are actions imbued with a sense of weight, inertia and stability (or instability, as is often the case). This adds a terrific physical verve to what is otherwise bog standard run and jump action.
Even in the later levels, however, there's not a huge amount going on, and there are very few puzzles that require crackerjack timing. For the most part you're able to take your merry time fathoming out how to reach the next platform, which often robs the game of its momentum.
The superb graphics and pockets of intelligent level design still manage to make Spy Bot Chronicles very endearing, especially to the fans of the other games in the series. It really comes down to a simple question of gaming preferences.
If you're a fan of platform games, Spy Bot Chronicles has loads to offer and is undoubtedly just what you're looking for. But anyone who’s not completely sold on the cutesy, 2D platform game revival that's going on with the iPhone is unlikely to change their opinion based on Spy Bot Chronicles.